If you haven’t read Part I and then the Part I addendum on AAMRQ, please do so!

Making More Money
Let’s run through November to February.


The amazing opportunities just kept knocking on my doorstep.

November: Bitcoin goes to the moon*
December: Bitcoin bubble pops
January: Pot stocks go to the moon (and some go too far and gravity takes effect)
February & early March: Pot stocks continue and FNMA trades to new 52 week highs
*I will eventually write a series about trading bitcoin

This is stuff that’s right in my wheelhouse. The easy money created by speculative bubbles, and then created again on the crash back to reality that inevitably followed. Initially, I just kept sticking to my rules and grinding. Take the easy money and run. Stay consistent. Avoid losing money. Don’t do anything dumb. It was more important to keep the good vibrations going then it was to maximize the amount of money I could make.

But gradually, the old automatic thoughts started to shift.

The Not Enough Phenomenon 
The more I made, the more I would look back and reflect on how I was wasting an all-time great opportunity. I’m stuck in grind mode when I should be throttling my position size to obscene amounts. I knew the easy money wouldn’t last forever. I knew it was an unusual period for OTC stocks.

I was feeling the burn out in January — erratic moods (days where I didn’t even want to get out of bed) and higher levels of fatigue* led to lower levels of concentration. The weekend after the month ended, I uploaded all my executions on Tradervue and reviewed all my results. I managed to grind out around $62,000 in the stock market. I also read through my trading journal on Evernote. I recalled all the textbook setups that I missed and all the trades that I sold too early or traded too light — all that theoretical money being left on the table. It became a graphic in my head.
*For 2.5 months I spent more several all-nighters trading bitcoin at its most volatile periods. It was a 24/7 trading market. I needed some reset time.

which slowly devolved into:

I had thought about everything and arrived to a conclusion: you can do so much better.

While out drinking with some co-workers, I expressed my frustration.

I made a vow to to step it up. I gave it all I had in February. I made over $150,000.
I managed to strike a healthy balance between pushing the envelope and sticking to a clean, low-risk trading process to ensure maximum consistency. The liquidity and the order flow was there to take on bigger position sizes without necessarily expanding risk. 
I would develop certain guidelines and constantly remind myself to follow them.
There were no AAMRQ-esque accidents this time around. I had only 3 losers over ($1,000). The only mistakes seemed to be missing out or being too light or not holding long enough — “money on the table” type of mistakes. But with incredible opportunity every day and even every hour, it was easy to let go of regret, focus my mind on the present moment at hand, and just keep on chugging.
It’s actually really hard for me to lose money!
The Return of an Old Friend
From late November, after Bill Ackman announced his investment, to mid February, FNMA didn’t trade very well. Volume died out as it traded range bound. We would look at it every now and then, but the breakouts usually came and went without picking up any follow-through. 
Then on February 19th, it started to pick up in volume and range again. The chart finally confirmed the real breakout that would establish a new trend with higher highs. We loaded up. Every trader in Branch B who had otc access wanted skin in the FNMA game. We were drooling over the possibilities because known story-driven momentum names, especially those with a cult following like FNMA, tend to trade in phases — breakout, trend, continuation, parabolic, panic, bounce, etc. And we knew we could make good money during every phase of the story.
It was one hell of a ride.
We made good money every single day on the way up. As of March 10th, 2014, this was the distance by which FNMA outpaced all the other stocks I had ever traded in total profits. The phase that I made most of my money in (panic and bounce) hadn’t even occurred yet. Every time it looked close, like it was about to finally happen, the market makers would support the stock before panic occurred and it would sustain trading in a more controlled fashion.
Then came March 11, 2014.

The Day of Reckoning

The day started off great — maybe the best trading open I’ve ever seen. Not just pot stocks and FNMA, but the fuel cells (PLUG, BLDP, FCEL) finally tanked as well. There has never been a day where I made over $1,000 on 6 different tickers (plus zero red tickers). I was up $20,000+ in both accounts combined.


Around 1:45 est, FNMA started to show sustained weakness. It had the look. I saw dollar signs. I started thinking 1st six figure day.


After all those controlled pullbacks, this sucker was going to tank! 
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Taking Pain
When you’re considering playing an OTC bounce, you want that sucker to go down as much as possible. The panic should be as turbulent and violent and frightening — as if it’s headed towards a number below zero, if that’s even theoretically possible. The better the panic, the cleaner the pattern. 
But it doesn’t always do that. Even steep pullbacks could end with controlled herky-jerky support rather than trade towards full-blown climactic exhaustion. That’s what had been happening lately. FNMA’s patterns the past couple weeks hadn’t been super clean, cut, and dry as in the past. It would look like it was about to panic, pause, chop up and down, then rip back up — patterns like that. And every time that happened, I would trade it too light and torment myself afterwards. Damn it, you’re such a coward. Look at all the money left on the table again. Only “settling” for $3,000 or $5,000 gains on these scalps when I saw others make $25,000 and more.
So instead of sticking to my low-risk one-shot, one-kill entry method, I did something very different — something I never did before when trading an FNMA bounce. I decided to scale in on my firm’s account. With 3,000 share tier sizes every 10-15c on the bid.
I wanted to be a hero. I wanted to be one of those gunslingers from Branch A. I wanted to deliberately jump the gun (buy before a proper signal) and force myself to psychologically commit to some size. Take some pain early so I can numb myself to it later.


It’s my best play.
It’s by far the best stock I’ve ever traded.
I’m going to make sure I have more size on this than I’ve ever had before.
It’s not my money anyway.

It started innocently enough. I would bid small amounts, just to get some skin in the game. Dare the stock to go down even further than my initial entries, because that makes it an even better trade! 


Status Symbol Side Qty Price Route
Accepted FNMA Buy 3000 4.92 NITE
Accepted FNMA Buy 3000 4.83 NITE
Accepted FNMA Buy 3000 4.72 NITE
Accepted FNMA Buy 3000 4.65 NITE
That’s my platform notifying me through sound of my orders getting filled as the market makers continued to walk the stock down.
Symbol Shares Avg Price PnL
FNMA 12000 4.78 -2880
Even though it was completely unnecessary to be buying (and nevermind the fact that I should be short), I just didn’t care. My size and drawdown was still peanuts to what I anticipated my full size and actual gain was going to be.
The First Bid
The first bid to soak in came in at 4.54. Here we go! This was already a substantial move, down 2 points from highs. This bidder was the first real signal to buy, or in my case, add.
I added more in the firm’s account and initiated long in my personal account.
Side Qty Price Route
Buy 88000 4.57 NITE
Side Qty Price Route
Buy 20000 4.57 NITE

The Fakeout
Let me digress for a second. Have you ever gotten stuck in an OTC bounce trade after the first bid drops out?
It’s happened to me so many times. That’s always the risk of playing a bounce trade.  The best way to deal with it is to be hyper-vigilant and defensive when they sell into the first uptick attempt. If you use stops or wait for that bid to actually drop, you’re going to get slipped badly. I call this flow trading — both the entry and exit plan is based on reaction to the order flow. Over time, this became automatic procedure, hence how I made so many momentum trades the past 4 months without being burned by any large loss (and only one trade where a large loss was even possible, on AAMRQ). You’re not supposed to trade these plays like a setup trader with stops or a position trader who scales in and out. If you’re taking pain on an FNMA bounce trade, you’re doing it wrong.
Okay, back to the trade.
In the next 3 minutes, I watched closely, waiting for that explosive move off the bid to confirm the bounce. They kept trying to lift the offer on huge volume. C’mon… that green candle should happen any minute now. I could feel the tension coiling up in my chest. Tick tick tickin my mental clock, as the sellers refused to relent. Something felt a bit off.
This was the pivotal moment. It’s as if my internal decision maker — the little voice who I trust to manage risk in hot think-on-your-feet situations like these — decided to splinter into two factions. 
sold flat within 60 seconds on my personal account.
This action relaxed me too much, as if my mind just totally compartmentalized the risk of holding the other 100,000 shares. It’s as if I had dismissed those 100,000 shares as a meaningless starter position to a much more massive theoretical full position (like 500k), despite having no experience (sans 1 trade, where I traded way out of character and did almost everything wrong) with that level of drawdown and more importantly, no actual commitment or plan to such a large position size. Heck, my max daily loss limit was only $10,000. The little voice that whispered “be careful” had left thinking his duty had been done. I didn’t even type in sell orders on the Magic Direct platform. The lack of urgency was startling. It was pure cowboy delusion. 
I just held on and went for the ride of my life.
The uptick failed and it traded right back to the 4.54 bid… and it dropped quickly and violently. If you waited until now to sell rather than defensively selling near 4.50, you weren’t filling until the worst prices. Sellers were storming the front and traders were beginning to panic. 
Symbol Shares Avg Price PnL
FNMA 100000 4.604 -30400
Inner monologue
Wow. I just went red after making $22,000 on the open today. That’s new. 
This is scary, maybe I should hit out and re-evaluate… save what I can until I see the next signal.
NO! You didn’t care to hit 4.50’s but you’re bailing now? That makes no sense. Stay the course.
Symbol Shares Avg Price PnL
FNMA 100000 4.604 -45400
WHY am I even in this spot? WTF is wrong with me!? I never try to take pain, why did I start now?!
I told you to eat it 20 cents ago! Stupid! Well it’s too late now, you’re committed.
Just man up, focus and nail the next entry, that’s the only way out
I would pay offers at prices like 4.13, 4.11 for 5000-10000 shares just…because. Because why not at this point? Just a little more.
Around $4, there was a little bit of buying. A pause. 
The bid didn’t quite stick it and show that surge of volume but in my desperation, I couldn’t distinguish between an OK signal and a great one. I clicked away furiously with no idea how many orders I sent in and for how much in total. I went way overboard. 
Symbol Shares Avg Price PnL
FNMA 220000 4.32363664 -71200

$4 dropped way too quickly.

Fear and Loathing
Everything just became a blur.
Symbol Shares Avg Price PnL
FNMA 280000 4.188 -108640
As soon as I cross the 6-figure threshold (goal fulfilled, right?!), I can’t process anything coherently anymore. My pattern recognition and execution quality degrade to absolute shit.
There was a brief span of god knows how long (felt like hours in real time) where I panicked out of a huge chunk of size by hitting ARCA’s bid out of the market and then panicked right back into it by paying into ARCA’s offer out of the market, effectively adding $10,000 in pure slippage loss.
3.78. FNMA was down -35%.
Symbol Shares Avg Price PnL
FNMA 280000 4.188 -130360
Without a Lifeline
Now I was staring at around -($130,000). That was 13 times my maximum loss limit. Usually firms would blow out their traders positions at the max loss point, certainly far earlier than this, and yet… there it was… that (red number), still ticking.
Nobody had said a word to me in person yet — no gchats, no messages, no e-mails, nothing. At this point, I was carrying an enormous level of anxiety while, on the exterior, trying to pretend nothing was wrong. I felt like a teenager who had not only totaled his parents’ car while joyriding, but had gotten involved in a hit’and’run accidental as well. That poor homeless guy. I don’t know if he’s still alive. I had blood on my hands.

Oh My God. What have I done?

I tried to stay engaged and stem the tide. It was going to bounce somewhere…. if it bounces and fails to catch up close to my average price, it’s gonna be a loss and it will hurt but at least it will be less than this. This is too far and too much. I can’t puke it on the way down! I sold some shares thinking I could replace it at a lower price — a decision with no real impact other than to receive some feedback on how orders were filling, stay in an active management process, and try to re-gain control. Except when I tried to enter a bid at a lower price, I got this message:


The platform had locked me out. No new orders allowed other than to liquidate an existing position.

Then someone finally spoke up.

“What’s your plan?”
I turned around to see my risk manager behind me, just his usual calm demeanor. We had always been on good terms. He understood the delicacy of the situation. There was no judgment in his eyes. Yet I felt stung by a pang of unassailable guilt. I fucked up and now it was official — they knew. 

“Um. 3.50. Then I’ll get out.” I replied. Obviously I had no plan but I had to come up with something. 

He added one more thing: “There’s news on it right now, the Senate committee agreed to a deal that’s going to phase out the GSE’s.”

Wait. This is news-driven? Now I had all these questions and thoughts rushing to the forefront.

Isn’t this old news? News that aleady had been digested earlier this morning? Or did they update it with a key item? Is there some live event going on right now? Why didn’t I pick this up on twitter/chatroom? Had I been blind all along? All along I was trading on an implicit assumption this was FNMA as usual, trading on panic rather than any kind of fundamental re-pricing. What if this is still the middle of the move? What if technical areas like 3.50 and 3 didn’t matter? What if the panic occurs at $1 with a bounce to 1.50? (that’s too late…) 

But I uttered nothing except a quick “Thanks.” I knew it was over.

There was nothing left to do except feel the rope tighten up around my neck. 

The Longest Road
They continued to walk it down tick by tick. Just a marching line of red candles. There was no pattern change. No sign of bottom. No bidders stepping in front to save the day.

I didn’t care to pray. I knew I deserved everything that was about to happen. I was only thinking about the emotions that would come rushing out of the floodgates once the adrenaline wore off. How would I feel? How would I cope with that feeling? Would I want to jump off the building? The guilt, the regret, the anguish, the desperation, the self-loathing, the unbearable shame of losing big —  I was dreading the moment when it would all hit me at once

3.50. No bid.
For the first time since entering the trade, I finally followed a plan.


Symbol Shares Avg Price PnL
FNMA 0 -195,483



Picking up the Pieces
For awhile, I just sat there without speaking to anyone, or even standing up.

I wasn’t ready to experience all that emotion. So I kept staring at my screen.

Just go to $3 already…

The offer kept pressing. It wouldn’t trade over 3.35.
Why bother… they’re gonna crush all the buyers again.

It was taking a little longer for the offer to step down. It had been trading above 3.30 bid for 5 minutes now without a new low. 
Hm…. seems like the pattern’s changing.

click click click click click

I got long in my personal account. My plan was to risk to below 3.30.

It acted right, showing the immediate explosive price action, so I never had to pull the trigger. That was the bottom.

After the bounce peaked out, I just kept trading in and out of FNMA the way I always traded it. Play both sides. Precise execution. Don’t ever take pain. Never hold onto a bias, just react to the flow. Take profits and get flat when in doubt. Only trade the size you can handle, not the size that you want.  My max position at any point was less than 20% of my position size when I took that huge loss. 

I finished the day up $48,500 on FNMA in my PA, without a single loss over $500. Technically, my net worth actually went up when the day ended.

The Aftermath

There’s still so much to write about: what happened after the trading day ended, what I should have done differently, lessons learned about the relationship between my trading and my emotions, the regrets I had to deal with, how I coped with that moment when it all hit me, and other such musings…

Heck, there are so many details left on the cutting board table for the sake of length. My good friend, who’s also a damn good trader and had sat to my left since we both started at the firm, was in the same trade. He drew down far more than he ever had in the past making the same mistake, but his position was smaller than mine, so he survived and minimized his loss close to the break-even point. One of my biggest regrets is not recognizing the moment like I should have and saving him (as well as some others, although we were by far the two biggest delinquents) the trouble with some kind of vocal leadership. Clearly I recognized what was going on at 4.55, from a pattern recognition stand point, considering I quickly sold flat on my PA. I had all the experience on otc bounce trades as well as the baptism by fire on AAMRQ to properly build my intuition. It was a lesson (don’t add out of panic) that I should’ve only had to learn once. 

Yet I still fucked up.

I’ll probably write one more post to wrap it all up but as you can see, I pour way too much time and effort into everything I write. The more I write, the more ideas I come up with to write (and fool around on MS Paint) even more  — that’s how it works. I have a lot of fun with it. Problem is… I’m still a trader and I’m kind of itching to start trading again. So here are the quick spoilers on some questions I’m sure you’re dying to find out.

Thanks for reading. Don’t do the same stupid shit I did.

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