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  1. Here is how their methodology works: In theory, if you knew exactly what price a stock would be immediately before earnings, you could purchase the corresponding straddle a number of days beforehand. To test this, we looked at the past 4 earnings cycles in 5 different stocks. We recorded the closing price of each stock immediately before the earnings announcement. We then went back 14 days and purchased the straddle using the strikes recorded on the close prior to earnings. We closed those positions immediately before earnings were to be reported. Study Parameters: TSLA, LNKD, NFLX, AAPL, GOOG Past 4 earnings cycles 14 days prior to earnings - purchased future ATM straddle Sold positions on the close before earnings The results: Future ATM straddle produced average ROC of -19%. As an example: In the previous cycle, TSLA was trading around $219 two weeks before earnings. The stock closed around $201 a day before earnings. According to tastytrade methodology, they would buy the 200 straddle 2 weeks before earnings. They claim that this is the best case scenario for buying pre-earnings straddles. My Rebuttal Wait a minute.. This is a straddle, not a calendar. For a calendar, the stock has to trade as close to the strike as possible to realize the maximum gain. For a straddle, it's exactly the opposite: When you buy a straddle, you want the stock to move away from your strike, not towards the strike. You LOSE the maximum amount of money if the stock moves to the strike. In case of TSLA, if you wanted to trade pre-earnings straddle 2 weeks before earnings when the stock was at $219, you would purchase the 220 straddle, not 200 straddle. If you do that, you start delta neutral and have some gamma gains when the stock moves to $200. But if you start with 200 straddle, your initial setup is delta positive, while you know that the stock will move against you. It still does not guarantee that the straddle will be profitable. You need to select the best timing (usually 5-7 days, not 14 days) and select the stocks carefully (some stocks are better candidates than others). But using tastytrade methodology would GUARANTEE that the strategy will lose money 90% of the time. It almost feels like they deliberately used those parameters to reach the conclusion they wanted. As a side note, the five stocks they selected for the study are among the worst possible candidates for this strategy. It almost feels like they selected the worst possible parameters in terms of strike, timing and stocks, in order to reach the conclusion they wanted to reach. At SteadyOptions, buying pre-earnings straddles is one of our key strategies. It works very well for us. Check out our performance page for full results. As you can see from our results, "Buying Premium Prior To Earnings" is still alive and kicking. Not exactly "Nail In The Coffin". Comment: the segment has been removed from tastytrade website, which shows that they realized how absurd it was. We linked to the YouTube video which is still there. Of course the devil is in the details. There are many moving parts to this strategy: When to enter? Which stocks to use? How to manage the position? When to take profits? And much more. But overall, this strategy has been working very well for us. If you want to learn more how to use it (and many other profitable strategies): Subscribe to SteadyOptions now and experience the full power of options trading at your fingertips. Click the button below to get started! Join SteadyOptions Now! Related Articles: How We Trade Straddle Option Strategy Can We Profit From Volatility Expansion into Earnings Long Straddle: A Guaranteed Win? Why We Sell Our Straddles Before Earnings Long Straddle: A Guaranteed Win? How We Made 23% On QIHU Straddle In 4 Hours
  2. Who Was Karen the Supertrader? Karen Bruton, known better as Karen the Supertrader, is a former hedge fund manager who became famous after multiple appearances on the Tastytrade live show. Bruton started as a novice retail trader who knew virtually nothing about trading and became a multimillionaire in a handful of years. Specifically, she turned $110,000 into $41 million between 2008 and 2011 using basic option selling strategies. Following her massive personal trading success, Karen started a hedge fund called Hope Advisors. Nowadays, Karen the Supertrader is infamous because she was barred from managing outside money by the SEC. According to the SEC’s complaint, Bruton was continually rolling losing positions forward to avoid realizing a loss and thus, in the eyes of the SEC, misleading investors. Because selling options results in immediate income, it’s been the weapon of choice for traders who are hiding large losses. Nick Leeson, a rogue trader who famously brought down Barings Bank, also hid his losses by selling naked options. What Was Karen the Supertrader’s Strategy? Karen the Supertrader’s trading strategy, sometimes referred to as the “KST method,” was based on the concept of theta decay. Her approach involved short selling options with the expectations that they would become worthless upon expiration. By focusing on options that were highly likely to expire out-of-the-money, Karen leveraged the gradual erosion of their time value to her advantage. Karen focused primarily on equity index options on the S&P 500, Nasdaq 100, and Russell 2000. Focusing on a small number of highly liquid symbols allowed her to form a consistent strategy. Her strategy involved selling options that were two standard deviations out-of-the-money with expiration dates ranging between 30 and 56 days to expiration. In other words, these options were roughly 95% likely to expire worthless. As far as systematically selling options goes, Karen’s strategy is par for the course. Most traders who use a similar strategy tend to sell deep out-of-the-money (OTM) options, as they will expire worthless most of the time. The strategy tends to rack up several consecutive winning trades that are relatively small in size with a rare losing trade that will be significantly larger. Karen the Supertrader Trading Rules Let’s take a more granular look at the specific trading rules that Karen the Supertrader has publicly reported using. Firstly, she preferred a short strangle trade structure. This gave her a market neutral market outlook, taking no position on which direction the market will move next. Her only goal with the trade was for the market to remain inside her chosen strikes until expiration or until she closed the trade. Here’s an example of what a short strangle looks like: When it comes to short strangle strike selection, Karen the Supertrader used Bollinger Bands to select her strikes. Bollinger Bands are a technical indicator that plots trading bands two standard deviations away from a moving average. See the chart below for an example: She primarily traded in expiration dates ranging from 25 days to 56 days at the latest. To round up all of these rules, let’s create a rough example of an SPX short strangle trade that Karen the Supertrader might take, based on the rules she’s reported publicly in her Tastytrade interviews: ● Trade type: short strangle ● Put strike: 3875 ● Call strike: 4230 ● Expiration date: June 23 (39 days to expiration) Karen would typically take profits on winning trades, and roll out losing trades to a later expiration. Today she manages 190 million dollars, after making nearly 105 million in profits. Before we start analyzing Karen the Supertrader's strategy, lets be clear: she did NOT make 105 million in profits as TastyTrade claims. That number includes money from new investors. This headline is misleading at best, deception at worst. How much did she really make? We don't really know, but lets try to "guess". With SPX currently at 2075, she would sell May 1825 puts and 2280 calls. This is how the P/L chart would look: So she would get around $700 credit on ~21k in margin. If she holds till expiration and both options expire worthless, the trade produces 3.5% gain in 59 days. That's 21% annualized gain on 50% capital, or ~11% gain on the whole account. This assumes that both options expire worthless and no adjustment is needed. This also assumes regular margin. With her capital, she obviously gets portfolio margin, so her margin requirements are significantly less. But if she wants to take advantage of portfolio margin, she has to sell more contracts, taking much more risk. For the sake of her investors, I hope she is using 50% of the regular margin, not portfolio margin. In any case, I have hard time to see how she can make more than 25-30%/year with this strategy. Don't get me wrong, this is an excellent return - however, by selling naked options, she also takes a LOT of risk. To make 25-30%/year with this strategy, she must use a lot of portfolio margin - which means a lot of leverage. Karen the Supertrader’s strategy is also short gamma and short vega, which means as the market moves against her, the positions become worse at a greater rate. If volatility spikes like it did in 2008, her account will be gone in matter of days. Here are some questions/comments taken from public discussions about Karen SuperTrader: I really have no idea how that is possible. In the TOS platform, if I sell a naked Put, the usual margin required is very large. We’re talking that my short Put usually would yield between 1.5% – 2.5% of the margin required. - I think there is more than a fair chance she may be a fraud and possibly even an invention of TastyTrade. Any manager worth her salt would be happy to provide audited returns, especially if only managing 150 million. She is probably generating around 30% a year while taking a lot of risk. I don’t know if that makes sense in the long run. Another thing that’s strange is the fact there’s not even one chart or table of her performance. I hear a lot of big numbers but just give the facts black on white. This strategy will only work for a period of time. When it stops, the results will be catastrophic. If she was that good as she claims she is, after 7 years of such spectacular returns she would have few billion under management, not 190 million. It’s Finance 101 isn’t it? The higher the return, the higher the risk you have to take. If she is generating 30% or greater per year, she is taking on a lot of risk. Hopefully her investors realize that. Here are some articles about Karen SuperTrader: So: IS Karen SuperTrader myth or reality? You decide. June 2016 update: Karen is now being investigated by the SEC for fraud. Don't say we didn't warn you. Read my latest article: Karen Supertrader: Too Good To Be True? Here are the links to the SEC claim and the verdict: I suspect that investors will not learn the lesson from this case. Humans desperately want to believe there is a way to make money with no or little risk. That’s why Bernie Madoff existed, and it will never change. TastyTrade removed all articles and videos related to Karen the Supertrader from their website and YouTube right after the SEC investigation started, but returned them few days afterwards. Karen the Supertrader: Where Is She In 2023? The SEC sued Karen the Supertrader’s hedge fund, Hope Advisors, leading to the hedge fund paying a hefty fine, disgorging of profits, and Karen Bruton’s ban from managing outside money. However, Karen still appears in interviews, like she did with Michael Sartain in 2022. She maintains that the SEC unfairly targeted her firm seeking an easy prosecution. Both Karen and Michael Sartain, the host of the podcast, claim that the SEC’s complaint took issue with the fact that Karen’s hedge fund rolled losing positions forward, a common practice among systematic premium sellers. Her point of view is that the SEC interpreted the fund rolling its losing positions forward as the act of a rogue trader, rather than the routine actions of an options trader who sells premium.
  3. There is a lot of buz lately related to tastytrade, Tom Sosnoff, Karen Supertrader etc. so I thought it would be appropriate to open a discussion topic where members can discuss tastytrade and exchange ideas and opinions. Here are some links to articles and posts about tastytrade. Karen Supertrader: Myth Or Reality? Karen Supertrader: Too Good To Be True? Karen The Supertrader Interviewed by tastytrade Why 'Karen the Supertrader's' Story Never Made Sense Tastytrade: A Shill with Skills Can We Profit From Volatility Expansion Into Earnings? Buying Premium Prior To Earnings - Does It Work? Another garbage study from Tasty Trade Reviews of at Investimonials While the shows can be entertaining, here is one opinion that summarizes what tastytrade do:
  4. Lately we experienced a 7% down move in the S&P 500. image source: TOS trading platform We have also seen an explosion in the VIX. image source: TOS trading platform All in all a pretty shitty situation if you have a delta neutral short premium portfolio. So let's have a look how a portfolio consisting of 30 delta short strangles and/or atm short straddles in IWM, FXE, TLT, GLD, XLE, which was started before this wild ride in the markets happened, would have performed. Set up As shown in my books, IWM, FXE, TLT, GLD, XLE are the most uncorrelated ETFs. With these underlyings you have exposure to the Russell 2000, the Euro Currency, Bonds, Gold and the Oil Sector. Rules $100k portfolio capital allocation based on the VIX (20-25% allocation in very low VIX environment, 40-50% in a high VIX environment) equal buying power in all underlyings never go above 3x leverage in notional value 30 delta short strangles or atm straddles about 45 DTE profit target = 16 delta strangle credit at trade entry close all positions at 21 DTE if profit target is not hit before if short strike in strangles gets hit, roll untested side into a short straddle (original profit target doesn't change) if break even in a short straddle gets hit, roll untested side to the new atm strike (going inverted) if IVR in IWM goes above 50% and/or VIX makes a big up move, add aggressive short delta strangle to balance deltas Portfolio Performance As a starting date I picked July 30th 2019, probably the worst day in this expiration cycle to start this kind of portfolio. Since the VIX and IVR was pretty low at this moment, I committed only a little bit above 25% of my net liq. IWM image source: TOS trading platform FXE image source: TOS trading platform TLT image source: TOS trading platform GLD image source: TOS trading platform XLE image source: TOS trading platform Portfolio So far in dollar terms a $1,571.50 loss or 1.571% loss on the whole portfolio. Not too bad considering the IV explosion and the big moves, especially in TLT. As you can see, even in a tough market with big outside the expected moves and IV explosion, short strangles/straddles are not a recipe for disaster. The key is to trade small when IV is low and mechanically adjust your positions/deltas. Of course the expiration cycle is not over yet and we can still have more big moves and much higher implied volatility in the coming days, but you should have seen now, when you have the right set of rules and religiously stick to these rules and when you trade small enough when IV is low, you are not going to blow up your portfolio. Stephan Haller is an author, teacher, options trader and public speaker with over 20 years of experience in the financial markets. Check out his trilogy on options trading here. This article is used here with permission and originally appeared here. Related articles Selling Naked Strangles: The Math Selling Short Strangles And Straddles - Does It Work? James Cordier: Another Options Selling Firm Goes Bust How Victor Niederhoffer Blew Up - Twice
  5. We already debunked some of those "studies" here and here. Today we will debunk another study, and will show how to do it properly. On July 7, 2015, tastytrade conducted a study using AAPL, GMCR, AMZN and TSLA. An ATM straddle was purchased 21 days prior to earnings and closed the day before earnings. A table showed the results. The win rate, total P/L, average P/L per day, biggest win and biggest loss were shown: Their conclusion: Wait... They concluded that buying volatility prior to earnings doesn't work based on 4 stocks? Why those 4 specific stocks? Why 21 days prior to earnings? Our members know that those 4 stocks are among the worst to use for this strategy. They also know that entering 21 days prior to earnings is usually way too early (there are some exceptions). Also, what is a significance of dollar P/L when comparing stocks like AMZN and AAPL? At current prices, AMZN straddle would cost around $8,500 while AAPL straddle around $1,200. Theoretically, if we had a 10% loss on AMZN (-$850) and 50% gain on AAPL ($600), the total P/L would be -$250. But the correct calculation would be total P/L of +40% because we need to give equal dollar weight to all trades. But lets see how changing just one parameter can change the results dramatically. We will be using AAPL as an example. First lets use the study parameter of 21 days. Tap Here to See the back-test Entering 21 days prior to earnings is indeed a losing proposition. But lets change it to 10 days and see what happens: Tap Here to See the back-test Can you see how changing one single parameter changes the results dramatically? I have a feeling that tastytrade knew that 21 days would be not the best time to enter - but using different parameters wouldn't fit their thesis. Now lets test the strategy on some of our favorite stocks. NKE, 14 days and 15% profit target: Tap Here to See the back-test MSFT, 7 days and 15% profit target: Tap Here to See the back-test CSCO, 21 days and 10% profit target: Tap Here to See the back-test IBM, 7 days and 15% profit target: Tap Here to See the back-test ORCL, 14 days and 20% profit target: Tap Here to See the back-test WMT, 7 days and 10% profit target: Tap Here to See the back-test As you can see, different stocks require different timing and different profit targets. Some work better entering 7 days prior to earnings, some might improve performance with an entry as early as 21 days prior to earnings. The bottom line is: you cannot just select random stocks, combine it with random timing and no trade management, and declare that the strategy doesn't work. But if you select the stocks carefully, combine it with the right timing and trade management, it works very well. Here are our results, based on live trades, not skewed "studies": Related Articles: How We Trade Straddle Option Strategy Buying Premium Prior to Earnings Can We Profit From Volatility Expansion into Earnings Long Straddle: A Guaranteed Win? Why We Sell Our Straddles Before Earnings Is 5% A Good Return For Options Trades?
  6. But with undefined risk strategies comes theoretical unlimited risk. Therefore it is crucial that you follow the rules I pointed out in my books and which are mentioned about almost every day on tastytrade Rules: do not use more than 40 - 50% of your available capital on your overall portfolio do not use more leverage than 3x notional of your net liq (if you have a $100k account, don't go over $300k notional) manage at 21 DTE to avoid gamma risk manage your strangles at 50% of max profit and your straddles at 25% of max profit. spread your risk among lots of uncorrelated underlyings commit capital based on IVR or the VIX (high VIX risk up to 50% on your overall portfolio, if VIX is low, risk less) Now let's have a look at what you can expect in profit if you sell different type of strangles/straddles: 16 Delta Short Strangles: tastytrade has shown in a study that you can expect to keep 25% of the daily theta if you sell 16 delta short strangles in SPY, IWM and TLT. Image source: tastytrade Let's have a look at how much contracts you could sell, until you exceed 50% of your capital in margin requirement and/or 3x notional leverage and how much money you would make in a full year. For the study I was using August 13th 2019 closing prices. Although the percentage of theta you can expect to keep is higher than 25% in SPY and IWM, I was using the 25% number, to be more conservative. SPY 16 Delta Strangles As you can see, if you just sell 16 delta short strangles in SPY, you can expect to make 9.11% in profit, if you go up to 3x notional leverage. IWM 16 Delta Short Strangles As you can see, if you just sell 16 delta short strangles in IWM, you can expect to make 10.93% in profit, if you commit 50% of your buying power. Now let's have a look at short straddles. tastytrade has shown in a study that you can expect to keep 40-50 % of the daily theta if you sell atm short straddles in SPY. Image source: tastytrade Let's have a look at how much contracts you could sell, until you exceed 50% of your capital in margin requirement and/or 3x notional leverage and how much money you would make in a full year. For the study I was using August 13th 2019 closing prices. For the daily theta you can expect to keep, I was using 45% as the tastytrade suggested. SPY Short Straddles As you can see, if you just sell atm short straddles in SPY, you can expect to make 18.13% in profit, if you commit 46.83% of your buying power. IWM Short Straddles As you can see, if you just sell atm short straddles in SPY, you can expect to make 25.25% in profit, if you commit 48.12% of your buying power. Since we want to diversify our portfolio, let's have a look at the 5 most uncorrelated underlyings, which I showed in my first book. For these examples I was using today's (August 14 2019) prices right at the open. GLD Short Straddles TLT Short Straddles FXE Short Straddles IWM Short Straddles XLE Short Straddles In the next article I will show you how to build a portfolio with these five underlyings and how to commit your capital based on the VIX, so that you don't get wiped out in a move we experience at the moment. Stephan Haller is an author, teacher, options trader and public speaker with over 20 years of experience in the financial markets. Check out his trilogy on options trading here. This article is used here with permission and originally appeared here.
  7. What lessons we can learn from this debacle? Were the Skeptics Right? "Self-taught options trader Karen Bruton (aka Karen the Supertrader) earned so much so quickly that some skeptics doubted her. In reality, the SEC says, she improperly concealed more than $50 million of losses." The new allegations paint a very un-uber portrait of Bruton, 66, a self-taught options trader who mesmerized fans and flummoxed skeptics with her life story of parlaying a $10,000 initial investment into a fortune and seemingly endless stream of profits. I'm still trying to understand the motives of tastytrade when they promoted her as making $105MM PROFIT, without properly discussing the risks. They also failed to mention that most of the growth in her fund came from new money and not actual profits. Was it extreme ignorance or some hidden agenda? You decide. As a reminder, Karen claimed to make 25-30% per year by selling naked options on indexes. The important point is this: As I mentioned in my article, there is only one way to make 25-30% per year with this strategy: leverage. Combine leverage with naked strangle strategy which is very risky to begin with is a certain path to financial disaster. Leverage Can Kill You! Our contributor Jesse wrote over a year ago: "All trading has risk. It's not the strategy that determines if something is's the position size (amount of leverage) and risk management that does (and then the discipline of the trader to follow the plan which often means taking a pre-defined loss before it gets out of control)." Is selling naked options risky? That's the wrong question - ask better questions, and you'll get better answers...Is selling excessively leveraged naked options that aren't cash secured risky? Yes, eventually. Short strangles on SPX and other index products are money making trades over the long term, you just have to use sensible position size and sensible exits. Just don't get greedy. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. "The point here is not to dismiss all volatility and option selling strategies as useless and blow up prone. The short volatility trade on equity indices is one of the best trades out there. It does very well long-term. " The point is to understand your risk. In fact, be obsessed with risk management if you want to survive as a trader for the long term. Well said Jesse. Also Hiding the Losses? To add insult to injury, Karen Bruton also started to hide the losses by rolling options positions, as explained here: "Between October and December of 2014, Karen took some heavy losses selling her options. But to keep the incentive fees coming in, she organized a sophisticated options roll at the end of each month. This allowed her to still “realize gains” of 1% every month to take fees from, while pushing unrealized losses out to the next month. Month after month the losses continued to snowball while she continued to collect her fees. Each month began with a huge realized loss. (The SEC reports that these losses now exceed $50 million dollars.) She offset these accrued losses by selling a ton of in-the-money call options on the S&P 500 E-mini futures due to expire at the end of the month. This injected fresh cash into the fund. Just enough so that she could report a small realized gain to investors. That way she could take fees that month too… But of course there’s no free lunch in trading. You don’t get gains out of nowhere. When these call options expired, yes she had her cash injection (from the option premium), but she was also left with a futures position (due to assignment) that carried a huge unrealized loss. Here’s where the loss rolling came in. She needed that futures position to stay open until the next month because if she closed it beforehand, that would realize a loss and cancel out the profits from the calls she sold. That means no incentive fees. So to cover this futures position, she would simultaneously purchasein-the-money call options expiring the following month on the same day she sold those original in-the-money call options. These calls allowed her to offset any gains or losses the futures incurred at the end of the month until the beginning of the next month. This all smells like a classic Ponzi scheme…Pay the old investors with money from the new ones." We are very familiar with those "rolling" techniques. Many options newsletters are using them to hide their losses. As we always said, rolling options position is simply hiding the loss. The Hope Investments fund has been created in March 2011, and October 2014 was only the second time since creation when S&P declined more than 10%. First time (August 2011) she probably hasn't been using as much leverage yet. If the fund experienced such significant losses after 10% market decline, imagine what would happen in 2008-like environment. SJ Options summed it up nicely: "It’s very important to alert the public of the true risks involved in short strangles because in the interviews the risk is not discussed as much as it should be. Because of the excessive media exposure, there are many of retail traders attempting to trade this uncovered options strategy that has nearly unlimited risk potential. The short strangle is not as easy as it appears to be. Margins change quickly and it’s vulnerable to quick losses and margin calls. Be very careful with this strategy. We conducted an 85 year backtest of the short strangle, 45 days to expiration, and it lost money overall." Tastytrade Response Tom Sosnoff was asked to respond to Karen Bruton story after the SEC complaint. You can watch his response here (18 minute mark). He continues to defend her, calls her "a very special person" and a victim of an evil government. Tom calls all the publications about Karen "crap". He claims that Karen was actually not paid enough in her fund. However, according to the SEC complaint, "Between November 2014 and March 2016, Hope collected over $6 million in incentive fees from the HI Fund. As of the same date, the HI Fund had unrealized losses of approximately $57 million." So she took $6M in illegal fees while the fund was down $57M, and Tom says that she was underpaid... Sosnoff also continues to claim that Karen "made ton of money" for her investors. He still sticks to his claim that she turned $100k into $105M between 2008 and 2011, "forgetting" to mention that most of those profits came from new investors money. God knows his true motives, but this article from 2014 gives some insights into the whole "tastytrade/dough/TD Ameritrade" scheme. Here are some articles about Karen SuperTrader: Karen SuperTrader: Myth Or Reality? Karen The Supertrader by Optionstradingiq A Glimpse of option strategies of Karen Karen The Supertrader Interviewed by tastytrade Karen the Supertrader's Winning Strategy Relied on Fraud, SEC Alleges Karen The Supertrader - SJ Options Tastytrade: A Shill with Skills The Spectacular Fall Of LJM Preservation And Growth
  8. Tom Sossnoff a business man in the trading space has now created his own brokerage firm. Ugh! He seems to make money in creating businesses with in the trading space as he has been on the wrong side of the market as a trader for the past 6 years. It seems he wants all commissions instead of a portion hence his relationship with TD Ameritrade. Thoughts?
  9. This is a critical issue that many traders don't fully understand. To understand the real risk this lady is taking, I would like you to take a look at Victor Niederhoffer. This guy had one of the best track records in the hedge fund industry, compounding 30% gains for 20 years. Yet, he blew up spectacularly in 1997 and 2007. Not once but twice. Are you Aware of Black Swan Risk? This is how Malcolm Gladwell describes what happened in 1997: "A year after Nassim Taleb came to visit him, Victor Niederhoffer blew up. He sold a very large number of options on the S. & P. index, taking millions of dollars from other traders in exchange for promising to buy a basket of stocks from them at current prices, if the market ever fell. It was an unhedged bet, or what was called on Wall Street a “naked put,” meaning that he bet everyone on one outcome: he bet in favor of the large probability of making a small amount of money, and against the small probability of losing a large amount of money-and he lost. On October 27, 1997, the market plummeted eight per cent, and all of the many, many people who had bought those options from Niederhoffer came calling all at once, demanding that he buy back their stocks at pre-crash prices. He ran through a hundred and thirty million dollars — his cash reserves, his savings, his other stocks — and when his broker came and asked for still more he didn’t have it. In a day, one of the most successful hedge funds in America was wiped out. Niederhoffer had to shut down his firm. He had to mortgage his house. He had to borrow money from his children. He had to call Sotheby’s and sell his prized silver collection. A month or so before he blew up, Taleb had dinner with Niederhoffer at a restaurant in Westport, and Niederhoffer told him that he had been selling naked puts. You can imagine the two of them across the table from each other, Niederhoffer explaining that his bet was an acceptable risk, that the odds of the market going down so heavily that he would be wiped out were minuscule, and Taleb listening and shaking his head, and thinking about black swans. “I was depressed when I left him,” Taleb said. “Here is a guy who, whatever he wants to do when he wakes up in the morning, he ends up better than anyone else. Whatever he wakes up in the morning and decides to do, he did better than anyone else. I was talking to my hero . . .” This was the reason Taleb didn’t want to be Niederhoffer when Niederhoffer was at his height — the reason he didn’t want the silver and the house and the tennis matches with George Soros. He could see all too clearly where it all might end up. In his mind’s eye, he could envision Niederhoffer borrowing money from his children, and selling off his silver, and talking in a hollow voice about letting down his friends, and Taleb did not know if he had the strength to live with that possibility. Unlike Niederhoffer, Taleb never thought he was invincible. You couldn’t if you had watched your homeland blow up, and had been the one person in a hundred thousand who gets throat cancer, and so for Taleb there was never any alternative to the painful process of insuring himself against catastrophe. Last fall, Niederhoffer sold a large number of options, betting that the markets would be quiet, and they were, until out of nowhere two planes crashed into the World Trade Center. “I was exposed. It was nip and tuck.” Niederhoffer shook his head, because there was no way to have anticipated September 11th. “That was a totally unexpected event.” Well, guess what - unexpected events happen. More often than you can imagine. The market bottomed right after Niederhoffer was margin called. By November, the market was back near highs. His 830 puts went on to expire worthless - meaning his trade, had he been able to hold on, turned out to be profitable. But his leverage forced his liquidation. He was oversized and couldn't ride the trade out. Niederhoffer had shorted so many puts that a run-of-the-mill two-day market selloff sent him out on a stretcher. If he had sized the trade correctly, he would have survived the ride and took home a small profit. But the guy was playing on tilt, got greedy, maybe a bit arrogant, and lost all of his client's money. Karen is managing over 300 million dollars now. Her annual returns are in a 25-30% range. Are those good returns, based on the risk she takes? Not in my opinion. I believe that betting 300 million dollars on naked options is a disaster waiting to happen. I'm sure that most of her investors are not aware of the huge risks she is taking. Niederhoffer's story should be a good lesson, but for most people, it isn't. Unfortunately, people desperately want to believe there is a way to make money with no or little risk. Personally, I have hard time to understand why Sosnoff is promoting those strategies. But this is a different story. As a side note, this article is not an attempt to bash tastytrade. It is an attempt to show a different side of the coin and point out some historical cases. If we don't learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. tastytrade advocates selling premium based on "high IV percentile". They ignore the fact that IV is usually high for a reason. Personally, I consider selling naked options before earnings on a high flying stocks like NFLX, AMZN, ULTA, TSLA etc. as a very high risk trading. tastytrade followers consider those trades safe and conservative. Matter of point of view I guess. Some tastytrade followers argued that PUT Write index performed better than SPX. And it is true. But those are completely different strategies. The original purpose of PUT Write index (or any naked put strategy) is to buy stock at a discount and reduce risk. As long as you sell the same number of contracts as the number of shares you are willing to own, you should be fine, and in many cases to outperform the underlying stock or index. The problem with Karen Supertrader and Niederhoffer was that they used too much leverage. They sold those naked options just to collect premium. Same is true when you sell strangles before earnings. Related articles: Karen SuperTrader: Myth Or Reality? Karen Supertrader: Too Good To Be True? Do You Still Believe in Fairy Tales? Selling Naked Put Options The Spectacular Fall Of LJM Preservation And Growth James Cordier: Another Options Selling Firm Goes Bust June 2016 update: Turns out Karen is under investigation by the SEC. Read the details here and here.
  10. The study was done today - here is the link. The parameters of the study: Use AAPL and GMCR as underlying. Buy a ATM straddle option 20 days before earnings. Sell it just before the announcement. The results of the study, based on 48 cycles (2009-2014) AAPL P/L: -$2933 GMCR P/L: -$2070 Based on those results, they declared (once again) that buying a straddle before earnings is a losing strategy. What's wrong with this study? Dismissing the whole strategy based on two stocks is completely wrong. You could say that this strategy does not work for those two stocks. This would be a correct statement. Indeed, we do not use those two stocks for our straddles strategy. From our experience, entering 20 days before earnings is usually not the best time. On average, the ideal time to enter is around 5-10 days before earnings. This when the stocks experience the largest IV spike. But it is also different from stock to stock. The study does not account for gamma scalping. Which means that if the stock moves, you can adjust the strikes of the straddle or buy/sell stock against it. Many times the stock would move back and forward from the strike, allowing you to adjust several times. In addition, the study is probably based on end of day prices, and from our experience, the end of day price on the last day is usually near the day lows, and you have a chance to sell at higher prices earlier. The study completely ignores the straddle prices. We always look at prices before entering and compare them to previous cycles. Entering the right stocks at the right time at the right prices is what gives this strategy an edge. Not selecting random stocks, random timing and ignoring the prices. As a side note, presenting the results as dollar P/L on one contract trade is meaningless. GMCR is trading around $150 today, and pre-earnings straddle options cost is around $1,500. In 2009, the stock was around $30, and pre-earnings straddle cost was around $500. Would you agree that 10% gain (or loss) on $1,500 trade is different than 10% gain (or loss) on $500 trade? The only thing that matters is percentage P/L, not dollar P/L. Presenting dollar P/L could potentially severely skew the study. For example, what if most of the winners were when the stock was at $30-50 but most of the losers when the stock was around $100-150? Tom Sosnoff and Tony Battista conclude the "study" by saying that "if anybody tells you that you should be buying volatility into earnings, they really haven't done their homework. It really doesn't work". At SteadyOptions, buying pre-earnings straddle options is one of our key strategies. Check out our performance page for full results. As you can see from our results, the strategy works very well for us. We don't do studies, we do live trading, and our results are based on hundreds real trades. Of course the devil is in the details. There are many moving parts to this strategy: When to enter? Which stocks to use? How to manage the position? When to take profits? And much more. So we will let tastytrade to do their "studies", and we will continue trading the strategy and make money from it. After all, as one of our members said, someone has to be on the other side of our trades. Actually, I would like to thank tastytrade for continuing providing us fresh supply of sellers for our strategy! If you want to learn more how to use it (and many other profitable strategies): Start Your Free Trial Related Articles: How We Trade Straddle Option Strategy Long Straddle: A Guaranteed Win? Why We Sell Our Straddles Before Earnings Long Straddle: A Guaranteed Win? How We Made 23% On QIHU Straddle In 4 Hours
  11. Dear community! I would like to get an opinion about the following video. I posted the link below. After making some research, I made the following assumptions and conclusions. - Options are probability-based financial instruments. The premium paid for buying a straddle is supposed to include all risks related to the potential change of IV, theta, gamma. - The chances of gain are 50/50 similarly to any short time predictions of the market price. Besides, you lose the spread and pay commissions. - Options pricing already includes any potential increase in IV and time decay is more likely to kill the potential trade. - As the markets are very efficient, Options pricing already includes information about historical volatility. Even if we find stocks with high historical volatility during previous earnings, the greeks are always balanced between each other to make your chances of win to 50/50 minus spreads & commissions. So, what you think? As options are
  12. I thought you might find this interesting. TastyTrade previously did not like Calendars and swayed viewers against it, as seen in their older videos. At the beginning he states how very much against it he is (you can skip the rest past the first minute): In this video he spends the whole video attacking Calendars in general: But, their newer video is showing they are surprised how Calendars work as of Feb 2014: In this last video they claim Calendars 1 Strike OTM had a crazy high success rate of 68.97%. Whereas before they say they studied and said it was never worth it. Do you have any thoughts on this, especially the last video, where he shows the backtesting stats making Calendars look amazing, but only for 1 Strike OTM, at minute 2: Given their service is about Options, I'm surprised that they are surprised and previously hated Calendars, and I'm surprised by the results myself.
  13. It's amazing the flawed studies these guys assemble and promote. Every one seems to have a severe deficiency or two and is misleading in some way. Here is another one regarding the profitability of selling weekly credit spreads in SPX that was scrutinized very well by another options site: I've learned to take everything they say with a rather large grain of salt and use it to learn to think for yourself.
  14. In one of my previous articles, I described a hedge fund manager called Karen the "SuperTrader". She was featured few times by tastytrade as "one of the most successful and fascinating traders". Tom Sosnoff admitted that he "admires" her. What Sosnoff fails to mention time after time is the amount of risk Karen is taking, compared to her returns. This is a critical issue that many traders don't fully understand. To understand the real risk this lady is taking, I would like you to take a look at Victor Niederhoffer. This guy had one of the best track records in the hedge fund industry, compounding 30% gains for 20 years. Yet, he blew up spectacularly in 1997 and 2007. Not once but twice. Click here to view the article
  15. In one of my previous articles I described a study done by tastytrade, claiming that buying premium before earnings does not work. The title of the study was "We Put The Nail In The Coffin On "Buying Premium Prior To Earnings". ​I demonstrated that their study was highly flawed, for several reasons (strikes selection, stocks selection, timing etc.) It seems that they did now another study, claiming to get similar results. Click here to view the article