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New ThinkOrSwim Trading Strategies Published

thinkorswim trading strategies

New ThinkOrSwim Trading Strategies Published

I’ve recently posted several strategy scripts to the website that identify quantifiable edges for my fellow traders. These ThinkOrSwim trading strategies can be traded standalone, or tweaked further and customized to fit an individual’s trading style. They can either be used to setup automated trading systems in other platforms, or traded manually within ThinkOrSwim and improved with price action trading principles. My most recent strategies are all listed under the strategies category on the site, and here’s a quick reference list:

Most of these strategies come straight out of Larry Connors and Cesar Alvarez’s book “Short Term Trading Strategies that Work,” and are specifically for trading the SPY, SPX, or ES futures. But these ThinkOrSwim trading strategies may also provide edges on other instruments, and you can test them on whatever symbols you like to trade, to see if they can be applied profitably there as well.

I hope these strategies are as intriguing to you as they were to me, and hopefully they will provide you a more quantifiable way to determine your edge in the market as well.

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Pre-Market Gap Scan OVERHAUL!

premarket movers gap scan for thinkorswim

I want to be sure I’m providing a really good value for what I do, and that I respond to feedback from my customers. To that end, I spent a lot of time doing a complete overhaul of the pre-market gap scan set for the Stock Hacker scanner in ThinkOrSwim. To be clear, the old set of scans worked great, and I use modified versions of them all the time.  But I wanted to make the scans even more powerful and full-featured so that they really do the best job they can possibly do. So today I’ve released the new version 2.0 gap scans, and EVERYONE who has purchased the scans in the past gets a free upgrade. You’ll notice the new links in your My Account > Orders > Order Details section automatically. Also, for those that haven’t purchased a copy yet, the scans are on sale this month here.

What’s New with the Pre-Market Gap Scan

First, there are a lot more of them, and all of them are more full-featured and easier to customize. They’re also more consistently setup, with cleaner code and comments.

Second, all the scans are set to find gaps greater than a certain percentage change, and you can now change that percentage to whatever you want for all of the scans!

Third, you’ll notice some new scans in both the pre-market group and the regular hours group. In the pre-market gap scan group, I’ve included a set of scans that finds what I call “insignificant” gaps, or gaps from the close, not from the high or low. Basically just a pre-market mover stock where there’s a gap between yesterday’s closing price and today’s opening price, even if that doesn’t take the open outside of yesterday’s range altogether.

Technically, a gap is any stock that OPENS higher than the previous day’s high, or lower than the previous day’s low. But if you run regular hours scans later in the day, the stocks might not all look like gaps because some of them have already filled the gap (i.e., even though a stock might have opened below yesterday’s low, today’s trading has moved the high so that it is now equal to or higher than the previous day’s low, for example, filling the a gap down). So one or two people got confused when my regular hours scans included these stocks that had later filled their gaps. I explained it to them, but I figured it would be even better to give everyone both options so you can weed out the ones that have already filled the gap, if you want to. So you’ll notice those scans below under “regular hours”.

All Version 2.0 Gap Scans Default to these Settings:

  • Last Price Between $5 – $200
  • Avg. Daily Volume > 500,000
  • Avg. True Range > .5
  • Gap >= 1%

All these settings can be adjusted and my comments inside the scan should help you do that if needed. Just use the drop-downs and input fields, or click the pencil icon next to any filter to change it. If you want to remove a filter altogether just click the X on the right hand side of the StockHacker window for that line of the scan. Be sure to save a new copy with a new name to apply the changes.


All Significant Gaps > X% From High Or Low
Significant Gaps Up > X% Above High
Significant Gaps Down > X% Below Low

All Tier 1 Significant Gaps > X% from High or Low
Tier 1 Significant Gaps Up > X% above High
Tier 1 Significant Gaps Down > X% below Low

All Gaps from Close (instead of hi/low) > X%
Gaps Down from Close (instead of low) > X%
Gaps Up from Close (instead of high) > X%


Gaps That Haven’t Filled Yet

All Significant Gaps (+ haven’t filled) > X%
Significant Gap Ups (+ haven’t filled) > X%
Significant Gap Downs (+ haven’t filled) > X%

All Tier 1 Gaps (+ haven’t filled) > X%
Tier 1 Gap Downs (+ haven’t filled) > X%
Tier 1 Gap Ups (+ haven’t filled) > X%

Gaps That May or May Not Have Filled

All Significant Gaps > X%
Significant Gap Ups > X%
Significant Gap Downs > X%

All Tier 1 Gaps > X%
Tier 1 Gap Downs > X%
Tier 1 Gap Ups > X%


I always refer to gaps in terms of either being insignificant, significant, or tier 1. That’s just how I learned to think about them, but to translate my “trader speak,” here’s a quick definition of each:

  • Insignificant: A gap from the close, where the open has moved > X% from yesterday’s CLOSE, but where the stock may or may not be opening outside of yesterday’s range altogether. These are basically just a good, cleaned up list of pre-market movers, and this is the broadest type of gap scan you can do.
  • Significant: A gap from the high or low, where the open has moved > X% from yesterday’s HIGH or LOW, and thus the stock is opening completely outside of yesterday’s range. These are “true” gaps.
  • Tier 1: A significant gap in the opposite direction of yesterday’s price movement. So if yesterday was a green up bar, today is a significant gap below the low of yesterday. Or if yesterday was a red down bar, then today is a significant gap up over yesterday’s high. Basically the gap is negating all price movement from yesterday and “shocking” traders who wake up and see their positions suddenly in the red. There is a greater likelihood to see some panicked covering of positions at and near the open, and especially at any early retrace toward yesterday’s price where trapped traders will try to get out nearer to break-even.

Low Float Stocks

Just a quick note here: I know a lot of pre-market gap scan users also trade low float stocks. Low float stocks that gap in the morning can often create a real spike in price movement a make a trader a lot of quick profit if they’re on the right side of that price movement. But trading these setups used to be next to impossible to do within ThinkOrSwim, so most people had to pay for a standalone scanning service like Trade Ideas at god-awful subscription rates.

However, recently I came up with a workaround that has been doing well for TOS traders — I’ve painstakingly created 5 custom static lists of stocks, with floats less than 10 million, 20, 30, 40, and 50 million shares float each, and I have posted those for sale over here.

And it gets better. All the gap scans can be set up to run only on the low float lists, thus only returning low float gapping stocks. So now if you purchase both products in the shop area, you can not only scan for normal gaps, but also for the low float gaps so many people are looking for ways to find now.


If you have any ideas for improvements to either the pre-market gap scan or the regular hours gap scan, I’m happy to hear them. Also, since this is a big release, I’m sure there might be a bug or two found during the first few weeks, so let me know if you spot anything weird.



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New Sale Prices on Every ThinkScript this Month

thinkscript on sale

Just a quick update here to let everyone know I’ve posted new sale prices on ALL my thinkscript products this month!

I think I’m probably already one of the lowest priced think-or-swim programmers out there, but I just can’t see charging $250+ for a thinkorswim indicator like some of these other guys do.

Let’s face reality: traders get milked for all their worth by the trading industry, with HUGE fees for educational courses, software packages, data feeds, subscriptions, etc. Everybody wants a piece of your pie, and a lot of times they want it every month.

Here at SWIMdicators, I only charge for my work one time, and provide free updates for life. Moreover, I charge LESS up front than almost anyone else.

I also stand behind my work, and try my best to write clean code that is well-organized, efficient (so it doesn’t bog down your system), and is easy to customize without any coding knowledge. Other people give you hard-coded stuff that doesn’t expand or adjust to fit your unique trading needs.

I’m not the super-genius programmer type, but I know ThinkOrSwim, I do a good job at what I do, and I try to do it at a good price.

If you guys have any suggestions for a thinkScript indicator or any scans, columns, or strategies that you would like to see me add to the site, leave me a comment to let me know and I’ll see what I can do about it. If you want to check out the new sale prices for this month, visit the thinkorswim download shop.

It’s a privilege to serve the TOS community, and I appreciate your support and contributions.



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TD Ameritrade Review 2017

td ameritrade review 2017


td ameritrade reviewTD Ameritrade is an all-inclusive, one-stop-shop-style discount broker for basically every kind of trader and investor out there. Whether you’re a beginner investor just trying to buy some ETFs or mutual funds for your Roth IRA, a swing trader looking to create or hedge complex positions using options contracts, or a high-speed day trader wanting to buy and sell individual stocks, forex pairs, commodities, or futures, TD has basically got you covered. The only thing they don’t really do is algorithmic automated systems trading (though you can accomplish this fairly easily using a TDA account in conjunction with another company called Prodigio — and without any programming knowledge no less!)

To me, TDA’s most compelling features include that they have no minimum balance requirement, excellent free research and news tools, and a choice of three trading platforms (with my favorite, of course, being thinkorswim). I’ve also found their support teams to be extremely easy to reach via phone, email, or even live chat, and the reps seem friendly and accommodative.

To pay for all the freebies and low fees that make Ameritrade so accessible to so wide an audience of investors, the firm has traditionally charged more in commissions than most other discount brokers. Recently at $9.95 per trade, the commissions were getting pretty out of sync with some of the competition out there for awhile, especially for more active traders. But the recent commission price cut to $6.95 per trade for stocks and ETFs has alleviated some of that imbalance. Traders have to realize the trade off is there due to the other free services the company provides, such as a good research and news, a pre-configured data feed, well-supported scriptable platforms, etc. — features which more specialized low-cost brokers charge customers for out of pocket. Still, even with the freebies and the recent price drop, TD may not be the best option for the more active traders among us.

Compare TD Ameritrade

As of 3/6/17 TDA
Online equity trades $6.95 $4.95 $4.95
Minimum opening deposit $0
($2k for margin/options)
$2,500 $1,000
Access to real-time streaming quotes Free Platform conditions apply Free
Access to Level II quotes Free Platform conditions apply Platform conditions apply

TD Ameritrade’s Commissions & Fees

  • Stocks: $6.95 per trade
  • Bonds: $25
  • Options: $6.95 per trade plus $0.75 per contract
  • Futures: $2.25 per contract plus exchange and regulatory fees
  • Forex:
    • Spread-only pairs: Avg. spread of 1.4 pips EUR/USD as an example
    • Commission-based (#): $1 min. and/or $0.10 per 1,000 units
  • ETFs:
    • 100+ ETFs: $0
    • All others: $6.95
  • Mutual Funds:
    • Almost 4000 NTF and Load funds: $0
    • No Load: $49.95
  • Account minimum: $0
  • No annual or inactivity fee; $75 outgoing transfer fee
  • Promotion: $100 to $600 cash bonus, depending on account size

Where TD Ameritrade Really Shines

Account minimums: TD Ameritrade has a very accessible $0 account minimum for both IRAs and taxable brokerage accounts, so this can make it extremely easy for anyone to start investing. I mean, free is much, much lower than the typical $500 to $2,500 many brokerages want. Another nice add-on to the low account minimums is that TD doesn’t charge account inactivity fees either, and regardless of your balance you still get access to the free tools, news, and research. However, customers trading options or using margin are required to maintain at least a $2,000 account balance to be able to trade.

Curated investments: TD Ameritrade has more than 100 commission-free ETFs and nearly 4,000 no-transaction-fee mutual funds. Moreover, Morningstar, an independent investment research firm, compiles a quarterly “Premier List” of no-transaction-fee mutual funds in 45 different fund categories for TD Ameritrade clients, and customers have free access to that.

Free research: TD Ameritrade provides traders with analysis from Market Edge, S&P Capital IQ, and Credit Suisse, as well as free streaming CNBC news, market heat maps, and free real-time streaming quotes. Another little perk is the online social community myTrade. And if you want input from your local broker, there are over 100 locations around the U.S. that you can call or visit.

Simulated trading: TDA offers some great ways for traders to get started without risking anything. Not only does it offer basic demo trading accounts, called TD Ameritrade Paper Money, but they also offer a fully functional version of their advanced trading platform on demo mode as well. Just download and run the thinkorswim paperMoney platform. You can also demo trade right inside any of the mobile apps by switching the mode as you login.

TD Ameritrade’s Platform Options: TDA has some great options for traders and investors, from your basic mobile app or online web-trading platform, to the more advanced Trade Architect, to the full-fledged all-in-one desktop trading platform thinkorswim.

TD Ameritrade Platform Options

  • Web trading (web based)
  • Trade Architect (web based)
  • thinkorswim / thinkDesktop (Windows / Mac / Ubuntu download options)

TD Ameritrade Mobile Trading Platform Options:

  • Mobile web trading
  • TDA Mobile app
  • TDA Mobile Trader app
  • thinkorswim mobile

Where TD Ameritrade Is Lacking

Trading commissions: Like I mentioned previously, my biggest gripe against TD Ameritrade has always been the commissions. That definitely got a whole lot better in March when the company lowered its base commission rate for stocks, ETFs, and options from $9.99 to $6.95.

But the whole industry reduced commissions at about the same time, including Fidelity, Charles Schwab, and also TradeStation (a big competitor to thinkorswim), among others. This means that TD Ameritrade is still pricier than its peers, but again we have to remember that TDA offers a lot of freebies and lower minimums to offset some of that annoyance.

Broker-assisted trades: TD charges a whopping $44.99 for broker-assisted trades, compared to more typical competitor rates of $25 t0 $35, though this can be reduced by $10 if you choose to place the trade on the interactive voice response phone system (but then you have to ask yourself why you didn’t just go on the mobile app and trade for $6.95 instead!) Broker-assisted trades and the IVR phone system would mostly be useful for closing a position in an emergency if your power goes out or something. And, by the way, it’s always a good idea to keep their number in your phone for that very purpose: 800-669-3900

The Bottom Line

TD Ameritrade does a good job of wearing a lot of hats and covering a lot of bases for different types of investors and traders. From getting portfolio guidance, independent research, commission-free ETFs, no-transaction-fee mutual funds, and your pick of three great multi-product trading platforms in addition to being accessible via the mobile app, they really check a lot of boxes.

When you add to that that these features are all available for free and with no minimum initial deposit, TD’s service becomes a truly compelling offering.

TD Ameritrade is best for:

  • Beginner investors wanting low fees and minimums.
  • Advanced traders who don’t want to deal with complex data feeds and software configuration.
  • Options traders.