Free binary options demo account

Demo trading accounts are a great way to practice making binary options trades, and also a real benefit when learning how a new trading platform operates. For all traders, whether new or experienced, the opportunity to trade using a brokers demo account should be taken advantage of before parting with any real money on the markets. Several brokers provide these accounts, and enable real-time, live trades to be executed and monitored in exactly the same way as the real money accounts would. In addition, some brokers allow traders to access a wide range of assets within the demo account to ensure that traders can get a wide range of experience before making their first deposit and trade.

Free online binary options demo accounts

Some brokers, such as Opteck, provide a web-based demo programme which requires no registration and binary options can be traded directly from its homepage. The benefits of this for those that have no idea about how to trade binary options are positive as it typically offers one live market example for traders to simulate purchasing 30 second options. This means that, one executed, traders can experience very rapidly the profit and loss of each trade. Although this is very basic, it is a useful and fun introduction to how to execute a typical trade online and provides some vital experience to those interested in binary options but unsure whether they are willing to take the plunge to register and fund a real account.

Benefits of trading with a demo account

Binary options is one of the fastest growing ways to trade the financial markets and is constantly innovating to provide more opportunities for traders to make large profits. For this reason alone, having access to a free demo binary options trading account is one of the best ways to learn how to trade binary options. These demo accounts usually provide traders with up to $50,000 in trading capital which can be traded freely and without fear of incurring any actual losses. The figure may seem unrealistic to some traders, but the benefits of this are that traders can really practice and experiment with their trades much more than if they were trading with their own money.

For those traders who want to test out a new binary options trading strategy, the use of a demo trading account is the perfect way to find out if this is going to be profitable. Whilst paper trading can show us if a trading strategy is good or bad, being able to access and trade the real time markets is an extremely helpful tool before using the strategy to trade real funds.

Popular brokers offering binary options trading demo accounts

Several of the largest and most respected binary options brokers offer their clients the opportunity to access the full range of their markets using a replica demo trading account. Given their size and popularity, these demo accounts are designed for those who are looking to begin trading binary options but want to gain some experience of both how the platform operates and how to trade binary options before taking live trades. The leading binary options broker providing this form of demo account is Banc de Binary, who have won several awards for innovation and the design of their trading platform.

Activing a demo account with Banc de Binary requires that new members register for a trading account and also meet the minimum deposit value of $250 in order to be in a position to actively trade real binary options. Following this, each new member is assigned a personal account manager who can then be contacted to request a demo trading account. For new and experienced traders, this can be an incredibly valuable experience, with access to the full range of 100+ assets and the different binary options offered by Banc de Binary. As a fully-regulated binary options broker, traders can also rest assured that their initial deposit can be withdrawn if they are unwilling to trade using live funds and the opening of the demo account does not provide any obligation to continue trading with Banc de Binary.

Platforms for Binary Option Trading

With the popularity of binary options continually increasing, binary options platforms have themselves grown in leaps and bounds, especially now in 2014.

So what exactly are binary options platforms?

Well, as the name itself suggests, these are platforms over which binary options can be traded.

Further, these platforms are entirely web based so there is no physical “place” to get to or cumbersome paper forms to be filled in.
Rather, with the most simplistic of initiatives from your end, you can easily and quickly trade in binary options. Most binary options platforms will allow a trader to begin investing in binary options within 5 minutes of reaching their sign-up page. Unlike traditional stock brokers and some forex platforms, binary options brokers do not require traders to prove their financial worth or to make large initial deposits. Many accounts can simply be opened and trading can begin with a little as 50 Euros.

Instances of such binary options trading-platforms would include 24Option, Anyoption, SpotOption, EzTrader, and TradoLogic to name only a few.
Choosing one particular binary options trading platform over another can be quite a Herculean task, especially when we note that they are all more or less quite good in one way or the other. At the same time, there are some factors which positively distinguish a more desirable option from another. Those factors are listed below and will help you make a suitable choice of an option for yourself with ease.

Return on Investment – the Higher the Better!

Logic would tell you that on any investment, you want to maximize returns and this could not be truer for binary options, where there is a substantial risk of loss of investment.

Most binary options brokers do offer high returns when your trade ends up “in the money” but that is exactly the point – you want to place your bets where you are MOST “in the money.

To elucidate, if there is one platform which offers say between 65 – 71% returns on being in the money, and another which offers 73 – 85% returns when you are in the money, you surely should go for the latter option. That way, your winnings when predicting correctly would be significantly higher. Given that the binary options industry is becoming increasingly competitive, the good news for traders is that the rate of return is also getting better and better. Choosing the platform providing the highest rate, as well as a some of the beneficial features below will provide the most positive, and hopefully profitable, experience for binary options trading.

Some returns even when out of the money

Among the numerous binary options platforms there are some which offer zilch returns when you end up being out of the money, viz. when you end up predicting wrongly. These are the binary options brokers that you want to avoid.

On the other hand are brokers that offer returns anywhere between 1 – 15% even when you trade out of the money. These are just the brokers you want to trade with. These returns are known as the insurance rate and are extremely helpful for new traders who will have a small portion of their initial investment returned when their options fail to expire ‘in the money’. Brokers offering this shows that they want to establish longer-term relationships with their clients, rather than simply focusing on making money from traders losses.

Security of Data and Transactions

As a savvy investor, the last thing you want is that your data, your financial details are leaked or somehow compromised at the broker’s end. That is the reason a major selection criterion would be the extent to which binary options brokers offer complete security on your transactions. This includes keeping your transaction details private and not letting any financial or payment information leak out in anyway.

Maximum Asset Classes

An excellent criterion of determining the suitability of a binary options platform would be the sheer number as well as the range of asset classes that are on offer. Essentially, more the asset classes, wider and broad based could be your investment portfolio. That way, you can also mitigate risks, by trading in those asset classes that you are most knowledgeable about as well as have experience in.

Additional features

Many binary options platforms offer additional features to enhance your trading experience such as 60 second options alongside One Touch and Range trading which allow profits to be made in both flat and volatile markets. These allow traders to find additional profitable opportunities and the education section of any decent binary options platform will provide a clear explanation of how these features work and how to use them. Additionally, binary options trading is no longer limited to only market trading hours with many platforms allowing binary options to be purchased during the weekend in advance of the week ahead. This helpfully allows those who are unable to trade during the week to purchase options and should be a consideration for any such traders in selecting the right trading platform.

Minimizing Fees

On binary options platforms, given the inherent risks of trading, you want to minimize additional costs in terms of say registration fees, withdrawal fees and various other charges. Thankfully, popular binary options platforms these days do not charge any registration fees although there is in fact a withdrawal fee applicable on nearly all trading platforms, especially when withdrawing to your bank account via wire transfer. Your strategy has to be to deploy all such means which minimize costs.

Customer Service

Customer service is central to binary options platforms. While most of them do focus obsessively on customer care – given the immense competition between these platforms, it is also true that there is often the intermediate slippage which ends up giving the concerned platform some totally undesired bad publicity.

Keep this factor particularly in your stride and choose very wisely when it comes to binary options platforms in 2014. Typically, third party reviews on independent websites can be a very good starting point to gauge the real customer service of any of these brokers.

Together, these pointers can help you immensely when choosing a particular binary options broker, given the plethora of choices available as of 2014.

Trading Binary Options with your Mobile

The unrelenting popularity of binary options as a whole has led to a scenario wherein there has been a fervent demand for offering binary options trading, even while on the go, using smartphones and tablets. Traders can now enter, close and track positions in real-time from their mobile device and from almost anywhere in the world.

Reputed binary options brokers such as 24Option, Anyoption, optionFair as well as OptionBit were all very quick to latch onto this trend and today offer the same binary options trading opportunities which are available on the usual computer based web interface, on smartphones and tablets as well. Many of these top platforms have invested heavily in mobile trading technology in an attempt to develop a mobile trading platform which equals that which they already provide for home-based computer user.

What this essentially implies is that when it comes to traders, they can invest in the market anytime and anywhere they want with instant, real-time market data and fast trade executions literally at their fingertips.

This in turn has proven to be a big plus for a lot of traders who are otherwise constantly on the go. They know that now they are no longer restricted by access to a computer. At the same time, they do want to reap the rich rewards that binary options have to offer and the best way to do so is by trading from their handhelds. Given the 24 hour markets that are available to traders this can mean instant access to profitable trades whether they are in a restaurant, walking the dog or in the gym.

Do I need Special Software on my Device?

No, you do not need any special software as such, at least not in the form of say an entire upgrade to the OS on your device. Rather, as is most often the case, you would need to download a FREE app which would then allow you to trade with ease. The apps are typically light, taking up very little storage space and can be logged in instantly in a similar way to the web-based platforms. Typical download time of the binary options app will be between 30 seconds and 1 minute, allowing traders to deposit or manage their funds in their trading accounts within a matter of minutes.

Registration is typically a one-time process after which, all you will need to do is login and trade. Some devices also offer auto-login facility whereby as soon as you fire up the app, you would be good to go with regard to the ability to trade with ease.

What about Security of Data, my Transactions?

Don’t worry, trading with reputed binary options brokers such as 24Option or Anyoption is 100% safe and secure, even when you trade on their mobile interface market. Remember that these brokers have worked very hard on providing a safe and secure, near foolproof interface even on their web interface – one which is otherwise considered far more vulnerable to threats. Encryption on mobile devices is generally far higher than other computers and all genuine binary options apps will provide reassurance of this.

Naturally, when it comes to mobile platforms, which are anyway considered to be comparatively far safer, they have left absolutely no stone unturned whatsoever and that is the reason, you can be all the more assured about the fact that all your information, your data, especially financial details will not be compromised in anyway.

Do I need to pay extra to trade this way?

No, binary options brokers do not differentiate between web and mobile platforms. Usage remains totally free either way. The charges or fees which apply while trading on the computer or web based interface apply in the same manner without any distinction. So there is really no cause for concern at all when it comes to trading on a mobile interface, as far as costs are concerned. Other costs, such as the amount time needed at home for fixed computer users, mobile traders will actually gain in being able to continue with their daily lives whilst trading binary options. This huge time-saving incentive for all traders is one of the reason why mobile trading has become one of the most popular ways to trade the markets.

Do I have routine access to all asset classes?

Yes, irrespective of the binary options broker that you choose, you will have complete and unhindered access to all asset classes, to trade upon. So whether you are looking for stocks, indices, commodities or Forex, you will not face any challenge whatsoever in trading over a mobile interface.
Together, the above mentioned points should ideally have given you ample reassurance with regard to binary options trading on a mobile interface.
At the same time, it is imperative that you get used to such an interface in order to trade with ease. Having said this, the design of many mobile apps make navigation and the search for different assets as straightforward as possible with traders able to get to grips with the mobile platform and begin investing almost instantly.

For that we would recommend that you go ahead and download any of the interfaces from reputed binary options brokers that we mentioned above such as 24Option, Anyoption, optionFair and so on. As you begin using these interfaces, you will discover for yourself that there is really no challenge at all in trading this way.

Further, bear in mind that in case you are just starting off with binary options trading, it makes a lot of sense that you try and familiarize yourself with the whole process. Remember that it is not as much about the interface as it is about trading intelligently and wisely, in order to avoid losses and reap rich rewards.

Ultimately, as long as you are able to do this with ease, the platform or the interface on which you trade would be of much lesser concern.

When you’re using an iPhone or an Android smartphone or tablet you won’t have any trouble finding a mobile binary option platform at all. We recommend that you open an account with Anyoption, one of the best brokers for mobile trading!

Great resources: Optionrally and Anyoption Mobile

Are Binary Options A Scam?

Way too often we seem to hear speculation with regard to binary options being a fly by night sort of an investment avenue where the odds are hugely in favor of the brokers doling out these options wherein money is only to be lost. Well, these are not half baked truths… since they are not truths at all!

BINARY OPTIONS ARE NOT A SCAM!!

They are 100% legit and provide a legal and factual way to trade across multiple asset classes from around the world and ultimately make a lot of money from doing so. The simplicity of binary options trading, where a trader wins if the options expire higher or lower than the purchase price, contributes to making binary options seem suspicious to those traders who may be used to more conventional ways of trading. Indeed, the very ease in which new traders can understand how to invest in binary options results in a broad appeal to inexperienced traders which may add to some claims that they are a scam.

However, binary options are not only one of the most straightforward ways to speculate on future price movements but their increasing popularity, especially among experienced traders, demonstrates that they are a powerful investment tool when used correctly and with the research required by any form investment.

The reason there are so many naysayers as far as binary options are concerned is because individuals trading in them are themselves incompetent or inexperienced whereby they end up on the losing side and then blame the whole system, presuming that the whole system is a scam made to favor broker houses only and not traders.

This is not true at all since there are a lot of people out there who have made their way to immense money and riches, all thanks to binary options and the broker they dealt with.

Without a doubt, these are individuals who have worked really hard and traded very wisely, ensuring that they place their bets on assets very intelligently wherein their guess as placed, is very likely to eventually be proven correct. Since binary options favour high-probability trading, many are able to transfer a successful forex or stock system to binary options in order to reap larger rewards for positions closing in the money.

The returns of up to 85% on the investment are also difficult to achieve using traditional forms of investment without a significantly higher risk. Taking stocks, for example, which to make such a gain may take several years, whilst binary options traders can receive these returns in as little as 60 seconds using the shortest options expiry time available.

Further, they have clearly invested a great deal of time and effort in understanding binary options as a whole, which is again something which a lot of traders out there do not do. They simply go ahead and trade blindly, only to end up with heavy losses.

No Denying the Significant Risk of Loss

See, by their very nature, risk is built into the very core of binary options. After all, rather than the value of the asset classes, you as a trader would be speculating on the direction which these asset classes would take within a predestined time frame. Now, there is really no certainty as to exactly how – and in which direction would asset classes actually move, as trading happens. Even seasoned professionals with years of experience behind them find it really very hard to predict as to what direction asset classes would take.

Keeping these factors in mind, it is compulsory that one invests a LOT of time and effort in understanding binary options as a whole. Significant focus particularly needs to be placed on educating oneself on the way binary options work. Although the winnings in binary options can be very large, the losses for a position closing out of the money can be as high as 100% of the initial investment. Since stop losses are unavailable with binary options trading it is essential that a trader is prepared to take significant losses when establishing the value of the binary options to be purchased.

But Where and How Do I Obtain the Resources to Learn?

Fortunately, binary options brokers themselves have been at the helm of affairs as far as educating traders on this exciting new avenue for trading and investment. Together with a variety of resources such as eBooks, videos, tutorials, presentations and articles, they have made every effort possible to inform and educate traders about binary options and the ways in which they can trade in them effectively.

Unfortunately a lot of traders look to simply jump the gun and that is where they lose the plot. In a frenzy to make “quick money” or “dollops of cash”, they only end up as sore losers and then blame the entire investment avenue as well as the brokers themselves through which they trade.

Lessons to be learnt for you in 2014

The above should hold significant lessons for you in 2014 in terms of the manner in which you approach binary options in particular.
For starters, you should NEVER EVER look to begin trading without educating yourself suitably.

Spend time on all the resources that binary options brokers have to offer. Meticulously pour over them in order to gain the much needed perspective and familiarity. Open a demo account and practice your method of trading or paper trader to see how successful your method may be before committing real funds.

Further, it would be ideal if you could identify an existing individual or group of individuals that has hit pay dirt with binary options – should not be hard for you to do so. From them, you could gain valuable insights into the entire trading process as well as obtain numerous tips, tricks and techniques in trading strategically and smartly.

Also, once you have gained adequate knowledge and perspective, and are ready to begin trading, make sure that you start out small.

DO NOT LET GREED GET THE BETTER OF YOU.

Remember that many who tried to trade as much as possible, right in the beginning of their career as binary options traders, ended up on the losing side, with massive losses.

That is not something which you want happening to you.
And the way to avoid that would clearly be by investing slowly, cautiously and ever so smartly.

See how things pan out for you as you continue to increase your stakes. Maybe it’s a good idea to make use of a free demo account to try out trading and the binary option market (like the Forex market). Binary option demo account has also been one of the most popular search terms for 2013 in Google.

Over time, as you see the cash register ringing unrelentingly, you would have realized for yourself that binary options are anything BUT a scam!

Great reads: YahooForbes and a great video at Youtube:

Types of Binary Options

The fact that binary options as a whole have gained immense popularity worldwide is of course well known. But at the same time, not many are aware of the fact that within binary options, there are various kinds of trade types that traders can place their bets on.
Accordingly, let us look at some of the most commonly prevalent binary options types, along with some others you may NEVER have heard of!

Classic High/Low or Call/Put Option

By far the most common binary options trading type, this is a simplistic trade (which is why it is perhaps so popular) wherein you as the trader simply need to predict if a particular asset will end higher or lower at the end of a pre-designated timeframe.

To give you an example, if you predict that the Apple stock will end higher at the end of the day’s trade, than what it is trading now, you are essentially wagering on a high/low or call/put kind of a binary option.
In case the stock does end up higher, you win the trade whereas if it ends lower, you may either lose all the money you traded or at least a substantial portion of it.

Payouts tend to be in the range of anywhere between 65 – 90% on these binary trade options and this is a major reason why binary options have become so popular with many new and experienced traders alike. The sheer simplicity, and the availability of options with very short expiry times, make binary options one of the most popular forms of intra-day investments available.

Touch Option

In the touch option, you simply choose whether or not an asset class would actually touch a particular level.

Continuing with the same example above, let’s say that instead of predicting whether or not the Apple stock would actually end higher (or lower), you simply wager on it touching a particular level at a particular point in time; if it does, then you are clearly in the money and if not, you are out.
Typically, these binary options trades are offered during the week, on a daily basis. At the same time, there are some weekend options as well, wherein the target to be attained maybe set for a later date and time. These options are especially useful when a trader predicts either a flat and volatile future market. The availability to purchase touch options during the weekend and outside of regular market hours also make them highly convenient for traders who are unable to follow the markets throughout the day due to work or other commitments.

Boundary Option

In the boundary option, also referred to as the tunnel option, you essentially choose two different levels within which you expect a particular asset class to lie in, within a predestined timeframe. In other words, you are choosing an entire range within which you expect the asset in question to end up in.

So going with the same example of Apple stock that we have cited in this article, and assuming that it is trading currently at $100, with the boundary option, you may speculate that the stock would lie in the range of $98 – $102 within the stated timeframe.

If proven right, you would be in the money and therefore be eligible for some really spectacular returns.

The boundary option works in another way as well, wherein you choose a range as cited above, but instead of speculating that the asset in question would close inside that range, you may instead speculate that the same asset would in fact close outside of that range.

These boundary options are particularly useful when trading in flat or slow markets. Given that all markets experience periods of sideways movement, whether for one hour or one month, the boundary option will allow flexibility for binary options traders to make money even when conventional traders may opt to stay out of such range-bound markets.

Ladder Option

A relatively recent development in the binary options trading space, initiated by brokers IG Market, ladder options require “rungs” to be attained in the trade within specified timeframes to actually end up being in the money.

For instance, you might speculate that the same Apple stock cited above would trade at $100 price at 11 am, $105 price at 12 pm, $107 price at 1:30 pm and finally end at $103 price when markets close.

Clearly, this is a more complex form of binary options and the step-by-step approach is what has given it the ladder name, but clearly, this is an option which is gaining in popularity.

60 Second Option

The 60 second option is actually not very different from the high/low or call/put option, barring the very short timeframe. As the name itself suggests, you could speculate on the movement of a particular asset within a 60 second timeframe only.
Increasingly, binary options brokers are offering sixty second options as a standard feature given the popularity for short term, and potentially highly profitable trades. The possibility for gaining up to 85% returns on the initial investment within just a single minute demonstrate that binary options command some of the highest rewards possible for speculators. Although it well worth mentioning that these trades are high-risk with the potential to lose up to 100% of the investment, those who trade successfully can clearly generate substantial returns.

Create your own option

Clearly, already there are a lot of options which traders can trade in. Yet there might be instances where traders use their own ingenuity and come out with intuitive binary option types which are a figment of their imagination – and at the same time, can in fact be implemented for actual trades.
Accordingly, many binary options brokers offer traders the ability to devise their own binary options types. This is most commonly known as the Option Builder feature which allows traders to create their own custom binary options by choosing the expiry time and adjusting the risk and profit value to suit an individual trading style. For those who would like to reduce their risk, this can be a very useful tool for profitable trading without the discomfort of 100% exposure within each binary option.

So which type of binary options is suitable for me?

Clearly, there is no one size fits all approach that works here.
Instead, one has to try out a variety of options, from the ones mentioned above.

See also this article at Wikipedia, Tradebinaryoptions.

What are Binary Options?

Binary options are an exciting new trading and investment avenue that has emerged in the market with much fanfare.

The underlying principle behind binary options is the fairly large assured returns they can offer if and when specific criteria are met, with a simultaneous risk of complete loss of invested money if those criteria are not met at all.

This ‘all or nothing’ principle behind binary options is what has given them their name; just as binary digits can only be in the form of 0s and 1s, binary options can offer either spectacular returns or practically nothing at all while trading.

As demonstrated by the large numbers of both new and experienced traders moving from conventional trading to binary options, the potential rewards are unlike any other form of investment. The provision of binary options with expiry times as low 60 seconds and offering profits of up to 85% of the investment, it is clear why they have created a storm since becoming available to home-based investors.

Against this background, you will find that major players in the binary options brokerage market have all got together to ensure that the ‘no return’ option is no longer as true as it used to be. Rather, even in the face of your invested money landing up ‘out of the money’, you will still have a certain payout coming your way. This is known as the insurance rate and can be up to a generous 15% of the initial investment for those binary options closing ‘out of the money’. Whilst this may not seem like a huge repayment on a losing position, with profits of up to 85% for winning positions, and over the longer term, this can be very significant indeed.

It is these fantastic returns, the element of thrill and excitement, as well as the intuitive ability to easily trade in stocks, currencies, indices and commodities from around the world that have got millions around the world enthused about binary options trading and there clearly seems to be no looking back. The popularity of binary options for many is simply based on the question of where is it possible to get a similar return on an investment?

An example of a Binary Option

The best way to understand binary options would be to cite an instance of such a trade.

Let’s say you invest in an Apple binary option for a price of $100, with an assertion that the stock will end lower than what they are currently trading at. If proven right, you will get 85% return while if proven wrong, you will get a fixed price insurance rate of $15.

So at the end of the day, if you are proven right whereby the stock does in fact end lower, you will get money to the tune of $185, while if you are proven wrong, you will only get only $15. In case your input had been $1000 instead of $100, you would get $1,850 back if proven right.

So as you can clearly see, returns on binary options can be truly spectacular if the odds end up being in your favor.

Differences between Binary and Regular Options

Binary options can also be understood very well by comparing them with regular options and noting the differences that exist between the two.

The table below will assist you on that front.

  Binary Options Regular or Vanilla Options
Payout Payout is pre-determined at the time of purchasing the option Payout will only be known as the investment unfolds and the change in asset valuation (if any) is recognized
Expiry Quick expiry, which can be as little as an hour, a day, a week, or a month Tend to expire longer say in a month or a quarter
Execution Cannot be executed till the expiry-time Can be executed with ease anytime till expiry-time

 

What about the Risk Factor?

Sure, when it comes to binary options, there is undoubtedly a great deal of risk involved while trading. At the same time, there is also the element of spectacular returns, to an extent which is rarely seen in the case of other trading avenues. Some argue that, whilst there are risks involved in all speculation, the possibility to gain such phenomenal returns allows traders with an edge, or solid trading system, to be highly profitable trading binary options.

Further, when we look at the element of risk per se in the case of binary options, and then compare that with the risk-involved in the case of other investment avenues, we find that there isn’t a substantial amount of difference. After all, even if you were to invest directly in terms of the regular options as mentioned in the table above, it is not like trading risk in that case would be mitigated completely. Rather, it would be of a certain nature, unlike that in the case of binary options, without the prospect of the very large returns that binary options can offer.

Are Binary Options a Scam?

No, binary options are NOT a scam. Somehow, from the time this entire industry came up, there has been no dearth of pessimists but truth is that it is 100% legit as well as very highly regulated. Of course, with risk and reward there will always be those who claim the market can be manipulated in favour of the brokers. However, the sheer simplicity of binary options would make this very difficult indeed.

Another group of pessimists claiming that binary options is a scam are those who may have lost money through their own reckless trading and without educating themselves in how to invest successfully. This group will always exist and reinforces the mantra of all financial speculation that risks must always be known and to only invest money that you can genuinely afford to lose.

Even if we take the case of binary options brokers, we find that they maintain a great deal of transparency in their operations and are accordingly in a very strong position to ensure the well being of their customers at all times.

Conclusion

Binary options trading are certainly not for the faint-hearted. But you can be assured that once you get a grip on things, you will never look back – and for very good measure! There’s also a chance for novice traders to open a free demo account and start trading without risking own money. This way you can make your first trades, try out strategies and markets and so on. Every trader should make use of it before starting to trade with real money.

Here are some good reads: Wikipedia and Forbes.com