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.

The Art of Trading Decisions


One of my basic tenets in teaching people how to trade options is that rules and guidelines should not be written in stone and that there are valid reasons for accepting or rejecting some of them. When I offer a rationale or explanation or suggest course of action, it is because I have found that this specific suggestion has worked best for me.

I encourage all readers to adopt a different way of thinking when appropriate. The following message from a reader offers sound reasons for taking specif actions regarding the management of an iron condor position. My response explains why this specific reasoning is flawed (in my opinion).

 

The question

 

Hi Mark,

 

I have some questions on Chapter 3 (Rookie’s Guide to Options) Thought #3: “The Iron Condor is one position.”

 

You mentioned that the Iron Condor is one, and only one, position. The problem of thinking it as two credit spreads is that it often results in poor risk-management.

 

Using a similar example I (modified a little bit from the one in the book) traded one Iron Condor at $2.30 with 5 weeks to expiration:
– Sold one call spread at $1.20
– Sold one put spread at $1.10

 

Say, a few days later, the underlying index move higher, the Iron Condor position is at $2.50 (paper loss of $0.20):
– call spread at $2.00 (paper loss of $0.80)
– put spread at $0.50 (paper profit of $0.60)

 

I will lock in (i.e., buy to close) the put spread at $0.60 for the following reasons and conditions:

  1. It is only a few days, the profit is more than 50% of the maximum possible profit
  2. There are still 4 more weeks to expiration to gain the remaining less than 50% maximum possible profit. in fact, the remaining profit is less as I will always exit before expiration, typically at 80% of the maximum possible profit. so, there is only less than 30% of the maximum possible profit that I am risking for another 4 more weeks.
  3. The hedging effect of put spread against the call spread is no longer as effective because the put spread is only at $0.50. as the underlying move higher, the call spread will gain value much faster than the put spread will loss value.

 

Is the above reasoning under those conditions ok? Will appreciate your view and sharing. Thank you.

 

My reply

 

Bottom line: The reasoning is OK. The principles that you follow for this example are sound.

 

However, the problem is that you are not seeing the bigger picture.

 

1. There is no paper loss on the call spread. Nor is there a paper profit on the put spread. There is only a 20-cent paper loss on the whole iron condor.

 

2. When trading any iron condor, the significant number is $2.30 – the entire premium collected. The price of the call and puts spreads are not relevant. In fact, these numbers should be ignored. It is not easy to convince traders of the validity of this statement, so let’s examine an example:

 

Assume that you enter a limit order to trade the iron condor at a cash credit of $2.30 or better. Next suppose that you cannot watch the markets for the next several hours. When you return home you note that your order was filled at $2.35 – five cents better than your limit (yes, this is possible). You also notice the following:

  • The market has declined by 1.5%.
  • Implied volatility has increased.
  • The iron condor is currently priced at $2.80.
  • Your order was filled: Call spread; $0.45; Put spread; $1.90; Total credit is $2.35.

Obviously you are not happy with this situation because your iron condor is far from neutral and probably requires an adjustment. But that is beyond this today’s discussion — so let’s assume that you are not making any adjustments at the present time.

 

That leaves some questions

  • Do you manage this iron condor as one with a net credit of $2.35? [I hope so]
  • Do you prefer use to the trade-execution prices?

If you choose the “$2.35” iron condor, it is easy to understand that this is an out-of-balance position and may require an adjustment.

 

If you choose the “45-cent call spread and $1.90 put spread” then the market has not moved too far from your original trade prices, making it far less likely that any adjustment may be necessary.

 

In other words, it does not matter whether you collected $2.00, $1.50, $1.20, $1.00, or $0.80 for the put spread. All that matters is that you have an iron condor with a net credit of $2.35.

3. You should consider covering either the call spread, or the put spread, when the prices reaches a low level. You are correct in concluding that there is little hedge remaining when the price of one of the spreads is “low.” You are correct is deciding that it is not a good strategy to wait for a “long time” to collect the small remaining premium.

 

If you decide that $0.60 is the proper price at which to cover one of the short positions, then by all means, cover at that point. (I tend to wait for a lower price).

 

If you want to pay more to cover the “low-priced” portion of the iron condor when you get a chance to do so quickly, there is nothing wrong with that. However, do not assume that covering quickly is necessarily a good strategy because that leaves you with (in your example) a short call spread — and you no longer own an iron condor. If YOU are willing to do that by paying 60 cents, then so be it. It is always a sound decision to exit one part of the iron condor when you deem it to be a good risk-management decision. But, do not make this trade simply because it happened so quickly or that you expect the market to reverse direction. If you are suddenly bearish, there are much better plays for you to consider other than buying back the specific put spread that you sold earlier.

4. The differences in your alternatives are subtle and neither is “right’ nor ‘wrong.”

 

The main lesson here is developing the correct mindset because your way of thinking about each specific problem should be based on your collective experience as a trader.

 

Your actions above are reasonable. However, it is more effective for the market-neutral trader to own an iron condor than to be short a call or put spread.

 

You are doing the right thing by exiting one portion of the condor at some “low” price, and that price may differ from trade to trade. But deciding to cover when it reaches a specific percentage of the premium collected is not appropriate for managing iron condors.

 

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

  • Investing in Private Companies

    It is axiomatic that the largest investment returns typically come from investing in private companies. Peter Thiel initially invested $500,000.00 in Facebook, which was worth over $1b when he cashed out.  Eric Lefkofsky turned an investment of $546 (that’s not a typo) into $386m in cashed out payments.

    By cwelsh,

    • 0 comments
    • 68 views
  • Option Strikes and Expirations – What's Next?

    Options expiration dates and strikes are among the most important parameters options traders must consider. Today we have the well-known weekly, monthly, cyclical, and LEAPS options. A lot of choices. But is that as far as we can go? The realm of possibilities could be endless. Consider some of these possible expansions:

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 163 views
  • Buying Deep Out-Of-The-Money (DOTM) Options

    “Income” trading has become wildly popular for option traders since the global financial crisis. This style involves selling out-of-the-money options to a hedger and collecting the full premium payment at expiry — assuming the underlying doesn’t trend too hard in one direction.

    By Tyler Kling,

    • 0 comments
    • 456 views
  • The ABCs of QE And QT

    Is QE money printing or is it something else that appears to be money printing? Search the internet for “QE and money printing”, and you will see countless articles explaining why Quantitative Easing (QE) is or is not money printing. Here are a few articles that we found:

    By Michael Lebowitz,

    • 0 comments
    • 137 views
  • A Case Study in SPX Put Writing

    I've written about writing puts on multiple occasions, as I find it to be an attractive way to gain long exposure to the underlying asset class. It doesn't have to be a decision of one vs. the other (meaning, is it better to sell puts or own the underlying asset directly?), as there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 236 views
  • 10 Tips: Trade Options Like a Pro and Keep Your Day Job

    Do you feel you don't have time to trade options?  This is one of the most common objections I hear from potential traders. In this article I'll give you 10 actionable tips to trade options like a pro while you balance life's other commitments.

    By Drew Hilleshiem,

    • 0 comments
    • 592 views
  • Straddles - Risks Determine When They Are Best Used

    Risk all too often is defined by the attributes of a strategy, and nothing more. However, the circumstances under which a position is opened is a better indicator of actual risk. Why? Because risk is not fixed but varies based on proximity of price to strike, and of strike to resistance or support.

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 359 views
  • 4 Directional Options Trading Strategies

    Some Option traders prefer to trade mostly non directional strategies, while other option traders prefer to trade directional strategies.  Well, in the world of Options trading, there is no right or wrong answer. You can create a host of strategies based on your preferences and outlook.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 510 views
  • Digging Deeper into the Inflation Threat

    Stoking the Embers of Inflation is one of the more important articles we have written. The Monetary Equation Identity discussed in the article provides a counterintuitive way to think about inflation. It took us a long time to accept that this identity lays out a real case for stagflation.

    By Michael Lebowitz,

    • 3 comments
    • 1,189 views
  • Does Option Selling Have Positive Expected Returns?

    Academic research refers to the persistent phenomenon of ex-post implied volatility (IV) exceeding realized volatility (HV) as the Volatility Risk Premium (VRP). As it applies to option premiums, this leads to a positive expected return for being a systematic option seller.

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 659 views

  Report Article

We want to hear from you!


There are no comments to display.



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 emoticons maximum 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