Master ICT Trading Concepts: The Complete Guide to Understanding Smart Money and Liquidity

If you want to succeed in forex trading, understanding smart money concepts and liquidity is crucial. ICT trading provides a deep dive into how banks and institutions move the market. In this comprehensive guide, we break down all the key ICT trading strategy principles in one place.

ict trading strategy

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What is ICT Trading?

ICT trading refers to the strategies and concepts taught by the Inner Circle Trader group and founder Adam Grimes. It focuses heavily on understanding order flow, liquidity, and how smart money manipulates price action.

The key pillars of ICT trading are:

  • Identifying when institutions are actively trading
  • Understanding the different types of liquidity in the market
  • Spotting signature chart patterns created by smart money
  • Analyzing price action context around key support/resistance zones

Mastering these concepts can give retail traders an edge in predicting future price movements.

Who are the Smart Money Traders?

In the forex market, smart money refers to commercial and institutional traders like banks, hedge funds, and prop trading firms. They trade huge positions and have immense capital.

Some key attributes of smart money traders:

  • Move the markets based on order flow and liquidity needs
  • Take advantage of normal retail trader behavior
  • Absorb liquidity at obvious technical levels
  • Focus on longer timeframes for overall direction

Understanding how smart money manipulates price action is a cornerstone of the ICT trading strategy.

Why Liquidity Is Key for ICT Trading

Liquidity refers to the amount of buy and sell orders available in the forex market. ICT aims to trade alongside points where smart money enters or exits the market.

Key liquidity types:

  • Initiative orders – Large orders executed by institutions to move price.
  • Responsive orders – Retail traders reacting to price moves.
  • Induced orders – Institutions driving price to trigger stop losses and retail entries.

Trading with liquidity and against initiative orders is central to ICT concepts.

How To Trade Order Blocks and Fair Value Gaps

Order blocks and fair value gaps (FVGs) are signature ICT setups to trade with initiative orders.

Order blocks form when large buying or selling absorbs liquidity sharply. The resulting extreme bar indicates a shift in market structure.

Fair value gaps are gaps between periods of differing liquidity and volatility. FVGs signal possible order blocks and initiative moves.

Trades target order block breaks in the direction of new structure. Stop losses are placed beyond order blocks.

ICT Price Action Analysis

Along with order flow, ICT also relies on contextual price action analysis.

Some key principles include:

  • Structure context – Higher highs and higher lows indicate uptrends for longs.
  • Liquidity context – Absorption around zones shows institutions are active.
  • Candle patterns – Pin bars, engulfing bars and doji candles signal reversals.
  • Momentum – Trend pullbacks lose steam at key levels repeatedly.
  • Timeframes – Zoom out to get the full liquidity and structure picture.

Creating an ICT Trading Strategy and Plan

Putting the components together, here are the key steps to trading the ICT way:

  • Identify overall trend and key FVG levels on higher timeframes
  • Find zones of initiative moves (order blocks)
  • Wait for price to return to those zones
  • Confirm fair value gaps, candle patterns, and order flow signals
  • Enter breakouts at market structure swing points
  • Manage risk using wide stops beyond order blocks

Discipline in following this trading process is vital for success.

Common Misconceptions About ICT Trading

Some common myths about ICT trading include:

Getting the right context is crucial. ICT is a framework to think about markets – not a simple system.

Q: What is ICT Trading Strategy?

A: ICT Trading Strategy refers to a comprehensive approach to forex trading that focuses on market structure, supply and demand, and trading opportunities. It is a popular trading strategy that can potentially help traders improve their win rate and profitability.

Q: How does ICT Trading Strategy work?

A: ICT Trading Strategy works by analyzing market structure, support and resistance levels, and identifying key trading opportunities based on supply and demand dynamics. It also takes into consideration the use of technical indicators and orderflow analysis to make informed trading decisions.

Q: What are the main components of ICT Trading Strategy?

A: The main components of ICT Trading Strategy include understanding market structure, analyzing supply and demand levels, using technical indicators, and applying orderflow analysis. These components work together to help traders identify high-probability trading setups.

Q: Who is the creator of ICT Trading Strategy?

A: ICT Trading Strategy was developed by the Inner Circle Trader (ICT), also known as Michael J. Huddleston. He is a well-known forex trader and educator who shares his trading strategies and insights with traders worldwide.

Q: What is the Inner Circle Trader (ICT) strategy?

A: The Inner Circle Trader (ICT) strategy is a forex trading strategy that is based on the principles of market structure, supply and demand, and institutional trading concepts. It is a comprehensive approach to trading that aims to help traders improve their trading skills and profitability.

Q: How can ICT Trading Strategy help traders?

A: ICT Trading Strategy can help traders by providing them with a systematic approach to analyzing the market, identifying high-probability trading setups, and managing risk. It focuses on understanding market structure and supply and demand dynamics, which are key factors in successful trading.

Q: What is the win rate of ICT Trading Strategy?

A: The win rate of ICT Trading Strategy can vary depending on various factors such as market conditions, trader’s skill level, and risk management. However, by following the principles of the strategy and implementing it with discipline, traders can aim to achieve a high win rate.

Q: Does ICT Trading Strategy use technical analysis?

A: Yes, ICT Trading Strategy incorporates technical analysis by using technical indicators and tools to analyze price charts. However, it goes beyond traditional technical analysis by also considering market structure and supply and demand dynamics.

Q: Is ICT Trading Strategy suitable for beginners?

A: ICT Trading Strategy can be suitable for beginners who are willing to invest time and effort in learning the concepts and applying them in their trading. However, it is important for beginners to first gain a basic understanding of forex trading and develop a trading plan before implementing the strategy.

Q: What resources are available to learn ICT Trading Strategy?

A: There are several resources available to learn ICT Trading Strategy, including educational materials, video tutorials, online courses, and community forums. The Inner Circle Trader (ICT) website and YouTube channel are also valuable sources of information for traders interested in the strategy.


Learning ICT trading concepts takes dedication but can reap huge rewards. By analyzing smart money liquidity and price action, traders can profit from initiative order flows. Master this approach to trade like the pros.

Author: Dominic Walsh

I am a highly regarded trader, author & coach with over 16 years of experience trading financial markets. Today I am recognized by many as a forex strategy developer. After starting blogging in 2014, I became one of the world's most widely followed forex trading coaches, with a monthly readership of more than 40,000 traders! Make sure to follow me on social media: Instagram | Facebook | Youtube| Twitter | Pinterest | Medium | Quora | Reddit | Telegram Channel

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