Taking three losses in a row and coming out of it!

3 losses in a row are tough. That’s about the most consecutive losses that novice traders are psychologically prepared to accept before they feel compelled to take action and ‘correct’ the situation.

If you’re anything but a total newbie, I’m sure you’ll recognize the symptoms:

Frustration – Why me? I’ve worked so hard. Everyone else in the forum appears to be getting good results with this strategy? Nothing ever works out for me.
Anger - That strategy developer is a liar and a crook. My broker is running my stops. Someone should be held accountable for this.
Doubt – What if the strategy doesn’t work? What if I can’t trade? How am I going to support my family?
Fear– I can’t lose more money, what will everyone say about me when they know I’m a loser? How can I tell my wife/husband that I’ve lost again?

And if that’s not enough, the novice trader will likely be afflicted with the crippling inability to pull the trigger on the next trade, in fear of hitting a fourth loss in a row.

Usually, there is one of two responses:

  1. The strategy is tweaked to ensure that the modified version would not have triggered these losing trades, through:
    a) Swapping one indicator for another,
    b) Optimising indicator parameters, or
    c) Adding an additional filter.
  2. Totally abandoning the strategy, usually followed by returning to their favourite forum to find the next Holy Grail strategy that is designed to make their dreams come true.

Is this the right response though?

Typically, trading decisions which are influenced by emotions rarely result in the right action. So, what should be done?

First, before we continue, you need to confirm that you do have a valid, proven trading strategy. Have you conducted appropriate testing to satisfy yourself that it provides a positive expectancy? If not, stop trading it right now and return to testing. I don’t care what reason you had for jumping straight into a live trading environment, but the fact is that it’s difficult to psychologically trade a strategy in a consistent and disciplined manner when you don’t have complete confidence in its rules. You need to conduct thorough testing.

But assuming you have a strategy that has proven itself through positive results either in a testing or live trading environment, simply refer to your testing results or past trading history, and you’ll confirm that three losses in a row is a quite normal occurrence. In fact, it’s quite normal to have a lot more than three in a row. And it does not mean that your strategy is flawed.

It’s going to happen. It’s a normal occurrence. Accept it.

So, based on this, what’s a reasonable response from a trader following three losses in a row?

The first thing is to confirm all three trades were entered and managed in accordance with your plan. You should be doing this for every trade anyway, but if you’re a very short term trader then perhaps you don’t get an opportunity till after the session is over. If that’s the case, and you’ve get three consecutive losses which appear to be worrying you, pause to review them now. If they’re not valid trades, find out why you entered them, refocus on your plan and your goals and then continue trading. if they’re valid trades, you might want to consider the one of the following action:

  1. If you are a rules based Mechanical trader keep trading
  2. Take a break from market…relax, refresh recharge.
  3. Give time to review your trades , it is as important as trading.
  4. Check your position size, Are you trading in a relaxed manner or are you trading in a hurry?
  5. Focus on the process of trading rather than the money.
    One final thing! If three losses in a row does not necessarily equate to a flawed strategy, but It is important you to review what is the impact of draw-down on your portfolio. if you are blowing out your account then you need to stop trading and review thoroughly. But if it is minor losses then you know its part of the business you are in…

Allright…Good luck…Have a great week ahead.

All the best…
Suresh …:grinning::metal::+1::pray:

Meanwhile Do check out @nithin interview of Jack D Schwager… Very interesting…


As Always, a very useful post. Thanks @SureshG. :ok_hand:

I am just thinking about the significance of number “3” in trading. Its kind of funny but a fact. It seems very significant. 3 continuous trading losses wrecks the mind, 3 continuous trading profits also wrecks the account, i mean causes euphoria … and we know what happens then. In technical analysis, three equally seems important. Triple topmountains, H&S with three tops, triple bottom, three continuous candle to confirm a signal etc.


@TraderVenk So true, In fact 3 is usually a tipping point psychologically where doubts creep in. it is one of the first hurdles in traders life… I remember Peter Brandt in his book telling that he went almost three months win-less and I was shocked but then later realized that in-spite of such series of losses …his year end P&L was positive… learned the importance of small losses and tighter stop-loss…

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Quite strong words! You have become very strict Teacher now :smile: but wonderful write up as always :pray:

another 3 in addition to what you said - handling three trades per month :wink:

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@saiography:grinning: …when you lose money usually you listen to someone…but when you win rarely you listen to anyone!.. Since the guys who lost it 3 in a row are my target audience,…I can as well drive a point home with firmness!..:wink:

As far as three trades a month!..well I might beat it this year!..:grinning:


Yes 3 has some deep significance like you mentioned…Also 3 pushes up in a Channel creates a Wedge which is a common reversal pattern


@ManishAstral…good one…good pattern for channel trading…:ok_hand:

I agree that if you withstand failure for a certain period of time, then you should simply not trade and do something else for a while, because it has a bad effect on your psyche and everything connected with it.

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Thanks @Hanker