Forex Trading Rules: Never Risk More Than 2% Per Trade
  1. Forex Trading Rules: Introduction
  2. Forex Trading Rules: Never Let a Winner Turn Into a Loser
  3. Forex Trading Rules: Logic Wins; Impulse Kills
  4. Forex Trading Rules: Never Risk More Than 2% Per Trade
  5. Forex Trading Rules: Trigger Fundamentally, Enter and Exit Technically
  6. Forex Trading Rules: Always Pair Strong With Weak
  7. Forex Trading Rules: Being Right but Being Early Simply Means That You Are Wrong
  8. Forex Trading Rules: Know the Difference Between Scaling In and Adding to a Loser
  9. Forex Trading Rules: What Is Mathematically Optimal Is Psychologically Impossible
  10. Forex Trading Rules: Risk Can Be Predetermined; Reward Is Unpredictable
  11. Forex Trading Rules: No Excuses, Ever

Forex Trading Rules: Never Risk More Than 2% Per Trade

by Boris Schlossberg and Kathy Lien

Never risk more than 2% per trade. This is the most common - and yet also the most violated - rule in trading and goes a long way toward explaining why most traders lose money. Trading books are littered with stories of traders losing one, two, even five years' worth of profits in a single trade gone terribly wrong. This is the primary reason why the 2% stop-loss rule can never be violated. No matter how certain the trader may be about a particular outcome, the market, as the well known economist John Maynard Keynes, said, "can stay irrational far longer that you can remain solvent." (For more on "stop-loss" read the article The Stop Loss Order - Make Sure You Use It.)

Swinging for the Fences
Most traders begin their trading careers, whether consciously or subconsciously, by visualizing "The Big One" - the one trade that will make them millions and allow them to retire young and live carefree for the rest of their lives. In FX, this fantasy is further reinforced by the folklore of the markets. Who can forget the time that George Soros "broke the Bank of England" by shorting the pound and walked away with a cool $1 billion profit in a single day! But the cold hard truth of the markets is that instead of winning "The Big One", most traders fall victim to a single catastrophic loss that knocks them out of the game forever. (To learn more about George Soros and other great investors, read the Greatest Investors Tutorial.)

Large losses, as the following table demonstrates, are extremely difficult to overcome.

Amount of Equity Loss Amount of Return Necessary to Restore to Original
25% 33%
50% 100%
75% 400%
90% 1000%

Just imagine that you started trading with $1,000 and lost 50%, or $500. It now takes a 100% gain, or a profit of $500, to bring you back to breakeven. A loss of 75% of your equity demands a 400% return - an almost impossible feat - just to bring your account back to its initial level. Getting into this kind of trouble as a trader means that, most likely, you have reached the point of no return and are at risk for blowing your account.




Why the 2% Rule?

The best way to avoid such a fate is to never suffer a large loss. That is why the 2% rule is so important in trading. Losing only 2% per trade means that you would have to sustain 10 consecutive losing trades in a row to lose 20% of your account. Even if you sustained 20 consecutive losses - and you would have to trade extraordinarily badly to hit such a long losing streak - the total drawdown would still leave you with 60% of your capital intact. While that is certainly not a pleasant position to find yourself in, it means that you need to earn 80% to get back to breakeven - a tough goal but far better than the 400% target for the trader who lost 75% of his capital. (to get a better understanding check out Limiting Losses.)

The art of trading is not about winning as much as it is about not losing. By controlling your losses, much like a business that contains its costs, you can withstand the tough market environment and will be ready and able to take advantage of profitable opportunities once they appear. That's why the 2% rule is the one of the most important rules of trading.

Forex Trading Rules: Trigger Fundamentally, Enter and Exit Technically

  1. Forex Trading Rules: Introduction
  2. Forex Trading Rules: Never Let a Winner Turn Into a Loser
  3. Forex Trading Rules: Logic Wins; Impulse Kills
  4. Forex Trading Rules: Never Risk More Than 2% Per Trade
  5. Forex Trading Rules: Trigger Fundamentally, Enter and Exit Technically
  6. Forex Trading Rules: Always Pair Strong With Weak
  7. Forex Trading Rules: Being Right but Being Early Simply Means That You Are Wrong
  8. Forex Trading Rules: Know the Difference Between Scaling In and Adding to a Loser
  9. Forex Trading Rules: What Is Mathematically Optimal Is Psychologically Impossible
  10. Forex Trading Rules: Risk Can Be Predetermined; Reward Is Unpredictable
  11. Forex Trading Rules: No Excuses, Ever
RELATED TERMS
  1. Primary Mortgage Market

    The market where borrowers and mortgage originators come together ...
  2. 100% Mortgage

    A mortgage loan in which the borrower receives a loan amount ...
  3. Reverse Mortgage

    A type of mortgage in which a homeowner can borrow money against ...
  4. Mortgage Originator

    An institution or individual that works with a borrower to complete ...
  5. Secondary Mortgage Market

    The market where mortgage loans and servicing rights are bought ...
  6. Mortgage Pool

    A group of mortgages held in trust as collateral for the issuance ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. How safe are money market accounts?

    Learn the difference between a money market account and a money market fund. Both savings vehicles are relatively safe, but ... Read Answer >>
  2. Why is Belize considered a tax haven?

    Explore the factors that make Belize one of the most modern and corporate-friendly tax havens in the world, including its ... Read Answer >>
  3. What is an assumable mortgage?

    The purchase of a home is a very expensive undertaking and usually requires some form of financing to make the purchase possible. ... Read Answer >>
  4. Why would a homebuyer need to take out PMI (private mortgage insurance)?

    Learn why some home buyers are required to take out private mortgage insurance (PMI), and how it affects the total monthly ... Read Answer >>
  5. Why does the majority of my mortgage payment start out as interest and gradually ...

    When you make a mortgage payment, the amount paid is a combination of an interest charge and principal repayment. Over the ... Read Answer >>
  6. What are the disadvantages of a Roth IRA?

    Get informed about Roth IRAs, which have a few disadvantages, including limited access to funds and contribution limits based ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Physical Capital

    Physical capital is one of the three main factors of production in economic theory. It consists of manmade goods that assist ...
  2. Reverse Mortgage

    A type of mortgage in which a homeowner can borrow money against the value of his or her home. No repayment of the mortgage ...
  3. Labor Market

    The labor market refers to the supply and demand for labor, in which employees provide the supply and employers the demand. ...
  4. Demand Curve

    The demand curve is a graphical representation of the relationship between the price of a good or service and the quantity ...
  5. Goldilocks Economy

    An economy that is not so hot that it causes inflation, and not so cold that it causes a recession. This term is used to ...
  6. White Squire

    Very similar to a "white knight", but instead of purchasing a majority interest, the squire purchases a lesser interest in ...
Trading Center