Keeping the Simulator Pristine

How Do You Use the Simulator?

Do you trade on a simulator? If so, what do you use it for?

  1. Are you practicing learning a trading platform?
  2. Are you perfecting strategies and testing them?
  3. Are you going wild to see how much $ you can make in this “safe” environment?

I got to thinking about my use of the simulator these last few weeks. In the past, I have fallen into number 3 above–going wild–on the simulator. I realize now, I was only training myself for failure. Let me tell you why. . .

My Training

When I learned to trade, we were taught to use real money. The simulator was just for learning the platform and maybe testing a strategy. (But, even the platform and strategies were learned using real money.) The message was, just trade really small share sizes until you “get it.

Now, this same school teaches students to use the simulator first. Thank God. They teach students to simulate their trading for several months through “stage 2” of a 8 stage progression. (Each stage requires having a certain level of competence before moving to the next stage.) This way to start trading makes so much more sense to me.  I wish I had learned this method when I was trained!

So, fast forward to now. I am back on the simulator as I progress through stages 1 and 2, on my way to trading live again, when I reach “stage 3”. I have no issue with this. I have lost enough trading live money, that I am happy now to show competence first!

Reflections on Simulating

Now, I am reflecting on using the simulator. Up until recently, I didn’t give it much thought. The simulator for me was more of a game. I suspect that is why we were taught not to use it. Because if you don’t have real money in the game, you don’t take is seriously, right?

Many of us take simulated trades we would never take with live money. It is challenging to trade simulated trades, in a Pristine way, the same way we trade live money. Have you traded thousands or millions of dollars, doubled down, been crazy with your simulator trades, just to see how much money you could make?. . . I think it is a mistake.

The simulator is not a game, even as much fun as it can be to play with. It should be taken with utter seriousness and only be used as though it is live money. This may seem harsh to some, and like a no-brainer to others. It is a wonderful tool for training, while you learn to trade, correctly.

Make sure to be profitable on the simulator before you trade live. If your live trading starts to slip, consider going back to the simulator, and using it for “training,” being as careful as you can to trade exactly as you would with live money.

Practice Makes Perfect

What we practice on the sim is training us. So, if you practice being careless, it can carry over to your live trades. As much as you can, try to believe it is real money you are trading. Practice until you have profitable days consistently. Train your mind and subconscious not only how to make money, but also to be comfortable making money. It prepares you for the real thing.

The Upper Limit

Most all of us have an “upper limit” tolerance level for “good” in our lives. Beyond this limit, we may not be able to tolerate any more good coming to us. This might sound counter-intuitive. “Of course I want more good, more $, etc.” you might say. But that isn’t how the subconscious works. There is a level beyond which we are not used to, or are comfortable with, more good.

When we hit our upper limit, our behavior changes and we “correct” for the situation. Things have become too good and need to be brought back into our comfort range. We sabotage ourselves, almost like a resistance level acts as a ceiling for a stock’s price upward. Price reaches the resistance levels and retreats. . .

How to Expand Your Upper Limit

The good news is your upper limit level can be expanded. That is the goal of practicing, of visualizing (I will do a blog on this soon), of journaling, etc., feeling your feelings and developing awareness. . . These tools let you grow your comfort zone. (See the book, The Big Leap, for a great read on the subject of The Upper Limit.)

So, I invite you to practice expanding your upper limit, using the simulator.

My client “Bill” had traded successfully for years. However, he “played small.” Although he had been profitable, had winning strategies, and had great self-discipline, he hadn’t let himself trade more than 100-200 shares per trade.

I advised “Bill” to try trading 300-400 shares in the simulator. To treat it like real money as much as he could. He was to notice discomfort or other feelings or thoughts that came up when trading the larger share size. Pretty soon, through some tools like this, he was able to “stretch” his comfort zone with increased share size and try it live.

This is a great use for the simulator. Just make sure you keep it “pristine.” Let it assist you in learning. . . not the other way around!

What is your experience with the simulator?. . . let’s hear your comments.

Wishing You Awareness,

Andrea Wylan, MPH, CPCC
Trader Coach


Visit my website here.
Sign up for my newsletter here.
Join the LinkedIn Trading Psychology group.


For a complimentary private consultation, please email
Andrea at awylan@yahoo.com.

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5 thoughts on “Keeping the Simulator Pristine

  1. When I started trading, there was no Internet, no automation, and no simulators. I wish there were. As it happened, I traded for 14 years before I had a profitable year. It was a very expensive education. Now, I suspect you could trim that down to a year or less by using a simulator. Go for it!

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