From the July 01, 2009 issue of Futures Magazine • Subscribe!

Trading Without Gambling: Develop a Game Plan for Trading Success

Trading Without Gambling:

Develop a Game Plan for Ultimate Trading Success

By Marcel Link

Wiley and Sons

$60.00, 274 pages

Books on trading are numerous. Books on trading that go to the heart of successful trading are few. Link’s book is one of the few. Written in an informal, sometimes humorous, and often personal style, his book focuses on how to reduce the gambling element in trading, or how to become a high-probability trader. Link does not “sell” a particular trading strategy to do this, rather he offers the idea that to be a high-probability trader, you must look inward, define who you are as a trader, define your trading goals, and develop a trading plan. He argues that to be successful at trading, you must treat your trading plan as you would a business plan. Trading is a business, not a hobby. Interestingly, as he pushes the importance of developing a trading plan, he devotes quite a bit of the book to the notion that as important as a trading plan is, even more important is developing a game plan that adapts your trading plan to the particular circumstances affecting every trade you enter. In other words, be resolute in your trading plan, but remain flexible enough to adapt with your game plan. This subtle distinction is critically important.

Link stresses that if you follow his approach, you will become a better, more alert trader. His fundamental point to support his approach is this: “Trading is not simply about buying and selling, but about knowing the when and why to do so.” Knowing the “when and why” is the essence of both his trading and game plan strategies, and his book is wholly devoted to this concept. The book discusses the need for a trading plan, as well as the distinction between a trading plan and a game plan. In the opening chapters, Link specifically addresses such basic issues as, what is a trading plan, why a trading plan, and making a trading plan.

The book also focuses on the particular elements that go into making a plan. Some of the key ones are: knowing yourself, knowing your markets, developing rules, getting in, getting out, having discipline, having focus, reviewing your trades, and money management. These are the fundamentals of good trading. It is refreshing to see a book about successful trading focus on fundamentals, not some quick, get rich trading “strategy.” His almost purely psychological approach to trading goes a long way to helping the trader become more successful.

Repetition of important ideas, drilling down on important concepts, and personal trading anecdotes fill out the rest of the book. For some, the essentials might be all that you want. If so, the organization of the book makes it easy to glean through and select what you want to explore. Others will find value in the recounting of his trading successes and failures, his personal anecdotes about life interacting with his trading, his detailed tracking of trades and the interweaving of his writing process into the book itself. No matter what you take away from this book, in the end, it is a good, informative read and it contains a wealth of fundamental principles for successful trading.

Brandon Jones is an entrepreneur, writer and educator. He trades on a regular basis to maintain and improve his portfolio return.

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