Interview with Gary from CalmTrading

June 11th, 2007

For the next interview in the StockTickr Interview Series (RSS feed), I spoke with Gary from CalmTrading. I discovered Gary’s site after Trader Mike linked to it a few weeks ago. Gary’s openness is what keeps me reading his site. He posts all his trades, good or bad and provides appropriate, honest commentary on his trading. His post on patience is a good example.

Read on for more about how Gary trades, more about his background, and what he recommends for new traders.

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StockTickr: Tell us a little about yourself, Gary.

Gary: I am a very family oriented guy–husband,father, brother, son and love that above all else. I used to be a web developer and still do it but now I have more financial freedom and more time to pursue my creative talents. I live and love the Pacific northwest and live near Seattle, Wa.

StockTickr: How did you get started trading stocks?

Gary: I got interested first in stocks from my family and my uncles and all who worked in blue chip companies and had stock options as part of their pay packages. Some of them made really good returns over a lot of years. I worked with an attorney in the 90’s who owned a bunch of PG (Procter Gamble) and I thought she was crazy to own such a slow moving stock when the tech boom was in full swing. Crazy thing was, that was the only stock she owned but she wouldn’t buy anything else. I still don’t know if she was right or wrong ’cause it worked out for her in the end. That was the time when I first started investing in stocks.

StockTickr: Most traders have a horror story about losing their shirt when they first started trading. What’s yours?

Gary: I owned a few internet names such as yahoo, (couple others I forget the name cause they no longer exist) My portfolio was only $5,000 at the time and I came home one day to find I had one day gains of over $4,000 –thats 90% in one day. Next morning I didn’t sell them and sure enough I came home the next day that my portfolio had gone down to about $4500-those gains had disappeared and taken some more–it was valuable lesson learnt–I still take partial profits on a perfectly well positioned stock.

StockTickr: Do you trade for a living now?

Gary: You can call it that–it’s main source of income but I do part time gigs for other stuff too. Just in case. 😉

StockTickr: What single lesson did you learn along the way that has helped you the most in your trading?

Gary: To protect my capital–initially it was hard to take losers but now I take losers in stride if something is not working–It’s hard to get rid of your opinions on a particular stock or the stock market in general but treat it with professionalism and it’s not too hard.

StockTickr: Describe your style of trading. How long do you typically hold stocks?

Gary: I day trade mostly but I’ll take a swing position if I see a good set up–typical holding period is between 45 minutes to about 2 hours I’d say–I just trail stops–never have really paid attention to how long I’d hold a stock.

StockTickr: What’s your exit strategy for winning and losing trades?

Gary: I look where my logical stop would be then I just put it there and don’t look back–its automatic that way no emotions involved. For winning trades, once it moves in my favor I trail stops, if it’s a big move too fast then I ll take partial off the table and let the rest ride.

StockTickr: What 3 books do you recommend traders read?

Gary: Definitely Dave Landry on Swing Trading, Steve Nison’s Japanese Candlestick Charting Techniques and The Psychology of Winning by Denis Waitley I also like books by Richard Bach – Jonathan Livingston seagull especially. You need to learn how to fly 🙂

Dave Landry on Swing Trading Candlestick Charting Psychology of Winning

StockTickr: Other than your own, what are your 3 favorite blogs?

Gary: The Kirk Report, Trader Mike, and Elite Trader.

StockTickr: What is your typical R value per trade? i.e. what % of your portfolio do you risk with each trade?

Gary: 0.5% on most trades on really good setups it goes as high as 1%, I will quit trading for the day if I have lost 2R without having any winners.

StockTickr: What technical indicators could you not live without?

Gary: 5 Ema, time volume bars, stochastics, I am not a big fan of indicators. Price is the main indicator and accompanying volume.

StockTickr: How do you think the market has changed over the last several years? How have you adapted?

Gary: First of all its harder for day traders to catch big moves cause of change to decimal instead of fractions, you got to fight for each penny now, but now trading platforms are much better and real time is much faster, news travels much faster–it’s an overall smaller world. My adaptation has been to become more disciplined and always improving what I am doing.

StockTickr: Do you back test and if not, how do you instill belief in your system?

Gary: I back test before I put money on any new strategy. And I don’t trade as big a size on anything new.

StockTickr: What advice can you offer traders who are just starting out?

Gary: Start small, see what works, don’t force a trade, no stock is going to run away, you’re not going to be late in your entry, Don’t risk too much on any one trade no matter how sure you are, the longer you stay in the game the more you’re chance of success. Slowly increase your size. I read somewhere that 90% of day traders fail in the first year–but I’ve never seen stats for the other 10%–I am pretty sure 90% of those 10% end up being very good at what they do.

StockTickr: What do you like best about trading?

Gary: The sky is the limit in how rich you can be–you CAN be the best trader in the world–a legendary Japanese trader had 100 consecutive wins–that’s my goal !!!

StockTickr: When did you start your blog and what prompted you to do so?

Gary: I started only about 3 months ago–I had one before that but I deleted it cause I wasn’t doing it regularly. I learned a lot from guys like Dave Landry, Trader Mike, X, this was my way of giving back–blogging is hard esp the time part of it but I don’t do it everyday–I try to respond to particular traders dilemma or nuances.

StockTickr: Thanks for taking the time for this, Gary.

Gary: Sure, Dave!

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Previous interviews in the StockTickr Interview Series (RSS feed):

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