Sep 25 – Presentation, BSH and Trade plans

Tomorrow I am going to be presenting at the mastermind group about how to deal with your trades during a correction event. It entails having a trade plan that deals with potential broker rules, neutralizing income trades to allow for removal of hedges and doing practice runs w/ your similar structures through the Aug and Feb events of which we have data for. It talks about adding in how the system will react to your portfolio of trades and knowing how to deal with that. It’s so important to have this area attached to your trade plan. We need to address systemic issues (how the system (broker, margin rules etc) will react to your portfolio of trades.

The Feb vol event was a big hit on the system and represented the single largest increase in VIX (VVIX) in all of history. Volatility and VIX by the nature of how it is calculated represents the premium or insurance rise in the value of options at specific strikes. Each option contract is basically an insurance contract for that specific point in the market. Simplistically put (no pun intended), someone buys a 2825 put because they want to be protected for any falls below 2825 while someone else might buy a 2500 put because they don’t want the risk below 2500. The pricing of the option contract at 2825 is quite a lot higher than the 2500 put because you’re asking for a lot more protection. . The pricing of each contract has stable portions but the unstable portion, the portion that changes when all else remains the same is what represents the premium or insurance cost or fear price that we are selling or buying. This premium value can change across different strikes at different ratios and that is what we define as skew. That thing that changes across strikes, visualize each strike price as a like a bar graph with part of it shaded black. That black part can move up or down depending on the market pressures of each strike, some events put pressure on way out of the money puts while others might not. These changing “black portions” of the bar graph is how you can visualize skew. You might see a 2825 contract really get jacked up in premium but no change in the 2500 premium. If you’re a net buyer of 2500 but sold the 2825, you just got screwed by skew. Anyways, back to the point, the VIX It’s supposed to represent the fear in the market related by noting the increase in the insurance premium. We’re net sellers of that insurance, and when you are a net seller of insurance that just had the largest rise, you’re going to have problems. We’re glorified market insurance sales people πŸ™‚ These problems can be not just in P/L, but also in how the broker reacts to the increased value of those contracts despite the risks of said contracts as well as the general margin rules related to portfolio margin while we are removing hedges (which must be taken off right around the event).

Our trades were theoretically supposed to be immune to such events as we had separate hedges but we had a failure in how the system reacted to the value of our trades which was not expected nor where the rules they implemented at certain brokers known. We need to address potential systemic reactions in our black swan trading plan.

The Feb event was a problem not because of the trades per say but rather how the system/brokers responded to the increased value of those trades after the event. It was how the system responded to the trades that threw most of us for a loop. We’re dealing with incredibly complex trade systems that were meant to solve for all the known variables. They did for the crash day but the system they were in didn’t allow for the unwind that we needed. The hedges we have only last a few days as they are fear based hedges. If we can’t unwind those, we’re fucked. That was unforeseen but now solved for.

Poker

I’ve been studying quite intensively for the upcoming WPT in October (Montreal) and the end goal big daddy PSPC in Bahamas in January. The PSPC is a 25k buy-in mega event where Poker stars gave away 300 25k seats for free plus added 1MM to first–Total of 9MM juiced into the tournament by poker stars for free. I’d usually max out at 10k just because I think its kinds nuts to go higher for a tournament but a few friends wanted to get in on the action and are going to stake a bit. So I’ll sell off 10k in action. It’ll be an epic tournament.

A lot of people ask me how can I possibly study for poker. It’s not what you’d think. It’s incredibly complex and requires a lot of upfront hours to be at par.

Here’s a example of the thought process of a hand to give an example that I’ve told my friends who’ve asked:

Let’s say you’re dealt QJs in the small blind. Everyone is 100BB deep.

Everyone folds to Button who raises. His range of hands is very wide being on the button. Probably 45-50% of all possible hands. Being in small blind we’re generally 3-betting or folding as we really don’t want to act first every hand nor do we want the BB to mandatory complete which puts us against 3 opponents on the flop. SO the three bet can show immediate profit but if he calls, we’re still good.

So we 3-bet.

The Button smooth calls. His range becomes quite defined here as he can’t call a three-bet with most of his range.

What do we know so far? Well it’s unlikely he has AA or KK and with QJ we block combos of QQ and JJ. So we block a lot of his value range and its unlikely though not impossible he has AA and KK

Flop comes T73 rainbow

His value range is pretty much only sets and two pairs as we’re blocking QQ and JJ and AA and KK is unlikely.

We have decent equity here with two overs, we can turn a K or 9 for open-ended and an 8 for a gut-shot and thus we can barrel every turn with semi-bluffs because of villains range. Further, a bet here is showing immediate profit as many Ace high, king high (beating us currently) are folding though some are calling. On the turn, if he called flop bet, he still has some Ace highs and small pairs, mid pairs that will fold to a second barrel. Further we aren’t blocking ace high as we have QJ so that’s a further edge. Let’s move on to the next card.

We bet and he calls

Turn is a 2

Given his call on the flop, it’s likely he has ace high type hands or over card broadways. These will have a hard time calling a second barel. We do NOT block his ace high hands so that’s a positive. We don’t want to block his folding hands that re better than ours. This is a good second barrel bluff. He’s forced to fold a lot of better hands here.

Concepts like blockers, knowing the opponents range and our own gives us ability to gain small edges and to make the right plays which are necessary in this game. I’ve got probably at least 50 hours of study before MTL and double that before Bahamas. But once I get past that, I should have increased to a level where I can really make a run in this world. It’s the only thing at my age that I can compete at on a world stage so I’ll stick with it.

Sep 4 (Back in action)

Been a while since my last post.

I just finished up a whirlwind summer of travel and I don’t think I’ll be traveling the same type of lengths for quite some time. Three months is too long and too hard with 3 kids. Since I’ve just built an epic house, I just wanted to come back and enjoy it. I’ve seen all of Europe and I think I’m good for now. So probably less travels and more trades for this blog and maybe some poker πŸ™‚

I finished 135th out of 1931 in the European championships which was a good result. Another deep run but no final table in a championship event, which is what I am going for and what my ultimate goal is. I don’t care about winning it. I just want a final table. The experience is so grueling and exhausting. The game is at another level and to compete on this forum requires a lot of work. I literally have to sit there and prevent genius pro’s from taking advantage of me while somehow obtaining my own advantages. Not an easy feat. Each day is around 12-14 hours long with very small breaks. When I am at the table I have to be fully concentrated and that eventually wears its toll. When the day is over, its super hard to get to sleep, all jacked up on adrenaline (which is so bizarre given its a game of cards!) but it is what it is. I love it and I hate it πŸ™‚ The next 3 months I’ll be in the “lab” workng on my game for a really big championship in January. The PSPC. Poker stars has given away 300 25k seats and added 1MM to first place, 9MM added to the prize pool. The word on the street is it’ll be a legendary showing. This means that there will be up to 300 relatively weak players/potentially fish. I usually stick to the 5-10ks but I’ve got some stakers willing to pony up some to remove the spiciness of it. It’ll be a very long skill based tournament. I hear 2 hour levels are in order. Usually I play 40-60 min levels. Time to get cracking. I might hit up the Nov Party Millions in Bahamas as well. There’s also the World series of Europe near Munich Oct 27 but that’s a far ass trip..

As for trading, I’ve been working on a few different systems and I’ll be presenting a version of the BSH factory on the 26th of September to the mastermind group. It’s an income producing totally BSH protected factory. It’s simple, doesn’t involve all the complexities the other trades require (skew issues, complex analysis, unknown market type reactions etc). It’s so pure and back to basics. I can see that becoming the main thing I do. Besides that, I am running the CC campaign and working to get a BSh factory live. I tried to sell some puts today at 2885 but they didn’t go through yet, the markets bounced back up to 2893 so we’ll see if I can get ‘er on before end of day.

Whirlwind month of Jul (Travels, HS3, STT, Rhino etc)

Finally settling down and getting back to normal work lifestyle rather than scurried catch-up.

Just finished a 24 day cruise, then traveled to Arona, Italy for some R&R with family friends then onwards to meet my biggest client (a well known Ferrari racer/entrepreneur socialite type guy who’s got the fastest lifestyle I’ve ever seen) in Budapest which consisted of me trying to balance 2 kids, a baby, an “at the end of her rope” wife while staying out to 3:30am for business (and some pleasure). I barely could keep up with anything. After that I made my way by rental van to Zadar, Croatia where I caught up. We just left and made it to Istria, Croatia and now I am in a villa in the countryside relaxing and catching up on everything.

During these little whirlwind periods, I have to balance everything which can be difficult but I think I have it down to a science. My communication usually suffers, emails that aren’t super important sometimes get forgotten but everything else is generally aces. One of the reasons I travel to Europe during the summer instead of elsewhere is because of the timezone, i.e. the market opens at 330pm here so I get the evenings to attend to trading.

My mind is always focused on the trades during every single day regardless of where I am, or what tours I might be on or if we’re on the road. I generally don’t miss a beat on the management of these trades and finding opportunities for entry and adjustment.

I usually wake up every day, model my trades, look at the market technicals, figure out what I need to do later, enter trades in IB/EDF and pause them for market open. I then get out for the day with the family and do whatever we may have planned. We have a small baby now so we have to usually be back for 12-1pm for nap time. I use that to further catch up and usually do some backtesting or whatever else I have to do for market open. Then at about 2:30-3pm my wife and I will typically head out for some alone time for about 3 hrs, usually touring cities and getting dinner and a drink. During this time, I got everything on my phone and sometimes I may have to interrupt the conversation to get things on but its never a prob. We are usually back by 7pm where I finish out the rest of the market hours and I’m done by 9:30pm to finish the night. Through all that, I am usually tapped out and non important things get left to the way side until I get to an area where I can relax more and catch-up. So yah, If I am out, and I usually am, I’ll be looking at phone and entering those BWBs (for new trades), PCS (for raising UELs in HS3s etc), and entering them in-between talking to my kids at dinner or wherever else I am. I am using downtime during the day (naps or AM) to model and get a plan in place.

The HS3 futures in EDF are crushing right now, I started them I think in May and it’s up almost 35% or so. I reached profit target on 111 units in Oct 31 expiration and 20 units in Sep expiration. I have another 83 (SPX equiv) units on in Dec monthly which are more than half way to target and 61 (SPX equiv) in Dec 31 expiration that I just started on those two down days we had last 8 days or so πŸ™‚

My HS3s in SPX/IB are also near profit target. Wonderful. I think I have on about 100 units there. Solid gains. My CC campaign is also doing great.

I added in some Rhino and X14V14s in for ATM trades. I changed how I manage upside in the Rhino but the main reason I added is I call it a middler which loves moderate down moves and helps hedge that little area where the market falls 2-5% and affects (short term) the HS3s and CC trades negatively re vol and skew effects. I love how it reacts together. I really liked the rhino in the old days as I remember being super upset about making 20% when the market moved up 50% over 2016 πŸ™‚ I will use it small as a booster and middler πŸ˜‰

I am not sure where we will go next (we’re here in Croatia until the 11th but for sure I will be in Barcelona for the Pokerstars tournament on the 22nd where hopefully I can have some decent luck..

More to come as I have lots of time…

Jun 27 – Trade Plan (STT, HS3 and X4V14)

Today was a typical bounce day and I used the opportunity to get in some bearish STT and PDS hedges.

I’d like to backtest the krishnan hedge as a vol spike hedge and probably will do so on the cruise during the vast amounts of free time I’ll have πŸ™‚ Generally, I get a lot of sitting around time and I’ll typically choose something to research or test.

I’ve got on a slew of protected STT, HS3 and X4V14 trades (ATM BWBs). All reacted fine during the little fall and all are pretty well hedged. Not a whole lot to report really. I added some delta and vega hedges on the bounce just to balance out everything.

This trade war rhetoric should keep skews pretty disadvantageous to already on trades. Reasonable to put on new trades etc.

Jun 26 – Yesterdays Vol Shock and the trades

Yesterday was interesting day, VIX spiked up 40-45% and we had some relative fear in the market.

My fresh HS3 trades all drew down as expected on any initial vol spike of that magnitude. Nothing at all to be concerned about and not all that big. My older HS3s were just fine. After an initial spike (VIX spiked to 19) there’s not all that much relative exposure to Vega left before the BS portions of the trade kick in. I mean there is a bit but relatively small and any more down move would trigger the OTM longs and the trade goes profitable. The trade is almost as perfect as it can get but what it needs is some initial vol spike hedging to keep Drawdowns and psychology clean. We have initial ideas.

The draw down is due to Vega and Vanna as the initial vol spike doesn’t quite affect the far away longs as much as the more upfront part of the trade. The far away longs would trigger in a bigger move down or a continued move down. Works well. The draw downs from an initial shock are moderate but I don’t lose sleep on it, standard (pre-market now, we’re already recovered most of the draw down). Basically, just stating that a 40% initial vol spike will generally cause your HS3s to draw down $500 or more.

Another 3% drop would activate those longs and BS protection kicks in and the trades would crush. This is the nature of the trade and the trade-off of the structure and well, it’s expected with ANY positive theta trade, at least initially. Rui mentions that he noticed in his backtest that the lower long put Vomma, Vanna, and Gamma power kicks in when the SPX gets close to the upper longs and the lower get into the 10 delta range.

Essentially, an initial shock and the time before panic is the temporary dead zone of these trades. Once those lowers have the greeks activated, then the trade profits.

Let’s call it VolFEAR and VolPANIC to distinguish the two types. An STT combo and an HS3 combo will initially draw down when we are in-between VOlFEAR stage and the VolPANIC stage and this is usually a relatively temporary period before either the market moves towards VolPanic or VolNORMAL stages.

Adding in a Krishnan PBR might be the answer to this and I am going to explore adding it in for low vol times for that initial shock (that you’d typically get in a 1.5-2.5% down day). This would cover the initial DD and maybe even profit and taken off while the initial structure would activate on a move further and is safe anyways.

The market is bouncing now and my pre-market balance is relative recovered. In backtesting, this was always the case and often after a larger fall and a few days of rest, the trades hit the profit tent and reach targets. Let’s see if this is the case for my older trades.

I managed to get on about 40 more units yesterday and I got 25 PDS @ 45 DTE to help with hedging on the bounce to 2721 at EOD.

I Like where we are right now.

Big accounts and prepping for travels (HS3 and STT trades)

I am about to board a 24 day cruise and am preparing all of my trades.

I have this on right now:

250 units of HS3 (spread between ES @ EDF and SPX @ IB) (2.5MM planned capital)
20 units of Campaign style STT (1.5MM planned capital)
34 units of X4V14 (Locke style ATM BWB) – (765k Planned capital)
50 units of KH hedge (Black swan lottos)

So that’s quite a bit!

To prepare I have 2 sim cards (local EU with roaming and a CAD world wide roaming) as a reserve. I have unlimited internet on the cruise and I brought a portable monitor and laptop. I’ve entered GTC orders for every HS3 and STT so that they’re there for me. I’ve got all my models ready and none of these are particularly exposed to a BSH as they’ve all got BSH built in. Most of the work is entering, and I am fully entered. I’ve got the GTCs so I can close in crisis (hopefully at profit). The market opens here at 3:30pm-4:30pm depending where you are, so I am usually done my tours etc by then so I can attend to trades in the evening or early afternoon.

I’ve done this before and guess what, it was during Aug 24 2015 crash πŸ™‚ Suffice to say I was tied to the computer for the last 4 days of that cruise. The internet handles IB with ease. Haven’t had an issue. It was different them, I was trading rhinos and Modified Condors. I needed to adjust.

Lately, skew and vol has increased due to trade war rhetoric and i’ve noticed my Decembers take a vol hit. Not a big deal but could have had better entries.

Back at it – April

After what was a very rough period from Feb 2 to about last week, I am starting to recover and regain my ambition and motivation.

I had a rough go with IB margin rules during Volmageddon (Feb). They had implemented a 30x rule which basically summed up the total value of the options and if it exceeded 30x the value of your account, you had severe restrictions with adding new positions/contracts EVEN if they were risk reducing. During what was one of the biggest vol spikes and thee biggest change in volatility (VVIX) the option pricing sky rocketed across the board, and when summed up vastly exceeded 30x. It’s a ridiculous rule and it was an unknown rule. IF I had opposing positions where I sold a put at $5 and bought another put at 4.75 they would sum the position as 9.75 even though there was no substantial risk in that position. In the vol spike, options 10x or more so they’d be $50 and 97.50. This summation technique would put the account in violation of the rule. This gave me problems for when I had to roll or remove hedges. They also used some bizarre calculations that would restrict even further. This left me in a very precarious position where the complexity of removing hedges and positions was very difficult. I couldn’t get off my variety of hedges unless I literally liquidated the entire account which would have been impossible during those few days. I tried as best as I could to remove hedges and small parts of income positions but I just couldn’t get it done in time and the hedges collapsed in value and the STT remained compromised.

Anyways, I’ve been nursing these remaining positions since February and have recovered much of it but not all. I hope that maybe I can get to full recovery by May or June. That’s my year so far.

Suffice to say, I am working with new brokers and won’t be using IB for PM type trading (STTs, HS3s etc). I will also be moving my base trade towards HS3 type trades, STTs in higher vol down moves and John Locke style trades (M3, X4v17 and some BB) as a booster and to bring back some diversification in my trade plan. I still like ATM type trades. I remember when I had the Aug 24 crash with my MICs (this happened right when I was learning the Locke trades and was just initiating). Soon after I had recovered the entire loss from Aug within 4-5 months using M3s and BBs. Anyone that traded MICs, would know just how bad those did during Aug 24 2015. I liked trading those things (M3). I eventually switched to Rhinos and did modestly with them but I hate the upside exposure on runaway markets. Though, I mean, I did Rhinos during one of the biggest up moves in history in the RUT. No wonder I was frustrated with those.

Anyways, that’s my current situation and plan re trading.

I am in Canada now visiting the office and some family and friends. I will be back again for the Montreal Party Poker tournament and probably touring Europe again this summer. I’ll post more about those travels and the trading complications there-in.

STT initial draw downs

Thought I’d share some of the nuance of STT draw-downs during the past several days which I found interesting but expected after back-testing it to death. Always different live though isn’t it? In the last 18 months we haven’t really had large VIX spikes or bearish moves so it’s a nice refresher on how things actually work in real life re trading.

I had entered several June 29 STTs last week when VOL spiked quite high despite the move upward. VIX was telling us that demand for protection was increasing as the market moved up. Traders were protecting themselves. The STTs were a decent price given the pricing of OTM options so I used that to compliment the entries I had the weeks prior in the June 29 expiration. On Monday, the market fell and we had a spike to 15.3 VIX area. So we went from a 9 VIX environment a week prior to a 15 VIX environment. The move was relatively small in the SPX but the VIX move was quite large. That day, the market was hovering around SPY 281.5 with a touch of 281.22. About the same place it was the week before. However, the STTs I entered drew down about $550-$600 a unit which closed in on a 100k total draw down. Of course, these types of VOL based draw downs are temporary and they follow the VIX spikes you see in the charts. If you see a large spike, expect a temporary draw down, likewise, even if the market continues down, if the spike subsides, expect your STTs to regain in value. This type of thing is most pronounced with a move from a low vol environment to a higher vol environment and it will affect newer STTs more than developed STTs. Likewise, If we start entering STTs in this higher vol environment, they’ll be less prone to vol shifts. Anyways, it’s Thursday, and pre-market is down to about 280.6 area and my STTs are only drawn down about $250 a unit yet the market is lower than it was on Monday. Totally normal and give another 10 days, we’ll likely be green pending no disaster in the market. All the while, I’ll be entering more and more STT and setting the next several months up as a success. As time goes buy, the profit tent will build up and even with the market moving lower, the STTs will regain value and eventually, probably in the next 30 days, we’ll be reaching profit targets. If we have another shock event or a shock VIX spike, we’ll have draw down but it’ll likely be less than the initial one as time has gone buy and time builds resilience in the STT. Yesterday they were only down about 200 a unit. Totally normal following a large spike with brand new STTs. Again, time kinda cures all of this. Given another 10 days, it’ll be very hard for the STT to draw down this amount again unless we have an actual larger bear move that requires adjustments etc. The STT likes grind down markets and can handle a sudden move and it’ll often do really good if we can get a bit closer to that tent. Give it 30 days and we and very likely we’ll be green and in a sweet zone for further profit expansion.

This is a great environment to get into STTs and if we can keep this going, we’ll be laughing.

Those vix spikes are great times to enter more. I did. Now we let this move play out and adjust as we need (I usually add condors weight to the direction I need to hedge). I will at times add debit spreads as well.

I’ve converted old STTs (March) to hedge structures by selling some of the longs of the PDS and buying back twice as many of the shorts of the PCS as well I’ll buy back the PCS at cheap prices and sometimes sell a bit more of the front long to compensate etc etc. Credit to Rui @ the PMTT Group for the idea.

2018 Plan

Wow. What a run in the markets. Historic on all levels. We’ve now gone the longest time without a 5% pull back. The RSI is at historic levels. The thing just won’t die. I am just glad I never got caught in the run with a neutral or negative UEL (upper expiration line) this time around. A lesson learned from the last 18 months.

I think the biggest mistakes I’ve made as a trader in the last 24 months have been approaching or erring my adjustment and entry decision making based on a positive EV (expected value) basis. I used to be a professional gambler (finding exploits in casino games both online and to a lesser degree off) and was v. successful at it (go figure, you actually can do something like that for a living). My mindset in exploiting edges carried over to the markets and it never paid off. Probably more of a function of timing and extremes in market conditions than it was on poor analysis. For the last 18 months, records and extremes have been a normality. Using previous market mechanics to game that system would be impossible. I’d use lots of technicals and market bias where the EV seemed well positive to shape my trades to err one way or the other or to time adjustments. I don’t think I was ever right. Now don’t get me wrong, only a few times did it really hurt but the other times just affected my planned bias just a bit. Nothing major. It was just an “err” to slightly positive or slightly negative deltas. A bias.

For example, we’d reach a yearly pivot point and major resistance w/ VIX at lowest in history, I’d remove the credit spread and wait for a small pull back or a cessation in the up move to take off the debit spread. That happened in October and did affect my December trade, the market screamed through and went up enormous amounts. I managed to get my PDS off but at a pretty shitty price. That was the big one. My big mistake of the year. Cost some of the profits. What are the others? Well after a big run, I’d setup the STT in a more standard format where I’d have a neutral UEL or slightly negative with some negative deltas. The market kept going up and the STT would struggle to reach target. What else? I’d try to wait for a red day to get on a PCS for upside adjustments. They mostly never came. Obviously the market is in extremes and all of these are reasonable bias and they’re only erring bias but it never worked out.

I learned from that, and now follow a no-bias approach. I set my UEL positive and I adjust based on price action and risk profile. Now I have no stress or worry about a never ending bull market. I’ll reach targets on the trades and I won’t have much to do. Like now.

I’ve gone back to basics as my mastermind group starts to go further down the rabbit hole re skew calculations (horizontal and vertical) and trying to find edges there-in. The last month or so they’ve gone so far in that they’ve lost me even πŸ™‚ I think they’re exploring areas that are relatively untouched and I have no doubt that it will result in some quantifiable and actionable edges but a lot of it seems to be an exercise in complex analysis. But they will need to really simplify what they’re doing and it’d be for entries and adjustments. I am letting them run with this while I go back to the basics. My account size just can’t be put to use in anything but the simplest most predictable trades. The group is so invaluable and its the main reason I’ve been able to find myself in trading.

Right now, I’ve been setting up STTs much further out, a bit wider where I’d shrink the width as it ages and with the final intent to eventually convert all the STTs to a hedge structure as they approach the final 3 months. I’ve got my BSH factory running and I have other types of hedges. I’ve managed to get them to cost NIL while utilizing the STTs as a profit structure. Simple and easy. I haven’t messed about with exotic structures but eventually will on a very small non-concentrated amount.

I finally have moved into my new house and have an awesome office to work out of. It’s all coming together re trading.

2017 – The year of experimentation

This year has been a long year of experimenting and pushing the boundaries of complex option trading. I have come to realize that a good strategy has a triangle of requirements that need to be fulfilled to be a valid scalable trade. Namely, it has to satisfy 1) margin and margin expansion requirements 2) Slippage, fills and real life initiations of the trade 3)Good backtest results.

Pre 2017, backtests were generally good enough because everything was standard and because of this, generally, if it backtested well it would do well enough live. We used standard width PCS and PDS and combos therein, and generally putting those on were quite easy and can be done without much directional risks. IE putting on PCS then instantly putting on the PDS or even filling them as a condor or butterfly. Not a big deal.

This year, I got excited about a few strategies based solely on backtests,–> really good backtests. Almost ‘end game’ nothing else needed type of results. This specific trade required a high vol entry and I patiently waited for this entry in what ended up being the lowest volatility period on record, it didn’t come. Time was wasted from Sept-Nov. Then we had some red days and I licked my chops ready to get trades on, unfortunately, it was met with disappointment. Now, I did put on a few sample tests before but it was in relative low vol and the trade was OK to initiate in low vol as the market didn’t move much and I’ll get into why that ends up being important. Something I didn’t realize. The non-standard widths in the credit spreads were very very difficult to fill. It wasn’t low hanging fruit the market makers could understand and hedge. It was too exotic. Coupled with the PCS you had to initiate long puts that had some combos @ ATM and some OTM (the hedge portion). However, in a fast moving market these things move quickly. So there in lied the rub. IF you got filled on the long puts, there was no guarantee you could get filled on the PCS. Leaving you incredibly exposed. If you got filled on the PCS, it meant that the market was moving against your longs (the makers apparently called them STUPIDS) and you will pay a really bad price for the longs as they become high in demand. Filling this trade in size was a nightmare.

So some people had ideas about using ratios. I gave it a shot the next red day. Again, I had mega issues getting fills on this. It just was untenable. But I did manage to get on about 150 units of this trade through a lot of pain.

The backtests were great, it was the trade of all trades..but filling this live was a different story. It’s all easy when you just enter the trade and press commit in a backtest, not so easy in real life.

The next issue was margin, at first I didn’t have much margin issue at IB but as time went on, all of these seem to margin expand to abut 13-14k a unit! This made the trade almost untenable from a margin perspective. Gross use of capital. So not only did I have a nightmare fill situation but I had a nightmare margin situation. IB doesn’t take into account the full benefits of the longs below a certain delta (in this case our spread was so large that the margin hit from the short was not getting covered at all by the longs). This isn’t such an issue at Think or Swim but at IB it is.

So a dream trade from backtests became somewhat a nightmare trade from a margin and live slippage/initiation perspective. Lessons learned and 3 months of opportunity potentially wasted.

These things you just can’t know. And again, this year was a year of exploring every nuance of complex option trading and it ended my year at best break-even. But the year was the most successful year in growth as a trader and I feel there is not that many more stones to turn. We’re (my PMTT group) are approaching the apex of what’s possible with respect to the triangle of requirements in complex trades. Guess what? It’s gone pretty much full circle for me. I am actively trading STTs and variants of BSh factories and the last 1 month of doing this has produced great result. Now on to formalizing this as a base trade and putting capital to work with what is proven to work and not into nuanced complexities.

Here is the summary of how my year from memory:

1. Jan/Feb I still had on legacy Rhino structures that got smooshed from the incredible trump bull run. Remember these? They hate 4%+ up moves in a cycle. Love everything else. During this time I started testing the new STT/BSH stuff. I started off with BSH and waited as per the rules to finance with PCS on a down day. I think we had a 14 day bull run there with no opportunity to finance, this is extremely abnormal. Bad timing. So the BSHs put on lost money because they couldn’t be financed. Not a great start. The STTs obviously as they always do, did great.

2. March/April I start testing a combo trade I came up with called the PC2 and PC3. The PMTT group seems to like it as well. The tests were insane. Really good. But I miscalculated margin requirements and put the trade on the shelf. I documented this in the blog here even. Exciting stuff. Shelved due to miscalculating margin requirements (I entered each segment into IB and added the margin up). During this time, we used a method that tested very well but failed to deliver during this specific period as a way to finance the BSH. The BSH/STT combo broke even. During this time there was a cross expiration skew issue that kept the financing method from paying off the BSH costs. These are all legacy methods of financing that aren’t really used. Learning process. Backtests of the RC financing method did great. Just we had a bad period here…timing was poor.

3. May/June/July Extremely low volatility, RCs still not working, unable to really have opportunity to put on some good STT trades due to low vol. Start looking at PC2 again and do extreme testing and was aiming to present in September at the PMTT group. Basically broke even through this period. Poor pay off of the BSH. The PC2 had we started in April would have been hitting profit target every single month this year! The financing method is built into the PC2. Unfortunately, I calculated margin wrong and didn’t initiate, instead I used RCs which just did not pay off the cost of the BSH and we were slightly profitable but more or less break even during this period. Maybe up 7%?

4. Aug I entered some T5 (just about 40k worth). Along with most of the group. This was a juicer trade, a trade meant to pick up our returns. It is the most POSEV trade but its got variance. Variance I can accept though. We entered and experienced one of the worst skew issues you could imagine due to the NK missile issues. Vol sky rocketed in January options but not so much in earlier expirations. This caused massive draw down. Most of which was eventually recovered through October. But this was the highlight of August. Also during this time, I realized error of margin re PC2 and started heavy heavy testing and was ready to deploy a mastermind session in September.

5. Sep The HS3 and Fulcrum ideas come out. They tested so well. Dream like almost. Read the beginning of my blog post for more info. It needed high vol entries. Vol was extremely low and historical. We wait patiently for opportunities.

6. Oct Market runs up, I took off some Dec PCS in what was record low vol, with intent to get off PDS next day or so on any slow down. Again, the market gapped up like 1-2% and I destroyed my Dec STT profitability and actually went negative.

7. Nov I decide to enter moderate size of Rhinos thinking we’re apex’ing and unlikely to experience sustained and large up moves. That was wrong, Rhinos were exited at fairly big loss.

8. Dec I finally put live all the good core trades, they do great and recover a lot of the losses from before. STT, PC2 and BSH factory is producing great returns. Onward into 2018 this will be the core.

The interesting thing about all this is that the complexity of all these strategies is solely based on how to hedge them from risk. it’s not about seeking out max EV or anything like that. I say max EV because seeking out max hedge is equivalent to maximizing profit at least from a risk perspective. Max EV trades are trades that have the highest expectancy and this can be without regard to variance. The highest EV trade I know of is called the T5 which is taught in the PMTT Mastermind group.

Anyway. That’s a sum of the year. You can see it was a lot of experimenting and backtesting and trial. In the summer, I was backtesting an average of 4 hrs a day on 20 or so new variants of strategies. Though I may still be backtesting going forward, the core bulk of cash will be put to work in combos of STT and self financed BSh. The STT always produces, it did though 2017, it was the BSH not getting financed that caused the meh results. THat’s solved. Excited to see how this thing does through the year.

More to come.