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Keys to Becoming a Successful Scalp Trader

| April 15, 2021 | By

Scalping is a trading strategy designed to harvest small gains repeatedly to secure long-run profitability. Markets that feature consistent liquidity and volatility are ideal for implementing scalping strategies. As a result, scalpers commonly target such futures products as WTI crude oil, the E-mini S&P 500, and gold.

Although benefits like limited risk and regular cash flow are attractive, trade-related efficiency is vital to success. In this blog, we’ll cover a few tips on how to optimize live-market efficiency and profit as a scalper trader.

Develop a True Scalping System

Scalping systems come in a wide variety of formats and are based on countless methodologies. Although some traders choose to scalp fundamental items such as economic reports or the daily market open/close, a majority of strategies are rooted in technical analysis. However, no matter the basis, a true scalping strategy does the following:

  • Identifies a high volume of trade setups
  • Provides concrete trade management guidelines
  • Aligns risk to reward with long-run profitability in mind

At the end of the day, the success of any scalping strategy depends on precisely executing a high volume of positive-expectation trades. Thus, to make money as a scalper trader, it is important that your strategy identifies an abundance of trade setups, provides a clear-cut management structure, and focuses on beneficial risk versus reward scenarios.

Aggressively Attack Latency

For scalpers, latency is the enemy. Anything that hinders the flow of data to and from the exchange enhances latency and undermines the strategy’s efficacy. A few profit-killing elements created by undue latency are the reception of untimely pricing data and increased order slippage. Unfortunately, both of these items negatively influence sound decision-making and sustainable profitability.

If you’re going to engage the futures markets as a scalper trader, then eliminating undue latency is a critical task. Here are a few tips on how to do just that:

  • Keep your computer hardware modern and in good working order.
  • Always update your trading software to the current version and remain glitch-free.
  • Perform periodic internet “ping” tests with brokerage and exchange servers to monitor the strength of your connection with the market.
  • Secure direct market access (DMA) to interact with the exchange free of any intermediaries.

Each of these precautions will promote efficiency by reducing trade-related latencies. Issues such as data bottlenecks and brokerage server crashes are out of your control, but it is crucial to eliminate any and all user-side latency issues.

Find an Ideal Target Market

After you have built a scalping strategy and addressed trade-related latency, it will be time to select a market. As we mentioned above, the best markets to scalp have two attributes in common:

  • Liquidity: Deep, liquid markets are ideal for scalping strategies. They feature strong order flow, which promotes tight bid/ask spreads and low slippage rates. The robust participation ensures a higher degree of efficiency when entering and exiting the market.
  • Volatility: To create a large number of trade setups, a market needs to exhibit consistent price action. Without frequent pricing fluctuations, or at least a moderate degree of elasticity, it can be challenging to find enough scalping opportunities to sustain profitability.

It is nearly impossible to understate how important market selection is to a scalper. Thin, quiet markets are best avoided in favor of deep, active venues. Without adequate market depth and consistent pricing volatility, making money as a scalper trader is a Herculean task.

Are You Ready to Give Scalping a Try?

Among the various trading styles, scalping is a unique discipline. Unlike day, swing, or long-term trading, scalping requires the utmost precision to generate intermediate and long-term results. Although scalping can be difficult, many market participants view the strategy’s limited risk and inexpensive nature to be very attractive.

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