When selling options, often I get a question or inquiry from members of our community with regard to how far out of the money we should sell our options and set our positions. Now, I typically target around the 70% probability of success area for my short option selling trades, but others have often wondered that if given the choice why we don’t just sell options at the 90% probability of success level? I mean if 70% is good, 90% has to be better right?
Well, it’s clearly not that easy. As you go further and further out of the money selling options, the premiums you receive erode quickly. This begs the question, are you selling options too cheap or do you actually need to take more risk and come a little close in when selling? In today’s show we’ll dive deep into this question and present two different case studies which might help shed light on the topic.
Key Points from Today’s Show:
- What is the optimal level at which you should be selling options?
- There is no one right answer, because the optimal range varies with each trade.
- However, there is a distinction between trading at a 70% and 90% success level.
- When selling at the 90% success level, you are simple not collecting enough premium to make it worth it.
- If you factor in commissions and trading costs, the 90% level does not generate a lot of return.
- You have to determine what is more important to you: win rate, or return?
SPY September Call Option: A Case Study
- 40 Deltas are trading for $235, slightly out of the money.
- 30 Deltas are trading for $140, 10% more out of the money and a 40% drop in premium.
- 20 Deltas are trading for $75, a 46% reduction in premium.
- 10 Deltas are trading for $26, which is a 65% reduction in the premium.
- As you move further out of the money, option values and premiums decrease at a more significant rate.
- Continuing to go further out of the money, you increase your probability of success but sacrifice the premium you collect.
- It is important to understand the trade off: premium versus level of success.
- The key is finding the optimum level of risk and reward where you capture enough premium, but are just far enough out to obtain a significant win rate.
- A comfortable level (confirmed by backtesting) is the 70% success level.
Back Testing Case Study: Short Strangles, 60 Days to Expiration.
- Low volatility, 60 days until expiration, short strangle.
- The best Delta in most cases is around a 20 Delta on each side.
- Overall, you want to choose a strategy that has the mechanics of a stable portfolio.
Free Options Trading Courses:
- Options Basics [20 Videos]: Whether you’re a completely new trader or an experienced trader, you’ll still need to master the basics. The goal of this section is to help lay the groundwork for your education with some simple, yet important lessons surrounding options.
- Finding & Placing Trades [26 Videos]: Successful options trading is 100% dependent on your ability to find and enter trades that give you an “edge” in the market. This module helps teach you how to scan properly for and select the best strategies to execute smarter option trades each day.
- Pricing & Volatility [12 Videos]: This module includes lessons on mastering implied volatility and premium pricing for specific strategies. We’ll also look at IV relativeness and percentiles which help you determine the best strategy to use for each and every possible market setup.
- Neutral Options Strategies [7 Videos]: The beauty of options is that you can trade the market within a neutral range either up or down. You’ll learn to love sideways and range bound markets because of the opportunity to build non-directional strategies that profit if the stock goes up, down or nowhere at all.
- Bullish Options Strategies [12 Videos]: Naturally everyone wants to make money when the market is heading higher. In this module, we’ll show you how to create specific strategies that profit from up trending markets including low IV strategies like calendars, diagonals, covered calls and direction debit spreads.
- Options Expiration & Assignment [11 Videos]: Our goal is to make sure you understand the logistics of how each process works and the parties involved. If you don’t feel confident in the expiration processes or have questions that you just can’t seem to get answered, then this section will help you.
- Portfolio Management [16 Videos]: When I say “portfolio management” some people automatically assume you need a Masters from MIT to understand the concept and strategies – that is NOT the case. And in this module, you’ll see why managing your risk trading options is actually quite simple.
- Trade Adjustments/Hedges [15 Videos]: In this popular module, we’ll give you concrete examples of how you can hedge different options strategies to both reduce potential losses and give yourself an opportunity to profit if things turn around. Plus, we’ll help you create an alert system to save time and make it more automatic.
- Professional Trading [14 Videos]: Honestly, this module isn’t just for professional traders; it’s for anyone who wants to have eventually options replace some (or all) of their monthly income. Because the reality is that mindset is everything if you truly want to earn a living trading options.
Option Trader Q&A w/ Zach
Trader Q&A is our favorite segment of the show because we get to hear from one of our community members and help answer their questions live on the air. This week’s question comes from Zach who asks:
I have exclusively been trading options for a little over a year now. The question I have is around low volatility environments; I bought Option Alpha’s Watch List and check it daily for the “low-hanging fruit”. But when there is no available, what time of strategies do you employ and on what type of underlying: stock, ETF, index, etc.? I just want to get your ideas or thoughts on that, when there really is no low-hanging fruit available.
Remember, if you’d like to get your question answered here on the podcast or LIVE on Facebook & Periscope, head over to OptionAlpha.com/ASK and click the big red record button in the middle of the screen and leave me a private voicemail. There’s no software to download or install and it’s incredibly easy.
PDF Guides & Checklists:
- The Ultimate Options Strategy Guide [90 Pages]: Our most popular PDF workbook with detailed options strategy pages categorized by market direction. Read the whole guide in less than 15 mins and have it forever to reference.
- Earnings Trading Guide [33 Pages]: The ultimate guide to earnings trades including the top things to look for when playing these one-day volatility events, expected move calculations, best strategies to use, adjustments, etc.
- Implied Volatility (IV) Percentile Rank [3 Pages]: A cool, simple visual tool to help you understand how we should be trading based on the current IV rank of any particular stock and the best strategies for each blocked section of IV.
- Guide to Trade Size & Allocation [8 Pages]: Helping you figure out exactly how to calculate new position size as well as how much you should be allocating to your each position based on your overall portfolio balance.
- When to Exit/Manage Trades [7 Pages]: Broken down by option strategy we’ll give you concrete guidelines on the best exit points and prices for each trade type to maximize your win rate and profits long-term.
- 7-Step Trade Entry Checklist [10 Pages]: Our top 7 things you should be double-checking before you enter your next trading. This quick checklist will help keep you out of harms way by making sure you make smarter entries.
Real-Money, LIVE Trading:
- EWZ Iron Butterfly (Closing Trade): After nearly pinning the stock at our short strikes, and thanks to the volatility drop, we netted a $600 profit on this iron butterfly trade.
- VXX Short Call (Closing Trade): One of the most consistent and profitable options trades we can make is shorting pure volatility with VXX and today we closed this naked short call in VXX after a couple days for a $420 profit.
- DIA Iron Condor (Adjusting Trade): This neutral iron condor in DIA is need of a quick adjustment early this week as the market continues to rally. In this video, we’ll discuss why I’m adding an additional put credit spread while also choosing NOT to close out of our current put credit spread due to pricing reasons.
- COP Short Put (Closing Trade): These single short puts in COP acted as a great hedge for our other bearish bets in oil this month and helped smooth out our returns after we closed them for a nice big profit.
- TSLA Put Debit Spread (Closing Trade): Although many people thought we were crazy for getting bearish in TSLA this pre-earnings put debit spread trade made us $200 today. After the huge run up from $140 to $260 and getting some technical sell signals, we were pretty sure this stock would pull back.
- MON Iron Condor (Closing Trade): Following a huge drop in implied volatility we worked hard to close this MON iron condor trade adjusting the order multiple times to fill before the end of the day.
- IBB Call Debit Spread (Opening Trade): We’ll show you how I started searching for a new bullish trade and eventually found a low volatility trade in IBB looking for a move higher to hedge our portfolio.
- TLT Iron Butterfly (Closing Trade): Following the Brexit vote TLT and bonds traded in a nearly $8 range really quickly – even still the drop in implied volatility helped generate a $330 profit for us.
- XBI Call Debit Spread (Closing Trade): Got lucky picking the exact bottom for our entry in this call debit spread for the XBI biotech ETF which ultimately was closed for a profit of $165 today on the rally higher.
- COH Iron Butterfly (Earnings Trade): Shortly after the market open we close out of our COH earnings trade for about a $160 profit, leaving just 1 leg on to expire worthless.
- EWW Debit Spread (Closing Trade): Using some of the technical analysis signals we discovered in our backtesting research, we were able to make a quick $130 profit on this bearish EWW debit spread trade.
- IBM Iron Condor (Earnings Trade): Shortly after the market opened you’ll follow along with me as we watch volatility drop and liquidity come into the market before closing out the position for $250 profit.
- SLV Short Straddle (Opening Trade): Using our watch list software we decided to continue to add to our existing SLV short straddle position with a new set of strike prices reflective of the move lower in the ETF recently.
Thank You for Listening!
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