TopStep Trader vs OneUp Trader


Top Step Trader vs. One Up Trader

Today’s article is a good little piece of trader gossip. In the past couple of years, I have written various articles on the ‘hamster wheel’ known as Top Step Trader.

For those not familiar, Top Step Trader is a “fake” proprietary trading company where futures trading newbies pay hundreds of dollars each month to trade on a simulator.

Top Step Trader purports to offer funded trading accounts to whoever is lucky enough to escape the hampster wheel alive. Essentially, a trader must meet the minimum performance requirements in  something called “the combine.” If they pass “the combine” then they are awarded a token funded trading account.

I put heavy emphasis on the word token. Why use the word token? Because the funded trading account is as small as a mouse’s ballsack and is usually snatched away quicker than a hungry dog will gobble up a piece of freshly barbecued meat.

The Top Step Trader funded accounts program is the ultimate gimmick. Where the newbie and the naive with no trading account, is encouraged to use a credit card to purchase access to a trading simulator. They get caught up in a ridiculous cycle of (usually) perpetual failure. Encouraged to keep spending hundreds of dollars each month at the elusive chance at winning the prize.

TopStep Trader Combine

Can you win a funded trading account?

Yes, some folks actually are awarded a prize. The funded trading account. But in reality, the prize is about as valuable as a stuffed animal at a carnival. The truth is that masses of people throw money at this game, in hopes that the tiny little ring will somehow find the end of a bottle. And when it does, the carnival barkers at TopStep Trader send out a wave of marketing enthusiasm to highlight the lucky person. Sort of like winning the lottery. Yes, someone wins. But it won’t be you.

The Abysmal Failure Rate of Top Step Traders

How does TradingSchools.Org know the abysmal failure rate of the Top Step Trader funded trading program? TradingSchools.Org currently has about 90k monthly web visitors. That’s a lot of people. We rank page 1 for just about every single Google search term related to Top Step Trader. This puts us in a powerful position where we can tap into the mood of the audience. We can ask the audience questions about their experience with Top Step Trader.

And since we have no financial interest, unlike the hordes of affiliate marketers and trading guru’s pushing this TopStep Trader combine nonsense, we can say our true opinion.

On April 22, 2016 we published a public survey that attempted to query the ‘real’ performance statistics of people that had actually been hustled through the Top Step Trader hamster wheel. Top Step Trader does not publish any of this information (for good reason). The questions on everyone’s mind?:

  • How many people have participated by purchasing a trading combine?
  • How much money do people typically earn from funded trading accounts?
  • How long do people usually last with a funded trading account?
  • How much money is Top Step Trader making?

On June 13, 2016 we published the results of that survey.

In total, we received 163 respondents. We discovered the following:

  • The average TopStep Trader spent $1,145 in combine/hamster wheel fees.
  • 79% of participants were never able to “win” a funded trading account.
  • Those that received a funded trading account averaged -$900 in earnings. In others words, even the winners were net losers.

What was even more shocking was the estimated net profit of TopStepTrader. All survey participants had spent over $186,000 in TopStep Trader combine fees. An incredible amount.

TradingSchools.Org took a closer look at the business model and discovered that nearly all of these ‘combine’ fees were pure profit for TopStep Trader. Our internal model has the gross profits at about 90%. Truly remarkable.

How much money has TopStep Trader earned from this business model? Though it’s hard to estimate, TradingSchools.Org interviewed several of the technology vendors that provide the services that make this machine function…we estimate that TopStep Trader is earning many multiple millions of dollars each year. Not bad for a business that is basically only letting people play on a futures trading simulator.

Adults playing a video game. So quaint.

The Real Reason For The Survey

When we published the results of the survey, it would appear that the article was a classic TradingSchools.Org ‘hit-piece’. A sort of ‘consumer warning’ that people should be aware of the terrible failure rate of anyone that is stupid enough to purchase one of these ridiculous ‘trading combines’.

However, this was not the primary reason. The primary reason was to stoke competition. To highlight the incredible profit potential that additional participants could possibly reap by copying the same business model.

The business model is here to stay. It’s not going anywhere. As distasteful and crappy the deal for the consumer, it still has the potential to have incredible benefits to the retail trader.

For instance, if the pool of monies that are collected from combine fees primarily went back to the traders…then the business model could possibly bloom into something very special. This might be overly idealistic. Perhaps I still believe in the goodness of mankind.

Anyway, my ultimate hope was that additional players would enter into this business model. To offer something comparable. This was the only way to tip the scales back into alignment. More competition equals a better deal for consumers. I was hoping it would happen quickly. It didn’t.

Collectively, potential new market participants would contact me. And they would ask me, “how can this even be legal?” or “nothing this profitable can be legal.” Of which, I would reply that TopStep Trader has been running this monopoly since 2010. Surely, if the model did not pass regulatory scrutiny, then the FTC or the CFTC would have shut it down. But it simply has not happened.

Sort of like online porn. When it first arrived on the internet, collectively most people thought that the FTC would crack down. But they never did.

The First “Real” Competitor Emerges

On March 23, 2016 TradingSchools.Org posted a review about the first ‘real’ competitor to TopStep Trader. The company was named MES Capital.

Essentially, MES Capital began offering a similar opportunity as TopStep Trader. However, MES Capital was not charging any ‘combine fees’. In speaking with the founders of MES Capital, they explained that they were “just looking for some good traders that could trade their personal capital.”

MES Capital was using the exact same trading simulator as TopStep Trader. The simulator is provided by Rithmic and is commercially available to anyone willing to pay a fee. Nothing special here. An off-the-shelf piece of technology that has been in use for decades.

During the remainder of 2016, TradingSchools.Org spoke with various individuals that had been funded by MES Capital. We received no complaints from persons that were able to pass the testing parameters and received a funded trading account.

However, we did receive gripes from persons that had “traded profitably” during the testing phase, and yet were not able to receive a funded trading account. They did not understand why.

TradingSchools.Org researched the question as to why some were being funded, and some were not being funded. MES Capital did not have any published prerequisite or definable benchmark that a person must achieve in order to be awarded a funded trading account. Our best guess is that MES Capital simply ran out of funds to spread around.

Truth be told, most retail traders lose. Although the business model of not charging a testing fee seems like a generous and fair business model, in actuality, it is probably a losing endeavor.

TradingSchools.Org does not have a problem with the business model. We have a problem with how much TopStep Trader is skimming from the combine pool. A 90% profit

unquenchable greed

The unquenchable greed of TopStep Trader.

margin is fucking robbery. It’s unconscionable. This is what happens when you have a monopoly. It’s the very definition of extreme greed.

MES Capital transforms into One Up Trader

In the early part of 2017, TradingSchools.Org began to hear rumblings from insiders that MES Capital would be changing their business model. That they would begin charging a fee to individuals, similar to the TopStep Trader business model.

Although readers are probably already ‘poo-pooing’ the idea of yet another TopStep Trader business model, I actually applaud the idea. Finally, a new competitor is entering the scene. The owners of MES Captial understood their limitations and also understood the fat profit margins being earned by TopStep Trader. MES Capital rebranded their name to One Up Trader and decided to offer a better deal for consumers.

How much of a better deal? Much better. They addressed some of the most egregious practices of TopStep Trader. I won’t go into the specifics, but the business model of OneUp Trader is now attempting to offer a better deal to consumers.

In May 2017, OneUp Trader officially launched.

The reaction from Top Step Trader

How did TopStep Trader react to a new competitor? Did TopStep Trader reflect on the reasons why a new competitor entered the marketplace?

The reaction from TopStep Trader has been in my opinion vicious, ugly, petty, and vindictive. They filed a lawsuit that is attempting to bully One Up Trader into legal submission. The lawsuit is pure folly. The legal basis for the lawsuit is ripped straight from the playbook of a monopolistic bully. Trying to kill off a competitor, while it is still a baby in the crib.

Consumers should be outraged. The legal attack on One Up Trader is more than the petty argument of a couple of ‘rich guys’. Make no mistake, this is about maintaining a monopoly, about keeping a stranglehold on consumer choice. Its an attempt to bludgeon not only free and fair competition but also an attempt to keep you confined within a narrow box of lesser choices. It is outrageous. I have included a copy of the legal filing below:

TopStep Trader vs OneUp Trader


If you took the time to read this…essentially, TopStep Trader is arguing the following:

  • They have a registered patent for the Rithmic trading simulator. They don’t.
  • That they are the originators of the concept of using a simulator to evaluate trader performance. Total bullshit.
  • That any company offering a service, even comparatively, is an infringement of their proprietary method for ripping people off.
  • That anyone that visits the TopStep Trader website is voluntarily consenting to never be a competitor of TopStep Trader.

Imagine for a moment, you visit your local McDonalds for a hamburger. It’s a delicious hamburger. And so you go home and tell your wife that you want to open a hamburger restaurant. But you want to add an extra beef patty. You decide to name your hamburger ‘The Big Meaty’. You believe your hamburger will sell better than the Big Mac.

And so you plow your life savings into this new restaurant. About a week later, you receive a letter from a douche bag lawyer in Chicago that demands that you immediately shut down your restaurant. That you are stealing the concept of the hamburger from McDonald’s. And that since you visited McDonald’s, you inadvertently agreed to never open a competing hamburger restaurant.

Can you see the lunacy of this argument? Am I alone on this?

Wrapping this up

I have no love for either TopStep Trader, or OneUp Trader. Currently, the business model is shady as hell.

However, what if several competitors are allowed to compete within the space? Imagine if a company were to emerge that offered 75% of the simulator fee’s to be channeled back into funded trading accounts?

OneUp Trader is a good start. The business model is not going away. We need more competition.

Thanks for reading. This is a story that I would truly love to read your comments. Personally, these buttholes at TopStep Trader have really gotten under my skin. Its time that someone knocks them square in the jaw.

This is fight worth having.

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Joao Santos
Joao Santos (@guest_6077302)
2 years ago

I’m a long-time fan of TradingSchools. Lots of new competitors have filled the landscape of prop firms for retail traders. I lead a community that helps traders with prop firms trading. This Thursday, September 30, I’ll be presenting on Ninjatrader weekly webinar “Optimization of NinjaTrader Strategies for Prop Firms Trading.” Here’s the registration link:

Cyndi (@guest_6077654)
2 years ago
Reply to  Emmett Moore

You must be privy to some arcane, secret information. Nothing on the Rithmic site shows how you can do what you write. From where did you get that info. 🙂

the duke
the duke (@guest_6062411)
2 years ago

Trading blows… get out of capitalism now!

Steve Vasconcellos
Steve Vasconcellos (@guest_4055952)
3 years ago

True you described me to the T currently working on one up still draw downs are my …..///weakness,,, tight…

Oz Osborn
Oz Osborn (@guest_4055833)
4 years ago

I didn’t read All the posts, but Leelootrading (Natural Trading) might be a new competitor. Maybe worth reviewing. Much fewer rules than TST or OUT

Harry (@guest_4055925)
3 years ago
Reply to  Oz Osborn

I am seeing more and more competitors. Earn2Trade just tripped me up. They posted the wrong time for an economic event and I traded right through it. No corrective action on their part. I kind of like what I see mentioned for LeelooTrading.

alex (@guest_5056670)
3 years ago
Reply to  Harry

Yes earn2trade will not work with you and are bs. Use someone else. I have had issues with rithmic many times and sent them log files, screenshots ect with no resolution. They just stop chatting with you and there is no phone number to call.

desertninja (@guest_5057109)
3 years ago
Reply to  Harry

earn2trade are cheats and scammers and I caught them red handed and terminated my subscription immediately.

Makusan (@guest_5061536)
2 years ago
Reply to  Oz Osborn

SOSDD…Same Old Sh#t…Different Day

Elijah N.
Elijah N. (@guest_4055405)
4 years ago

Honestly, Topstep trader, oneup, earn2trade, they all have pretty similar rules and all are easy. What people are forgetting is 95% of traders will fail, and more like 97% won’t ever be good enough to trade for a firm, I have traded professionally for different firms for years now in the options, forex, and futures space. Currently I am a top level trader for 5ers (forex) as well as have fully funded accounts for topstep, oneup, and earn2trade. It’s not really hard to follow rules, it just requires discipline, and a bit of luck in finding a good mentor of course, I would have 0% chance of succeeding if I didn’t meet and learn from a few of my friends who trade for hedgefunds.

Horst (@guest_5056065)
3 years ago
Reply to  Elijah N.

Don’t praise yourself so much you prick bastard.

LizS (@guest_3049032)
4 years ago

Emmett, Have you looked at Earn2Trade? I am going through the gauntlet now and would like your opinion. I am on my last days of a 60-day period. If funded, I will let you know what happens.

I did try TST, and it was difficult. After 2 attempts I looked elsewhere. Thanks, E

michael (@guest_3048957)
4 years ago

It doesn’t sound great about either one. One up a little better but…
Is there any other Companies funding accounts. I’ve seen Apiary; SMB

Big ups
Big ups (@guest_1047055)
4 years ago

Yeah i just funded on One-Up, they’ve been fair. Unfortunately MES Capital doesn’t have an easily accessible broker number because it’s out of London. So don’t have to exit a trade by phone if your internet goes down etc… Top Step is a total joke. You all mentioned the reasons above which I quickly realized. I tried their $99 discount and violated what they called their loss limit, which really should be called “unrealized loss” or “drawdown”, so i was confused on that point. Very low threshold to margin out. It’s a system rigged to take your money. To TST credit they did call me to ask about my experience. I said, “your system is rigged to fail, unless you are a very, very specific type of trader, otherwise you want me to keep paying your fee while i attempt to follow your 27 rules that create a system that I’d get stuck in failing. Why would i do that when i could go to many of the others that are easier and better. I’ll be reapplying for an even bigger One-Up account so i can trade bigger size faster. I already have their 50k account funded.

dm (@guest_36896)
5 years ago

Not sure why anyone would pay a company to trade their rules. Save that money put into your own account, sim trade yourself, find a consistent edge (system) while on your on sim, then go live once you have consistent method more winners than losers, a consistent mind set that focus on having more winners than losers and no expectancy on any one trade only on a series of trades. Then trade your own money. BECAUSE ITS THE SAME THING YOU WOULD BE DOING WITH THOSE COMPANY’S, only you wouldn’t be paying them – NONE OF IT IS GOING TO BE EASY NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO – YOU DON’T NEED THEM. They already know the cycle you are going to go thru, and are going to take advantage of you trying to find your way which can be years, thats their business model and their edge is knowing you are going to fail many times before you figure out that trading isn’t easy. Thats the business model for every one selling a system

wannabetrader (@guest_33407)
5 years ago

Has anyone been funded by OneUp? I’ve narrowed it down to either OneUp or TST, and greatly appreciate anyone giving their experience.

Leaning toward OneUP because they are cheaper and their profit goals to earn the funded accounts are one step and not as high. Much easier to achieve in one subscription cycle in my estimation.

Please, anyone funded by OneUp, or anyone trying to get funded now?

Trader (@guest_31921)
5 years ago

Thank you for posting this. TST has the scaling rule, that makes sure you fail. Because regardless of what your funding is, you will be initially trading like you only had $30,000. But you are still expected to hit the 5% profit mark. So if you opted for $150,000, you are still trading with $30,000 but you will need to hit a profit of $7,500 within a month. Any one who has trades knows you really have only 10 to 15 max good days where you can really make some money. It is stacked against the wannabe trader.

Manoj (@guest_31479)
6 years ago

It costs upto $1500 to gain intraday leverage per contract in your own account with any reputed broker. Add the max drawdown these two companies allow you. Instead of doing this if thousands of folks have chosen to pay these 2 companies a few hundred $ every month to win and hope to profit from a funded trading account, something is wrong with the heads of these folks.

If you must trade on a simulator to test & improve yourself; the same simulator remains available for about $50 a month. Still if you choose to add to the profits of these 2 companies; well its your money; you decide where to donate it.

What they call a funded account is still trades on the simulator as you can verify after placing an order and not finding the quantity at that price rise in the DOM. For this reason both companies will not allow extremely profitable or even consistently profitable traders to survive long because they may end up paying out their profits from their pockets.

Its an excellent consumer warning and/or wakeup article that needs to be read by all the folks about to or already spending their money at these 2 companies. Do they want to listen? Well its their money, their time, their dreams.

trader33 (@guest_31139)
6 years ago

Hey guys!

I got funded with the help of OneUp Trader!! While I was funded I didn’t pay anything out of pocket and I also broke a rule which they give a warning, 2 strike rule. I was up around $500 before I violated another rule (traded CL at 9:30 CT Wednesday). I got paid a portion of the $500 and now I’m using that money to sign up again via OneUp Trader. Also there’s no data fees, their Funding partners cover it. Amazing doesn’t quite say it!!

Good bye TST, never again not for me.

dbtrader (@guest_31160)
6 years ago
Reply to  trader33

I like them too and experienced something similar to your situation. Did you know they do not have a 2 strike rule for returning traders!

James (@guest_30993)
6 years ago

I completely disagree with all the criticism towards TST.

Communication is great with them with regards to Combines/FTPs and pretty much everything else (except for becoming an affiliate…unusually bad communication where that is concerned!).

They’ve continually responded to traders’ requests to remove unnecessarily restrictive rules, like the infamous “10-day rule” where you had to be positive or you lost the account. This is what happened to me in late 2016. With the current rules, I see no reason not to succeed with them and I’m currently a stone’s throw away from being funded again with two accounts.

There are pros and cons to both companies. I see people talking about the data fees that TST charges (and OneUp doesn’t)…but they forget to mention OneUP’s higher commissions, wire fees (TST don’t charge), withdrawal thresholds (TST don’t have them) and INTRA-day trailing max. draw down (TST’s is EOD…makes a huge difference).

I don’t particularly like the necessity of having to be in the funded traders’ trading room and having the risk manager (Mick Ieronimo) on my back, but that’s a small price to pay for the community, discipline and environment that has helped me to solidly turn the corner where I couldn’t before…even when trying to do my own, self-imposed, “Combine”!

guest (@guest_31246)
6 years ago
Reply to  James

TST is a revolving door each trader that comes through the door has hopes and aspirations of making it big the top 5% make it through and they constantly make money off the poor souls trying to get funded without breaking rules. WIth on going reset fees and such high thresholds I will never ever trade TST again.

Horst (@guest_5056066)
3 years ago
Reply to  James

TST is the worst combine. They are scumbags and don’t give a shit about you but their own wallet. I passed twice and broke a rule twice to start again fuck them and go with oneup.

Makusan (@guest_30927)
6 years ago

emmit, when is the last time you got on Oneup website. They are charging you a fee for which profit split (50% or 80%) you will get if you pass. I have never in all of my working career, as a independent worker on % splits ever paid for higher profit splits. Everything about Oneup is NO different than TST. I have sent an email to OneUp to have them explain this other additional fee charge…no reply as yet.

jonah (@guest_30892)
6 years ago

I second that…top step trader and the owner Michael Patak are d bags. One up is the better of the two if you ask me. It’s cheaper, pays the same and the prerequisites are not as difficult.

Tyson (@guest_30620)
6 years ago

I’m really confused. So, I read a stellar review of TopStep Trader that YOU put out. Then, I read a scathing review of MES Capital. THEN, I read a retraction of the first MES Capital review. ??? Then I read a “vs.” review between the two? Who is paying you Emmett? You’re crookerder than a dogs hind leg, bro! It sounds like you’re trolling these companies for money. Just sayin.

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