How to Calculate Position Size with Risk Ratios

Cryptocurrency trading offers exciting opportunities for investors to capitalize on the volatile yet potentially rewarding nature of digital assets. However, success in trading cryptocurrencies hinges not only on market analysis and timing but also on prudent risk management strategies. 

One of the critical components of risk management in crypto is understanding how to calculate position size using a risk ratio. This ensures that traders can manage their exposure to market movements effectively and maintain a healthy trading account.

What Is Position Size

Position sizing is a strategy used to determine how much of your capital you should allocate to a trade, based on the risk you’re willing to take. The risk ratio, often expressed as a percentage, is the amount of your trading capital you are prepared to risk losing on a single trade. 

Ultimately, your goal is to optimize returns while minimizing exposure to potential losses. Thus, effective position sizing is crucial for preserving capital and sustaining long-term profitability.

Calculating Position Size Using Risk Ratio

The risk ratio, also known as the risk-reward ratio, is a fundamental concept in trading that quantifies the relationship between the potential profit and the potential loss of a trade. Expressed as a ratio or percentage, the risk ratio helps you assess a trade’s viability by comparing the potential reward to the risk incurred.

To calculate position size using the risk ratio, you should consider several key factors:

Risk tolerance

Before determining position size, assess your risk tolerance – the maximum percentage of capital you’re willing to risk on a single trade. Risk tolerance varies depending on trading experience, financial goals, and personal preferences.

Stop Loss

The Stop Loss order stands as a pivotal risk management instrument, efficiently curbing potential losses by triggering an automatic exit from a trade when the price moves unfavorably against your position. When placing the Stop Loss, carefully analyze technical analysissupport and resistance levels, volatility, and other factors. 

The distance between the entry point and the stop loss, known as the stop loss distance, is a crucial parameter in calculating position size using the risk ratio.

Potential reward

In addition to the stop loss, you should assess the potential reward of a trade. This involves identifying profit targets based on technical analysis, price patterns, and market dynamics. The potential reward represents the distance from the entry point to the profit target and is expressed as risk multiples.

Potential impact on risk and returns

The impact on risk and returns or the risk-reward ratio is calculated by dividing the potential reward by the risk (stop loss distance). For example, if the potential reward is $200 and the risk (stop loss distance) is $100, the risk-reward ratio would be 2:1 ($200/$100). A favorable risk-reward ratio indicates that the potential reward outweighs the risk, making the trade potentially profitable.

position size with risk ratios 3

Position Sizing with the Kelly Criterion Formula

Using a mathematical formula, this strategy determines the ideal position size by considering the probability of success and the risk-reward ratio of the asset. The Kelly Criterion stands as a favored method among traders for capital allocation. Its objective is to maximize trade value expectations while mitigating the risk of significant losses. 

The Kelly criterion is a formula designed to determine the optimal fraction of capital to allocate to a particular trade or investment opportunity. It takes into account the probability of success or failure of the trade, as well as the potential payoff relative to the risk involved. The key principle of the Kelly criterion is to allocate a proportion of capital that maximizes the expected logarithm of wealth over time.

The formula for calculating the Kelly fraction (f) is as follows:


ƒ = bp - q / b 


f = Kelly fraction (the proportion of capital to allocate to the trade)

b = the net odds received on the trade (potential profit divided by potential loss)

p = the probability of winning the trade

q = the probability of losing the trade (1 - p)

Implementing the Kelly Criterion in Cryptocurrency Trading:

To apply the Kelly criterion to cryptocurrency trading, you should follow these steps:

Asses Probabilities (p) 

The first step in implementing the Kelly criterion is to estimate the probabilities of success and failure for each trade. You can use technical analysis, fundamental analysis, market sentiment, and other indicators to gauge the likelihood of a trade being profitable.

Calculating Net Odds (b)

Once the probabilities are determined, you need to calculate the net odds (b) of the trade, which represents the potential reward-to-risk ratio. This is calculated by dividing the potential profit by the potential loss. For example, if a trade offers a potential profit of $400 with a potential loss of $200, the net odds would be 2:1.

Applying the Kelly Formula

Using the calculated probabilities (p) and net odds (b), you can plug these values into the Kelly formula to determine the optimal fraction of capital to allocate to the trade. The resulting Kelly fraction (f) represents the percentage of capital that should be invested in the trade.

Adjusting position size

Once the Kelly fraction is calculated, you can adjust your position size accordingly. This involves multiplying the Kelly fraction by the total capital available for trading to determine the actual dollar amount to invest in the trade.

Use Altrady’s Risk Reward Calculator

Instead of losing time and potentially making some errors along the way, you could use Altrady’s pre-built risk calculator. It uses sophisticated algorithms to provide instant data on the potential risks and rewards of each of your trades. By inputting key parameters like entry price, stop-loss level, and desired risk percentage, you can quickly assess each trade’s viability before execution.

You get to visualize the potential risk and reward scenarios, traders can adjust their strategies accordingly, optimizing their chances of success while minimizing potential losses.

The option to set pre-defined parameters will help you get your risk exposure under control and ultimately, trade with more confidence.

The Bottom Line

Calculating position size using a risk ratio is a fundamental aspect of risk management in cryptocurrency trading. It helps you to stay disciplined, manage your capital efficiently, and align your trading positions with your risk appetite. 

Successful trading isn’t just about picking winning trades or taking into account the potential profit, but more about investigating potential losses closely and ensuring you stay afloat in the fast-paced crypto markets.