From the October 2013 issue of Futures Magazine • Subscribe!

Game theory: 8 games for traders

Beyond Monopoly

3. Trading simulators — Video game

A number of Internet websites have put out excellent trading simulators that let players have a taste of trading in a fun environment. A couple of examples include CME Group’s simulator where traders play as either a speculator or hedger trading lumber futures, and MarketWatch’s Virtual Stock Exchange Game. These differ from trading simulators offered by brokers in that they are intended as games, and not a training environment, although many lessons still can be learned. Simulator games are a bit more straightforward because they try to replicate conditions traders may encounter while trading, but given the competitive nature of many traders, the challenge is trying to do better than anyone else playing.

4. Crude: The oil game — Board game

In Crude, players take on the role of energy company CEOs attempting to expand their companies into multi-national mega-corporations. To do this, the game simulates the market forces and elements of the oil and gasoline markets at all levels of production, including oil drilling, oil pumping, oil and gasoline buying and selling in the domestic and foreign markets, refining and finally, gasoline selling to the consumer, all while simulating changing market environments. 

In addition to the theme of the game, another aspect traders will enjoy is the strategy decisions. Just as a trader can be a scalper and go for lots of small profits or be a trend-follower and look for the big payouts, Crude gives players a choice of how to play the game. Do you line up all your assets and go for the big score, or do you spread out to get lots of little wins? 

5. Euchre/Canasta/Spades — Card games

These largely depend on your geography as to which one is popular in your area, but essentially they are all trick-taking games in which you and a partner are trying to accumulate the most points by playing the highest card over a number of hands. The interesting part comes in when you consider trump suits. In some games the trump suit changes each round, whereas in Spades it always is the same, but the idea is any card played from the trump suit counts as higher than the highest card of any other suit. 

To be successful at these types of games, players must keep track of the changing rules and which cards have been played. In the same way, traders need to consider the ever-changing trading environment and upcoming economic reports. A single report can completely change the trading trajectory, and keeping track of what reports are coming when is crucial.

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