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What Is The Best Options Strategy?


I'm often asked by novice options traders what is the best options strategy. The answer is that there is no such thing "the best options strategy". Each strategy has its pros and cons. Each strategy will work the best under certain market conditions, and no strategy will work under all market conditions.

Whoever says that a certain strategy will work all the time is misleading you.

 

One of the first things you need to decide before placing your first trade is: do I want to bet on direction (bullish/bearish) or I want to be able to make money regardless of market direction? In the first case, you have the choice of the following major strategies:

 

Bullish strategies:

  • Long call
  • Bull call spread
  • Bull put spread
  • Covered call
  • Naked put

 

Bearish strategies:

  • Long put
  • Bear put spread
  • Bear call spread

 

Non-directional strategies:

 

Again, each strategy has its pros and cons. For example, when IV (Implied Volatility) is high, you would prefer to use Iron condor. When IV is low, calendar spread might be preferable.

 

Even within the same strategy, you can change the P/L chart by selecting different strikes, expiration etc. For example, Iron condor doesn't have to have lousy risk/reward. You can select strikes closer to the underlying price and improve your risk/reward. By doing that, you also decrease your probability of success. You have to select one of them - you cannot have both, as I showed in my article Risk Reward Or Probability Of Success?

 

The following infographics might help you to understand the basics of options trading and few basic options strategies:

 

You can read the following articles to understand few basic strategies we use at SteadyOptions:

 

Management is What Matters, Not the Strategy

 

The bottom line is that no single trading strategy is perfect and no strategy will work all the time. To paraphrase a famous quote, "it's not the strategy that matters, it's how you use it".

 

Nevertheless, there are some "gurus" out there who claim that the strategy they use is the only one that can be profitable and all other strategies are "crap". For example, as many of you know, tastytrade advocate a strategy based on selling Options using Implied Volatility Rank as a guideline. They conduct a lot of studies supporting their theory. In one of my previous articles I described a study done by tastytrade, claiming that buying premium before earnings does not work. I demonstrated that their study was highly flawed, for several reasons (strikes selection, stocks selection, timing etc.).

 

Quoting a trader I respect very much:

 

They (tastytrade) will discredit any strategy you name. The only thing that works is selling options based on implied volatility rank above 50%. A newbie trader will tend to adhere to this advice as the Bible, especially when heard from two market veterans of 2-3 decades and this is what I have a problem with. It discourages research, it discourages self-discovery and study on the individual rookie trader limiting their growth and potential and tying them to one system which in the end is no holy grail, just another vision for trading the markets. Where does this leave the thousands of very successful investors that have made fortunes over the years not selling Credit Spreads? Where does this leave the countless CTAs that have been able to ride monster futures' trends in the past whose returns have been properly audited and documented?

 

At SteadyOptions, we encourage open discussions about variety of strategies. Our strategies work for us, but you will never hear us saying that they are the only thing that works.

 

If you want to learn more how to use our profitable strategies and increase your odds:

 

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