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My Trading Blunders: A Lesson in Overconfidence and Risk Management from 2008



The Background

This story happened in January 2008 in what proved to be the early days of the biggest financial crisis of our generation (so far). It was also the time of your humble writer’s baby steps in the financial market. Fun fact: my first trading account was opened in September 2007, 10 days before the exact top of the bull market. Great timing. To be honest, this was more of a lucky coincidence for me than the average beginner trader, as I wrote my thesis a few months before that on credit markets, CDSs and whatnot, so I had a pretty good idea about the sorry state of the US subprime market, which was already in shambles in the autumn of 2007. I even made a bet on with a great friend that Lehman will trade in single digits in a year… color me prophetic. An important side note is my poetically young age of 24 at the time.

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Some experienced traders might stop reading at this point because the ingredients are all there for a sad, but all too common, trading disaster. A young, beginner trader with an eagerness to outsmart the market, a degree that makes him think that he already has trading figured out, and the worst blessing of all: he is right about something. The dangerous thing about being right at the right time without experience is that ALL your trades are working and you quickly forget about risk management, money management, position sizing, and the other neat things that are there to protect your capital from the biggest enemy, your ego.

It took me 5 months to reach a +25% return on my portfolio, by trading with a bearish bias in a market that was clearly rolling over. Some would say that ok nice, but nothing extraordinary. For me, it was the best of times. I was euphoric, since I was trading with a 2% stop-loss limit and a 3% initial target on my capital, and 90% of my trades were positive. Being a math guy, I naturally started compounding those returns and quickly concluded that I will be the next Paul Tudor Jones.

The Trade Of The Century

In February, 2008 it took me exactly 0 trading days to go from +25% to -10%, and at the end of 2008 I was up by 5%, in a market that was doing exactly what I thought it would. How on earth did that happen? Well, overconfidence and weekend gaps were among the main reasons, but the root of the issue is the common error of looking for the “Trade of The Century”.

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Disaster struck on a Friday afternoon on a typical Friday-Trend-Day. Day-traders might be familiar with the pattern of an initial surge (or slump) and a gradual but unstoppable drift in the direction of the trend, with sometimes a buying (selling) “panic” near the end of the session. It was a bearish trend-day, with all the major indices down by multiple percents, the VIX near the 40s, Armageddon-like headlines… one could almost hear the cries of fear and despair through the trading platform.

My portfolio was up by 5% on that day, my trades hit their targets one after the other (I was trading S&P futures, FXI (the main Chinese ETF), Morgan Stanley, and VIX futures). Near the end of the session I was watching my market window with sheer excitement (error #1), and with deep regret that I am out of my positions and not profiting off the massacre (error #2). Although all of the indicators were screaming Oversold!! I started thinking about new positions (error #3). And in a moment of pure genius, I decided to double, oh wait, triple (!!!) my original position sizes (error #4 and #5). I thought it will be a “Black Monday” like open after the weekend, with the indices limit down and me walking away with 2 years of returns in one day. Sure enough, I put up the shorts on the indices and Morgan Stanley and the long on the VIX before the market close with a devilish smile on my face (error #6), while violating ALL of my risk management rules (error #7) and forgetting about gap risk (error #8).

The Fallout

The VIX at the time of the trade

The rest is history. It was the first in a series of bail-out weekends when central bankers and other leaders would sit down and come up with a plan to restore confidence and save the market during the crisis. By the US open, all of my positions were stopped out, and my stock shorts simply gapped over my stops, inflicting even more damage than I thought would be possible. I still remember the feeling when I saw FXI opening up by 10% (a stock index mind you); it was not pleasant. I lost a whopping 30% on my portfolio, and got sent back to square one, or more like square -2. I quit trading for a few weeks, which probably saved me from more losses, but after that, I needed a few more months to gather enough confidence to trade normally again.

The hardest part to accept was the fact that I was fully aware of the errors in real-time, I just shrugged them off with “I feel the rhythm of the market and it’s going lower” argument. That argument was fed by the feeling of being right, and almost invincible. On a positive note, these trades made me remember that I am no prophet, no analysis is perfect, and the weirdest things can happen in financial markets.

The Takeaway

This wasn’t my only mistake as a trader (I wish it would be), but for sure the most painful. Good thing is that you can learn a lot from it without committing the same errors that led to it. Simply put, don’t let your greed or fear overwrite your trading plan and your risk management rules. Don’t get me wrong, concentrated trades are great for experienced traders who are aware of the risks that they take on, but forgetting the negative part of the deal is unforgivable. In this case, I not only broke my own rules, but also ignored the fact that the assets I traded were highly correlated, so in reality, I had one huge position not 5 separate ones.

Stock correlations rise in times of crises (source: Business Insider)

Let’s sum up the most important lessons:

  • Follow your trading rules, no matter what
  • Being right is not the same as being profitable
  • Expect the unexpected in financial markets
  • Don’t look for the Big Trade
  • Be aware that market conditions can change quickly
  • Correlation sometimes negates diversification

A Timely Note on Cryptocurrencies

With the recent boom in cryptocurrencies, a lot of traders might feel like I did back in 2008; the blockchain technology is revolutionary, Bitcoin is the new gold, the market is headed for $1 trillion in market cap and you will make a fortune by investing in this technology. Remember, even if that is true it doesn’t mean that throwing caution in the wind is allowed when investing or trading the coins. Stress-test your positions with corrections up to percentage losses that might seem insane (50%, 60%, even 70%). Booms and trends in general, don’t move in straight lines, there are several emotional waves and bumps on the road.

When trading cryptocurrencies, don’t rationalize holding on to a losing trade with the “it will come back” argument. It might, but will your capital survive that, or will you panic out at the bottom? Also, in a broad correction holding several different coins might not mean that you are diversified. When the tide turns the currencies might go down together. Look at the big picture, especially when trading cryptocurrencies, and accept what the market is telling you.

As an investor, if you are in for the long run, don’t try to micromanage your holdings or catch exact turning points. Wait for deep corrections to load up, and strong rallies to ease out of full exposure if you want to trade in to the trend. This way you won’t get caught in the daily fluctuations and won’t mistake trading with investing.

What’s Your Story?

I hope that this story will help you in your path to financial freedom, and you will remember the lessons of it when the time comes. Please feel free to share your experience, trading errors, or questions regarding this post so we can all learn from it. I am positive that all traders have some similar (hopefully less painful) stories to tell.

Important: Never invest money you can't afford to lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here.

Feedback or Requests?



  1. jedadoo

    May 16, 2017 at 7:00 am

    This is wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing and keeping us grounded. I’ll take this to hear!

  2. Lukem

    May 16, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Thanks for story, I do enjoy your blog and the whole website. I really am interested in trading but I’m struggling at the moment. Would you be interested in mentoring me?

    • Mate Cser

      May 16, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      Hi Lucas,

      I am glad that you enjoy the site! We have a personalized mentoring solution in the works, we will keep you posted on that. Until then feel free to ask anything in the comments, it might help other members as well. Believe me, all traders face bad times, with similar psychological hurdles. We are here to help overcome them!

  3. pgobbato

    May 16, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    This all rings so familiar, thank you for sharing. I got into the crypto trading world a couple months ago. I caught the boom, and placed my investments well, and doubled my initial investment and then some. On a big rush from winning, I opened a huge margin long position… You can imagine what happens next. Poloniex down, couldn’t close position, by the time I could take action again my account was about to hit maintenance margin. Thinking it couldn’t go down any more, I kept my position open. That night it rock bottomed, my account was liquidated, lost about 3/5ths of my portfolio.

    Tough lesson to learn, could have been worse, I suppose. Thanks you again for sharing!

    • Mate Cser

      May 17, 2017 at 12:56 am

      Thanks for sharing this tough experience, it’s not easy to resist the euphoria and the greed. Don’t let this stop you from harvesting strong trends, just have a risk management plan, and stick to it. Holding a core position, and trading with a smaller amount usually helps with dealing with the “Fear of Missing Out”. Good luck out there!

    • majykman

      May 17, 2017 at 2:21 am

      wow I just realised our comments basically have the same story haha. Good to learn this kind of lesson early though.

  4. majykman

    May 17, 2017 at 12:25 am

    Great article. Very relatable. Polo has been hitting people hard recently with the ddos attacks at crucial times. I’m new to trading really and I got confident because I’ve joined the game at a good time and just seem to make all the right calls until Polo crashed seconds before I tried to close a margin. That’s when I realised I don’t know half of what I need to know about trading haha. I left stop loss of one time and bam that one time. But the choices I made is why I lost 80% of all I’d made that month and now it will take more then a site crashing for a while to make me take such a loss. Lot’s of lessons learned.

    • Mate Cser

      May 17, 2017 at 1:21 am

      Thanks! I am glad you realize that it’s not just the exchange’s fault, that’s the good mindset. Thing is, when the market moves quickly, crazy things happen – glitches, flash crashes…- so again we have to expect the unexpected… Thanks again for sharing!

  5. Mac

    May 23, 2017 at 10:55 am

    Thank you for sharing such valuable lesson. I just recently learned my lesson when I dumped all my Bitcoins into Ripple after it had already nearly peaked. I then panicked and changed my entire position back to Bitcoin and woke up that morning only to discover Ripple still climbing. However, it was truly now at its peak and I still changed back to Ripple. It began falling and I kept changing my positions to other coins that didn’t move. By the time I slapped myself to wake up my portfolio was down by 25%. Fortunately I was able to partially recover and I’m now down by 12%, but it’s a lesson I’ll never forget.

  6. Elyad

    June 10, 2017 at 4:49 am

    a week ago I made a mistake and bought peer coin in hype at 0.00105 and now its 0.00077.
    what should I do in this situations? should I buy and accept the loss or sell and invest in other oppotunities like byte coin ?

  7. kennymeyer

    August 25, 2017 at 2:51 am

    Wonderful story… I can relate to your story about losing money… I went all-in on a stock (NVDA) a few weeks ago with 10x leverage, and lost almost half of my money by panicking out. Looking forward to be a better trader and investor.

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Searching for the Meaning of Life in Dubai



Last week I traveled to Dubai with a group of people in Wilhelmsen, where I work as a Digital Trainee, for our third module in Design Thinking with Pracademy. We are a group of 24 people which Wilhelmsen considers to be Leadership Potentials. We are fortunate to be a part of this year’s company program, and we have all learned so much about ourselves. In this post, I will try to communicate what we learned during last week’s module. Be aware that this is a four months program, and it’s hard to get the feeling of it by just reading about it. But I hope I can share some of the knowledge that I acquired and get you more interested in improving your own life.

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Find your passion and go all in!

Most motivators and teachers say that you need to find your passion, make work a hobby that you enjoy every single day. I have even caught myself saying that over and over again (on Hacked). However, as I learned during the sessions in Dubai, more than 80% of us do not know what their passion is. I started to wonder if I knew what my passion is. And I’m still insecure about that. I do know that I want to contribute to the world, I want to help and serve people. I want to create things that I know other people will love; I want to leave a footprint on this earth.

I often have this mind experiment where I picture myself as 80 years old with bad health in my nursing home. Do I think that I managed to get the most out of life? Am I satisfied with all the things I achieved? Or do I have regrets and feel remorseful? The goal for every person on this earth is to be satisfied with your life when you’re near the end. I guess most people aren’t in reality. And that’s a big shame. Some people might regret that they worked too much, had too little fun, too few good experiences with their loved ones, too few memorable memories.

I pray that I will be happy with my life and what I accomplished.

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How to find your passion

If you do not know what your true passion is, there’s still hope for you. You can spend years trying to find your ultimate passion. Think of what makes you happy, what you enjoy or care for. My strong passion for creating things started in my childhood. I always drew new inventions on a piece of paper and started small kid businesses. I played music; I was a drummer in a nu-metal band, I started to sing and rap and create songs. I painted and used my creative skills to visualize my thoughts. I traveled during holidays and experienced new cultures, new food. Oh, I love good food. I love cooking a great meal for family and friends.

I could probably achieved anything that I had/have passion for. I could have been a:

  • Cook
  • Artist
  • Painter
  • Drummer
  • Entrepreneur

I chose to become an entrepreneur mostly due to financial possibilities. As being financially independent was and is very high on my priority list. But that does not mean that I wouldn’t have a meaningful life being an artist with less money on my hands.

Economist Angus Deaton and psychologist Daniel Kahneman researched happiness and money in 2009 where the focus was on US standards, and it’s population:

So, where does the $75,000 come into play? Researchers found that lower income did not cause sadness itself but made people feel more ground down by the problems they already had. The study found, for example, that among divorced people, about 51% who made less than $1,000 a month reported feeling sad or stressed the previous day, while only 24% of those earning more than $3,000 a month reported similar feelings. Among people with asthma, 41% of low earners reported feeling unhappy, compared with about 22% of the wealthier group. Having money clearly takes the sting out of adversities.

At $75,000, that effect disappears. For people who earn that much or more, individual temperament and life circumstances have much more sway over their lightness of heart than money. The study doesn’t say why $75,000 is the benchmark, but “it does seem to me a plausible number at which people would think money is not an issue,” says Deaton. At that level, people probably have enough expendable cash to do things that make them feel good, like going out with friends. (The federal poverty level for a family of four, by the way, is $22,050.)

So if you live in the US, a goal for financial freedom could be $75 000 or $100 000 as income per year. If you make more than that, you won’t necessarily become happier just because of the money.

However, if you make too much money and you are in an in-group where your peers make much less than you do, you can be in a situation where jealousy and envy will affect your life. And that is not a good feeling at all. I believe that the people in the middle of the scale live the happiest lives. There have been numerous cases where people that won in the lotteries have ended their lives due to envy and jealousy from their friends and family. Where they thought winning a lot of money would make them happier, while it only magnified their problems.


In Design Thinking, empathy is a crucial part of the process. The ability to feel compassion for other human beings. To understand their problems, feelings, and emotions and to share their pain, grief, happiness or sadness. I know for a fact that I could be much more empathic and that is something I will improve. See the video below that shows what empathy is:

We saw this video in Dubai, which almost made me cry (we were in a particular mood..):

There’s so much going on in that video. Mo Cheeks felt empathy with the girl singing the national anthem, and he could feel compassion since he had a daughter at that age.

Things change when you get a child, for me that has a daughter who is seven months, I can relate to the video above. You might not.

What characterizes a great leader?

We did a session where everyone in the room in Dubai explained what a great leader is for them. The list included:

  • Good listener
  • Empathic
  • Understanding
  • Good motivator
  • + more

Most of the points we as leadership potentials defined as a great leader had nothing to do with “IQ.” Most of them had everything to do with “EQ,” emotional intelligence. It is mindblowing that we do not learn more about emotional intelligence during school, and that all businesses focus on “IQ” when hiring, not “EQ.” I believe that is skewed and is important to reflect upon.


We also learned how to be more mindful. They encouraged us to use 30 minutes to sit quietly, close our eyes, focusing on the now. Breathing slowly and try to get as calm as possible. There’s scientific research on how mindfulness can help you become more happier, healthier and more successful:

And then one of the many guides on mindfulness:


We did a session where we were paired up to use mindfulness to listen and repeat. A was given 6 minutes to talk about a challenge at work, B was given 3 minutes to repeat what he/she heard, A was then given 2 minutes to clarify what B might have misinterpreted, B was then finally given 2 minutes to repeat what A clarified. This was a session that made me realize how easy it is to misinterpret. This can be used in every aspect of your life. It is so easy to misunderstand what a person is saying or meaning, so try to ask a question after a discussion: “Did I understand you right, that you want…” or “Could you please clarify what you meant by…”.


A professor of culture and psychology from South Korea gave us a session on writing. How writing in a notebook can help you learn better and understand what was communicated. From now on, I’ll always bring a notebook in meetings and write with my hand. Then I’ll add the written information to my computer later on.


We often say: “I am angry.” That is a big mistake. We are not angry, but we do feel anger. So whenever you “are angry, sad, or irritated,” say in your head that you are “feeling angry, because..” and you will be able to control your emotions in a much more sufficient manner. Do not let the feeling itself take over who you are. You are not your feelings, you simply feel them and they will pass.

And Finally, you have the Siberian Railroad: SBNRR: Stop, Breathe, Notice, React, Respond.


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How I Made It: Multimillion Dollar Cash Flow



Please excuse the image. It’s not a picture of me nor my car. I own a BMW 318 2009 model with a car seat in the back for our seven months old daughter. It’s been some time since I last published a post on I want to let you know that I’m going to be more active in the coming months. I’ve just had too many things on my plate, from my Digital Trainee job at Wilhelmsen to, CryptoCoinsNews, MoneyMakers, and family. I want to explain how I’ve managed to create a company with a multimillion-dollar cashflow. Remember, I’ve spent more than nine years on reaching my current level. I’ve had multiple failures, I’ve lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but I’ve also made a lot of money and recognition.

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When I was 16 years old, I started my first company which I registered on my mom. I called it for “Limitless Juggernaut, ” and it was a clothing line that I started to sell in Tønsberg (a small city in Norway). I managed to get my clothes in one shop in Tønsberg, but it did not catch on. I think I sold five to ten pieces and ended up with a loss of $5000. I worked as a phone seller to make the money I spent on my micro startup. In 2008, when I was 18, I started a phone import business where I imported phones from China and sold it on Norway’s “ebay.” I managed to make $3500 in profit each month while attending high school. There was a guy in Oslo, the capital of Norway, that wanted to get into the phone businesses with me. I was young and naive; I put too much trust in a stranger that ended up hustling me. He gained control of my stock, and I transferred some money to him, then I never heard back. I decided to shut the business down.

In 2009 I started studying Entrepreneurship and Business at a college in Oslo. That’s when I founded MyGoodAct which was one of the first crowdfunding platforms for social causes. During four years the platform raised more than 1.5 million USD to different social causes. I managed to sign up the most significant NGOs in Norway, but the main issue was to establish a positive cash flow for the startup. Even though we won awards, was funded by some larger companies and organizations, we never really got the traction we needed. I decided to shut MyGoodAct down in 2015.

In 2013, when I was working part-time for an NGO, I discovered Bitcoin (Cyprus chaos was blowing up the Bitcoin price and made it to the news). I fell in love with the digital currency, mostly due to its deflationary functions. I was sick of the fundamentals of our economy, with fraction banking and the private FED. At that time, there were few news sites for Bitcoin, so I started CryptoCoinsNews. I started writing two to three articles per day, posted stories on and Reddit. After a couple of months, the site had 100 to 300 visitors per day, and I managed to secure one advertiser that paid one bitcoin per month for the top banner. After that, I had some funds to pay other writers with, so I started to recruit writers. The site grew, I got more advertisers that paid a fixed fee per banner on a monthly basis. Today, CCN is one of the largest bitcoin news sources in the world. Last month, I bought CCN.COM for 150 000 USD, and we are doing a complete redesign of the site and hiring more full-time writers. I want to make CCN the world leader in cryptocurrency news, just like is for stocks.

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I bought in 2014 for $50 000. I saw the domain on, and I had profits from my previous bitcoin investments. I had no plan for the domain; I just thought it was the coolest domain I’ve ever seen available. I was up 24 hours bidding on the frigging domain while watching The 100 on Netflix. The other bidder I was bidding against only increased the price with 50 to 100 USD at the end of each auction period, which made the auction extend with another hour. I became so tired and angry at that tactic, so I contacted the seller and told him that I’d exit the auction if we do not end this soon. I was ready to bump it up with $5 000 or even $10 000 just to be done with it. The seller added a buy now price at $50 000, and I was able to purchase it before the other bidder.

We started as a technology news site, at one point, we had a trending story on Reddit that made it to the front page of It generated almost a million visitors during one day; our servers could not handle the traffic. However, even with one million visitors, we only made $2000 in ad revenue from Adsense. And, you need to keep pumping out extraordinary articles to keep such a momentum. The prices for such articles could be anywhere from $50 to $500. I did not have the funds to keep funding writers and attract better talent, as the site always operated with a loss. After one year, I decided to put on pause.

In 2015 I started Tailored Message that was a news app for youth in Norway, with gamification and a shop. The idea was to make a clone of “Instagram/Reddit” for news and blogs and let the users earn points based on ads in the app that they could spend on products in our in-app store. We launched the app in April 2016, and we got more than 20 000 downloads, just in Norway, and made it to the top 3 most downloaded apps. I spent almost 100 000 USD on the startup, and in the summer of 2016, we secured 200 000 USD in funding including a marketing deal with one of Norway’s largest media companies worth 300 000 USD. I moved into the media company and hired a salesperson. Unfortunately, the marketing deal that was signed by their director was never followed through. I spent almost six months implement the marketing deal that we already had agreed on. The media company always had excuses for why they could not implement it, and we changed the marketing deal two times without any success. The investors I had became worried, and in the winter of 2016, I decided to shut it down, pay the investors back with what was left, and try to focus on something else. I went to a lawyer in Oslo, and he told me that we could sue the media company for our losses, but that it would cost $30 000 and could take a year or two. I was upset, but I did not want to have a lawsuit to define my next year. I backed out.

What I learned from this experience, which was a very tough period in my life (as I hate to disappoint people that put their trust in me), is that you should never depend on a single deal you make with any company. Especially large companies. In large companies, you have so many different opinions, so many shitheads, so many useless persons that only think about themselves and their KPIs. If you are working with large companies, you need backup solutions. I think the best way to run a startup is to be independent, and just gun for it on your own. Fuck the large companies; they are too slow for a startup.

Well, that’s funny. But I was hired in January 2017 by Wilhelmsen, one of the largest shipping companies in the world, as a Digital Trainee. I had lost most of my cash holdings due to Tailored Message, and I needed something more stable to focus on. My wife was pregnant, and we expected our child in April 2017. I’ve never worked fulltime in a large corporation before, and I thought it would be a great experience to learn how it works. Right now I’m working on a 3D print project where Wilhelmsen wants to 3D print ship parts to the maritime industry, which has been and is an amazing project. I have a leading role there, and I’m learning many new things.

I’m a person that need multiple projects to be satisfied. So after working hours at Wilhelmsen, I pivoted into becoming the service you see today, based on subscriptions. I hired a couple of people, and we started small. After a couple of months, we had a positive cash flow, and I could hire more people to take over some of the time-consuming tasks. And now, is probably the largest paid cryptocurrency community in the world. My initial idea with was to educate people in how they can become more independent of the 9-5 job reality most are living in. This is something that I want to focus more on in the coming years. I also want to host conferences and meetups in 2018. I think we can make something great out of and be supportive of each other.

Right now, both CCN and is generating more money than I would ever dream of. It’s now a multimillion-dollar cash flow business. And I think it’s safe to say that I’ve already reached my long-term goal. Of course, we have large expenses, but the profit is still positive and enables me to invest more in the ventures and improve them.

I’m still working as a Digital Trainee at Wilhelmsen, and please understand that I’ve been working nonstop now for the past two years, I’ve never had one full day off. Sometimes I’ve had to work nights because of DDoS attacks, server problems or similar. I’ve employed more people to take some of the daily tasks I’ve had. I’m also focusing on spending more time with my wife and daughter, as I’ve been absent for an extended period. Money, cash flow, and business is not everything, family, friends, and experiences are what you will remember when you are 80 years old. Remember to enjoy your life.

However, I’m still not satisfied. That’s the way I am as a person. Damaged. Entrepreneurial. I continuously want to improve, want to launch better services, give more people the services that they appreciate. Help people reach their full potential. I think there are some good opportunities in the shipping industry, and I may be able to do something fascinating with Wilhelmsen in the coming years.

Focus on what you love to do, and never look back. Don’t let a shitty job bring you down.

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My first experience with Robot Trading: Up $5 000 in Two Weeks



Since I’m pressed on time with multiple obligations (job, familiy,, CCN, MoneyMakers) I decided for a couple of weeks ago to look into robot trading. I wanted to find one or multiple robots to do the trading for me. I ended up with downloading MetaTrader 5 and buying two different robots from their marketplace. I started with 16 000 USD on the trading account, and after two weeks the robots have made me $5 000.

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That’s a whopping 31% increase within 2 weeks…!

My robots usually trade during the night, and I’ve decided to completely trust them. The 16 000 USD is a sum I’m more than happy to lose if I can learn anything from dealing with trading robots.

When that is said, MetaTrader’s interface really “SUCKS”. It’s so bad, I can’t understand why MetaTrader is considered the best trading terminal for robots. Maybe that’s a good business idea for someone out there? Disrupt MetaTrader.

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So, which robots do I use?

I do not want to disclose that just yet, I need to test my robots rigorously before I can recommend any of them. And if this is a money making machine, we can laugh all the way to the bank.

Have a good weekend.

Important: Never invest money you can't afford to lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here.

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