Assess how much capital you're willing to risk on each trade. Many successful day traders risk less than 1% to 2% of their account per trade. If you have a $40,000 trading account and are willing to risk 0.5% of your capital on each trade, your maximum loss per trade is $200 (0.005 x $40,000). Set aside a surplus amount of funds you can trade with and you're prepared to lose. Remember, it may or may not happen.
Because scalpers focus on short-term positions with low-profit margins, the best scalping strategies (such as the Triple S strategy mentioned below) require some leverage. It's recommended that scalpers start with a large amount of capital. Opening and closing larger positions allow you to reduce the marginal costs of trading and maximize potential gains.
Following the 1987 stock market crash, the SEC adopted "Order Handling Rules" which required market makers to publish their best bid and ask on the NASDAQ. Another reform made was the "Small-order execution system", or "SOES", which required market makers to buy or sell, immediately, small orders (up to 1000 shares) at the market maker's listed bid or ask. The design of the system gave rise to arbitrage by a small group of traders known as the "SOES bandits", who made sizable profits buying and selling small orders to market makers by anticipating price moves before they were reflected in the published inside bid/ask prices. The SOES system ultimately led to trading facilitated by software instead of market makers via ECNs.
A pure scalper will make a number of trades each day — perhaps in the hundreds. A scalper will mostly utilize one-minute charts since the time frame is small, and he or she needs to see the setups as they shape up in as close to real time as possible. Supporting systems such as Direct Access Trading (DAT) and Level 2 quotations are essential for this type of trading. Automatic instant execution of orders is crucial to a scalper, so a direct-access broker is the preferred weapon of choice.
Scalping can appear easy because a scalper might make an entire day's profit within a few minutes. However, in reality, scalping can be quite challenging because there is very little room for error. If you do decide to try scalping, make sure that you do so by using a trading simulator, until you are consistently profitable and no longer make any beginning mistakes, such as not exiting your trades when they move against you.
Each type of trading has its advantages and disadvantages. The appeal of swing trading is that it provides plenty of opportunities to trade; the dollar risk per trade is lower than with trend trading because of closer stops; it provides greater profit opportunity per trade than day trading; and quick rewards provide emotional satisfaction. The downside of swing trading is that you must work hard all the time to manage trades; you are quite likely to miss major moves where huge profits can be made; and frequent trading results in higher commission costs.
Margin account – This type account allows you to borrow money from your broker. This will enable you to bolster your potential profits, but also comes with the risk of greater losses and rules to follow. If you want to start day trading with no minimum this isn’t the option for you. Most brokerage firms will insist you lay down a minimum investment before you can start trading on margin. You can also experience a margin call, where your broker demands a greater deposit to cover potential losses.
In addition to knowledge of basic trading procedures, day traders need to keep up on the latest stock market news and events that affect stocks—the Fed's interest rate plans, the economic outlook, etc. So do your homework. Make a wish list of stocks you'd like to trade and keep yourself informed about the selected companies and general markets. Scan business news and visit reliable financial websites.