I have had the pleasure and good fortune to have started my trading journey literally with the “Confessions of a Market Maker” podcast. I co-hosted a good 4 to 5 episodes before I even executed a SIM trade. Me and my co-host, JJ (vwaptrader1) started just over a year ago; June 10th 2019. We were both approached by a mutual party to embark on a podcast together at a time in my life when I was at a crossroads. I was at a crossroads for a while in my life. I was/am a professional poker player. Those familiar with the poker industry know the abundance of obstacles it takes to be successful in this current environment. Poker as a career has been increasingly getting tougher to make money. With the advent of sophisticated training tools, rampant cheating, and shady operators, poker has been on the downslope for some time. This is the difficulty a lot of poker players face. You have spent most of your adult life putting your blood, sweat and tears into a career that is slowly deteriorating; now what? What’s the next career move? I’m not sure how employers view “professional poker player” on a resume. Just trying to explain to people I meet in real life that I “gamble” for a living and seeing the peculiar and skeptical look on their face is a challenge in itself. My ex-girlfriends’ parents were not a fan of mine. This is the life I choose.
In June 2019, right before I’m headed out to Las Vegas for the 2019 World Series of Poker (which I went 0/5 in the tournaments I played), I started co-hosting “Confessions of a Market Maker” with one of the best story tellers I’ve encountered, JJ: “The Guerilla of Howe Street”. His unique, calm and poised personality mixed with stories of debauchery and excess during the height of penny stock hay days had me sold. We went into this venture with the idea of getting JJ’s story out and using me as a guinea pig; can JJ take someone with little to no market knowledge and turn him into a successful trader? The pod has then morphed into a guest formatted show with highly respected traders, psychologist, authors and even actors. A year into trading, while I’d be hesitant to say I’m a consistently profitable trader (key emphasis on consistent), I believe I’ve made positive strides on the path to my new career. Here’s what I’ve learned from talking with notable people in the trading industry:
- All guests have had an obsessive love and obsessive drive to be the best, yet most believe balance can be achieved or at least strived for
The beauty of hosting the podcast is that I get to talk to long-term successful traders one on one (well 2 on 1 but you get the point). I often draw from my own inquisitions as a developing trader which often overlap with the audience. I frequently ask a question along the lines of work/life balance. We all know hard work is required, but is an obsessive drive necessary? Is an obsessive drive healthy? I’d say almost all the guests we have interviewed have had been completely enthralled with trading: no surprise. Some have shrugged off this question with the attitude that extreme effort and time commitment is what is needed. Most though have admitted to spending a little too much time thinking about markets. In a hilarious story told by trading legend Damon Pavlatos, he recounts getting a globex machine installed in his house to capitalize on the overseas and overnight trading. This was in the 90’s so the installation men had to run large wires through his library: much to the dismay of his wife at the time. My co-host JJ pulled a Lazarus and came back from the dead! He had a heart attack and constantly reminds me to go have fun gallivanting around south Florida. Thanks to him I’m more cognizant of my stress levels on a day to day basis. We’re in a sport that will no doubt raise your cortisol levels. Damon’s now wife, profiled in the market wizard series, Linda Raschke talks about the importance of her health now due to raised cortisol levels. Bill Perkins, natural gas hedge fund Titan, high stakes poker player, movie producer, author and philosopher drives this point home. What’s the point of being successful if you’re a slave to your work?
- The Struggles are Real
I debated even typing this point out because of the rudimentary feel. No matter how basic though, I believe it’s worth repeating. Every single person we interview had to take the windy path. Tom Canfield, perhaps known for beating this topic home on twitter, discusses blowing through 25k and having to ask family for a loan. He is now one of the most respected retail traders in the community. One of JJ & I’s favorite people, Turney Duff, New York Times bestselling author and frequent advisor to “Billions”, bounced back after blowing up his career on wall street due to drug and alcohol addiction. He went on to recount his life on Wall Street, triumph & tragedy, in the “Buyside” which stands as one of my favorite autobiographies to this day. Though not a trader but portrays one on the screen, “Billions” actor Daniel K. Issac was still waiting on tables well into the 2nd season of “Billions” until he could fully sustain himself acting. JJ & Dani Hughes, CEO of Divine Capital, discuss the devasting effects 9/11 had on their careers and the tools they used to bounce back. Scott San Emeterio, CEO of the innovative Ballstreet Trading, had a front seat to the collapse of 2008. Entropy in life is a given. Keep your wits about you.
- Don’t Make The Big Mistake
I had the honor to read a draft of a soon to be released book by James Vogl, backgammon and poker professional who went on to manage 1.6 billion portfolio for a pre-eminent US marco hedge fund. He highlights this point in his book on risk/reward theory and on the podcast. Avoid the big mistake that will blow up the account. Your objective is to stay in the game. As long as you have chips, your still in the game. Then from there we can worry about maximizing the upside. I have to constantly keep this as a reminder to myself. I’ve incessantly worried about maximizing my profit: most likely from my poker background as squeezing every ounce of EV(expected value) is of the utmost importance to your bottom line. Ignoring the potential for a possible fatal mistake while your throwing haymakers could result in a KO for your bankroll. Troy Prince, whose leading a noble effort in bringing Wall Street opportunities to the underrepresented urban community with his non-profit Wall Street bound, hit home the simple fact that you just have to win more on your winning trades than lose on your losing trades. Once again, a rudimentary point, but one that’s not put into practice by many traders. Cut losers quickly.
- Get Familiar with Technology
This is the 21st century. The “good old days” are over. It’s funny to me that I hear the same traders preaching adaptability to markets, yet resist the changing environment, whine about the FED, Elon Musk or any other external factors out of their control. Former US interest rates market maker, quantitative researcher & systematic trader Chris Cain, talked about how finance professionals now a days harness the power of python to build trading models. CEO of Trade Ideas Dan Mirkin talked about his days in the mid to late 90’s exploiting the small orders execution system, and the power of data mining and having back tested proven strategies. Auto-trader and Trade Ideas consultant, Michael Nauss, gives insight to how a statistical driven trader thinks and goes about his work. You don’t have to be a quant to succeed in the market today, but getting familiar with what your up against appears to be optimal.
I apologize to the other guests who I haven’t mentioned thus far. Peter Reznicek and his surprising sex appeal amongst women traders. Steven Goldstein and the great work he’s doing with Alphamind and his enlightening podcast. Harmel Rayat, JJ’s mentor: A genuine, moral, ethical human being. Gregory Zuckerman, who I’m sure is not going to read this, was a little pretentious for my taste, but wrote an excellent book in “The Man Who Solved the Market”. The ever popular and eccentric Julia Cordova, whose free trading advice and material has helped countless retail traders. Tracy Shuchart and her informative geopolitical awareness and down to earth personality. Kelly Aucoin, actor who plays Dollar Bill on “Billions”, couldn’t have been more gracious. Walter Deemer, 52-year career as a market analyst, was a complete joy with his corky humor and nuggets of wisdom. Paul Asmar, a New Yorker through and through, took us down a trip through memory lane being on the floor of the NYSE for 25 years and discussing the traits and tools that make him a successful trader to this day. Dr. Brett Steenbarger, aka “the 3min lover”, dropping wisdom as always. Kunal Desai, whose natural abundance of energy I relate too, is witty, intelligent in many arenas, and just a flat-out fun guy.
If you haven’t listened to the podcast, get on it. Rate and review it for us on apple podcasts and like. I’m absolutely glad I got dragged into this venture and we don’t plan on quitting anytime soon
If you want to learn how to use market profile, trade futures & or trade equites: Trade along side JJ & Ray at http://www.microefutures.com