Demystifying Future Trading: Is it a Skill-Based Strategy or Just a Form of Gambling

Future trading is a complex financial activity that involves buying and selling contracts for the delivery of a specific asset at a predetermined price and date in the future. It is considered to be one of the most popular and lucrative investment strategies in the world. However, there is often a debate about whether future trading is a skill-based strategy or just a form of gambling. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of future trading, examine the skills and knowledge required, and discuss the differences between strategic trading and gambling.

What is Future Trading?

Future trading, also known as commodities trading or futures contracts, is a financial instrument that allows investors to speculate on the price movement of an underlying asset. These assets can include commodities such as oil, gold, agricultural products, or financial instruments such as currencies, stocks, or indices.

The main objective of future trading is to profit from the price fluctuations of the underlying asset. Traders can take long positions (buying contracts) if they expect the price to rise or short positions (selling contracts) if they anticipate the price to fall. The contracts have a specific expiry date, usually several months in the future, and the trader can choose to close the position before the expiry or settle it by either delivering or receiving the underlying asset.

Skills Required for Future Trading

Successful future trading requires a combination of skills and knowledge. While it may seem like a game of chance to some, experienced traders understand that it involves careful analysis, risk management, and the ability to execute timely trades. Here are some essential skills required for future trading:

1. Market Analysis: Traders need to have a deep understanding of the market in which they are trading. This includes analyzing market trends, studying historical price data, and keeping abreast of news and events that may impact the asset's price.

2. Technical Analysis: Technical analysis involves studying price charts, indicators, and patterns to predict future price movements. Traders use various technical analysis tools such as moving averages, oscillators, and candlestick patterns to identify entry and exit points.

3. Risk Management: Risk management is crucial in future trading, as market volatility can result in significant losses. Traders need to determine their risk appetite, set stop-loss orders to limit potential losses, and employ proper position sizing techniques to manage risk effectively.

4. Trading Strategies: Successful traders develop and implement trading strategies based on their analysis. These strategies can be based on a variety of factors, including fundamental analysis, technical indicators, or a combination of both. Having a well-defined trading plan helps traders stay disciplined and consistent in their approach.

5. Emotional Discipline: Future trading can be emotionally challenging, as it involves making quick decisions in a highly volatile environment. Traders need to exercise emotional discipline, avoid impulsive trading decisions, and stick to their predetermined trading plans.

Strategic Trading vs. Gambling

While future trading can involve elements of risk and uncertainty, it is important to distinguish it from gambling. Here are some factors that differentiate strategic trading from gambling:

1. Knowledge and Analysis: Strategic traders rely on their knowledge of the market and perform extensive analysis before entering a trade. They study market trends, news events, and utilize various technical analysis tools to make informed decisions. In contrast, gambling relies primarily on chance and luck rather than analysis and knowledge.

2. Risk Management: Strategic traders employ risk management techniques to protect their capital and limit potential losses. They use stop-loss orders, diversify their portfolio, and apply proper position sizing techniques. In gambling, there is often no risk management strategy, and the outcome is highly dependent on luck.

3. Consistency and Discipline: Strategic traders follow a well-defined trading plan and stick to their strategies even during unfavorable market conditions. They have the discipline to execute trades based on their analysis rather than emotions. Gambling, on the other hand, often involves impulsive decisions and lack of consistent strategy.

4. Long-term Profitability: Strategic traders aim for long-term profitability by consistently applying their trading strategies. They focus on managing risk and maximizing profits over time. In gambling, there may be occasional wins, but the long-term profitability is typically low or negative.

5. Education and Skill Development: Successful future traders invest time and effort in learning about the markets, understanding trading strategies, and continuously improving their skills. They attend seminars, read books, and engage in various educational activities to enhance their knowledge. Gambling does not require the same level of education or skill development.


Future trading is a skill-based strategy that involves careful analysis, risk management, and the ability to execute timely trades. While it shares some similarities with gambling, such as the element of risk and uncertainty, strategic traders distinguish themselves by their knowledge, analysis, risk management, consistency, and discipline.

To be successful in future trading, individuals must acquire the necessary skills, continuously educate themselves, and adapt to changing market conditions. With proper knowledge, analysis, and risk management techniques, future trading can be a potentially lucrative investment strategy rather than just a form of gambling.

24 October 2023
Written by John Roche