This page is something of a mea cupla but hopefully you can use the information about fantasy stock trading to help you to be a better trader in the long run.
When I first started to make trades, I practiced 'on paper' first. The trades were not real and I was able to get a feel for what I was doing and how I should operate. It was not quite the same as fantasy stock trading would be today, since I started in around 1992 and software to help with this was not available in the same way as it is today.
In theory, so far everything is going to plan.
However, the reality was that my first few positions went very well - on paper. This gave me the confidence needed to attempt real life trades with real money. The problem was that these came a little too soon for me. Since my paper trades were profitable, it was obvious that real trades would also be in the money. With hindsight, perhaps that was an oversight...
If one of my fantasy trades had lost money, progress would have been slower and the practice period almost certainly longer.
With hindsight, I did not know enough about technical analysis when I began. That is knowledge that can take many years to build up and become truly proficient with.
Back in the early 1990s, stock trading was not as common as it is today. This meant that there were less books and trading courses available. There were also less seminars and speakers doing the rounds. In other words, for many people, learning was very much based on significant trial and error. That can be an expensive way to start!
But times have changed. Software that enables an individual to obtain significant simulated experience is now available at very low cost. To really get the benefit from fantasy stock trading, it is important to commit to it and last - unlike me...
It would probably be advisable to buy and sell 20 or more practice positions before considering committing real money to a purchase. It is hard to imagine any new starter making 20 profitable trades in a row. This, therefore, will give you the chance to lose and consider the implications before it happens for real.
Alongside those 20 or so practice stock trades, it would be a very wise investment to read as much as possible simultaneously - both about the companies and sectors you are interested in, as well as several books that explain the fundamentals of trading the market. Education is vital.
It will also be worth doing a little reading about psychology as well to help you control your emotions in times of stress.
Some eclectic input
Many years ago, I decided to teach myself to play poker so that I could make some money as a hobby. In the process of reading and learning I purchased a low price ebook whose sales copy suggested that contained inside was a method to get rich. Even I fall for that...
The content could be summed up quite simply as: learn to play the basics of No Limit Texas Hold 'Em. Then move into small stakes games and fold as many hands as you can. At the lower end of the skill range there are many players that will go "all in" with terrible cards early in the game. Keep folding until someone does that to you and you hold a pair of kings or aces. Then see their bet and beat them. It is boring but profitable. Repeat until you become rich.
That could be reworded for financial markets (information here) into: only trade when you are as sure as you can be that you are right and you will make money. Then trade, make the money and get out. Simple advice and hard to follow, but very wise. Wait on the sidelines until you see the next amazing opportunity.
This is a topic that Warren Buffett discusses from time to time, though he only explains it as it relates to long-term investment (information here), rather than speculation and trading.
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