Pin Bar Entry and Exit Strategies

by Justin Bennett  · 

April 9, 2014

by Justin Bennett  · 

April 9, 2014

by Justin Bennett  · 

April 9, 2014

If you’ve just come from the lesson Forex Pin Bar Trading Strategy, welcome! If not, I strongly urge you to read that lesson and then come right back. It will help set the foundation for what we’re about to cover.

Before we get into all the juicy details about pin bar entry and exit strategies, we need to discuss a very important subject, the Risk reward ratio. Please do not skip ahead because the pin bar entry and exit strategies we’re going to cover in this lesson won’t make much sense without understanding risk reward ratio. Not only that, but the proper risk reward ratio is critical if you want to succeed as a Forex trader. I truly believe that this is the missing link for many traders who are struggling.

Risk to Reward Ratio

risk reward ratio of pin bar setups

So what is a “risk reward ratio”? A risk reward ratio is simply the amount of capital risked to achieve a desired gain. Because it’s a ratio we represent it as follows:

1:2 (in this case the “1” is our risk and the “2” is our reward) An example would be risking $50 for a potential gain of $100. Let’s look at another way to represent the risk reward ratio.


Don’t worry, it isn’t as scary as it sounds. The R-multiple is simply the ratio converted to a multiple. So in the case of our example above, the 1:2 ratio becomes 2R. Let’s covert a few more before moving on.

1:3 becomes 3R
1:2.5 becomes 2.5R
1:3.52487 becomes 3.52487R  …I couldn’t help myself 😉

We’re essentially just placing an “R” after the second number (reward) in the risk reward ratio. Because the risk is always represented as the number one, the reward will always be divisible by itself. It’s just an easier way to represent the risk reward ratio.

Not so scary anymore, is it?

The reason I mentioned that the proper risk reward ratio, or R-multiple as we now know it, is critical to your success is because it allows you to have more losers than winners and still come out ahead. How is that possible? By maintaining a 2R minimum per trade, which is how I trade and what I teach in my Forex trading course. If you maintained a 2R average, you could actually lose 65% of your trades and still come out ahead.

Now that we understand R-multiples and the benefit of maintaining a 2R minimum, let’s get into pin bar entry strategies. The rest of this lesson will assume that we have already gone through our confluence checklist and are now ready to place the trade.

Pin Bar Entry Strategies

There are two common ways to enter a pin bar trade. Both have merit and really depend on the trader as well as the market conditions.

Break of Pin Bar Nose Entry

It isn’t as brutal as it sounds 😉 The break of pin bar nose entry is the more common and conservative way to enter a pin bar trade. The entry strategy is exactly how it sounds.

pin bar on break of pin bar nose

Entering on a break of the pin bar nose involves placing a stop order just beyond the nose of the pin bar. In the example above, we would place a sell stop just below the pin bar nose. The distance at which you place the order is really personal preference and depends on the currency pair traded, but a good rule of thumb is 5-10 pips. This allows for some room in case of a false break.

Pin Bar 50% Retrace Entry

This is my favorite way to enter a pin bar trade. It’s my favorite because it allows for a much better entry, thus increasing the potential R-multiple considerably. This means that on a potential 2R trade using the break of pin bar nose method, you can now get a potential 3R or better using the 50% entry method on the exact same trade setup. If used properly, the 50% of pin bar entry can have a drastic effect on your account balance over time.

pin bar enter on retrace method

To get our pin bar entry level using the 50% rule, we simply drag the Fibonacci Retracement tool from the top of the pin bar tail to the bottom of the pin bar nose. Of course if this were a bullish pin bar we would drag the Fibonacci Retracement from the bottom of the tail to the top of the nose. Over time you’ll become so comfortable with this pin bar entry strategy, that you won’t need to use the Fibonacci Retracement. Until then it’s good practice to draw it out as it will help keep you disciplined.

Although the 50% entry can provide better returns, it’s not without flaw. About half the time (even less on some currency pairs) the market won’t retrace 50% of the pin bar, leaving your buy or sell limit order unfilled. This means that if you find an exceptional pin bar setup and decide to use the 50% pin bar strategy, there’s a chance your order may not get filled and you’ll be left behind. There’s nothing worse than waking up in the morning to see the market has run 200 pips in the desired direction but missed your limit order by 5 pips. But it’s a chance that many, including myself, are willing to take in order to squeeze out a higher R-multiple.

Pin Bar Exit Strategies

This is where we bring it all together. The reason I titled this section exit “plans” and not exit “strategies” is because I want it to be clear that you must have an exit plan before entering a pin bar trade, or any trade for that matter. The saying, “plan your trade and trade your plan” could not be more true for those who have found success in the Forex market.

There are two types of pin bar exit plans. This may seem a bit obvious but I’m going to list them anyway.

  1. Exit for a loss
  2. Exit for a profit

Easy enough, right? 😉 You may be wondering why I listed exiting for a loss first. It’s no secret that our minds naturally gravitate toward thinking about profits first, and the possibility of losing second. But in order to become a successful Forex trader, you need to play defense 100% of the time, and that means putting the potential for loss first. Always, always, always identify your exit plan for a loss first, and then identify your profit target. It will take some time to adjust to this way of thinking, heck I even catch myself thinking about profits first from time to time. But I promise that this one small change will make a HUGE improvement in your trading as it will force you to think defensively, making you a more diligent and disciplined trader in the process.

Okay, now that I’m off my soapbox (it happens from time to time) let’s move on.

Setting a Pin Bar Stop Loss Order

So how do we plan for a potential loss on a pin bar setup? By always making sure we have a stop loss order in place. The best place to set your stop loss on a pin bar trade is above or below the pin bar tail. This is true regardless of the entry strategy you utilize.

pin bar stop loss placement

For a bullish pin bar setup we would place the stop loss just below the pin bar tail. The distance at which you place the stop loss depends on your comfort level as well as the currency pair being traded, but a good rule of thumb is 5-10 pips from the end of the pin bar tail.

Setting a Pin Bar Take Profit Order

Now for the really fun part, setting the take profit order for our pin bar trade. This can be a little harder to explain, but I’m going to try and make it as straight forward as possible.

The first thing you want to do is to identify the support and resistance levels on the chart. In reality this would be the very first step, even before identifying a potential pin bar setup. This is because in order to know if a pin bar setup is valid you would need to know if it has confluence, and would have already drawn your levels on the chart. While this is true, I always look for additional levels on a chart once I’ve spotted a potential pin bar setup. I do this to make sure I didn’t miss any key levels that may effect the validity of the pin bar setup.

pin bar take profit target

Using the same pin bar setup as before, the first level of support looks like it would come in around the .8987 level, so this would be a safe place to take profit. In hindsight the market did drop further, but it’s always a good idea to set your take profit at the first area or support or resistance. Once you get really good at the pin bar strategy, it’s possible to let some trades run further by watching how price reacts to a level, but for now just focus on taking profits at the first level.

Now that we understand how to enter a pin bar setup and how to exit one, I have a test for you. What if we used the break of pin bar nose entry for the pin bar setup above…anything wrong with that? I’ll give you some time to analyze it…

Okay, I’ll give you a hint, it begins with “R” and ends with “multiple”, oh and there’s a “-” in between. 😉 If you knew that, great job! Because our first level of support (profit target) is so close to the pin bar setup, an entry on the break of the pin bar nose would violate our 2R minimum we set previously. What to do?…if you said use the 50% entry method, you are spot on, good job!

Here’s what the two strategies would look like in action…

pin bar trade setup comparing entry methods

Hopefully the illustration above doesn’t look like something out of John Madden’s playbook. But in case it does, let me break it down.

Using the break of pin bar nose entry strategy, we get a stop loss of 80 pips and a potential profit of 90 pips. As mentioned previously, this violates our 2R minimum as our profit target would need to be at least 160 pips away, so there’s no trade using this type of entry. Using the 50% entry strategy, we end up with a 40 pip stop loss and a potential profit of 130 pips! See the power of the 50% pin bar strategy?

As an R-multiple, the break of pin bar nose entry becomes a 1.1R, while using the 50% entry becomes a 3.25R. If risking $100, that’s about a $110 profit using the break of pin bar nose entry strategy and approximately a $325 profit risking the same $100. That’s why I prefer the 50% pin bar entry; it’s powerful!

So there you have it, our two pin bar entry strategies and our two pin bar exit strategies. Here are some important points to take away from this lesson:

  • Think of every trade in terms of an R-multiple
  • Always maintain a 2R minimum on every trade
  • Use the 50% entry strategy whenever possible to maximize your R-multiple
  • Place stop loss orders 5-10 pips away from the tail of the pin bar
  • Always account for potential loss before potential gain
  • Use the next level of support or resistance as your profit target when trading pin bars

Your Turn

What are your thoughts on the pin bar entry and exit strategies discussed here? Feel free to ask a specific question or just leave a general comment…all are welcome! I look forward to seeing yours below!

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  1. There are two pin bars break of the Resistance, the first pin bar break(small) is the bar before your mentioned pin bar. Why didn’t you use the first pin bar?

    1. Technically the first (smaller) bar is a pin bar, however it doesn’t really protrude from the surrounding price action. It’s actually smaller than most of the daily bars that preceded it. I typically only look for the obvious pin bars to trade – where the tail protrudes from previous price action.

      A good example is the pin bar on the AUDUSD chart from the post below. Notice how far the pin bar’s tail protrudes from the previous six days…

  2. Actually, they will be much clearer if you can send me a link of youtube in this wonderfall topics my friend. At moment I don’t have any questions at all but I am following the materials perfectly. Like I said before , It will be much better to see the examples live of things like pin bars, hanging man, entry point and exit point etc.I must that your materials are clear. They can be much more clearer if I can use them in collaboration with youtube videos where these topics are explained.

  3. Good one except that I prefer to wait for a confirmation candle to close below the nose of the pin minimize failure.. My profit objective is the difference between the stop loss and entry price using 1:1 R.

  4. With the retracement entry, it often happens that price does retrace but never turns around to break the nose. I.e. the retracement is actually a reversal. This could have been avoided by waiting for the break of the nose. R multiples aside, what win probability / hit rate would you say is realistic with retracement entries and not waiting for the break first in your experience?

  5. thanks Justin,your teaching of entry n exit strategies using pin bars is very insightful.kudos n keep up the fx trading fire burning.

  6. Hey Justin,
    Great lesson and thanks .I do have one question.How many bars or candles do you allow to
    the 50% retracement level before you cancel trade ? You may have pointed this out but i couldn’t find it. Thanks.

    1. You’re welcome, Robby. It depends on the setup as well as market conditions. For instance, if there is a high-impact news event coming up for the currency I’m interested in, I’ll usually cancel the order. So it really just depends on what’s happening in the market at that time.

  7. Hi Justin, great site you have here. I have learnt a lot from here on price action concept. Just want to ask… Is price action can be used when there is an upcoming high impact news event?

  8. Waoh!,you have just simplified this topic for me.I am very grateful to you. I will surely ask my questions as soon as they arise.

  9. What about setting a sell stop and a sell limit order? just not to miss out on the trade which ever picks good? any advice on that? Thanks.

  10. Quite explicit . I will look to try it out . However it is an aggressive method because the price could actually reverse 100%. What moving average did you use on the video.

  11. Hello Justin,

    Once again a wonderful article with so much to learn. Thanks Justin! While reading I just got one question in mind- Has it ever been the case with you that you entered using the ‘50% entry strategy’, got exited with the Stop Loss getting hit and afterwards, the trade started moving in the desired direction which would have made you realise that if you would have gone for the ‘Break of pin bar nose entry strategy’, you would have reached your target instead of hitting the Stop Loss?

  12. I really enjoyed the lesson, I know i should be studying in the members course but i need to digest everything. Thank you very much for mixing humour and knowledge, you make your course very enjoyable 😉

  13. Do you consider “good volume” associated with the trading pin bar? And if it’s a yes, what’s that “good volume” look like?

  14. would you kindly clarify what is meant by ‘confluence checklist’ – a term used by you in the pin bar check list article please. thanks

  15. Thanks.Brilliant explanation and illustration. I came here for clarity on 50% retracement and you solved my queries. Grateful.

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