How I lost $10,000 in one day trading e-mini futures and what I have learned from it

Well, I really didn't. I never lost that much in one day. Ever. And I don't plan on that either. Trading e-minis or not. But I thought that this would make a perfect, catchy line. To grab your attention, that is. You know, marketers do this all the time. Except that they never admit that this is only a fib. Wouldn't it be nice if they once, for a change, admitted how full of it they are? Yeah, I thought so too.

Back to losing money trading e-mini futures. While I have never lost 10 grand in one day, I do know someone who did. No, that's not another fib. I totally swear that's true. He is a German fellow. Years ago he developed a nice e-mini trading platform for Interactive Brokers, my broker of choice.

So, yes, you can lose that much in one day. And, needless to say, this can be a very traumatic experience. I still remember my first big loss in the stock market. Well, it was only two grand in a single day, but I was quite upset about it for a few weeks. It was during the biggest stock trading mania ever, during the roaring 90-ies, when even the Russian economy debacle could not upset the bulls, let alone the philandering US president. Eventually, I recovered all of it, but it took me some time to get the ball rolling again. Can you believe that back then I was trading on a laptop running Windows 3.11. Now, those were the days of pioneers, my friends. Real men with their "fast" machines.

My greatest loss day trading e-minis was not even that big. Only about a grand, a bit over it, if I recall it correctly. It was stupid, because that's the only way you can lose that much in a single day. Doing stupid things, that more often than not are the result of poor reflection and emotional, distracted trading.

So what did I learn from that?

Two things, one of which I just mentioned. Namely, that the loss of this proportions trading with just a few contracts is almost always the result of lousy, emotional, unfocused trading. The other important thing I learned was that I should have returned to trading sooner than I did. I recall that it took me two weeks or so to totally recover from my failure and return to trading eminis. Now I think that I should have faced my fears sooner. That loss was not the result of a poor strategy, but a very poor self-discipline. Yet, confounded by the loss, I kept searching for its reason in all places, most of them wrong. Returning to trading sooner if only to face my fears would have been much better than dwelling on them.

But that's what you learn sometimes only months later. And not from marketers who would like you to believe that they lost $10,000 in a single day. Like, day trading ...