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Stock trading for fun - Smartstocks Game
how to play the game
I've recently started my online portfolio of shares in a stock market game. It’s a very simple one at smartstocks.com. The aim of the game (obviously) is to make money. You buy at one price and sell at another. If you’ve done well you’ll sell at substantially higher prices. If you’re doing ok, maybe only a bit higher. If you’ve picked a booboo, you might opt for damage control and dump the share at a loss.
You are given $1,000,000 to start with and then you get buying. The buying works on tickers (I’ll mention later) and number of shares you want and seems to be loosely linked (or actually – I can’t tell how much the other users of the game dictate the share price) to the NASDAQ and the NYSE. There are others available, some of the better know UK listed companies must be available since companies like Dana Petroleum are buyable and I think they’re only LSE listed.
Buying appears charge free (Banks/dealers charge you a fee for real trading, usually about £30 per transaction) so you don’t lose that way. On the other hand, it does have a bid/ask pricing, so the price you buy at and the price you sell at are different.
Thus if you buy $1000 dollars of something, decide you don’t want it or it hasn’t moved quick enough or at all, and then sell, you might only get $999 back even though the nominal share price hasn’t changed. Buying is based on the Share price and the number of shares you buy. If you buy 1000 shares at $10 per share, that’s $10,000 dollars you just spent.
Tickers mentioned earlier are the stock market code to a company, usually between 1 and 5 letters. Unless you know tickers off by heart (you get to know a few as you play) you’ll have to look them up. One of the first problems I had was what to spend your million bucks on? I’m not a very knowledgeable shares person so I could only think of a few companies, mostly Oil related and a few every-day ones.
All's Bullish! Good Share Tips
Here’s my first and best piece of advice: Both the NASDAQ and NYSE have a section on their webpage’s for big movers and shakers of the day. If you go on these, it’ll tell you that Joe Boggs inc has gone up 20% today and that’s in the top ten highest, or WunderCorp had sold 10 trillion shares and that’s one of the highest in that category.
Since few of these games are real time linked to the markets, you can sometimes steal a march by seeing which ones are big and on the rise and buying them. Not only does this give you companies to buy, some of them might even be good bets! Note: this doesn’t apply to real share dealing particularly as that is in real time!
You can manage them any time, but in the case of the smartstocks that I’m on, action really only occurs between 9.30am EST and 4.30pm EST. that’s about 2.30 pm to 9.30pm UK (GMT) time, with a 15 minute lead time.
You can go long term or short, selling and buying when ever, provided you have the cash. At the moment I’m micromanaging, taking profits of a couple of hundred dollars before unloading companies I’m not attached to. I’ve made 28k in two days but its time intensive and I’ll get bored of it eventually.
I’ve got about 15 companies in my portfolio with the highest amount at about $150k. I’ve had up to 500k in one company but that strikes me as risky. If the price tanks or even drops 0.5% you loose big time! My main sources of income are oil and food companies. Lots of people drive cars and everybody eats – good bets.
Oil is a bit linked to the Oil price and the dollar, but you get by. Occasional forays into insurance and property seem to yield, although I’m not sure long term. Banks are dicey at the current time. I’m tempted by medical research companies, especially ones developing diabetes and Alzheimer’s drugs as these are two major sections of drug sales in the USA.
On the other hand, go with what you know and like! I’m becoming a little more merciless at the moment, as its more like CNO? GUKYF? Sell! Sell! Rather than hmm I like Joe Boggs inc, I’ll keep it for a bit longer cos I like it. Above all its fun and you do start to learn about shares, although I’d do a little deeper digging and make sure you have the finance before going for the real thing. To enjoy the game you don’t really have to be very much financially or shares minded though.
Smartstock isn’t the only game available by a long shot. Google them and there’s plenty of free ones. Lots of them are American though, requiring a zip code which I don’t have, but of the UK available ones, my choice was fairly random. You can create your own group so you can compete against your friends and “poke fun at the bottom hundred” and “applaud the top 100” people. The only tabs I use are the ticker lookup and quote tab (quote is to look up a company via the ticker), the portfolio and the trading history (everything you’ve bought and sold).
Note: this is not related to buying share for real and does not constitute advice on buying and selling shares, it may not even be good advice for the game for that matter!