This article is the second part of a series dedicated to the same topic. The first part can be found here: My experience in TopStepTrader. First part.
The first account I opened in become a funded trader (hereinafter TST) was $ 30,000, the cheapest. In the jargon of TST, it is called COMBINE (pronounced combain). A combine is not just an account. It is also a commitment. A reciprocal commitment: you follow the rules and they fulfill their commitments. That easy. There is the possibility to open a demo account and try a combine for 14 days. In addition, and few people know it, I discovered it by my eternal mania to gut everything (when I opened the electric gossip to remove the transformer and disassemble it, separating the copper wire from the core sheets), a TST account serves for up to 3 different computers connected simultaneously. A whole find. That allowed me, with just one account, to have three of my virtual machines running at the same time with the same data feed account.
All right. That first account cost me $ 100 a month, cheaper than it is now. That was a year ago. From day one I started to screw up. He had 3 contracts at the same time (the maximum allowed by that combination) and, logically, he lost three times as fast. But why will we be such idiots? That account lasted 4 days. By the fifth he had already broken a rule: not to exceed $ 500 dollars of daily loss. And in oil, with three contracts, shortly after you make 16 ticks, you’ve reached that limit. .Because, in addition, you have to put the cost of the operation commissions. When you break a rule, you notice it because everything stops and they don’t let you operate anymore (be careful, that was the case then. Not anymore. Now you don’t realize that you’ve screwed up until you check the account, so you can to be believing that you are still on the ship when it is not).
In TST, when you break a rule and your account is blocked, you have to pay ONE FINE of $ 100 to have your account unlocked and you can continue trading with it. That fine is independent of the monthly cost, so if you do not pay the fine and a new monthly payment cycle comes to you, you are still inside but with the account locked pending the payment of the fine. That fine means much more than we can think. It is a symbol. And very logical. It is an exceptional toll that reminds you that the rules are for something, to be fulfilled. After all, TST is a military marine training base. This is how I took it and how I recommend that you take it. It is not a nursery. Daycare centers are the demo accounts of brokers. This does not. Keep it in mind.
When you have to pay a fine to have your account unlocked (and start from scratch), check first when you have to pay the next monthly fee. If you have 4 days left, say, you are not interested in paying it. It is better that you open a new account because in the end you will have to pay the fine and after 4 days pay the monthly payment. It is better that you terminate that account and start again paying the monthly payment without paying the fine.
All right. Account destroyed in just 4 days. Piece of donkey. But something interesting happened. It hurted me. Wow it hurt. And I felt shame. That was when I knew that medicine was working. Pain is the way (eye, in trading. In the rest it is better to be gentle). If we are going to get immunized against the feeling of loss, we better start losing. And in that, TST had hit the spot.
I paid the fine since I still had 26 days left in the initial payment cycle. Day after day I was winning, losing, winning again, losing again. He did not leave the circle. It did not advance. However, I kept seeing progress. I no longer moved the stops. I no longer got 3 hit contracts. But I noticed that I was still doing some wrong things: I averaged losses, I refused to close a losing position, you know. What am I going to tell you. This second time I also lost count. But it was for other nonsense that you can not even imagine, but that is extremely important. One of the immovable rules of TST is that you cannot have open positions beyond 10:10 p.m. (3:10 p.m. Central American Time CT). And I forgot to remove a limit order that had been placed throughout the afternoon and was not activated. That simple fact kicked me out of training again. Another thing to keep in mind. And it had nothing to do with trading, but with other issues. Now I not only had to worry about operating better, but I also had to take care of the sheep when they were grazing. Again the happy rules. But, once again, the effect was devastating on my mind. Again I felt shame and that shame was back to me to understand that I should improve even more.
The next account (combine) that I opened was this time larger: the $ 50,000. I understood that the rule that I could not lose more than $ 500 a day was very short in futures (I remember that in TST only futures are traded, neither forex, cfd`s nor derivatives).
But a $ 50,000 account was important. I doubled the previous rule and now I could afford to take losing positions of up to $ 1,000. In addition, from 3 contracts maximum I went to 5. The tension relaxed. I lost again.
And what a happy rule did I break this time? Well look: another of the rules of TST is that you can not operate beyond the close of the markets. And one day, the Chicago market closed 4 hours earlier because it was a holiday the next day. And I didn’t consider it. Once again he breached collateral rules to trading. But how was this possible? I had the positive account almost $ 2,000 and suddenly I lost everything again because of stupidity. But it was the rules. And they had to be fulfilled.
It is not the same to live in the USA as in Spain, and those details of foreign parties and schedules as they do not reach us. But in this matter they are vital. Once again I was opening a new account. Do you keep track of the cost?
Fortunately, the capital I was losing was not in vain. I didn’t lose it in the markets but in TST doing something that few people do and who knows if it will pay off. The tenacity could to the weariness and I tried again.
This time it was better armed: news calendar, holidays, trading hours, contract rollover (eye, another rule is that you can not operate expired contracts or whose volume is less than the current contract). I carefully reviewed all the rules and informed myself absolutely of everything I needed to know. Of everything.
Between loss and loss, I was learning. I used to intuit it but now I know it. It is like riding a bicycle. You will fall many times. But one day, you will slide along the pavement like a breeze of fresh air and have learned to balance yourself on two wheels. This is also the trading.
To finish this second part, say that I was 10 months opening accounts, resting some time and improving my performance. It only remains to tell the story of how I finally managed to pass the first phase of the TST tests. But I will leave that for the next chapter of this story.