Here is another poker/ chess metaphor-
One of my early sorrows was the futility of "practice" in many disciplines as the performance environment is so different-
- Chess or other games on the computer, then translating to a real tournament setting- different timing structure, serious and quiet atmosphere, hunger, exhaustion
- Poker on the computer, several tables, quick hands, then going to a live event- much slower, each hand is more heavily weighted, thus increased variance, similar exhaustion, competition
While you can get many hours of practice, you will always miss out on practicing acclimating to tournament factors. I lamented this as "pros" who play full time, almost exclusively tournaments/ professional settings, get to effectively make their 'practice' a pure tournament setting and can fully acclimate to the performance environment.
How can we improve if no matter how much we practice our mechanics, our psychology will ultimately crumble as it hasn't been exercised at all?
What does this have to do with options?
I think trading real markets takes away the "performance" setting practice edge from the 'pros'.
We are all trading the same live market, we don't trade a 'practice crash' while 'pros' are trading a real crash.
Furthermore, 'pros' are often hamstrung by institutional risk management (usually related to mega leverage, counterparty risk) and other factors that would force them to close positions that could ultimately self correct. This can be argued as a performance setting advantage to small retail traders, as 'pros' must react to several new performance setting issues that we aren't stuck with. In this way the professional performance setting might still be considered different, but I think we can see this setting as worse than the chess and poker examples.
This is just my food for thought for the small guys. The pros aren't that smart, and our life time frame is so small that we winners are all just outliers.