How much money do I need to start day trading futures?

One of the biggest advantages of day trading Emini S&P 500 (ES) futures is the option to get started with a very small account.  There are a number of brokers out there that will allow you to open an account with as little as $2,500 that have intraday margin requirements of just $500 for a single contract.  Other brokers have minimum starting account balances of $10,000 or even more but most don't really provide any major advantage just for having a larger account.

At Samurai Trading Academy we recommend that traders start with an account of $5,000 or more but only after achieving consistent success for extended periods in simulated trading.  With our trading approach, a STA trader can expect an average losing trade with one contract to be worth ~$50.  This means the average risk will be about 1% of your total account for a given trade if using a $5,000 account.  It's important that newer traders never exceed 2% risk on a single trade so starting with a slightly larger account provides us with some extra flexibility in terms of risk management.

Many people are surprised that you can get started as an active day trader with such a small amount of capital, especially if they've heard of the Pattern Day Trader Rule.   Basically, the Securities and Exchange Commission calls anyone who executes 4 or more day trades in 5 business days a Pattern Day Trader, which then places a requirement on them to always have $25,000 of capital in their account at all times.  This rule is an extremely limiting restriction placed upon stock traders but doesn't apply to traders in the futures markets.  Most people who get started with trading are trying to develop a new skill for the future and don't have the ability or desire to go "all-in" with $25,000 or more right from the start which makes the lower financial restrictions of futures ideal for developing traders.

Who is Cody Hind, the Founder and Head Trader at Samurai Trading Academy?

I am an Emini S&P 500 (ES) futures and Forex day trader who has been actively trading the markets for over a decade.  I first became interested in trading when I was still in grade school and we had a class project to pick stocks and track them over the course of two months. I remember having no idea what any of the symbols were or what these companies did but I picked based on some random criteria and hoped for the best.  What I ended up getting was a losing performance but I still enjoyed the learning experience and a seed had been planted - I wanted to learn to trade.

Although I then went on to university and built my own businesses outside the markets, I always had that interest in trading in the back of my mind.  I started to research and realized that my business education had taught me almost nothing about what it actually meant to be a trader but I was determined to push through this uncharted territory step by step.  There were numerous ups and downs along the way, of course, but eventually I came to the conclusion that I could make this a profession and I haven't looked back since.

Like anyone who gets into this business without the proper training and education, I made mistakes.  I did some foolish things in my early days and those mistakes cost money and were a source of lots of frustration and stress.  It's not uncommon for new traders to go through this process but I also think these many of these mistakes can and should be avoided.  My goal with Samurai Trading Academy is to help traders avoid many of the costly pitfalls associated with this business through the combination of a thorough trading education, a solid trading plan and an exceptional support system.

Why did you start Samurai Trading Academy?

I'll be the first to admit that a few years ago the idea of building something like Samurai Trading Academy had never even crossed my mind.  My own trading business was my primary focus and nearly all my energy was poured that direction except for a few collaborative research efforts with other full-time traders I knew well through various online forums.

I didn't initially set out to teach at all but after a number of years trading professionally I did have two close friends who had expressed lots of interest in what I was doing and after a lot of coaxing I finally decided to work with them over a few months doing some hands-on coaching.  I found teaching what I knew while seeing their skills and profitability grow to be a surprisingly rewarding experience that had the added bonus of improving my own trading and perspective, which made me eager to further explore teaching others.  I then set myself to breaking down my Forex methods in an easy to understand way so that any trader would be able to pick them up and trade them or incorporate my methods into their own.  It took weeks of work but when I was done I sent it to a number of my friends and the response was incredibly positive.

Despite some initial reservations about putting my methods out on the public forum that is the internet, the encouragement of trusted trading friends their positive reception eventually convinced me to give it a try.  This turned out to be one of my best business decisions as it brought me in direct touch with dozens of high motivated traders and I was able to directly work with them to improve their trading results.  Although I really enjoyed this more limited training and coaching process involving coursebooks and email support, one request kept popping up and that was for a more in-depth and comprehensive training program.  People were looking for more direct and personal coaching along with live market training so they could make the full transition to becoming a day trader.

I knew this would be a huge personal commitment that would affect my own trading business so it was over a year after releasing my Forex methods before I finally decided that a coaching role was something I was willing to take on.  I decided that as long as I could balance the needs of my own trading business by only working with a very small group of traders then the benefits of being able to help people achieve their trading goals would be well worth the effort.

With that, Samurai Trading Academy was born.  The goal was simple - to create consistently profitable day traders that could realize their financial freedom.  To do this I built a program that combines technical knowledge in an extensive Curriculum, live market analysis and training, and total access to myself to support you along the way.

If you can day trade yourself then why do you teach?

This is actually one of the most common questions I get but I still find it a bit surprising when it does come up.  What I find odd about the question is that often people suggest that anyone who can trade should be trading at all times, and that somehow teaching is a waste because of the potential profits lost.  While it's certainly true that teaching others often cuts into one's own trading profits substantially, there are a few reasons that I find it to be an extremely worthwhile endeavour.

The Satisfaction of Helping Others Reach Their Goals

Becoming a consistently profitable and successful day trader is an extremely satisfying experience.  It's a lot of work and effort but seeing it pay off makes it all worth it.  What might be even more rewarding however is when you help others achieve those goals too.  My enjoyment of this profession comes from a lot more than just the money and there's nothing better than sharing the joy of trading with others and helping them to improve.  Coaching traders is really no different from coaching in sports or the arts.  While helping someone else find success does have a different "feel" to it than doing it yourself, there is still a great deal of pride that comes from helping others achieve their trading goals.

To Continually Learn and Improve

There is a reason that so many top performers in various disciplines teach others - it helps them to improve as well!  Taking complex subjects and breaking them down piece by piece so that the novice can understand them actually improves our own understanding in the process.  There are a lot of skills that when repeated often enough over time are eventually performed on a sub-conscious level.  Pulling these processes into our conscious minds and fully examining them so they can be taught to others in a simple, step-by-step way is very useful for opening up new avenues of creative thought and continuing the teacher's own education.

Creating a Social Environment

Probably the best part of teaching is being able to work with so many like-minded people who share my passion for the markets.  Anyone who has traded for a while can tell you that sometimes trading is a lonely business.  You are usually working on your own and few of your friends and family truly understand the type of work you do on a daily basis.  Coaching other traders allows me to work with a number of great people in a positive, supportive environment where we are always pushing each other to improve.

What exactly is involved in the STA Training Program?

The training program at Samurai Trading Academy has one goal – to create consistently profitable day traders.  To achieve this I have students go through an intensive 3 month process that tackles learning to day trade from numerous angles.  We start with an extensive written curriculum that covers all aspects of trading from basic material like using a trading platform and executing trades, beginner technical analysis concepts such as market structure and price momentum, putting it all together in a comprehensive trading plan, and eventually all the way to some advanced concepts for experienced traders.

We complement this with live market training multiple times per week along with question/answer sessions to cover anything a student wants more detail on.  Most importantly, the training program has you working with me on a highly individual basis as we strive to build your trading skills and improve your profitability week to week with a thorough results-based review, eventually culminating in the achievement of your overall goals.

I feel this kind of direct feedback and collaborative effort is essential to students finding both short and long-term success in this business.  In order to achieve that it's important that I work with no more than a few traders at any given time to make sure they get the attention necessary to build their skills and I expect anyone who joins the program to make a substantial time and effort commitment as well to ensure we get the best outcomes possible.

The STA Training Program isn't meant for those that are just looking to dip their toes in the water to learn some trading basics, but is instead geared towards those who want to take their trading into a more professional level of consistency and profitability in a wide variety of market conditions.  That takes time, perseverance and consistent effort but if a student has sufficient motivation and determination then it can certainly be achieved.

Do I need prior trading experience to join your training program?

No.  The key quality I look for when considering applicants is an intense desire to succeed as a day trader and that can be found in total market newcomers and 10+ year veterans alike.  While it is certainly useful to have a basic understanding of trading and concepts like trendlines and moving averages, the program has actually been designed to cover all of these topics in detail.  I believe it's vital that all traders have a good understanding of many of the core concepts we use every day so they are continually reinforced throughout the learning process.

Interestingly, it's not uncommon to see those with the least experience actually have the best results.  Often people who have been trading the markets for a number of years have very established patterns of thought and behaviour which can make the learning process for a new trading methodology quite a bit more difficult.  While we do find ways to push through these barriers and help veteran traders develop in new and exciting ways, novice traders and their accelerated learning curves are hardly at a disadvantage.

Do I need to be able to watch the market every day to be a part of the program?

No.  Trading is a skill and it does take some time, study, and practice to develop it but you can do much of that on your own time.  Platforms like NinjaTrader have robust simulated trading features which allow developing traders to practice as if in a live market at any time of the day.

I conduct live market sessions from 9:30 EST to 11:30 EST a couple of days per week and we also save time near the end of every class for in-depth reviews and a question/answer session.  If you can't attend these due to other commitments you can always download them at a later time.  We keep multiple months worth of videos in our Video Archive so you can view and download them at your convenience.  This allows a student to download a video and actually run a simulated session right along with the "live" class at any time of the day that works for them.

Will I need to buy a new computer or anything else to day trade?

It's unlikely you will need a new computer as long as you have something you've bought in the past few years that runs Windows 7 or 10 fairly well.  We don't use complex indicators or algorithms in the STA Trading System so the actual CPU load on your computer should be minimal.  These days I personally do almost all my trading off a mid-range laptop which works just fine.

Keep in mind that Apple/Mac computers can also be used to trade but if you are using the NinjaTrader platform you will need to use software like Bootcamp to install a Windows partition as NinjaTrader is Windows only.  This isn't actually very difficult or complicated to do and a number of STA traders have traded off their Macs successfully.

The only extra cost will likely be for your trading platform.  The most common one used by STA traders, NinjaTrader, has a free demo for simulated trading and then costs about $60 per month for live trading.  This cost can be put off until you have proven your consistency in simulated trading and decide to trade a live account when it can be offset by trading profits.  There's also an option for traders to pay a one-time fee for the platform which allows you to use it and any upgrades indefinitely.

Why is enrollment in the STA Training Program so limited?

Simply put - because it has to be.  I still maintain my own trading business as a primary focus so it's important that I don't take away from that too much and find a good balance between trading and teaching.

I take the training process very seriously and I give everyone who is involved as much time and effort as I possibly can.  That time quickly adds up which means that I can only fully support students and maximize their growth as traders if I keep the group small.  I expect anyone who joins this program to give 100% effort and it's only fair that I do the same in return.

Learn More About the STA Training Program

If you'd like to know more about our training program at Samurai Trading Academy you can fill out the form below and we will get back to you shortly with more details.  Please keep in mind that space in the STA Training Program is very limited which means I generally only work with two or three students in any given six month cycle.

You can also read more about our STA Training Program here.  Don't forget to view the Reviews and Testimonials of STA Training Program members as well.

Thanks for your interest and I look forward to helping you achieve your trading goals!

© Copyright - Samurai Trading Academy - RISK DISCLOSURE: Futures trading contains substantial risk and is not for every investor. An investor could potentially lose all or more than the initial investment. Risk capital is money that can be lost without jeopardizing ones financial security or life style. Only risk capital should be used for trading and only those with sufficient risk capital should consider trading. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. CFTC HYPOTHETICAL PERFORMANCE DISCLAIMER: HYPOTHETICAL PERFORMANCE RESULTS HAVE MANY INHERENT LIMITATIONS, SOME OF WHICH ARE DESCRIBED BELOW. NO REPRESENTATION IS BEING MADE THAT ANY ACCOUNT WILL OR IS LIKELY TO ACHIEVE PROFITS OR LOSSES SIMILAR TO THOSE SHOWN; IN FACT, THERE ARE FREQUENTLY SHARP DIFFERENCES BETWEEN HYPOTHETICAL PERFORMANCE RESULTS AND THE ACTUAL RESULTS SUBSEQUENTLY ACHIEVED BY ANY PARTICULAR TRADING PROGRAM. ONE OF THE LIMITATIONS OF HYPOTHETICAL PERFORMANCE RESULTS IS THAT THEY ARE GENERALLY PREPARED WITH THE BENEFIT OF HINDSIGHT. IN ADDITION, HYPOTHETICAL TRADING DOES NOT INVOLVE FINANCIAL RISK, AND NO HYPOTHETICAL TRADING RECORD CAN COMPLETELY ACCOUNT FOR THE IMPACT OF FINANCIAL RISK OF ACTUAL TRADING. FOR EXAMPLE, THE ABILITY TO WITHSTAND LOSSES OR TO ADHERE TO A PARTICULAR TRADING PROGRAM IN SPITE OF TRADING LOSSES ARE MATERIAL POINTS WHICH CAN ALSO ADVERSELY AFFECT ACTUAL TRADING RESULTS. THERE ARE NUMEROUS OTHER FACTORS RELATED TO THE MARKETS IN GENERAL OR TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF ANY SPECIFIC TRADING PROGRAM WHICH CANNOT BE FULLY ACCOUNTED FOR IN THE PREPARATION OF HYPOTHETICAL PERFORMANCE RESULTS AND ALL WHICH CAN ADVERSELY AFFECT TRADING RESULTS.

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