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Beyond Intermediate: How Good Traders Become Great

Beyond Intermediate: How Good Traders Become Great

By SlurpXBT - 13-Feb-2024

Everyone wants to be a great trader. 

Most people don’t know how to graduate beyond beginner-level trading, and even those who do rarely commit to doing the work. Moving beyond novice approaches to the market is about refining execution, focusing on high-quality ideas, building a deep understanding of alpha, and, ultimately, choosing to become good at just a few (i.e., 2 or 3) things. All of these ideas are explained in this blog with the hope that readers can learn something to improve their own trading. 

Obsess Over Entries and Execution

Great entries are the most important thing for profitable trading. Even a bad trade idea that includes an exception entry will generally yield a better outcome than an exception idea with a bad entry. Roughly half of a trader’s time should be spent analyzing past trades and trying to improve entries.

Execution is the second most important thing for good trading. Generally, any trader with an account balance larger than six figures should consider stopping using exchange interfaces and exclusively trade via a secure third-party terminal or other tools built by the trader themself. This opinion may be controversial, but exchange interfaces sort of force a trader to execute in one go. When trading with size – and especially in altcoin markets – that execution will start moving the market and yield bad entry prices. 

Executing trades somewhere besides the exchange interface is also better for speed, which especially matters during periods of high volatility. Sometimes even third-party terminals will crash or start lagging, but exchange interfaces often will. (Personally, I trade exclusively with my own tools. I almost never experience a situation where I cannot place a trade when everything else is already down.) 

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Start Grading Trade Ideas

Creating any sort of structure to evaluate trade ideas is essential to generating quality trades. (Personally, I grade my ideas with either “A”, “B”, “C”, or “Stupid”.) “A” and “B” graded ideas will generally be known as high-quality trades beforehand, but “C” and “Stupid” tier trades will most likely be obvious after the trade is closed. 

Each trader can develop their own grading system, but spending a lot of time trying to eliminate “C” and “Stupid” trades will save massive amounts of money in the long run, and it will increase profitability by a large margin. 

Stop Misunderstanding Alpha

Crypto trading tends to be a very social activity, and most people on X (f.k.a., Twitter) or Telegram share charts in groups where everyone thinks it’s alpha. It’s not alpha. At best, it’s another trade idea to grade. Traders very rarely will share how they actually put on, manage, and exit a trade. But those are the aspects every trader should obsess over. 

Alpha is generally just a performance measurement against some index or other market benchmark, and traders who have real alpha usually have no reason to share it. Alpha is valuable and it decays when more volume is attracted to it. So, unless someone explains how they structure a trade or describes how they execute a strategy in detail, charts are nothing more than ideas. And it’s never a bad idea to wonder why someone is sharing their ideas. Of course, not all ideas are bad. But always question why someone is giving away information. 

Automate an Information Pipeline

Accessing quality market data does not necessarily mean gathering a lot of data. Usually, it just means having consistent access every day to the same data so patterns and trends can be observed. Crypto markets are now big enough that no trader can physically stay up to date with everything, so automating data flow and filtering them however a trader prefers will save lots of time and avoid feelings of being overwhelmed. There’s no reason to do boring things manually if simple bots can do it more consistently and efficiently. (Personally, I operate a trading Discord where data I want to see updates daily and gives me a general overview of what’s happening in the market.)

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Get Really Good at 2 or 3 Things

The worst mistake any trader can make is trying to be great at everything – don’t be a jack-of-all-trades. There are so many ways to trade any market, especially crypto, and no one can be good at all of them. Traders should pick a maximum of two or three things and just obsess over mastering those. Choose things that make sense to match with characteristics like personality and portfolio size. For example, it might make less sense for a 6-to-7 figure trader to master farming every airdrop than it would for a trader managing a 4-to-5 figure portfolio. 

Trading is hard, but the steps to success are simple. Do the work and the results will follow.