Are You a Gambler or a Trader?

Gambling Traders

Growing up in a family where my dad always reminded us that gambling – from card games to Mahjong (see description) – was a waste of time and money. Hence, I never quite understood the feeling of loving to gamble. Mind you, being Chinese (a Malaysian born Chinese) myself, I know that the Chinese do have a bad reputation for loving to gamble, some even joked that it is in our blood to gamble (quite an embarrassing joke).

Because of that (fortunately), I never knew how gambling felt like. More specifically, I never knew how it felt like compared to trading. In fact, I’ve often wondered what it was like to have a gambling addiction or why people would stay up all night (at the casino) with some major losses.

I didn’t quite understand all of that until the recent Chinese New Year (CNY) – celebrated between 31st Jan until the 14th Feb 2014. Due to the long holiday break and in the spirit of the festive season, the CNY has traditionally been used as an excuse by some to gamble amongst friends and family. This year was no different. However, since relocating back here for awhile now, I finally got to experience the ritual in a more exhaustive manner.

While the experience was fun, the learning about gambling was invaluable (from a trading point of view). With that, I hope to share some characteristics of a Gambling Trader and hopefully you’ll be able to remain focused towards becoming a professional trader.

The Gambler’s Zone

I don’t think there’s any point in hiding this from you and I believe you already know that trading can become an addiction too. Just like gambling, the person who is addicted to the activity is usually unaware of it happening. In other words, the act of being addicted to trading is an unconscious behaviour. Like any addicted gamblers, they have no idea when they began having the urge to bet and they don’t realise that the put all their focus and energy into finding the ultimate bet.

Trading AddictionBefore you get carried away, I’m not here to teach you about gambling. On the flip side, I genuinely hope all of you would take a step back and ask yourself, do you have the urge in placing trades (as oppose to just analysing the market)? Or do you feel that you need to trade whenever the market is open? If the answer is yes, then you could be at the verge of becoming a trading addict.

Trading addiction is neither wrong nor is it a bad thing on its own. However, having an addiction is an early warning that you’re heading towards becoming a gambler because, just like gamblers, traders who are addicted to trading have a tendency to trade all the time. In fact, they have vivid memories of what the last trade was and they have strong emotions towards those trades – irrespective of a wining or losing trade.

That’s not the worst yet. Because things can really goes pear shaped when the trader over trade and that they have no idea why they are placing any more. They tend to break all trading rules and they usually never look at their trading account.  This is also when traders go into the zone – just to be clear, this is not the professional trading zone that I usually talk about, but I am referring to the gamblers zone.

Focus on the Becoming A Trader

Reading this right now means you are well aware of your situation and you are not a gambler. In fact, it’s not about that any more because the fact that you now understand what to look out for (the feeling of having the urge to gambler), you have already stepping away from becoming one. You see, merely having the awareness of your emotions and your trading progress is already a great place to be in. In fact, from now onwards, keep that in mind and make sure to check your status every now and then.

Once you have that locked in, now all you need to do is to focus on what you want instead. In fact, I believe what you really want is to be in a professional trading zone. Right? That’s the ultimate goal to become a successful trading, isn’t it? So ask yourself, what do you need to do instead?

In case you’re not aware of what you need to do, I think it might worth writing this down.

1           Focus on Creating The Right Set of Rules

Trading the Right ThingYou need a set of rules that will govern how you trade and when you trade. More importantly, focus on a set of rules that tells you when to shut down your charts. Just a polite reminder, sometimes, the hard thing to do and the right thing to do are usually the same thing.

2           Focus on Your Trading Edge

As Mark Douglas states it – “An edge is nothing more than an indication of a higher probability of one thing happening over another”. Hence, to become a successful trader, you need to work on finding your edge instead and to find ways to have a higher probability of winners in the longer term. Trading all the time is not it.

3           Focus on the Right State-of-Mind

I have talked about having the right state-of-.mind on several occasions. However, the most important thing about that is not what I said. Instead, it is about what you believe and what you think is important to achieve calmness and certainty in your trade.

Gamblers always stress, panic, worry or think twice after they place a bet, wishing and hoping that they made the right decision. Professional traders has no question about their trades because they took the trade knowing exactly why they entered the market before they enter.



Today’s article is about understanding what it feels like just before becoming a trading addict. Please don’t get me wrong, I love to trade and I used to be an addict too. However, having the awareness and being able to step away from it will save you from becoming a trading gambler. More importantly, is it not being always in control the ultimate goal of a professional trader?

Anyway, thank you for reading and please share your comments below.



  • Jorge M

    March 7, 2014

    Love the conclusion! Love the 1st picture! Love the truth behind it! Keep it up!

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