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How to Be Wrong Half the Time... And Still Make Money

By Ben Morris and Drew McConnell, editors, DailyWealth Trader
Friday, December 1, 2017

Let's play a game...
 
We're going to bet on 100 coin tosses... Heads, we win $100. Tails, you win $100. And at the end of the game we'll settle up. How do you think you'll do?
 
You might win or lose a little... But with 50% odds on each toss, you'll likely break even.
 
Of course, this game isn't very exciting. So let's change it up...
 
This time, we'll flip our "lucky coin," which lands on heads 70% of the time. We tell you this... And because of our advantage, we offer you a better payoff...
 
When the coin lands on heads, we still win $100. But when it lands on tails, you win $300.
 
Do you want to play?
 
A lot of folks would hesitate. A 70% chance of losing is a difficult pill to swallow.
 
But in the immortal words of investing legend George Soros: "It's not whether you're right or wrong that's important, but how much money you make when you're right – and how much you lose when you're wrong."
 
Today, we'll dig deeper into this idea. And we'll show you what it could mean for your long-term trading results...
 
Let's get back to the second round of our game – the one with our "lucky coin"...
 
Not surprisingly, the coin lands on heads 70 times, and it lands on tails 30 times. So you lose 70 tosses at $100 each, for a total of $7,000 in losses. And you win 30 tosses at $300 each, for a total of $9,000 in gains. All said and done, you walk away with a $2,000 profit... even though you won just 30% of the time.
 
Your likely hesitation to play this game demonstrates a mental error that traders often make... They only want to put on a trade when they have a great chance at making money. But that's not always the right decision...
 
Just like in our coin toss example, you can make excellent returns even if you're wrong more than half of the time... as long as you keep your losses small.
 
Consider this idea with a trading portfolio...
 
Let's say we have a $100,000 portfolio and we put $5,000 (5%) into each trade. If any trade drops 10%, we'll take a loss and move on. And we'll take profits on any trade that hits a 20% gain.
 
In the table below, we'll look at a summary of the results, after 100 trades, based on different win rates...
 
In the first column, you can see win percentages from 0% (taking a loss on every trade) to 100% (profiting on every trade). The next two columns show what your total gains and losses would be at that win percentage. And finally, the last two columns show the value of our account after the 100 trades and our overall percent return.
 
Win Rate
Gains
Losses
Account Value
Return
0%
$0
$50,000
$50,000
-50%
10%
$10,000
$45,000
$65,000
-35%
20%
$20,000
$40,000
$80,000
-20%
30%
$30,000
$35,000
$95,000
-5%
40%
$40,000
$30,000
$110,000
10%
50%
$50,000
$25,000
$125,000
25%
60%
$60,000
$20,000
$140,000
40%
70%
$70,000
$15,000
$155,000
55%
80%
$80,000
$10,000
$170,000
70%
90%
$90,000
$5,000
$185,000
85%
100%
$100,000
$0
$200,000
100%

Of course, in a real portfolio, you're not going to lose exactly 10% on every loser and make exactly 20% on every winner. But the idea is what's important here...
 
By using this strategy, you would make a 10% profit even if you only win 40% of the time. And if you're better at selecting trades – with a 50% or 60% win rate, for example – your returns would soar.
 
Now, that's using a 2-to-1 reward-to-risk ratio (making 20% while risking 10%).
 
But if we let our winners ride, we can do even better...
 
We'll use the same portfolio as before, but this time, we'll close out our trades at a 30% gain, instead of 20%...
 
Here's the table of our returns, at different win rates, with this new strategy...
 
Win Rate
Gains
Losses
Account Value
Return
0%
$0
$50,000
$50,000
-50%
10%
$15,000
$45,000
$70,000
-30%
20%
$30,000
$40,000
$90,000
-10%
30%
$45,000
$35,000
$110,000
10%
40%
$60,000
$30,000
$130,000
30%
50%
$75,000
$25,000
$150,000
50%
60%
$90,000
$20,000
$170,000
70%
70%
$105,000
$15,000
$190,000
90%
80%
$120,000
$10,000
$210,000
110%
90%
$135,000
$5,000
$230,000
130%
100%
$150,000
$0
$250,000
150%

Now, we've improved our breakeven win rate to less than 30%...
 
With a 3-to-1 reward-to-risk ratio, we can lose money on 70% of our trades and still make a 10% profit.
 
As your reward-to-risk ratios get bigger, your win rate can get smaller... And it won't have a negative impact on your trading.
 
Here's what you should take away from all of this...
 
Don't ignore trading ideas that have enormous upside potential just because the chances of success aren't great. As long as you limit your losses and let your winners ride, you don't need a great win rate to make a lot of money.
 
Some of the best trades of your life may come from ideas that you didn't think would work out... but because you thought about the reward and the risk, you placed the trade anyway.
 
Keep this in mind the next time you're considering a trade. It could mean the difference between a mediocre and fantastic year in the markets.
 
Good trading,
 
Ben Morris and Drew McConnell

Editor's note: Ben and Drew recently shared a trade with as much as eight times upside versus the risk. This opportunity is in one of the strongest economies in the world... And with today's high valuations, it's a rare opportunity to capture big, safe gains. To learn how to access this trade with a risk-free trial of DailyWealth Trader, click here.



Further Reading:

Many investors get caught up in another mistake... They think they need to know if "this time is different." But as Ben explains, you can profit from dramatic market trends whether they defy history or crash back to Earth. Check out his three-part series here, here, and here.
 
"People are dazzled by big numbers... And they ignore almost everything else," Ben says. Too many investors plan their trades around big potential gains, without even considering risk. Learn how three important metrics can give you the full picture, right here.

Market Notes


THE HOME-IMPROVEMENT MARKET IS ON A TEAR

Today's chart highlights the rally in a well-known "fixer upper" stock...
 
Regular readers know we look at several sectors to tell us what's going on in the U.S. economy. In the past, we've discussed how big banks and manufacturing companies can help us measure economic strength... And that's true in the homebuilding sector, too.
 
For proof, we'll look at home-improvement giant Home Depot (HD). With more than 2,200 stores in North America, the company offers a one-stop shop for homebuilding and repair-project needs. In its recent third-quarter results, it reported earnings increased about 15% from the prior year... And same-store sales increased about 8%. This is a sign that consumers are putting money into their homes.
 
As you can see in the chart below, Home Depot's stock is soaring. Shares have climbed nearly 40% over the past year, and they recently hit new all-time highs. In short, the fixer-upper sector is on a tear. And a thriving housing market is a great sign for the U.S. economy...
 

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