The following is an interview with one of the most powerful traders I have ever known and whom I consider the best trader I have ever known. His purpose in this agreement of this interview is to help those who have that ability and desire to become the best traders they can possible be. There is no claim to fame so to speak but only the honest effort to bring to other traders the insight of a very difficult business of trading for a living.
ALS – Phantom, why do we start this book without knowing who you are for others to admire and thank?
Phantom of the Pits – I remember being on a train after one of my first trading days and thinking of how I had doubled my account in that one day. I looked around and was so proud of what I had done but not one person on the train knew or would even care if they did know. At that point my direction was self-driven in seeking out what was possible in trading. I know more now than I knew then. The markets as a trader have humbled me more times than I wish to remember. It’s always easier for an observer to put their finger on a problem than the one who is wrapped up in the situation. That is who I am! I am the observer and I wish to point out the line in the sand. I don’t know who puts the line in the sand but I clearly see it. Who remembers he who points out the line? You may call me Phantom of the Pits from here forward and we shall remain as the shadow of your writings.
ALS – After over three decades of trading why haven’t you written a book sooner?
POP (Phantom of the Pits) – I have but they have all seemed to be outdated because knowledge is quicker in coming than in writing I always wanted to have it exact. I have made mistakes and to give my mistakes to others seemed to be admitting I was wrong. It has taken years to understand that being wrong is what trading is all about.
ALS – Surely there are those who know you and appreciate what you have accomplished in your trading career. Why don’t you accept their recognition?
POP – I have always believed that there are two sides to a coin. In fact I find out that there are times when you could argue a third. I won’t take credit for what I have accomplished. There are no guarantees and I have been put on notice a few times. My success is nothing without putting a bucket full of water beside the pump to prime it for the next trader, the other side of the coin. There will always be those who drink all the water from the bucket (the third side of the coin.) Why shouldn’t the thirst of others be fulfilled when it can be done so easily?
ALS – To You what is the most important aspect of trading?
POP – Behavior modification without doubt is the key to trading success. Not only in how we think but also how we act in certain situations. We must adapt to changing situations which we have no control. We often must change the situations of which we do have control when trading.
ALS – Let’s start your writings and insights into successful trading from any background you can give us of your trading! Is there any important point you wish to make about your trading background.
POP – My only point is that I am not different from any of the readers who will read this. How I got started or who I am makes no difference in trading. Let us not dwell in such trivia, which has no significance in how your readers will succeed. What was is and what is was but a breath after the markets close.
ALS – Ok, with me if it is ok with you that we get started with our behavior modification of trading! 6
POP – Ok with me but a little history on my first access to behavior modification as a child. My brother was at a tour of a blacksmith’s shop in his youth and watched the blacksmith take channel lock pliers, hold a horseshoe, hit it with a ball pin hammer a few times to shape it, and then put it into a fire to temper the metal. Upon removing the horseshoe from the fire and dipping it into water, a tempering process, he laid it down! At that point my brother picked it up and threw it down on the ground. The blacksmith looked at my brother and said “Hot isn’t it son?” Well my brother said “It don’t take me long to look at a horseshoe!” That taught me more in trading than anything else. Trading is not taking long to look at a horseshoe. Don’t ever forget that!
ALS – Trading is like a hot horseshoe?
POP – Your losers are your hot horseshoes! Note: Phantom has observed and participated in an internet forum sponsored by Futures Magazine in an effort to pay his debt to other traders. Many sharp traders frequent the forum as well as beginning traders. One remark of interest in observation of the forum by Phantom was as to how effective knowledge can travel today compared to the late 60’s and early 70’s. It is Phantom’s thought that he who has the most toys will not win but he who has the most knowledge and can change their behavior to what is needed will take it home.
“It should never take long to look at a horseshoe”—POP
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