Why winning automated contest strategies don't work in real trading

I despise sellers of trading robots making misleading promises like "doubling your money every month". They are nothing more than snake oil salesmen exploiting on the greed and ignorance of others. Yet I am finding myself in a similar situation lately. Ever since my interview at Dukascopy about my JForex automated trading contest win, I seem to have established a persona for being able to generate 45%+ return per month using my strategy. Despite my constant reiteration that this is merely a lucky result in a risk-free game, I am still getting inquiries from people interested in following my trading signals. In another attempt to rein in expectations, consider this chart of my contest demo account balance for this month.

September 2010 JForex contest balance

As you can see, my strategy doubled the account within days. However, it also lost half of its paper value plus some more soon afterward. As it stands now, my September strategy will not be in the top 10 for this month.

If I haven't mentioned this embarassing negative return, you wouldn't have noticed it, would you? That's the thing with trading contest and those snake oil trading robots, we hear a lot about them when somebody win. But what happens to those same people when they aren't winning or the countless other unfortunate followers lost money?

This reminds me of the lottery system. Our perception of the probability of winning the lottery is drastically distorted because we hear about the winnings so much while neglecting the fact that there are millions of losers out there.

The fact is, most of the seemingly impressive trading robots out there will not last for the long term. The only reason that I have won three times out of the five months is that I change my strategy's parameters in expectation of the future month's market condition. That expection is based on my own market analysis from my real trading. It isn't something that can be readily quantified yet.

The way I see it, the only way in which others can exploit my success is to buy my real secret trading system, which is, perhaps unfortunately, my brain.