Updated: June 12, 2013 at 9:08 AM by Tom Cleveland .
Forex scalping is a popular method involving the quick opening and liquidation of positions. The term “quick” is imprecise, but it is generally meant to define a timeframe of about 3-5 minutes at most, while most scalpers will maintain their positions for as little as one minute.
The popularity of scalping is born of its perceived safety as a trading style. Many traders argue that since scalpers maintain their positions for a brief time period in comparison to regular traders, market exposure of a scalper is much shorter than that of a trend follower, or even a day trader, and consequently, the risk of large losses resulting from strong market moves is smaller. Indeed, it is possible to claim that the typical scalper cares only about the bid-ask spread, while concepts like trend, or range are not very significant to him. Although scalpers need ignore these market phenomena, they are under no obligation to trade them, because they concern themselves only with the brief periods of volatility created by them.
Is Forex Scalping for you?
Forex scalping is not a suitable strategy for every type of trader. The returns generated in each position opened by the scalper is usually small; but great profits are made as gains from each closed small position are combined. Scalpers do not like to take large risks, which means that they are willing to forgo great profit opportunities in return for the safety of small, but frequent gains. Consequently, the scalper needs to be a patient, diligent individual who is willing to wait as the fruits of his labors translate to great profits over time. An impulsive, excited character who seeks instant gratification and aims to “make it big” with each consecutive trade is unlikely to achieve anything but frustration while using this strategy.
Attention is essential for the forex scalper
Scalping also demands a lot more attention from the trader in comparison to other styles such as swing-trading, or trend following. A typical scalper will open and close tens, and in some cases, more than a hundred positions in an ordinary trading day, and since none of the positions can be allowed to suffer great losses (so that we can protect the bottom line), the scalper cannot afford to be careful about some, and negligent about some of his positions. It may appear to be a formidable task at first sight, but scalping can be an involving, even fun trading style once the trader is comfortable with his practices and habits. Still, it is clear that attentiveness and strong concentration skills are necessary for the successful forex scalper. One does not need to be born equipped with such talents, but practice and commitment to achieve them are indispensable if a trader has any serious intention of becoming a real scalper.
Automated trading systems
Scalping can be demanding, and time-consuming for those who are not full-time traders. Many of us pursue trading merely as an additional income source, and would not like to dedicate five six hours every day to the practice. In order to deal with this problem, automated trading systems have been developed, and they are being sold with rather incredible claims all over the web. We do not advise our readers to waste their time trying to make such strategies work for them; at best you will lose some money while having some lessons about not trusting anyone’s word so easily. However, if you design your own automated systems for trading (with some guidance from seasoned experts and self-education through practice) it may be that you shorten the time which must be dedicated to trading while still being able to use scalping techniques. And an automated forex scalping technique does not need to be fully automatic; you may hand over the routine and systematic tasks such as stop-loss and take-profit orders to the automated system, while assuming the analytical side of the task yourself. This approach, to be sure, is not for everyone, but it is certainly a worthy option.
Some words on trade
sizes and forex scalping
Finally, scalpers should always keep the importance of consistency in trade sizes while using their favored method. Using erratic trade sizes while scalping is the safest way to ensure that you will have a wiped-out forex account in no time, unless you stop practicing scalping before the inevitable end. Scalping is based on the principle that profitable trades will cover the losses of failing ones in due time, but if you pick position sizes randomly, the rules of probability dictate that sooner or later an oversized, leveraged loss will crash all the hard work of a whole day, if not longer. Thus, the scalper must make sure that he pursues a predefined strategy with attention, patience and consistent trade sizes. This is just the beginning, of course, but without a good beginning we would diminish our odds of success, or at least reduce our profit potential.
Now let’s take a look at the contents of this article where forex scalping is discussed with all its details, advantages and disadvantages. Our suggestion is that you peruse all of this article and absorb all the information that can benefit you. But if you think that you’re already familiar with some of the material, to shorten your route, we present the table of contents of this article.
1. How scalpers make money : Here we will take a look at the logic behind scalping, and we’ll discuss the best conditions and necessary adjustments which must be made by a scalper for profitable trading.
2. Choosing the right broker for scalping : Not every broker is accommodative to scalping. Sometimes this is the stated policy of the firm, at other times the broker creates the conditions which make successful scalping impossible. It is important that the novice scalper know what to look for in the broker before opening his account, and here we’ll try to enlighten you on these important points.
3. Best currencies for Scalping : There are currency pairs where scalping is easy and lucrative, and there are others where we advise strongly against the use of this strategy. In this part we’ll discuss this important subject in detail and give you usable hints for your trades.
4. Best times for Scalping : There is an ongoing debate about the best times for successful scalping in the forex market. We’ll present the various opinions, and then offer our own conclusion.
5. Strategies in Scalping : Strategies in scalping need not differ substantially from other short-term methods. On the other hand, there are particular price patterns and configurations where scalping is more profitable. We’ll examine and study them in depth in this section.
a. Range Scalping: Some traders consider ranging markets better suited for scalping strategies. Here we’ll examine why, and how to scalp under such conditions.
b. Breakout Scalping: We’ll examine news breakouts, and technical breakouts separately and discuss suitable scalping strategies for both.
c. Trend Scalping: Here we’ll take a general look at forex scalping in trending markets.
6. Trend Following while Scalping : Trends are volatile, and many scalpers choose to trade them like a trend follower, while minimizing the trade lifetime in order to control market risk. In this part we’ll examine the usage of Fibonacci extension levels for scalping trends.
7. Disadvantages and Criticism of Scalping : Scalping is not for everyone, and even seasoned scalpers and those committed to the style would do well to keep in mind some of the dangers and disadvantages involved in using the style blindly.
8. Conclusions on Scalping : In this final section we’ll combine the lessons and discussions of the previous chapters, and reach at conclusions about who should use the forex scalping trading style, and the best conditions under which it can be utilized.
Risk Statement: Trading Foreign Exchange on margin carries a high level of risk and may not be suitable for all investors. The possibility exists that you could lose more than your initial deposit. The high degree of leverage can work against you as well as for you.