Trading 101: 4 Reliable Chart Patterns in Crypto Trading


In our previous piece on chart patterns, we pointed out that the way to use patterns is to judge probabilities that a certain move will happen rather than to view them as some holy grail in the market (which unfortunately doesn’t exist to my knowledge).

Although they aren’t holy grails, chart patterns are some of the best tools we can use to trade the markets with a surprising degree of accuracy. For example, some estimate that a well-known pattern like the head & shoulders have an accuracy of more than 80% when it is complete. Very few indicators can match that!

In this article, we’ll go over the 4 best chart patterns to use in crypto trading, teach you how to spot them in the charts, and show you how to trade them.

1. Head & shoulders pattern

Since I already singled out the head & shoulders as the most accurate pattern, let’s start with this classic chart pattern that most people have heard about and probably have an idea what should look like.

head and shoulders

The head & shoulders pattern generally signals a reversal in the market, as it is essentially a failed attempt of a trend to move higher. As we know, an uptrend is defined as a series of higher highs and higher lows, but in the case of the head & shoulder, the last trend wave fails at making a higher high and higher low, and a new downtrend is initiated. The opposite pattern, known as an inverse head & shoulder, signals a shift from a downtrend to an uptrend.

Since the head & shoulder is so well-known by now, and the logic is based on simple trend trading, it is often considered to be the most reliable pattern in trading. It can often be easier to spot on a line chart as it can help you filter out all the clutter otherwise found on candlestick charts.

2. Bull flag

This is a continuation pattern and is also considered one of the most reliable bullish patterns we have. Sometimes also called a pennant or a wedge, these names all essentially refer to the same thing.

Bull flag

The bull flag is formed when price enters a consolidation phase following a strong uptrend. What really happens when price is consolidating is that the market is gathering momentum for the next burst up. It is a natural part of a trend where those who have been with the trend from the beginning are taking the opportunity to realize some of their profits, while new traders are entering the market and positioning themselves for the next run-up in prices.

3. Cup and handle

First introduced in William O’Neil’s book How to Make Money in Stocks, the cup and handle pattern is a bullish chart pattern that is very well-known in the stock market, but also appears to work well in other markets.

According to O’Neil, the pattern should span a period of 1 to 6 months in the stock market. In crypto, where everything moves faster, this period can safely be cut in half. For the pattern to be more reliable, we would ideally want to see a significant rise in trading volume near the end of the handle as price begins to rise. A buy order should be entered as price breaks above the high made by the right side of the cup.

The logic behind the pattern is the same as for the head & shoulder and trend waves: the cup represents the bottom in the market and the handle creates a higher low, which by definition means that an uptrend has started.

4. Rectangle

The rectangle is a similar pattern to the bull flag and trading channels, where price appears to be “stuck” between two imaginary lines on the chart. The more touches we have between these outer lines and the price, the more reliable the pattern is considered to be.

The rectangle is a trend continuation pattern, and often becomes a waiting game for traders since it is difficult to tell exactly when the price will break out of the pattern. However, the pattern is fairly reliable at predicting the direction price will break out in. The rectangle can be either bullish or bearish, depending on the direction of the preceding trend.

The pattern can be traded either by placing an order when price is close to the lower end of the rectangle with a stop just below the lower line and then waiting for price to break out. Alternatively, you can place a buy order just above the upper end of the rectangle in hopes of catching the trade as the price breaks out. The danger with the last option is that fake-outs where price spikes up just to fall back down do occur quite frequently. As always in trading, taking a slightly more conservative approach may serve you well over the long-term.

Featured image from Pixabay.

Fredrik Vold is an entrepreneur, financial writer, and technical analysis enthusiast. He has been working and traveling in Asia for several years, and is currently based out of Beijing, China. He closely follows stocks, forex and cryptocurrencies, and is always looking for the next great alternative investment opportunity.