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That Dennis was possibly taking risks over and above his Turtles by a factor of 100 simply made no sense. He knew enough to make his students do the right thing, but had a difficult time disciplining himself.”

The moral of the story is that trading can be learned and you don’t need to be born with special skills. However, people with entrepreneurial mindset and toughness to take losses and get back up, were the ones to continue on the success path when trading without a mentor. If you like the review, I recommend to read the whole book. There is a lot more described and details that make a difference how a reader will gain the insights and inspiration.

Some of the Turtles did great, continuing on in the tradition of successful trend traders, others gave trading a shot but failed to repeat their prior performance, and still others became near total losers. The ongoing experiment shows that there is more to it than just following mechanical trading rules. The true secret is more fundamental and like human nature itself is neither simple nor easy to define. The answer takes wisdom and solemn reflection but clues are sprinkled copiously throughout the book. What happens when ordinary people are taught a system to make extraordinary money? Richard Dennis made a fortune on Wall Street by investing according to a few simple rules.

He played favorites, giving some millions while others only thousands. This created tension, rivalries and confusion among the group, a fascinating story in and of itself. There was also competition among the Turtles in terms of performance.

This fascinating story has also been covered in Jack D. Schwager’s Market Wizards book and in other materials by the author Michael W. Covel. The Complete TurtleTrader was first published in 2007. I have read about the traders featured in this book and listened to them on podcasts. So I was already aware of much of the content but there was still so much new, too.

Termination of the program

The two men decided to put their debate into action and through the training experiment find out about the nature vs nurture aspect. The students were going to trade the firm’s money and be able to keep a part of the profits. For many it seemed a too good opportunity to be true. Dennis taught the Turtles his theory-driven quantitative trading approach – mechanical trend-following based on a set of rules. Some core axioms of the Turtles sound very relevant even today, almost 40 years later; similar to what I have written down myself. Dennis and Eckhardt were very strict about their rules and they had to let some people go, so not everyone made the cut.

Richard J. Dennis of C&D Commodities is accepting applications for the position of Commodity Futures Trader to expand his established group of traders. Small town guy starts at a gas station and becomes a trading legend worth $100 million. Bottom line though it is a trading and investing goldmine of insight. The book was sold over the summer to HarperCollins (Publisher of Freakonomics, Good to Great, etc.).

Richard Dennis had always thought trading to be something that could be learned. He thought about money differently than most people. His partner William Eckhardt thought one was born either to be a trader or not.

Traders Archive

Potential students who were ultimately hired recall being stunned. “This can’t be what I think it is” was a common refrain. It was, unbelievably, an invitation to learn at the feet of Chicago’s greatest living trader and then use his money to trade and take a piece of the profits. This was probably the worst trade of Dennis’s entire career. The Turtles were profitable, having grossed $150 million for him in four years! They were still floating his boat as he was going to pieces.

Michael W. Covel – The Complete TurtleTrader – Review

Convinced that great trading was a skill that could be taught to anyone, he made a bet with his partner and ran a classified ad in the Wall Street Journal looking for novices to train. His recruits, later known as the Turtles, had anything but traditional Wall Street backgrounds; they included a professional blackjack player, a pianist, and a fantasy game designer. For two weeks, Dennis taught them his investment rules and philosophy, and set them loose to start trading, each with a million dollars of his money.

Trend Following Podcast

And while there are a near infinite variety of potentially successful trading strategies (as the book Market Wizards shows), some of the most successful strategies have been mechanical trend following systems. You’ve no doubt heard a bit about Richard Dennis, the trend trading pioneer who discussed his mid-1980’s Turtles experiment in Market Wizards. Now, thanks to Michael Covel, we are lucky enough to have access to the whole story. This is the true story of novices trained to be millionaires. It is the only narrative account of trader Richard Dennis and his student traders nicknamed the ‘Turtles’. It is the definitive book on the subject and has been translated into German, Japanese, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Korean and Russian.


Part one takes place during the experiment, when the Turtles are on the relatively level playing field designed by Richard Dennis. Part two take place after the experiment, when the Turtles have to face the real world as individuals and human nature reenters the picture. The ad the complete turtletrader review invited anyone to join one of Chicago’s most successful trading firms, making “experience” optional. It was as if the Washington Redskins had advertised open positions regardless of age, weight, or football experience. Most beat-the-market books aren’t worth my shelf space.

More detailed descriptions about the legendary ad, people who applied, what they had to do in order to get selected, what kind of traits Dennis and Eckhardt were expecting from the applicants. Many of them were shocked to see such an ad in newspapers in the first place. It sounded too good to be true to many and it did change the life of so many people.