Many thousands of traders each year are attracted to spread betting with tales of easy money. Having heard stories of ordinary people from all walks of life scaling the giddy heights of trading success, they throw themselves (and their wallets) wholeheartedly behind spread betting before ultimately losing it all.

The sad fact is that the vast majority of new traders will drop off having lost a significant proportion of their capital, and there are a number of key reasons why spread bettors lose that rear their heads time and time again. By working on these common reasons spread bettors fail, and taking the necessary steps to ensure you don’t become just another statistic, it’s important to understand how and why people fail in order to give you a shot at consistent, profitable trading.

Education & Understanding

One of the most crucial conduits to success in anything is education and understanding, and unfortunately the majority of traders don’t educate themselves enough about how spread betting works, how the markets work or how they deliver a return. Reading one book or a quick skim of a website isn’t enough – you need to really get down to the meat of the issue to understand odds, spread betting, data analysis and so on. Of course, there’s much to be said for learning on the job, and as a trader you will almost certainly learn new things every day, but by making sure you lay the preparatory work for a successful trading career, you can help ensure you don’t make too many costly mistakes.

Lack Of Research

In a similar vein, education in spread betting is an ongoing process, and like any professional operating in any industry, the more effort you put in to understanding your market and the specific factors that drive pricing, the more likely it is that you’ll be in a favourable position to call market movements. That means constantly keeping up to date with current affairs, reading the thoughts and opinions of a variety of analysts and studying the various data sets available to you to make more informed decisions.

The majority of spread betting traders don’t go into nearly enough depth to understand the markets in which they operate, and as a result simply don’t have enough of a picture of the markets in order to make good trading decisions. Given the extent to which its possible to lose in spread betting, this is a crucial point that any successful trader must first embrace, in order to prevent uninformed decision making, which is essentially as no better than guesswork. Especially when you’re competing in an industry of experts and highly intelligent traders, knowing your markets is beyond essential.

Lack Of Discipline

Another common fault amongst new spread bettors is a lack of discipline. It’s easy to become attached to a trading position that seems to you to be logical, even when the markets are clearly responding in the opposite fashion. Don’t get caught up on the expectation that the markets will eventually turn around – there are no guarantees in this business, and by the time the market does start to reverse, your entire trading account could be wiped.

In order to be a successful trader, you must first acknowledge that some trades will win and others will lose, and in the process you should take care to position tight stops to preserve your capital. Even if it seems as though markets might recover, it’s usually not worth the risk to maintain exposure against the grain of the market, particularly given the extent of leverage at play in spread betting.

Lack Of Capital / Overamibition

Overamibition is a killer when it comes to spread betting, and many inexperienced traders will launch in without sufficient capital to justify their trading decisions. Bear in mind that even though you might be able to afford a margin, a slight drop in the market can result in significant losses, so it’s far better to wager a small amount per point until you’re in a strong capital position to up the ante. Most traders don’t have the capital or experience to be trading heavily, so avoid your greed instinct and stay on course with a reasoned, cautious approach. Gamblers take risks – traders try to stack the odds in their favour.

Trading Against The Grain

Markets are not always rational beasts. Even when a position seems to clearly indicate you should behave in a certain way, it’s best to avoid trading in the face of market momentum, especially if you’re not in a position to tolerate significant losses. All too often traders commit to positions that fight against the current because their logic tells them so, but this is a fallacy and one of the more common reasons spread traders find themselves in trouble. Whatever your trading research shows, market momentum will always be a difficult force to overcome, and it’s far safer to ride out a market movement in the direction of everyone else than to take the risk and plough ahead.

How To Lose At Spread Betting

The risks of spread betting are well known, and their impact on even the most astute traders can be devastating. With highly leveraged trading in whatever guise, the threat of wayward positions running away with your hard earned investment capital is ever-present, and for traders of all experience levels the first priority is to minimise their exposure to risk and to reduce the number and impact of losing transactions in order to preserve their takings from profitable positions. Here we’ve compiled a few betting behaviours that practically guarantee losing over time, so you can avoid these all too common dangers to get the most from your spread betting positions.

Don’t Do Your Homework

Not doing your homework is the first, most sure-fire way to getting flamed as a spread bettor. Doing no or very little research into a market before diving in is trading suicide, and particularly with spread betting where losses can be so severe, this is the fastest way to destroy your resolve and melt your trading capital. It’s important to remember that every serious trader knows what they’re talking about, and even newbies with the right attitude devote their time and attention to drawing up details forecasts of performance on the basis of cold, hard information. Executing trades is easy – the difficulty comes in getting to know how the markets should and are likely to react, so you can capitalise on anomalies and avoid slipping in to guess-work territory.

Make Reckless Spread Bets

Making losing trades in spread betting is acceptable, and it’s par for the course when you spend any length of time pondering the spread betting markets. Everyone loses – from massive investment funds to highly skilled investors and everything in between. What’s not acceptable is making reckless or uninformed trades, and that’s a quick and effective way to drain your resources and land yourself and your spread betting portfolio in serious difficulties. Researching the markets is one thing, but making sensible trades on the back of your interpretation of that research is quite another, and only by fully contemplating the implications of your findings can you expect to be in a position where your trades are sensible and consistent. You’ll still lose from time to time, but by trading with proper care and attention you can increase the frequency of positives and minimise the impact of the negatives – a crucial recipe for success in spread betting.

Hold Out Losing Positions

It’s often hard to reconcile yourself to a losing position. When we spend hours charting a markets progress and reading up on the factors and issues that are likely to play into pricing, it can often be a difficult thing psychologically to abandon all that hard work at a loss when things aren’t going your way – particularly when you’ve already lost money on a position. Holding out losing positions is a sure-fire way to run down your trading capital, and more often than not it will be the wrong decision. Traders who are capable of being dynamic and cutting out positions that are sapping their resources are those who will ultimately become more successful over time.

Try To Move The Markets

Finally, don’t try to move against the markets unless there’s a particularly good reason for doing so. Remember that the markets, while often behaving in an irrational fashion, are actually guided by the trading decisions of serious investors who have put serious effort into establishing their positions. Betting with the grain rather than against it, in accordance with the parameters laid down in your trading strategy is a far more effective way to guarantee more frequently profitable transactions than trying to shape the markets on a one-man crusade.