Trading futures is serious business. The sheer amount of money involved should raise a caution flag for one interested in trading futures. Don't misunderstand what I am trying to say: the futures market offers very high potential for reward. That high potential comes with a high price tag in the form of risk. If a trade goes awry, one can easily lose everything.
Tools for Serious Futures Traders
Trading in the futures market should be an all or nothing venture. I don't mean all your money. I mean, if you aren't willing to give it everything you have, don't even try. Don't think you can simply buy a futures contract, walk away, check it upon expiration and make money. You must be willing to follow the market on a daily basis, and even several times a day in some cases. If you are going to be a serious futures trader you must be ready to commit to the market.
Once you have committed to becoming a successful trader there are tangible tools you must have. The first is an account with a futures broker. The National Futures Commission (NFA) is the regulating agency for futures brokers. Make sure the broker you use is registered with the NFA as a Futures Commission Merchant (FCM). You will also want a reliable broker that will be able to place trades when you need them to.
Real-time quotes are essential for serious traders. Futures exchanges offer real-time quotes for a fee. Instead of subscribing to the various exchanges, it would be easier to use a single quote service. Without access to real-time data, you will be at least 20 minutes behind the market with delayed quotes. Every serious futures trader follows a disciplined trading strategy. Trading strategies give you a blueprint for navigating the market. They will also help reduce the influence your emotions have when trading.