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.

Why Winning Ratio Means Nothing


A lot of options traders consider 90% probability strategies a Holy Grail of trading. After all, if you can win 90% of the time, you should be able to grow your account very quickly, right? Well, not only this is not true, but in fact, winning ratio alone tells you NOTHING about your chances to be profitable. 

The winning ratio is simply the number of winning trades divided by the total number of trades. For example, a trader who won on 15 of 20 trades would have a 75% winning ratio.

90% winning ratio strategy in options usually refers to Out Of The Money credit spreads that have 90% probability to expire worthless. To achieve 90% probability, you have to sell credit spreads with short deltas around 10. 

 

Options Delta can be viewed as a percentage probability an option will wind up in-the-money at expiration. Looking at the Delta of a far-out-of-the-money option is a good indication of its likelihood of having value at expiration. An option with less than a .10 Delta (or less than 10% probability of being in-the-money) is not viewed as very likely to be in-the-money at any point and will need a strong move from the underlying to have value at expiration.

 

When you sell a credit spread with short deltas around 10, they have approximately 90% probability to expire worthless, so theoretically, you have a chance to have a 90% winning ratio.

 

Here is the problem: when you have a 90% probability trade, your risk/reward is terrible - usually around 1:9, meaning that you risk $9 to make $1. Also with 90% probability trades, your maximum loss is usually limited to 8-10%, but your loss can be 100%. That means that you can have 90% winning ratio, and still lose money. Also consider the fact that if you win 10% five times in a raw and then lose 50%, you are not back to even. You are down 25%.

 

 In the example image below, we can see that even with a 90% winning percentage, a trader can still lose money if they take losses that are too large relative to their winners:

winpercent1.png

 

It should be obvious by now that winning ratio alone doesn't tell the whole picture - in fact, it is pretty meaningless.

 

If you are not a member yet, you can join our forum discussions for answers to all your options questions.

 

Does it mean that credit spreads are a bad strategy? Not at all. But considering winning ratio alone to evaluate a strategy is not a smart thing to do.

 

On the other side of the spectrum are traders who completely dismiss credit spreads due to their terrible risk/reward ratio. Here is an extract from an article by popular options guru:

 

"The truth is that OTM Credit Spreads have a high probability of making a profit. The average Credit Spread trader will face 100% losses on this trade several times a year while trying to make a modest 5 to 10% a month. What happens is that eventually most Credit Spread Traders meet their doomsday. Sooner or later, virtually all option traders who use only OTM Credit Spreads wipe out their trading accounts.

 

Let’s look at the “Computer Glitch” of 2010 when the DOW dropped 1000 points in a matter of minutes. Those doing Credit Spreads on this day lost on average between 70% and 90% of their portfolio. What happened is that the volatility rose drastically and the trades moved into that “danger zone” where they lose 100% 10 percent of the time. The Credit Spread trader doesn’t realize that the 10 percent of the time they lose can happen AT ANY TIME. Most people think that they will have 9 wins followed by 1 loss, but this obviously is not how the law of probability works. It’s not uncommon for an OTM Credit Spread trader to face a catastrophic loss on their very first trade, and once this happens, there is no way to recover since a winning trade will only bring back 10% on the remaining capital."

 

This article ignores few important factors. It is true that credit spreads can experience catastrophic losses from time to time. But this is where position sizing comes into play. Personally, I would never place more than 15-20% of my options account into credit spreads - unless they are hedged with put debit spreads and/or puts. This is what we do in our Steady Condors portfolio.

 

Many professional traders consider 60% winning ratio excellent. Peter Brandt admits that his winning ratio is only 43% - yet his Audited annual ROR is 41.6%. Many strategies are designed to have few big winners and many small losers.

 

The bottom line: the only thing that matters in trading is your average return per trade, not the winning ratio.

 

Related articles:

 

Want to see how we handle risk?

 

Start your free trial

 

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

  • Option Equivalence

    Some option positions are equivalent – that means identical profit/loss profiles – to others. Others are not. A few days ago I had an inquiry from a person trading options in a restricted account (e.g. an IRA that did not allow marginable trades or short options positions):

    By cwelsh,

    • 0 comments
    • 99 views
  • Investment Ideas for Conservative Investors

    Investors with low willingness or need to take risks often look to bank and/or life insurance company fixed-rate products to increase potential returns instead of leaving their money in conventional checking or savings accounts. Some of these product types are CD’s, structured notes, fixed annuities and fixed indexed annuities.

    By Jesse,

    • 0 comments
    • 168 views
  • iVolatility Tools: Advanced Ranker

    Here is one of the analytical tools that allows us to claim "In options we are Big Data!" For those who want to find the movers and shakers, Advanced Ranker does the job. The Advanced Ranker combines an easy to use interface with a powerful sorting logic built on IVR and IVP.

    By Levi Ioffe,

    • 0 comments
    • 146 views
  • Two Pre-earnings Momentum Trades With a Technical Trigger in Alphabet

    Both option trading backtest approaches rely on the fact that there has been a bullish momentum pattern in Alphabet stock 7 calendar days before earnings. Further, we use moving averages as a safety valve to try to avoid opening a bullish position while a stock is in a technical break down, like the fourth quarter of 2018. 

    By Ophir Gottlieb,

    • 0 comments
    • 324 views
  • Flaws in Implied Volatility

    A technical study of chart patterns, focusing on historical volatility of the underlying, reveals that depending on implied volatility is a flawed idea. Traders should remember that options are derivatives, meaning their premium value is derived from historical volatility.

    By Michael C. Thomsett,

    • 0 comments
    • 398 views
  • 7 Trading Cliches For Novice Traders

    Trading is a tough business. There is no easy money in the stock market, but there are a lot of folks who will easily take your money. What is important to know that no matter how experienced you are, mistakes will be part of the trading process. This article should help you to avoid some of those mistakes.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 367 views
  • Iron Condor vs. Iron Butterfly

    Iron Condor and Iron Butterfly are both very popular strategies. Both of them are usually used as non-directional strategies (although butterflied can be used as a directional trade as well). Both trades are vega negative and gamma negative, but there are also few important differences between those two strategies.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 370 views
  • Leveraged Anchor: A Three Month Review

    Steady Options has now been tracking the Leveraged Anchor from the unlevered version for three months.  The results so far have substantially beat expectations, though there is a possibility for improvements discussed at the end of this piece. 

    By cwelsh,

    • 10 comments
    • 1,078 views
  • How a Fund is Developed

    Many individuals are curious as to the testing process for a new fund.  With the plethora of funds continually being developed, having some insight into this process can be helpful for investors.  At the very least, it can provide a series of questions which should be asked in conducting due diligence on fund managers.

    By cwelsh,

    • 0 comments
    • 297 views
  • Why Dow Points Are Meaningless

    A quick online search for “Dow rallies 500 points” yields a cascade of news stories with similar titles, as does a similar search for “Dow drops 500 points.” These types of headlines may make little sense to some investors, given that a “point” for the Dow and what it means to an individual’s portfolio may be unclear.

    By Kim,

    • 0 comments
    • 335 views

  Report Article

We want to hear from you!


There are no comments to display.



Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account. It's easy and free!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

Options Trading Blogs