Using simulators to master trading e-mini futures

E-mini futures, or simply e-minis, are smaller-sized contracts of "full-grown" futures contracts that have been around for decades. Unlike the latter that have been traded on physical exchanges, e-minis have always been traded electronically, allowing retail traders with access to the Internet to compete against institutional traders from the comfort of their homes or home based offices.

Trading e-mini futures can be a lucrative occupation. But it requires a solid preparation. It may take months, sometimes years before you become a consistently profitable trader. Yet since the rewards are certainly worth this prolonged effort, every day sees new traders launching their day trading careers in the hopes of becoming one day financially independent.

Success in this field is certainly possible and this author, if he may say so, is one example of this. Speaking from the perspective of someone who has been in the day trading trenches for several years, I have some pretty good news for those just starting in e-mini trading.

Listen, folks: it is now much easier to make progress towards your ambitious goal of becoming a consistently profitable trader than it was when I was a rookie. This has much, if not most, to do with technology, one very useful and important element of which are easily available trading simulators that these days render trading conditions in a respectably realistic way.

You can and should use them before you ever start trading with real money, in real time, facing real challenges of an emini day trader.

There are quite a few good simulators for e-mini trading currenly available to e-mini futures traders, the best of them being probably NinjaTrader. One of the main advantages of NinjaTrader is that it can be used with most e-mini brokers out there. What's really nice about this simulator is that it gives you a very comprehensive statistics of your performance, such as the number of losing trades, the number of winning trades, the average profit per trade, the average loss per trade, the percentage of winning and losing trades plus a host of other, even more complex characteristics that could be of particular use to those working on their mechanical emini trading systems. NinjaTrader also allows you to trade live, so once you have mastered trading e-minis in a simulated environment, you can use the very same platform for trading them for real.

NinjaTrader is not the only such simulator, though. If you have an account with Interactive Brokers, a very popular online broker that lets you trade not only futures but also stocks, bonds, and Forex, you can use Zeroline Trader, Bracket Trader, or Button Trader as your simulators. And some other, lesser known, simulators are available for traders of Interactive Brokers as well. All of them are free, but unlike NinjaTrader, they can work only with the Interactive Brokers trading platform.

One should however be aware that simulated trading of e-minis, or any other trading vehicle, for that matter, is not exactly the same as live trading of these instruments. One very important element of live trading is almost completely absent in simulated trading. I am talking here about emotions.

But if you cannot make money on a simulator, when emotions are added to the mix in real trading, it's rather unlikely that you will be able to make money in actual trading. Keep this in mind and try to do your best job on a simulator to be confident in your trading skills before you start trading e-minis with real money.