Chapter 2: Your Book (Or "Why Give Everything Away?")

To reiterate the points I made in "Phantom's Insights," the following chapters in "Phantom's Gift" are based on interviews with one of the most important and best traders I have ever known. His purpose in agreeing to these interviews is to help those who have the ability and desire to become the best traders they can possibly be. There is no claim to fame, so to speak, but only the honest effort to bring to other traders the insight of a very difficult business of trading for a living.

Art Simpson (ALS): Phantom, why do we start this book without knowing who you are for others to admire and thank?

Phantom Of the Pits (POP): I remember being on a train after one of my first trading days and thinking about how I had doubled my account in that one day. I looked around and was so proud of what I had done, but not one person on the train knew or would even care if they did know.

At that point my direction was self-driven in seeking out what was possible in trading. I know more now than I knew then. The markets have humbled me as a trader more times than I wish to remember. It's always easier for an observer to put their finger on a problem than the one who is wrapped up in the situation.

That is who I am! I am the observer, and I wish to point out the line in the sand. I don't know who puts the line in the sand, but I clearly see it. Who remembers who points out the line? You may call me Phantom of the Pits from here forward, and we shall remain as the shadow of your writings.

ALS: After more than three decades of trading, why haven't you written a book sooner?

POP: I have, but they have all seemed to become outdated because knowledge is quicker in coming than in writing. I always wanted to have it exact. I have made mistakes, and to give my mistakes to others seemed to be admitting I was wrong often. It has taken years to understand that being wrong is what trading is all about.

ALS: Surely there are those who know you and appreciate what you have accomplished in your trading career. Why don't you accept their recognition?

POP: I have always believed that there are two sides to a coin. In fact, I find there are times when you could argue a third. I won't take credit for what I have accomplished. There are no guarantees, and I have been put on notice a few times. My success is nothing without putting a bucket full of water beside the pump to prime it for the next trader, the other side of the coin. There will always be those who drink the water from the bucket (the third side of the coin). Why shouldn't the thirst of others be fulfilled when it can be done so easily?

ALS: To you, what is the most important aspect of trading?

POP: Behavior modification, without doubt, is the key to trading success -- not only in how we think but also how we act in certain situations. We must adapt to changing situations over which we have no control. We must change the situations over which we do have control.

ALS: Let's start your writings and insights into successful trading from any background you can give us of your trading! Is there any important point you wish to make about your trading background.

POP: My only point is that I am no different than any of the traders who will read this. How I got started or who I am makes no difference in trading. Let us not dwell in such trivia, which has no significance in how your readers will succeed. What was is and what is was but a breath after the markets close.

ALS: Okay with me if it is okay with you that we get started with our behavior modification for trading!

POP: Okay with me. But a little history on my first access to behavior modification as a child. My brother was on a tour of a blacksmith's shop in his youth and watched the blacksmith take channel lock pliers, hold a horseshoe, hit it with a ballpin hammer a few times to shape it and then put it into a fire to temper the metal. Upon removing the horseshoe from the fire and dipping it into water, a tempering process, he laid it down.

At that point, my brother picked it up and threw it down on the ground. The blacksmith looked at my brother and said, "Hot isn't it, son?"

Well, my brother said, "It don't take me long to look at a horseshoe!"

That taught me more about trading than anything else: Trading is not taking long to look at a horseshoe. Don't ever forget that!

ALS: What do we call the next chapter?

POP: It's their (traders') book. Why not ask them?

NOTE: Phantom has observed and participated in an internet forum sponsored by Futures Magazine in an effort to pay his debt, so to speak. Many sharp traders, as well as beginning traders, frequent the forum. Often in posting replies, Phantom uses a sort of firewall to protect his identity. Some of his remarks get posted through the author's efforts. One remark of interest that other traders made Phantom aware of was how effective knowledge can travel today compared to the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is Phantom's thought that those who have the most toys will not win but those who have the most knowledge and can change their behavior to what is needed will take it home.

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