Adventures of a Currency Trader - Rob Booker - E-Book

Adventures of a Currency Trader E-Book

Rob Booker

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Praise for ADVENTURES of a CURRENCY TRADER "A truly easy, unique, and enjoyable read! Rob has done it once again to teach us in the funniest way possible how not to make the most common trading mistakes. If you are tired of reading how-to books, this is perfect for you. I highly recommend this book to all traders. Everyone will learn something about themselves by reading this book." --Kathy Lien, author, Day Trading the Currency Market, and Chief Strategist, "Adventures of a Currency Trader is a must read for anyone who has ever traded or is thinking about trading in the Forex markets. Rob Booker has a unique way of taking years of market knowledge and transforming it into an educational and entertaining experience. It has quickly become a cult classic in my trading library!" --H. Jack Bouroudjian, Principal, Brewer Investment Group "Brilliant! Rob's humor and humanity shine through in this parable about trading and life. Filled with wisdom and wit, it's an exhilarating rollercoaster ride through the peaks and valleys of the learning curve, with many valuable lessons learned along the way." --Ed Ponsi, President, "Rob's fable of everyman 'Harry Banes' is destined to become a trading classic. This is both the missing piece and the foundation that comes before the strategies and methodologies. The search for the Holy Grail begins and ends in the heart and mind. The journey is authentic and real and if you're willing to take it with Rob, you will be rewarded in the end. Seldom has psychology and wisdom been so entertaining!" --Raghee Horner, trader and author of Forex Trading for Maximum Profit and Days of Forex Trading "In a series of insightful and entertaining vignettes, Rob Booker teaches both the novice and the experienced trader some hard won truths about the currency market. It's a must read book written by a guy who survived the trenches and went on to prosper in the biggest and most competitive financial market in the world." --Boris Schlossberg, Senior Currency Strategist, Forex Capital Markets LLC, and author of Technical Analysis of the Currency Market

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Table of Contents
Title Page
Copyright Page
About the Author
CHAPTER 1 - In Search of Amazing Profits
CHAPTER 2 - The Future Looks Bright
CHAPTER 3 - A Trip to the Thirty-First Floor
CHAPTER 4 - Two Promising Conversations
CHAPTER 5 - Lessons Learned
CHAPTER 6 - A Turn for the Worse
CHAPTER 7 - Trying to Awake from the Nightmare
CHAPTER 8 - Charlie Flank Goes to U.S National Bank
CHAPTER 9 - Mapping Out a New Career
CHAPTER 10 - Charlie Flank Meets His Match
CHAPTER 11 - Coming Clean
CHAPTER 12 - Looks Can Be Deceiving
CHAPTER 13 - The Story of George Sisler
CHAPTER 14 - Back to Square One
CHAPTER 15 - Breakfast with Harvey
CHAPTER 16 - Back to Where It All Began
CHAPTER 17 - Testing
CHAPTER 18 - Homework
CHAPTER 19 - Team Banes Begins Anew
CHAPTER 20 - Presenting Our Findings
CHAPTER 21 - Back in the Game
CHAPTER 22 - Return to the Thirty-First Floor
CHAPTER 23 - Settling My Tab
APPENDIX A - The Retail Carry Trade
APPENDIX B - How I Got Six Hundred Pips
Founded in 1807, John Wiley & Sons is the oldest independent publishing company in the United States. With offices in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia, Wiley is globally committed to developing and marketing print and electronic products and services for our customers’ professional and personal knowledge and understanding.
The Wiley Trading series features books by traders who have survived the market’s ever changing temperament and have prospered—some by reinventing systems, others by getting back to basics. Whether you are a novice trader, professional, or somewhere in-between, these books will provide the advice and strategies needed to prosper today and well into the future.
For a list of available titles, visit our web site at
Copyright © 2007 by Rob Booker. All rights reserved.
Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. Published simultaneously in Canada.
Wiley Bicentennial logo: Richard J. Pacifico.
Financial charts throughout this book created using TradeStation software. Copyright © TradeStation Technologies, Inc., 1992-2006.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise, except as permitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, (978) 750-8400, fax (978) 646-8600, or on the web at Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Permissions Department, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030, (201) 748-6011, fax (201) 748-6008, or online at
Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: While the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparing this book, they make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales representatives or written sales materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. You should consult with a professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher nor author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:
Booker, Rob, 1971-
Adventures of a currency trader : a fable about trading, courage, and doing the right thing / Rob Booker.
p. cm.—(Wiley trading series)
Includes index.
ISBN-13 978-0-470-04948-8 (cloth)
1. Foreign exchange market. 2. Foreign exchange futures.
3. Speculation. I. Title.
HG3851.B62 2007
For KrisThank you for telling me to go upstairs and write my book.
Trading technology has made exponential advances over the past decade. It is no longer necessary to work at a bank to trade currency, nor is it necessary to have a broker talk your ear off about why Pfizer should be taking off, when all you wanted to do was buy some Intel. These days you can do it all from home on your computer. It is this idea of independence and freedom that is attracting so many of us to the trading marketplace.
That old statistic about 90 percent of traders going belly-up within the first year . . . yeah that still applies, give or take a few percent. But Rob Booker has made it a personal mission to prove that it needn’t always be the case. He has built a network of trading students all over the world and helped them to realize that focus and discipline are all that make a successful trader. Systems are a dime a dozen (or sometimes $3,000 each), but only the disciplined trader who denies distraction will make any money from them.
The market is overrun with books, courses, lectures, seminars, and webinars designed to teach us all how to trade for a living and perhaps acquire a sense of freedom by doing so. The problem is that each expert who presents such an offering is out to prove that it is the best and maybe the only good trading system out there. Rob will tell you that the system is not the most important piece of the trading puzzle. It is the ability to know exactly what you are looking for, wait patiently (or frantically, as long as you really wait) for it to happen, and then jump on it. And repeat. And repeat.
Trading can become boring and redundant. But it is about making money, not about excitement. It is about making money, not about being right or smart. And well . . . trading isn’t even about the act of trading; it is just about making money, to afford the freedom that we all desire. This freedom is where the excitement really comes in. Freedom is the end. Hard work, discipline, and focus are the means. It sounds lame, played out, and cliché, but it is still true. When we lose sight of that truth and start feeling like genius traders, we start screwing up. Many people give up along the way, perhaps like the fabled gold miner who gives up digging just one inch away from the vein of gold.
One of the top five most important things Rob ever helped me with, was to not give up when I was losing and my financial situation was nearly demanding that I focus elsewhere. He helped me dust myself off, reassess my commitment to becoming a successful trader, and start over with a proper foundation for success over the long haul. (Thanks Dude.)
In Adventures of a Currency Trader, Rob explores—through the story of Harry Banes—the ups and downs of being a trader, the struggles many of us must face to obtain the freedom that we are reaching for, and the liberating sense of finally making it.
This book, which is unique in its format, gives traders deep ideas to think about: It presents a foundation to trade by and an example we can relate to.
MAXWELL FOX, currency trader
South PacificAugust 2006
Trading can bring you independence. Trading currency has brought that to me, and I hope that it can do the same for you.
It’s not easy. It takes time and discipline.
It’s an adventure. But you can do it.
I will show you how, with the help of my friend Harry Banes.
The story you are holding in your hands is told through his eyes—he is Every Trader. There’s a little bit of each one of us in Harry. And as you read, you’ll follow Harry as he learns from some of the best traders in the world, alongside his friend and mentor.
As you get to know Harry, I think you will like him. He doesn’t start trading with a huge sum of money, and his ambition is larger than his ability. Knowing where Harry came from can help us appreciate how we all begin our trading careers: nervous, excited, unskilled, and unproven. His financial situation, his day job, his life as a new trader, and his relationships with those around him, are much like mine were, or maybe yours are right now. His challenges and obstacles might remind you of the struggles you are facing right now. But he is determined to become a trader no matter what gets in the way.
Even the humblest among us can go on to become great traders. Even the chump traders can become champions. Even the indebted can become financially independent.
Harry admits early on that he’s a rookie trader, which doesn’t adequately prepare you for how bad he is. He’s the worst trader I’ve ever known. But we’ll stand next to Harry as he picks himself up from the sidewalk on Wall Street and begins to implement the wise counsel of an experienced trader who agrees to mentor him. From Harry’s experiences, you’ll learn how to recover from disastrous losses, how to set yourself up as a full-time trader, how to talk to your loved ones about what you’re doing. But that’s not all.
You’ll learn with Harry how some of his mentor’s best and worst former students set up their charts, do their analysis, and take their trades. What is more important, you’ll learn how Harry eventually uses similar techniques to become a profitable trader and reach financial freedom. And most important of all, you’ll learn not only how he made those profits, but how he was able to keep them.
I need to stress two more things: Every character in this book is fictional, although you might see a bit of yourself in some of them. For more details about Harry, his mentor, their friends, and everything else about the book, check out Harry’s web site at
I now invite you to go on an adventure with Harry.
Read on.
Wheeling, West VirginiaDecember 2006
This book took me 20 years to write. Well, not this specific book. But just the act of finishing a book and getting it to a publisher. While I trade for a living, I have dreamed of being a writer since I was 10 years old and sat in the back of Mrs. Holmes’s fifth-grade class in La Verne, California. But just because I had the dream didn’t mean that I made it easy for myself. In the past two decades, I have allowed some people and experiences to get in the way of my dreams.
Other people have helped me clear away those obstacles. I want to thank them.
Mrs. Holmes was my first and greatest inspiration. I would never have put pencil to paper in my small yellow notebook if not for her. She encouraged me and started me on the path to writing; without her, I could never have believed in myself. Many times during the writing of this book, I thought of the faith that she had in me when I was still so young, and I was able to write another sentence or page. I owe more to her than I have ever repaid.
I met Maxwell Fox in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the first seminar I ever did. He is the best trading friend I have ever had; he has helped me overcome plot difficulties and name characters (including Harry); and he was the first person to read the entire manuscript. I am a better person for knowing Max. He leaves people better than he found them. He is also the single greatest trader I’ve ever taught, hands down. He is disciplined, he is dedicated to the science of backtesting, and he wrote the funniest ebook on chart patterns you’ve ever seen. You can get that ebook at
Eric Beutler helped in a moment of need. At just the right moment, in fact. And then he helped again and again and again.
I could have dedicated this book to David Murphy. He has been by my side for more than 20 years, to help me at every major point in my life. He has endured my ego, my mistakes, my weaknesses, far more than I could ever repay.
Emilie Herman and Kevin Commins at Wiley were patient with me and helped me every step of the way. Kathy Lien and Boris Schlossberg introduced me to Kevin and generally cheered me on when they didn’t even know that I needed it. Jesse Torres introduced me to Betsy from Deutsche Bank, who kindly showed me a trading floor.
I have been honored to work with some of the finest currency traders in the world. I would stand any of these people up to any other traders on the planet: I can’t name all of them, but here are some from the past few years: Craig Taylor, David Elliott, Scott Kush, Derek McGuire, Roman Jakubas, Beth McNabb, Nina Hernandez, Louis Cooper, Angela Nitkin, Ben McDonald, Andy Eastabrook, Dan Ziembienski, John Law, Gary Young, Chris Ennico, Thomas Gibbs, Marie-Sophie Blanchet, Todd Bryant, Nona Bates, Nader, Alex Semaan, Elaine Sequeira, Jonathan Warr, Jeff Politis, Irene Beregszaszi, Stephen Nieri, Chuck Smalley, Joseph Burgos, Johnny Ream, Darin Carlyle, Matt Forsyth, George Roy, Damodar Patlolla, Greg Walker, Guita Al-Boudoor, Napaporn Nozawa, Darryl Martins, Chris Pyor, Carlos Angel, Steve and Dave Trehan, the Pip Brothers Szymon and Jerry, Gene Miller, Craig Brinton, Wasyl Szeremeta, Phranq, Paul Kurtz ...
I could go on for a long time. But these are among the best people I know. I am lucky to know them. They all helped me to write this book.
Any success I have in life is possible because I married my best friend. Kris is the best example of courage in the face of opposition and trial that I know. And she has supported me more than I have ever been able to support her. Thank you for putting me through law school, and for helping me quit a legal career and follow my dreams.
And last of all, I want to thank my son Isaac. You found me at the brink of emotional disaster and you reached out and saved me. You came to us in the very moment when we needed you most. I wrote this book for you, too, even though you are too young to read.
R. B.
About the Author
Rob Booker is an active proprietary forex trader and forex educator. Mr. Booker has trained hundreds of forex traders around the world. He speaks about currency trading at conferences, expos, street corners, first class and coach seats, weddings, funerals, mornings, evenings, and pretty much whenever anyone will or will not listen to him. Rob focuses on helping traders deal with the mental, psychological, and discipline issues related to trading. Mr. Booker has authored a number of ebooks, including Strategy:10, which has been downloaded over 200,000 times.
Rob can be reached at [email protected].
My name is Harry Banes. I used to be the worst trader in the world. A real chump. I bought when I should have sold, and sold when I should have stayed out of the market completely. Ever do that? Of course not.
I was an expert at exiting my trades at just the exact moment when they would go from staggering loss to hugely profitable. Convinced that the trading gods wanted me to suffer, I nearly gave up on many occasions. When I say that I was a chump trader, I mean Super Chump. I lost thousands of dollars that my wife and I could not afford to lose.
It’s a good thing that I never gave up. With the help of an amazing friend that you are going to meet in this book, I became a superprofitable trader. I traded my way out of the mess I was in.
If it were not for trading, I’d still be working in the filing room of the law firm Wakeman, Butterman, and Bailey, on 59th Street in Manhattan. That was the crummiest job I’ve ever had in my whole life. For 11 years, I worked there like a dog on a leash. Two years ago, I broke the leash and walked away, and I became human again.
You see, I reached my trading Independence Day. And I have never looked back.
I want you to do the same. That’s why I am writing this book.
In Search of Amazing Profits
I started trading because I saw a commercial on television about how simple it was to make money trading currency. A company called Amazing Forex Profits, supposedly based in New York City, the financial capital of the world, had agreed to unleash the powerful secrets of professional traders to the common man (me) for an unbelievable price. Making the decision to buy the software was easy: I needed money fast, and the advertisement seemed to promise that all I had to do was buy an easy system for making loads of cash every day. I called the toll-free number and right there, in the middle of the night, I spent $2,000 on that software. Now I only had to wait for the package to come in the mail. The road to riches was lined with profits from the forex (foreign exchange) market, and I was on it.
I didn’t say a thing about this to my wife. I knew that the best way to handle this situation would be to get the software, have Scott, my assistant, install it on my computer at work, and start making a boatload of money; then I would buy something really nice for my wife and announce that I was going to be a full-time forex trader, a millionaire, and a hero to our family. The plan was foolproof!
Waiting for the software was agonizing. At the age of 35, I found myself racing home to see what had come in the mail that day. (Why had I not opted to spend an extra $49.95 for expedited shipping? The kind sales operator from India had insisted I would want to get started as soon as possible, so why didn’t I listen?) It seemed as if an eternity passed before the package arrived, but arrive it did. So eager was I to start (and having learned from the infomercial that the forex market was open 24 hours a day), I called Scott and asked him to meet me downtown that very evening. I told my wife that I had some important matters to discuss at the office, kissed her and my kids goodbye, and hopped on the subway to 59th Street.
Everything seemed to be coming together. Although we had a lot of debt, I figured that with this new trading venture, I could make some serious profits. Some of the people on the commercial were making thousands of dollars a day—and this was not some fraudulent get-rich-quick scheme. I had met people who day-traded the stock market. They did their homework, they treated it like a job, and they were making real money. Some of them had made a lot of money in the late 1990s and although the market had fallen, they were still in the game. I liked the thought that I was going to join the ranks of people who could make money for a few moments of work per day.
When I arrived at the office, it was past 9:00 P.M. and everyone had long since gone home. Waiting at my cubicle was Scott Needleway, a junior filing clerk who had attended the same high school that I did (only he graduated seven years after me). He had long hair. He was brilliant with technology. He also won the “most likely to go to jail” award in his high school yearbook.
“So what’re we doin’ tonight?” he asked. I could tell that he had either been drinking or smoking something stronger than cigarettes. His days at the firm were numbered already, so I let it pass. Especially considering that I needed his help that night.
“I’ve got the software. I need you to show me how to get it running.”
Scott had essentially run my computer for me for the past five years. Thank goodness, my job didn’t require much work on the computer, and an attorney who needed to contact me would simply e-mail Scott. He, in turn, would tell me what was going on. Now I was excited to do some of my own computer work.
He took the CDs and quickly installed the software without a hitch. As promised on the commercial, the software was fairly straightforward. It was like a news feed—with headlines popping up on the screen, telling me to either buy or sell a particular currency pair. On another section of the screen, it showed all the current open positions. Most were colored green, showing me that they were making money.
All this had only taken 10 minutes, but I could tell that Scott wanted to go home, or go wherever he went when he wasn’t at the office. I told him that I would see him tomorrow and he darted out of the office without another word. He hadn’t even asked what the software did! Right there, he had walked away from an opportunity to improve his financial situation. Well, he could stay and work at Wakeman, Butterman, and Bailey for the rest of his life. Not me.
Instead of going home, I dove right into the software. I took my time getting used to clicking around the screens. I read the help manual twice, I clicked through every screen in the software to learn about the different trades I could take, and I read an article about how currency pairs were quoted. I learned that currencies traded in pairs, meaning when you traded currency you were always buying one currency and selling another, or selling one currency and buying another. You could not trade currency just as a stand-alone financial instrument—and that made sense. Here is what I read:
If you think the U.S. Dollar is going up, you have to ask yourself: going up against what? Obviously, another currency. So you choose a currency that it is going up against, and you buy that other currency. And because you buy it with U.S. Dollars, you are selling Dollars and buying that other currency.
It took a while to sink in, but within a couple of hours, I was a former filing clerk turned currency guru. I knew the major currencies were the Euro (EUR), the Great Britain Pound (GBP), the Japanese Yen (JPY), and of course, the U.S. Dollar (USD). I figured out how to read a currency quote. This is what one looks like:
GBP/USD 1.8000/1.8005
This meant that the Great Britain Pound against the U.S. Dollar could be sold for 1.8000, and could be bought for 1.8005. Simple enough. I also learned that if the Pound moved from 1.8000 to 1.8001, just one point, that would be called a one pip move—a pip, in other words, referred to a Percentage in Point in the world of foreign exchange. And the software was going to tell me how to do all this stuff.
The next morning I submitted all the necessary documents to open a trading account at a firm suggested by the Amazing Forex people. Within 24 hours, I was promised that I could fund my account with a credit card. More waiting, and this time it would be even more excruciating. Imagine the profits I was missing out on! All night, I had watched as the software called for buys and sells on currency pairs. Trade after trade was profitable. On a sheet of paper next to my computer, I calculated the point gains I could have made just by following along: over 110. It was going to be difficult to concentrate on my job that day knowing that I was letting more of the same profits go by. The challenge was not going to be making the money—it was going to be finding a way to trade as much as possible.
I hadn’t slept that night, but it had been worth it. More motivated than ever to start trading, I felt invigorated and determined that during my lunch break that day I would schedule out all the times of day that I could trade. Although it would require me to get less sleep and steal some time from my employer, the payoff would be huge. Definitely worth any sacrifice!


Most people never do anything about their problems. When I was 10, I broke my “Tommy Baseball Home Run Challenge” electronic handheld game. After realizing that I could not fix it by shaking the game, or reinserting the batteries backwards, or praying to God, I hid the device away deep in my closet, behind the winter blankets and underneath my T-ball uniform. I put it there for two reasons. First, so my parents would not discover that I had broken an expensive toy when I celebrated a home run by spiking the game to the floor as if it were a football. The second reason? I knew that underneath the protective and magical cloth of my T-ball uniform, there was a chance that the baseball gods would heal the toy and bring it back to life.
I learned soon enough that this was not a useful method for fixing my problems. When my parents divorced later on that year, it became clear that simply hiding my father underneath my T-ball uniform was not going to keep my parents from yelling at each other (and in any case, the game was still using that space under the uniform). But hiding my problems, or storing my biggest challenges away in a closet, became one of my most frequently utilized methods for approaching difficulties in my life.
But when I purchased the Amazing Forex Profits software, I took control of my financial situation. I was doing something. This felt really good. I knew that my wife would be skeptical, so it was important to hide my decision from her at first. This small deception would turn out to be an inconsequential necessity on the road to riches. When she understood how much money I could make, it would seem less like a lie and more like a surprise.
Surprise is actually a good word to describe how we both felt about the results.


A week passed; it was far more difficult to open the trading account than I had imagined, especially considering that I needed to fax the forex broker copies of my passport, utility bills, and everything except the results of a prostate exam. During this time, I watched as the Amazing Forex software lived up to its name. During the hours at work alone (as I stayed late every evening and kept an eye on it during the day), it was racking up hundreds of point gains every day. This was nearly too much for me to bear, as I realized how much in dollar terms this could mean.
Knowing that the forex broker (Universal Currency Brokers, based in Florida) would alert me by e-mail when the account was opened, I decided to dedicate this unintended downtime to becoming more capable with my e-mail so that I would know immediately when I could fund my account. Scott even took an entire day to teach me to use a BlackBerry, so that I could receive the e-mail no matter where I was. The more I used e-mail, the computer, the Amazing Forex software, and the BlackBerry, the more I realized how powerful all this technology was. Perhaps I could run the software on the BlackBerry and trade no matter where I was. The possibilities were endless. This claim of reaching financial freedom through trading did not seem unrealistic at all.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004, at precisely 12:06 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, I received the e-mail. I was in the conference room with the insurance litigation team, who were debating the merits of charging Wakeman clients in 6-minute increments versus 15 minutes. I was thrilled to be in the meeting, because it was easy to keep an eye on the BlackBerry, avoid doing any real work in the office, and then make a short presentation about how it was possible for our attorneys to bill a bit extra for administrative time by classifying “filing” as “research.” I was near the end of my presentation when my BlackBerry buzzed and I knew that the moment had arrived.
“I’m sorry, I’ve got to take this,” I said, excusing myself, “our daughter is in the emergency room and I’ve got to check on her.”
Every attorney, especially the ones with small children at home, was quick to excuse me for this important break. Of course I had told a whopping lie, but once again, this was a minor indiscretion on the way to a more important goal: my own enrichment.
Outside the conference room, I read the blissful news: The trading account was open and I could fund it with my credit card at any time. I dropped into my cubicle, took out my credit card, and called the forex dealer.
It only took a few moments, but I was so wrapped up in funding the account with $1,000, that I didn’t realize that I was being watched. John Murphy, a young attorney who did lots of work with contracts, stood near the entrance to my cubicle.
“I heard you reading out your credit card numbers,” he said. “I didn’t mean to pry, but is everything all right?”
I nodded. “Yeah, thanks.” Dang! He knew that I was lying about my daughter going to the hospital. I probably owed him an apology.
“Well if you need anything, let me know. Did you have to pay out-ofpocket expenses for the ER?”
Hooray! He had no idea I had lied! “Yes,” I told him, adding another small lie to my growing list of Minor Indiscretions on the Path to Riches.
“If you need anything, let me know. Your insurance ought to cover it. I know we’ve got problems with the benefits here, so I will see what I can do to help.”
I thanked him, then I thanked God that I hadn’t been caught, and then I totally forgot about John Murphy and the ER and the lie. It was time to trade. I booted up the Amazing Forex software and my trading account, pinned the “Out to Lunch” sign outside my cubicle, and made sure my computer monitor was still positioned so that only I could see it.
Barely had I signed into Amazing Forex (Login: SUPERTRADER_2000, Password: G$TRICH) that I noticed Scott standing behind me.
“You got your account set up?”
Just hearing his voice was disturbing. Right now I needed privacy! The clock was ticking down, and I only had 37 more minutes of lunchtime to make as many trades as I could.
“Yeah, Scott. Got it set up. I am going to check it out now, see what’s going on, you know, during my lunch.”
He nodded. “Gonna make some coin at the office! Nice.”
“No,” I replied, showing some frustration in the tone of my voice, “I am going to just take it easy today and watch.” I didn’t mean this either. The lying was coming easier, and right now I was grateful that I could use a plausible distortion of the truth to distance myself from unwanted intrusive eyeballs.
“Well, then I might stay and watch.”
I sighed and realized that arguing with Scott would steal precious trading time. “You can stay but just keep quiet. I am trying to learn this and it’s not easy for me.”
“Looks like you have a buy alert on the Gee-Bee-Pee,” he replied.
He was right. There it was, my first order alert! I quickly toggled to my trading platform, hit the GBP/USD quote, and up popped an order window.
Without a moment’s hesitation—for there could be other trades just waiting to be taken—I clicked the okay button and boom! My trade was opened with a slick whooshing sound. There, in the open trades window, I saw it, but I was already down $50! How could that be?
“How could that be?” I found myself saying out loud.
“You already suck at trading,” Scott said. I considered poking out his eyes with a pen, but that would also rob me of precious time that could not be wasted.
I toggled back to the Amazing Forex software screen. It told me that the GBP/USD trade, the one that I had just taken, should be negative 5 points (or $50, since I had traded for $10 per market point) right then. Phew! Knowing that the Amazing folks were experiencing the same quick loss helped ease my mind. I faintly remembered that nearly all trades in the system started off unprofitable. Good. I planted my feet firmly on the floor under my desk and waited for the next order to appear.
Then my cell phone rang. The ring tone told me it was my wife, Gini. Scott had set that up for me so I would not miss her calls.
“You gonna get that?” Scott asked, knowing it was my wife. This time I considered taping his mouth shut, but all I had was clear office tape and that would not do the trick.
I took the call, if only to appear that I was cool and calm, even though my palms were sweaty as I opened the phone. My nerves were rattling as I spoke.
“What’s up?”
“Hi sweetie,” she happily chirped. “How’s your day?”
I answered that it was going fine in the tone of voice that a husband uses when he wants to tell his wife that she has called at a bad time, but does not want to actually say that she called at a bad time.
“Is this a bad time,” she asked. “I wanted to know what you wanted for dinner.”
“Anything is great.”
“Any-thing,” she replied, speaking slowly as if she were writing it down. “Got it. I will check at the market for Anything. Want to say hi to your son?”
“Not now,” I quickly answered. It was impossible to hold my cell phone up to my ear and toggle back to the trading account. I tried, but all I managed to do was switch to a screen that showed my e-mail. Now I couldn’t see anything!
“Okay, I just wanted to say hello and that I love you,” she told me, and I could tell that she wanted to talk more even though she was kindly willing to end the call if I insisted. Which is what I did.
“Not now,” I barked. “I gotta go.”
I immediately felt terrible, but I hung up the phone anyway. I didn’t even give her a chance to respond; I was now sweating badly and having trouble keeping my right leg from bouncing on the floor, which is what I always do when I am nervous.
Scott didn’t say anything about the way I hung up with my wife. I clicked on the trading software and up popped my account. I looked at the current profit on the open trade: Three hundred dollars. Three hundred dollars!
Scott’s jaw dropped down. My sweat turned cold. I heard my heart beating, and my foot stopped drumming on the floor. I think 10 seconds passed, but to Scott and me time had ceased to have meaning, and I cascaded into a deep trance.
I imagined quitting my job that day. I could see my wife driving a new sporty sedan, the kids happily cheering her on as she sped through the EZPASS gate on the way to our summer home in the Hamptons; then I could see myself diving into an oval of midnight blue water, with reggae music playing in the background and leggy blondes sunning themselves around the edges of the pool. This was the life! Trading had brought it to me!
Scott knocked me from the daydream by gripping my shoulder and shaking. “Dude, dude, you gotta take that money!” he told me, and he was right. I had no idea what Amazing Forex said, but there was no way I was going to miss out on three hundred bucks. I clicked once on the open trade window, and up popped a box that asked me if I wanted to close the trade.
“Darn right!” I said, speaking much louder than I should.
“Woo hoo!” yelled Scott, happy for me and now much more interested in the Amazing Forex software than he had been the week before.
I clicked a button and all of a sudden, my account value had gone from $1,000 to $1,300. Holy moley, I thought. This really is simple. This really is the answer to my financial problems. In less than a minute, I had made enough to buy a new iPod for my wife. I determined that this was exactly the present I would give to her to tell her all about the trading.
Scott wanted me to see what the software was telling us, so I switched back to look at it. But something was wrong. The trade was still there, but it was showing a 34 pip loss, not a gain.
“What’s up with that,” Scott asked. “Did it go the other way?”
I spent a moment looking over the screen for clues. It wasn’t hard to find.
“Sheez, Scott. We bought when we were supposed to sell.”
Scott was speechless.
I had taken the wrong trade! Immediately, I checked the trading account again. Yes, the sweet profits were still safely secure in my “account equity” window. This meant that Amazing Forex Profits’ suggestion to sell the GBP/USD had been a horrible idea—but that we had mistakenly taken the opposite trade and profited. As I watched the sell trade go deeper into a loss, I actually felt happy.
I smiled. We had cheated the Amazing Forex software! We were victorious. It stood to reason, in my moment of complete insanity, that I could beat the software. I was that good.
Scott agreed, and appropriately took credit for first misreading the software’s recommendation to sell. I patted him on the back and promised to share some of the profits with him over time. Maybe he could be my technology right-hand man. Surely there were other programs out there like the Amazing Forex Profits software, and we could install a few of them.
I determined that I owed my wife a phone call, instead of doing any more trades. It was the right thing to do and she happily accepted my apology. I told her I had a surprise for her when I got home. She giggled on the phone, and I realized that my superpowers as a trader were only exceeded by my Amazing Relationship skills.
The Future Looks Bright
After work that day, I bought my wife an iPod and hopped on the subway, smiling the entire way home. Of course, I needed to make a lot more money before I quit my job, but that day I felt as if I had already given notice.
When I arrived home, I was so consumed by thoughts of trading that I forgot to give my wife her surprise present. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t happy to see her. I found her in the kitchen, and I wrapped my arms around her waist and hugged her tightly.
“Not so tight,” she said, laughing. “Caroline’s in there!” Caroline was our five-month-old fetus, growing strong and healthy and on schedule. My wife was starting to grow bigger now, and was as beautiful as ever. I kissed her neck and she turned around to face me.
“I am happy to see you, too. We’re late for our rent payment again. I don’t mean to ruin the happy moment.”
I knew she loved me, and I knew she had to remind me that the rent was late. Otherwise, I was going to pretend that it wasn’t happening. We were knee-deep, or deeper, in debt. I hated to face it. My usual response, as I said before, was to ignore financial problems and hope they would disappear. Once I got around to admitting there was a problem, I would dwell on the depressing state of affairs until I had a knot in my stomach and a headache. That evening, admitting that the rent was late was, for once in my life, not so terrible: I could face it, knowing that during 60 seconds of my lunch break I had made enough money to pay a nice chunk of the rent.
After dinner, and when the kids were in bed, I retreated to our small family room and I opened my wallet. Here is what I found:
• Regular identification
• Six credit cards
I took out the cards one by one. I shifted them between my fingers. These would soon be history! My wife walked in and noticed what I was doing.
“I didn’t mean to worry you about the rent,” she said.
“I’m not worried at all,” I replied happily and put the cards away.
As I got ready for bed, I started to calculate in my mind everything that we owed. The total came to $24,000, give or take a few hundred. Our monthly payments on the cards were low—interest rates were falling—so that wasn’t so bad. Sometimes I paid our rent from one of the cards. But what was going to happen when the introductory low rates ended? What was going to happen when we ran out of credit? Without trading, we were going to be screwed. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have found trading—it had come along at just the right moment. My wife was trying to be as supportive as possible. But I knew that a big talk was coming between the two of us, and it was not going to be an easy one. I wanted to be optimistic. Ignoring the problems wasn’t optimism, though. I had been lying to myself, living in a daze, expecting to ignore my problems.
But now I didn’t have to ignore them anymore. I could face them, three hundred dollars at a time!


At 2:00 in the morning, I woke up with my wife tossing violently at my side, and my golden retriever, Franklin (who slept in the bed with us), nudging me to do something because he was worried but did not know how to help. I rubbed my eyes and looked at my wife, who was whispering something while she thrashed back and forth. It was obvious that she was having a nightmare.
“We will pay you,” she said. It was eerie to see her speaking and tossing around, with her eyes closed the entire time.
“We will pay you. We will pay you.”
She said it twice more, and then I put my hand on her shoulder to keep her from rolling over onto the floor, and spoke her name loud enough to wake her up, but not so loud that it would scare her.
She bolted upright in bed and gripped my hand that had been on her shoulder, and then let out a huge gasp for air. She was covered in sweat and trembling.
I hugged her. “You were having a bad dream.”
A few moments passed before she could speak. “I did. I did have a nightmare.”
I got her a drink of water and sat on the bed next to her. She laid her head on my lap. “I heard you talking in your sleep,” I told her. “I heard you talking about paying someone.”
“I’m worried about money, Harry.”
“I know.”
Franklin was now awake as well and was up on all fours, panting and ready to go to battle for my wife.
“It’s okay Frank,” I told him. “I’m all right. Sorry we woke you up.”
“We can’t pay our rent,” Gini reminded me. She had only been awake from the nightmare for a few moments, but she was speaking clearly as if she had never been asleep. I heard the traffic outside our open window that was definitely not providing enough cool air. I kicked the sheets off the bed.
I could feel my heart pounding. This was not something that I could ordinarily feel. Gini continued.
“And Judy needs a uniform for Girl Scouts.”
“Can we use a credit card?” I hated to even say the words.
She shook her head and I heard a sniffle. A street lamp sent light into our room, and onto her face, where it reflected off a teardrop. She wiped her nose and sniffled.
“I don’t think we have any more credit.” She was probably right, especially since I had charged $250 to a credit card to buy her the iPod.
Out of credit. Not good. Franklin stirred a bit, as if we had just destroyed his plans to order some dog biscuits online. I spoke up. I needed to take control of the situation and stop playing like I didn’t care.
“I think I know a way we can get out of this.”
She perked up a bit. It was obvious that she was so upset that any solution seemed like a good idea, even if she had not heard it yet. I could have told her that I was going to start a meth lab in our walk-in closet, and she probably would have gone along with it for a few moments. She felt as bad about not buying that Girl Scout uniform as if she had been unable to feed the family. It was coming down to this: We were so far down the well that we could no longer see the light at the top.
“How?” she asked.
“I might be able to do some trading.”
Her head shot up. She wiped her nose and smiled. “Really?”
Her eyes were brighter.
“What does that mean? Is it expensive?”
“No,” I said as I chuckled. “In fact, so far it has been paying for itself.” I explained the late night commercial, the clandestine purchase, the allnighter at the office when I learned to use the software, and how I had already started making money.
“How much?” she asked.
“Three hundred dollars.”
She lifted her head from my lap. “Three hundred dollars?” I could tell she was amazed. Well, that’s what the software promised! This was good! This was not a crazy scheme to ask for another raise, especially now that I was probably the highest paid (overpaid) file manager in any U.S. law firm. This was a way to make money on the side! This was being sensible! This was what the provider does! He thinks of real solutions that make sense to wives.
In that moment, I remembered the iPod and felt even more proud of myself.
The obvious question came next: “What kind of trading is it?”
I hesitated. My wife was excited and I didn’t want to have an endless discussion of the risks associated with trading. Honestly, I had hardly listened to the risk disclaimers on the commercial, and thank goodness I hadn’t paid more attention. I might never have bought it.
But I owed her the truth.
“It’s forex trading.”
“Flo-recks?” She was perplexed.
“No, forex, like ‘foreign exchange,’ or currencies. It’s like trading stocks, only you trade currencies.”
“Wow. I didn’t know they did that.” I was really happy that she did not blow up the idea immediately. This emboldened me.
“Honestly, neither did I,” I admitted. “But it only took me about a minute to trade today.”
“So you can do it at work?”
“Well, at lunch. And after I get home.”
“At night?”
I nodded. “Yes, it’s a 24-hour market, so I can trade it anytime. It’s perfect for keeping my job now and doing this on the side.”
“Can you make that much every day?” she asked, perhaps now more hopeful than I was. I decided a bit of restraint was in order.
“Well, not every day. Maybe that much. Maybe a bit less.”
She was doing numbers in her head. “That’s like nine thousand dollars in a month.” I could tell she was having trouble comprehending that I could make that much money.
“Well, there isn’t any trading on Saturday. So it’s less than that.”
“Still,” she spoke, putting her head back down on my lap. “That is so much money. We could be out of debt in a few months.” She then said nothing for a few minutes, and I knew what was coming next. Her head popped back up: “Is this risky?”
I shrugged, trying to act cool. “For a beginner. For someone who doesn’t know what he is doing. Sure. But I’ve got the software, and I am going to play it safe.”
“Can we lose the thousand dollars you put in?”
“I don’t think so. I’m only going to trade when the software tells me to. There are people making a lot of money from this. I watched it for a week and it was just as amazing as they say—it was really making some incredible trades.”
Skeptical but satisfied, she told me she just wanted to go back to bed now. I told her that before she did I wanted to give her a gift. I went into the hallway, opened my briefcase, and brought her the present.
When she unwrapped the iPod, she threw her arms around me and kissed me. “Can we afford this?” she asked.
“We can now,” I laughed. And with that, we went back to sleep, peacefully and with hope of the brighter future that was now within our reach.
A Trip to the Thirty-First Floor
I worked in midtown Manhattan for 11 years. I worked at the law firm of Wakeman, Butterman, and Bailey, and all I did—and I am not making this up—is file stuff away. Motions, briefs, interrogatories, settlements . . . you name it, I found a way to file it. This may sound like a boring job, and that’s exactly what it was. It was like watching Brady Bunch reruns while poking my eyeballs out with a fork. This is the type of job that a man will do anything to get fired from. And believe me, I tried. There were times when I wanted to eat my leg just to inject an interesting event into my day.