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cwerdna

Trading and getting fills with Interactive Brokers

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I figured I'd start a general topic on IB since this isn't about commissions.

I found a quirk w/IB that I'd not seen w/TOS. I bought a FDX call (not a trade discussed here) and had an open sell order on it. With the sell order open, I tried to buy another FDX call and IB won't let me. It says "Order Reject: This account cannot have open orders on both sides of the same US Options contract in any related accounts."

If I try to override and transmit, it rejects it for the same reason. Known issue? Any workaround or just something I have to live with?

I can do the same thing on TOS (and am doing it now). it doesn't care. It lets me do that.

I'd rather not cancel the open sell order on FDX as I'd get hit w/a cancel/modify fee on IB, which is something unheard of on TOS (and most brokerages that I'm aware of).

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Even if you did answer, I doubt you would get an intelligent answer..

Some things at IB you just need to accept, not much to do about it.

:D have to admit, past experience with their customer service was part of the reason why I didn't bother asking (besides it not really being a prob for me)

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I am in the process of switching to IB. One thing I am wondering from all those that use IB, is does the mobile app allow you to trade Iron Condors? With my current broker I can trade anything with 2 legs on the mobile app. But, when it comes to 4 legged trades, forget it! What is your experience with IB's mobile app?

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I am in the process of switching to IB. One thing I am wondering from all those that use IB, is does the mobile app allow you to trade Iron Condors? With my current broker I can trade anything with 2 legs on the mobile app. But, when it comes to 4 legged trades, forget it! What is your experience with IB's mobile app?

yes you can trade condors or other 4 legged (possible more legs, never tried) strategies on your mobile app (I use Iphone and Ipad apps)

m.

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Ok, let's talk about IB best practices.

Where do you usually add options combos? I usually use the right click in portfolio -> generic combo -> strategy/pair or leg by leg.

Option prices? Option Chain window. Combo prices? In the portfolio/quote monitor (I add more pages). TWS does seem to lose combo prices (but keeps the legs) if I restart TWS, anyone know a way around this?

I tend to bring up the "Risk Monitor" to look at greeks for options I've bought.

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FWIW, there's a number of third party platforms that work with IB -- e.g, ninjatrader, esignal, multicharts, etc.

I haven't used any myself, as I don't think any of them work on a Mac, so I'm stuck with TWS. Still love IB due to the cost/executions though!

Edited by smt1

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I've used all three and a few others... If you are mainly a stock trader, I think all or fine. If you are looking for the most versatile I would say NinjaTrader followed by Multicharts...Multicharts is more powerful especially if you do a lot of backtesting/strategies. Esignal has the best charts IMHO and a pretty good datafeed. TWS for trading options just sucks... especially if you trade a lot of spreads. When it comes to managing/modifying/closing spreads, most of the time you have to do it leg-by-leg or buy/sell to close... TOS is by far the best platform of trading options... I've tried most of them, if not all. Tradestation is decent, and is improving, it's scanners or top notch. And I am currently leasing the platform. However TOS's option analytic tools and entry system has no competition.

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I'm probably going to write some tools for IB to help some alleviate some of the more tedious things, as they have an excellent API. I'll probably start out initially with something that just dumps prices for combos (calculating them from the legs -- tws seems to lose the combo info for me), and sending alerts/emails/whatever. Maybe a IV-tracker --- that's actually similar to one of their API example apps. If anyone has any ideas, let me know, I'll share anything I make here.

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I'm probably going to write some tools for IB to help some alleviate some of the more tedious things, as they have an excellent API. I'll probably start out initially with something that just dumps prices for combos (calculating them from the legs -- tws seems to lose the combo info for me), and sending alerts/emails/whatever. Maybe a IV-tracker --- that's actually similar to one of their API example apps. If anyone has any ideas, let me know, I'll share anything I make here.

Never looked into their API as I'm not technical enough to use it I think. But maybe it's easier than I think? Where are their example apps? Interested to see what you build if you are happy to share it. Also do they charge you to use the API?

Thanks,

M.

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Never looked into their API as I'm not technical enough to use it I think. But maybe it's easier than I think? Where are their example apps? Interested to see what you build if you are happy to share it. Also do they charge you to use the API?

Thanks,

M.

See http://www.interactivebrokers.com/en/p.php?f=connAltern&p=i&ib_entity=llc

It's free.

Example I was talking about is here, starting page 102: http://www.interactivebrokers.com/download/JavaAPIGettingStarted.pdf

I've used the API in the past to pull equity info into R to play around with quantmod.

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Ok, on Wednesday, on IB I placed an order for the RUT September 2012 IC (http://steadyoptions...12-iron-condor/). I placed it w/a limit "buy" price of $4.75 and it looks like it got filled at $4.49 and thus received a lot less credit than I should have. When I go to Trade Log and I see a price of -4.49 and if I add/subtract the option prices for each leg, it comes out to -4.49. I've attached that as ib-tradelog.png.

I looked at Account > Audit Trail (expanded) and can definitely see an Execution report w/a LmtPrice of $4.75 and a LastPx of -4.49.

Am I placing my orders wrong?

I go into OptionTrader, type RUT, click on Options Spreads, select Iron Condor but the only way I can match the IC structure that Kim has in his post is to select Buy Combo (even though this would be a net credit transaction). I've attached what this looks like as ib1.png

If I use Sell Combo (makes sense to me, since it's a net credit transaction), once I select sell 710 put, there's no way I can select the 700 put to buy. I've attached that as ib2-stuck.png.

Should I be putting a negative value in the LimitPx (e.g. -4.75) in the trading area (circled in red)? Or, should I be manually entering the spreads and not using their predefined strategies? Or, am I misunderstanding/misreading something and making a dumb mistake?

Do you think I should place an opposite order to close out the trade for say ~$4.49 or so and try to enter again w/~$4.75 credit?

Side note: My commission here was $1.24/contract, a whopping penny savings over my TOS rate. :(

I'm definitely not used to IB's UI. In TOS, I pretty darn hard to get the (+/-) sign wrong in their entry tool. It specifically says credit or debit and changes color (pink/green). Also, there's that price slider at the bottom which I use a lot. I can properly select all the strikes and when I do a limit order that's a credit transaction, I know it'll do the right thing.

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Edited by cwerdna

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buy or sell can be a bit confusing at times with them. I'm with you that if you are long the body and sell the wings (what we call a reverse Iron CondorRIC here) that's a BUY and selling the body buying the wings (what we call a Iron Condor (IC) here) that should be a SELL. However on IB it depends on how you put it in.

If you hover over the strategy in the quote panel it will tell you what a buy or sell will do (screen shot 1)

it looks like in your case it was a negative premium (your screen shot miss bid/offer so I cant see it) so I think you should have put in a buy at -4.75 (negative number). By putting in a positive number you may have hit the 'bid' (-4.49).

I prefer to put in the legs in the option trader 'combo' screen as in screen shot 2. This way I have a positive premium. Selling it means I'm short a condor (IC, the trade we usually do here with RUT) buying it means I'm long a condor (RIC, what we usually do here before or thru earnings)

post-69-0-26100300-1343307400_thumb.png

post-69-0-04246800-1343307428_thumb.png

Edited by Marco

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You should check out the Hoadley Excel add-in. If you combine that with the Interactive Brokers DDE interface for Excel for quotes and order entry, you can have yourself a really nice system. To make good option analytic tools, it would take at least a year of serious coding. I think the Hoadley add-in is a good compromise. If you take a good 2-3 weeks, you can have a combined analytics, quoting, and order entry system. You can check out the Hoadley addin at http://www.hoadley.net/options/optionstools.htm

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On IB (using TWS), how the heck do you quickly put in a limit order to close a spread, e.g. the the IC on RUT that I have? I can't seem to multi-select legs by holding down the Shift key and clicking the legs on OptionTrader > Portfolio.

If I right click Trade > Close All Positions it gives me a warning "Are you sure you want to close all positions? Note: orders will be transmitted instantaneously. Yes/No" It sounds like that will just close them out via a market order.

I couldn't find a quick way like I can on TOS. Am I missing something obvious?

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You should create a separate page with the combo positions that you have. I open and close positions from that page.

Do I have to manually put in the legs one-by-one or should I click Options Spreads, select Iron Condor and reverse the buy/sell (selecting the appropriate expiry and strikes) or something else? I just can't find a way to multi-select the legs of the existing position.

I feel like I'm missing something obvious.

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There are few way to do it. I go to options combos, then choose the Iron Condor predefined strategy. Then for IC you buy it (for credit, trying to get a negative number as large as possible) and for RIC you sell it (trying to pay negative number as small as possible).

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There are few way to do it. I go to options combos, then choose the Iron Condor predefined strategy. Then for IC you buy it (for credit, trying to get a negative number as large as possible) and for RIC you sell it (trying to pay negative number as small as possible).

Is this under OptionTrader > Option Spreads button? If I do that, and select Strategy > Iron Condor > Buy Combo/Sell Combo, it seems if I have manually re-select expiry and strikes. I'm looking for something that lets me select what I've got and in one fell swoop lets me create a limit to close the spread.

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yes you can trade condors or other 4 legged (possible more legs, never tried) strategies on your mobile app (I use Iphone and Ipad apps)

m.

This actually confused me. You can not trade option spreads from the Android app! Big downer!

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I think if you combined IB's execution speed and low commissions (on most orders) and the TOS platform, you would have the best broker for trading options....

Add TOS customer service to the mix.. better be young and healthy than old and ill.

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No, on the new page you created, you type the symbol, then right click on it and choose options combo (smart).

Are you talking about clicking on the + in TWS, then typing in a name, then Order Ref. OptTrader? Then, from there, put in underlying symbol on the left side and select Strategy > Combinations > Options Smart and then build it there?

It looks like if I build a spread there, TWS actually remembers the combos instead of forgetting them after you exit the app. Yay!

Is there any way to consolidate 4 existing legs on my Portfolio page into an IC that I can buy easily back to close? I created it originally in OptionTrader and transmitted from there. See attached for what I've got now. I tried copying and pasting into a new page but found no menu or context menu (right click) to consolidate or anything.

Maybe I should try sending a tech support request to IB? :ph34r:

Should I not bother using OptionTrader for spreads?

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Edited by cwerdna

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buy or sell can be a bit confusing at times with them. I'm with you that if you are long the body and sell the wings (what we call a reverse Iron CondorRIC here) that's a BUY and selling the body buying the wings (what we call a Iron Condor (IC) here) that should be a SELL. However on IB it depends on how you put it in.

If you hover over the strategy in the quote panel it will tell you what a buy or sell will do (screen shot 1)

it looks like in your case it was a negative premium (your screen shot miss bid/offer so I cant see it) so I think you should have put in a buy at -4.75 (negative number). By putting in a positive number you may have hit the 'bid' (-4.49).

I prefer to put in the legs in the option trader 'combo' screen as in screen shot 2. This way I have a positive premium. Selling it means I'm short a condor (IC, the trade we usually do here with RUT) buying it means I'm long a condor (RIC, what we usually do here before or thru earnings)

post-69-0-26100300-1343307400_thumb.png

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I think your guess as to what happened in my case is right. :/

Yeah, I knew about the hovering/tool tip. It still doesn't make the (+/-) sign and buy/sell terminology much less confusing.

Thanks for the tip about about the combo tab. I'll have to play with it more and see if it resolves my sign confusion. It's not convenient as the Options Spreads > Strategy Tab, but it's better than Options Spreads > Pair or Leg-by-Leg. It looks like I can drag and drop the combos created from OptionTrader pages in TWS.

Last question (for now), is there something similar to TOS' order confirmation page that shows the max profit, max loss and lets you enter order notes? See attached. Is there any way annotate orders with notes later?

post-249-0-55428000-1343361932_thumb.png

Edited by cwerdna

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I'm probably going to write some tools for IB to help some alleviate some of the more tedious things, as they have an excellent API. I'll probably start out initially with something that just dumps prices for combos (calculating them from the legs -- tws seems to lose the combo info for me), and sending alerts/emails/whatever. Maybe a IV-tracker --- that's actually similar to one of their API example apps. If anyone has any ideas, let me know, I'll share anything I make here.

For a number of years I've programmed with IB's API using C++ and Visual Basic. If you have the technical background, it's pretty easy. IB provides a lot of examples which you can easily modify to suit your purposes. However, I would urge you to think very carefully before writing any code that handles order execution. For example, when using TWS to submit an order, the order goes to IB's servers. At that point, IB is responsible for executing your order, including limit orders and stop-loss orders. If IB screws up, it's their fault and you have recourse. But, in contrast, if you write your own code to handle these sorts of things, especially stop-loss orders, these types of orders are handled entirely on your computer using your own programming logic with the IB API. A stop-loss order, for instance, is handled by your writing code that submits the stop-loss order when your code finds that the price has moved past a particular value. What happens if you're away from your computer and Windows freezes? Or your app has a bug in it and doesn't submit the stop order? Or your Internet connection goes does? You're quite screwed! And you'll have no one to complain to about it either. I routinely use IB's API for downloading historical data. But I would never use it for anything having to do with order execution. Too much can go severely wrong!

Edited by RobertB

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buy or sell can be a bit confusing at times with them. I'm with you that if you are long the body and sell the wings (what we call a reverse Iron CondorRIC here) that's a BUY and selling the body buying the wings (what we call a Iron Condor (IC) here) that should be a SELL. However on IB it depends on how you put it in.

If you hover over the strategy in the quote panel it will tell you what a buy or sell will do (screen shot 1)

So, you ran into the infamous IB negative prices. These confused me to no end when I first encountered them. And when I called IB to ask about them, I was subjected to ten minutes of classic IB Support gobbly-gook. The guy on the line had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. His explanations were beyond anyone's ability to comprehend. He babbled on about my RIC's being somehow an impure iron condor that he'd never seen before. That I was supposed to be selling the inner strikes. That the negative prices were warnings of some sort. The only real warning given by those negative prices is that many areas of IB's software interface suck.

When I open a position for a credit, I think of it as "selling." When I open a position for a debit, I think of it as "buying." The following is going to sound confusing, but here goes. I believe this is how IB's software works: If you are buying for a debit, IB uses positive price values. If you are selling for a credit (both opening and closing a position), IB still uses positive prices. However, if you are buying for a credit (such as for opening an IC on IB, (which IB considers a buy even though it's a credit trade), IB still uses positive price values, but turns around and uses negative price values when selling for a debit (which is what it considers a RIC when you open a position). I know that sounds confusing, and it is. This is all because (apparently) IB considers opening an iron condor, which is a credit trade, as a "buy."

This is a classic example of poor software design. Their software design requires users to deal with issues that the software itself should deal with on its own. This is similar to when you are purchasing something online. How many times have you filled out a form that asks you to remove the spaces when entering your credit card number? Why doesn't the software itself handle such a trivial task? Poor software design is very common.

Edited by RobertB

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So, you ran into the infamous IB negative prices.

...

When I open a position for a credit, I think of it as "selling." When I open a position for a debit, I think of it as "buying."

Yep. :/ I agree completely w/your definitions. That's too bad to hear yet another instance of their customer service being bad. I'll have to re-read your interpretation of how IB works.

I was playing around in one part of the IB software and I believe I clicked Reverse Positions (something like that) that should the buy/sell state of each of the legs and I think I saw a negative price and a debit indicator. I agree, it seems like bad software design.

I'm not sure if I need to be as careful when closing profitable positions but I think I need to be super careful when placing any credit orders on IB, or not place them at all. Seems like IB needs to dump the minus signs and be more clear about debit vs. credit transactions. Providing a price slider like TOS does would help to avoid confusion.

So far, I feel like I haven't been off to to a good start w/IB. Some of the screwy UI or things I miss from TOS might end up not being worth the commission savings vs. TOS. Making costly mistakes doesn't help.

edit: While digging around, I think I found a semi-decent explanation of the positive/negative prices at http://www.interacti...ation_order.htm.

Note on Pricing: If you buy a spread and you owe cash (debit spread), enter a positive limit price. If you buy a spread and you receive cash (a credit spread), you must enter a negative limit price. Conversely, if you sell a spread and receive cash, enter a positive limit price. If you sell a spread and owe cash, you must enter a negative limit price.

For example, an April 20 xyz call shows a BID price of 6.60 and an ASK price of 6.70. An April 30 xyz call shows a BID price of 0.15 and an ASK price of 0.20.

If you buy a "debit" call vertical spread with the following legs:

Buy 1 OPT APR02 20.0 CALL (6.70)

Sell 1 OPT APR02 30.0 CAL L (0.15)

For this transaction you pay: 6.55 (a debit transaction)

If you buy a "credit" call vertical spread with the following legs:

Sell 1 OPT APR02 20.0 CALL (6.60)

Buy 1 OPT APR02 30.0 CALL (0.20)

For this transaction you receive 6.40 (a credit transaction; enter a negative limit price).

Ugh! Why?!?! It's unnecessarily confusing. I'm going to need to put a printout of this in front of me.

By infamous, I'm guessing many others have hit this and hit it for some time? I stumbled across some Australians at http://www.aussiesto...?t=12598&page=2 who also are confused by the +/- signs, from 2009. I'm guessing it's been this way for a long time (or since the beginning?) and IB has no interest in fixing it. Maybe they profit from erroneously placed trades?

Edited by cwerdna

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For closing out orders in IB the best way I found was to go into Option Trader, then go to the combo tab...click on clear chains, then click on load my chains. TWS will then load only the chains that you have positions in. You're basically doing a buy/sell to close from there on (the opposite of what you did to open the position). I would recommend setting up your profit targets and putting in a limit order before hand (best down immediately after placing your order to open). You can always go to the orders tab, and easily modify and update the order from there, to reflect updated market conditions. You don't want to be doing this from scratch in a fast moving market.

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Last question (for now), is there something similar to TOS' order confirmation page that shows the max profit, max loss and lets you enter order notes? See attached. Is there any way annotate orders with notes later?

nothing like that to my knowledge, the closest to that is the order confirmation window that comes up after you transmit and order and shows you the change in margin. But nothing near to that TOS function I think.

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Are any of you using NinjaTrader or other front ends with IB's TWS? My account won't be active until next week but I've been reading good things about NinjaTrader and if TWS is this arcane I thought it might be worth a look.

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Actually IB terminology is pretty much in line with the common terminology - http://en.wikipedia....iki/Iron_condor:

"To buy or "go Long" an iron condor, the trader will buy (long) options contracts for the outer strikes using an out-of-the-moneyput and out-of-the-money call. The trader will also sell or write (short) the options contracts for the inner strikes, again using an out-of-the-money put and out-of-the-money call."

"To sell or "go short" an iron condor, the trader will buy (long) options contracts for the inner strikes using an out-of-the-money put and out-of-the-money call options. The trader will then also sell or write (short) the options contracts for the outer strikes."

Short iron Condor is what we call reverse iron condor.

So when you buy the IC (what we do with RUT), we get a credit, so we buy a negative number of IB combo, we want to get as close to the big as possible. Looking at our RUT IC for example I can see bid/ask -4.70/-4.60. So you click on ask, it will open a window with -4.60, you change it to reflect a large credit.

To sell the IC (what we call RIC), you simply click on sell. So when you sell a negative number, you actually pay debit, so you want to pay a negative number which is as small as possible (close to the ask). For our LNKD trade for example, IB shows now bid/ask -4.50/-4.50. To buy the RIC, you click on the bid (which is selling the IC) and change it as close to the ask as possible.

After couple of trades you just get used to it. When the order confirmation window opens, just make sure that you are doing what you intended to do.

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Although I have almost made the mistake of entering order that were the opposite of what I wanted, due to IBs funky platform, I never actually did . . .until the September RUT IC trade. I was real happy with my 4.75 entry and didn't even notice the mistake for a couple of days, as it started going down when I thought it should be going up. Looked more closely and, viola, I was in a RIC instead. I haven't learned all the most efficient ways to trade in TWS yet, just enough to git 'er done. Something else to put on the "to learn" list. (I wasn't sure what to expect long term in the RIC, so I exited for 1.8% gain in 3 days. Recovering from a stupid mistake with a gain, any gain, is a good day.)

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Actually IB terminology is pretty much in line with the common terminology - http://en.wikipedia....iki/Iron_condor:

"To buy or "go Long" an iron condor, the trader will buy (long) options contracts for the outer strikes using an out-of-the-moneyput and out-of-the-money call. The trader will also sell or write (short) the options contracts for the inner strikes, again using an out-of-the-money put and out-of-the-money call."

"To sell or "go short" an iron condor, the trader will buy (long) options contracts for the inner strikes using an out-of-the-money put and out-of-the-money call options. The trader will then also sell or write (short) the options contracts for the outer strikes."

What Kim says is quite true. You do get used to the negative numbers after a while. But even to this day when I trade using negative prices on IB, I'm forced to add what should be unnecessary "brain cycles" to the trade to make sure I get it right. Just remember that when you see negative values, the current market for a buy is at the (negative) bid; the current market for a sell is at the (negative) ask. As I said earlier, it is a very poor design to make users have to think about this.

TOS doesn't use negative prices. Instead, they go the more natural way, dispensing with formal definitions in order to have a more clean user interface. For instance, TOS debit trades are always a buy; credit trades are always a sell. Thus, on TOS when opening a trade, you'd buy a RIC and sell an IC (the opposite of the way you'd make the same trade on IB).

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Guest DShaver

Wow, After reading all this here about IB's interface and customer service, I think I'm going to stay with TOS. I was considering moving to IB because I understand that the coms are cheaper, but I think I'll be willing to deal with slightly higher commission rates for a better/easier platform.

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DShaver, I wouldn't be afraid to use IB. You just have to get used to its vagaries. They do provide a sandbox account for safely learning TWS's features. And it's worth learning because of IB's superior commissions and ability to fill trades. Once you learn IB's quirks, you as a trader should benefit from the rest.

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for those using TWS are you using the Mosaic view or the Advanced Order Management? I opened an IB account a couple weeks ago and am working on learning it. Which of these is best to learn in the long run?

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Wow, After reading all this here about IB's interface and customer service, I think I'm going to stay with TOS. I was considering moving to IB because I understand that the coms are cheaper, but I think I'll be willing to deal with slightly higher commission rates for a better/easier platform.

It really depends how much are you paying at TOS. As I understand, unlike IB, TOS does negotiate commissions. SO if you get around 1.00-1.20 per contract (all inclusive), it is probably not worth to move.

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@RobertB, I know what you mean. However, for options trading, the TOS platform is much more efficient, especially for spreads. I would have to equate efficiency with money here. The commissions for IB are lower, however, you have to pay for the datafeed and all exchange fees are passed through (on a per-trade basis). So it's hard to predict how much a particular trade will cost in commissions. TOS, if you are an active trader, allows you to negotiate the commissions. Depending on how much volume you put out, it can be halved. One of the reasons why TOS is more expensive is because the dafafeed costs have to be distributed to everyone. To get a similar feed with IB I am paying around $400-500 a month. If you're a newbie - intermediate trader, paying that much might not seem reasonable.

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dwilliams, you posted instructions earlier today about how to close a combo in Option Trader. I followed your instructions and have a question to add. If I am wanting to close a position, I cleared chains, then loaded my chain, then clicked on the Bid to sell the Call and Bid to sell the Put. My question is, after doing this, when I look in the pending orders, it shows in blue as "BUY" even though I am wanting to sell to close the position. Am I doing something wrong, or is that how it is suppose to work?

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@Xfanman, I've heard of people using the Tradestation platform to route orders to IB, using the Ninja Trader platform as an intermediary. But that could just be making things unnecessarily complex.

Thanks, I agree it's probably not worth the effort. I could become an expert in TWS while I try to figure out how to work around their system :blink:

Thanks for the info though.....Scott

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