If you’re in it for the long haul, you need to know the rules—that the news doesn’t matter much, the markets are random and active trading beats long-term investing.

Just when you think you know it all, you find there’s a lot left to learn. In my case, the lessons began in earnest after I finished my graduate degree in finance and got involved in the markets.

I worked as a trader for 10 years, starting on the floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange and then becoming a proprietary trader when the exchange went electronic. As the years went by, I focused on futures. 

I was operating as a market maker, regularly putting thousands of dollars on the line against other traders—for a single tick. I didn’t care if the market went up or...

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