SteadyOptions is an options trading forum where you can find solutions from top options traders. TRY IT FREE!

We’ve all been there… researching options strategies and unable to find the answers we’re looking for. SteadyOptions has your solution.

Iron Condor Adjustments: How and When


Let’s begin with a basic fact: There are many methods for adjusting a position so that risk is reduced. Some are inexpensive, others cost more than most traders are willing to spend. Some are effective most of the time, but the protection offered is minimal. Others are so effective (alas, that happens rarely) that the gains an be spectacular. [Think of owning an extra put or two before the market opens down 20% one fine day]

Some adjustments are made because we anticipate a specific event in the market (buy vega in anticipation of a increase in implied volatility). Others are made because we fear a big rally or decline. However, most of the time adjusters seek to find a trade that reduces risk for as many different market conditions as possible.

 

Traders tend to find that one specific adjustment type is their favorite because it has brought satisfactory result sin the past. Some adjustment techniques are well-suited to a specific strategy and the pair go well together. [Rolling down when trading CTM iron condors]

 

The trap

 

moneytrap.jpg

 

Some adjustment methods are so attractive because they offer a very reassuring risk graph. The problem with that adjustment type is that the graph may be deceiving. This is the topic of today’s post.

 

Readers who are familiar with my philosophy concerning the purchase of individual calls or puts as insurance for an iron condor trade know this: I recommend NEVER buying any option for protection when that option is farther OTM than the option (or spread) being protected. There are situations when ignoring that advice brings excellent results. However, much of the time the trader can get trapped and loses even more money than would have been lost without the adjustment.

 

That is a situation that has to be avoided. So let’s make this one basic premise for all iron condor adjustments:

 

No iron condor adjustment is acceptable when losses may become higher than that of the original trade with no adjustment

 

Translation: An adjustment must never add to losses. An adjustment must earn a profit (if it were a standalone trade) at any time that the position being protected loses more money that it is losing when the adjustment is made. In my opinion, there are no exceptions unless you are sophisticated enough to recognize the extreme danger and will get out of the trade early enough to prevent a disaster. Here is an example:

 

Example:

 

Let’s say you are short the 750/760 call spread for some unspecified index. Wanting protection against a big rally, you buy one or more extra 760 calls. When looking at the risk graph, all we tend to notice is the large potential profit when the index rises to 800, 850, 900 etc.

 

However, the crucial part of the trade gets ignored (by those who have not thought this through well enough). As time passes, those extra calls lose much of their power. Sure, the graph still looks good and the position performs well when the market moves a lot higher. But that is not the scenario for which we bought protection. The adjustment trade must reduce losses when the index creeps higher and approaches the short strike.

 

We should not be concerned with risk when the index rallies to 850. That is an unlikely scenario. The trader has to worry about the market moving to 740, 745, 750 – especially as expiration nears. [One of my tenets is that we should not be holding positions in this very risky situation, but some traders hold anyway]. When your ‘protection’ is owning extra 760 calls, and time is getting short, those calls do not help when the rally continues slowly as the days pass. In fact, they could easily expire worthless while your short spread finishes in the money by as many as ten points.

 

That would be a double disaster: losing a lot of money on the original position and seeing the adjustment trade expire worthless.

 

The problem occurs because the trader bought calls with a higher strike than her short calls. The situation is identical when you buy puts that are farther OTM than the short puts being protected.

 

Unless you know the adjustment is to be held for a VERY short time and will be replaced, do not buy protection that is farther OTM than the position being protected.

 

Two of the most difficult aspects of managing risk for negative gamma positions is deciding when to make the adjustment and which specific trade to make as the adjustment.

 

Today, let’s talk about timing.

 

If we adjust frequently, we run the risk of buying every rally and selling every dip – exactly what we don’t want to do. If we had done nothing, we’d be holding a winning trade. On the other hand, if the market edges higher (or lower, take your pick) day after day, then these frequent adjustments could save us a pile of money because we would never be too far from delta neutral.

 

If we adjust in stages or at predetermined levels (price of underlying, delta of short, money lost etc.) we have exactly the same situation as above – but the numbers are all larger. If we adjust and the market reverses direction, we will have spent a decent sum adding protection when it turns out that we would have been better off not to have adjusted. And to make matters worse, we would have locked in a reasonable loss for at least a portion of the position by making that adjustment. On the other hand, if we do not make the adjustment, we own a position that is out of balance, is currently underwater, and has reached a point where we are threatened with ever-increasing additional losses. That is no time for the prudent trader to become stubborn. It is time to do something to reduce risk.

 

When?

 

There are two basic approaches:

 

1) Time adjustments for all trades as consistently as possible. The specific method used is less important than being consistent.

 

2) Use your best judgment to determine the type of market conditions under which you are trading. Use technical indicators, follow the trend, follow your gut, keep careful records of how much the index is up or down every day, etc.

 

If it seems as if we are in a trending bull or bear market, then adjust much more often as a safer way of managing risk. You could even initiate the trade with one adjustment built-in. [begin with an unequal iron condor, perhaps 8 calls and 10 puts; or begin with calls (or puts) with a smaller delta than the other side.]

 

Don’t sit and wait for a reversal that may never arrive. Trade scared and trade with safety in mind. Or don’t trade and wait for better conditions.
If it seems that the market is not trending or that you cannot draw useful conclusions about what you see, then return to your standard risk management technique. Be ready to change course for extra safety.

 

Bottom line: Whatever it is that you see in the market, the objective is to play it safe. Play it small. Or don’t play at all. There is a ton of money to be made by trading iron condors or selling credit spreads. But that is only true part of the time. When the markets are unfavorable for those methods, we must minimize losses so that we are in good shape to collect when it becomes our turn. And we do not know when our turn will begin or end.

 

Related articles:

Want to learn more?

 

Start Your Free Trial

 

wolfiner.jpg

 

Mark Wolfinger has been in the options business since 1977, when he began his career as a floor trader at the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). Since leaving the Exchange, Mark has been giving trading seminars as well as providing individual mentoring via telephone, email and his premium Options For Rookies blog. Mark has published four books about options. His Options For Rookies book is a classic primer and a must read for every options trader. Mark holds a BS from Brooklyn College and a PhD in chemistry from Northwestern University.

What Is SteadyOptions?

Full Trading Plan

Complete Portfolio Approach

Diversified Options Strategies

Exclusive Community Forum

Steady And Consistent Gains

High Quality Education

Risk Management, Portfolio Size

Performance based on real fills

Try It Free

Non-directional Options Strategies

10-15 trade Ideas Per Month

Targets 5-7% Monthly Net Return

Visit our Education Center

Recent Articles

Articles

  • Traditional or Roth Retirement Account?

    When US investors save for retirement, there are many important decisions that have to be made including which investments to use as well as which type of accounts to fund. Tax favored retirement accounts such as 401(k)’s and IRA’s should be utilized to the maximum extent possible because of the opportunity for tax advantaged growth.

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 227 views
  • My Favorite Investing Books, Blogs, Papers, and Podcasts

    There are so many excellent sources of investment education available today that I thought a short post about some of my personal favorites could be beneficial. Below are different forms of content that have been particularly impactful to my investment philosophy, and they are not in any specific order.

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 469 views
  • Go For Gold! The Business Behind The Dazzle

    The price of gold is often in the news—sometimes it's rising, and other times it's dropping but for the most part, it has been on a steady increase for many years. It is certainly worth more now than it did twenty years ago. When its price is on the rise, we may have thought about the benefits of selling our gold for profit and making some passive income from it.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 269 views
  • Using Bullish Calendar Spreads to Profit on MSFT Stock

    A calendar spread is an income trade where the trader sells a near term option and buys a longer-dated option with the same strike price. Usually this is done with monthly options, but it can also be done with weeklies. They are long volatility trades so can be a nice addition to a portfolio as a way to offset some short vega.

    By GavinMcMaster,

    • 0 comments
    • 529 views
  • 3 Principles to a Successful Investment Experience

    Although not an exhaustive list, what I’ll present in this article are three core principles that overwhelmingly stack the odds of a successful long-term investment experience in your favor. These three principles are asset allocation, diversification, and rebalancing.

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 389 views
  • Important Tips For First Time Currency Traders

    Diversifying your portfolio is important for all investors, and currency investments are a great way to do that. However, there are a lot of misconceptions and common mistakes that first time currency investors make, and this leads to big losses.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 407 views
  • Iron Condors or Short Strangles?

    In my early option trading days, I favored selling iron condors over selling strangles. I thought that selling a strangle was too risky because the potential loss was “undefined”. I thought this made sense because this is what I’d hear from other people that were more experienced than I was.

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 1,889 views
  • How To Be A Successful Day Trader From Home

    The good news is that if trading is your passion, then it’s possible to become a successful day trader and work from home. However, it’s not as easy as setting up shop and jumping online. There are specific steps and processes you need to have in place if you’re going to be able to make a living for yourself and have a bright career and future.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 537 views
  • 3 Key Pieces Of Advice For New Traders

    These days, everyone claims to be an ‘expert’ on absolutely everything. Apparently, it only takes having a Twitter account to be a seasoned expert on any given subject; all in all, the Internet is full of nonsense. It’s becoming harder and harder to find legitimate answers amongst the quagmire of false information online.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 551 views
  • Why New Traders Fail

    Our first advice to new traders is: "Learn First, Trade Later". The markets will always be there, but if you start trading without proper fundamentals, your capital will be gone very fast. The barrier to enter trading is so low today, commissions are near zero, and the whole trading game looks very promising.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 750 views

  Report Article

We want to hear from you!


No, because the example that Mark gives refers to buying calls at the same expiration as the original trade and holding till expiration. We usually don't do that. We use the next month expiration to reduce the negative theta and we also close our trades at least one week before expiration.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites


Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

Options Trading Blogs Expertido