Sunday, June 27, 2010

Trading and Poker: Reaching the Next Level of Success

Well, that's another way poker might be like trading: It's easy to participate, difficult to sustain success. Many just play for the thrills of winning and losing; relatively few systematically learn from experience and build skills over time.

One reason online poker is particularly promising is that players can play so many hands at one time. This allows for the possibility of accelerated learning; the online poker participant can gain years of live tournament experience in a matter of weeks. But this is only possible if the experience is structured in such a way as to generate frequent, timely feedback and goal-focused efforts at improvement.

Imagine a training program for traders in which there is daily observation of leading traders making decisions, frequent interaction with those traders to understand what they are doing and why, and supervision of students' trading decisions by those traders. It would be like having world-class poker champions sitting behind your shoulder as you play, offering immediate observations and coaching. Expertise development that normally might require many years of effort could now occur in a fraction of that time.

That is the vision.

The key is recognizing that it is the structure--and not just the content--of a learning experience that accounts for its success. Most learning efforts fail because there are too few cycles of performance-feedback-goal setting-corrective effort per unit of time and no clear curricular progression guiding the content of those cycles.

Interested in reading more about enhanced learning and developing elite trading skills? Here are a few sources worth checking out:

* Enhancing Trader Performance - This is the book that I wrote to capture the progression of successful traders from novice status to competence to expertise.

* The Talent Code - Dan Coyle's book nicely draws upon research to show that elite levels of performance are as much a function of training as inborn ability.

* Talent is Overrated - Excellent book by Geoff Colvin that documents how the structure of practice is a major contributor to successful performance.

The core concept is that, whether you are a poker player, trader, or something else, you can become much better at what you do by creating more and better learning cycles. For the real champions, nothing less will suffice.