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 🙂

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 🙂 I will use it small as a booster and middler 😉

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 🙂 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.

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.

Dec 16 – March Rhino M3 Trade Entry

Not much going on. Trades gained some value today. Nice little down day in the SPX and flat for the RUT.

I entered some March Rhinos

50 x RUT:1290/1340/380 @ 2.19
75 x SPX 2120/2200/2260 @ 4.00

A bit far out but I do like to enter around 88DTE anyways.

I’ve converted most of my Jan trades into more M3 like structures today with the drop. I worry about a slow grind up for the rest of the holidays so figured I’d jump in front of that with some calls and futures hedge. Low volume rarely gets sold into. I do expect some January weakness though.

Oct 18 – Rhino M3 Trade Plan

Been a while since I posted. I haven’t needed any catharsis so that’s probably why 🙂 What a great/fantastic two month period we’ve had…I mean the market (RUT) didn’t move up 7% in a cycle! Can things get any better? The last two months have made the entire year, I might even achieve the 7 figure profit in a 12 month period IF the next two-three months behave. Major Major milestone. When I say behave, I mean it goes down, stays neutral or goes up 3-4% max. That’s all that’s needed. What a journey. I started trading by investing in AAPL and BRK.B, frustrated with the lack of hands-on, I got into earnings volatility options plays via www.steadyoptions.com and eventually on to Modified Iron Condors only to experience the most dreadful trading experiences in Oct 2014 and Aug 2015. Learning experiences! I finally stumbled onto the M3 and BB courses via John Locke and here I am trading BWBs in my own way profitably and into 2017.

As my portfolio and trading size gets larger, I’ve been putting on more and more Space Trip Trades in an effort to hedge my portfolio by way of cultivating the STTs to the point where only debit spreads remain on the first set while cultivating the other expirations to the same point. My main concern is an 9%+ gap down overnight. I want to be protected in any flash crash and a gap down of any size. It’ll take some time to cultivate the STTs to the point where they are providing protection for both the ATM trades and the uncultivated ones still in process (in the case of a 12%+ move). Once, I have adequate hedging I’ll start to increase my size past what it currently is. I’ll probably be sticking to SPX with versions similar to the White Rhino and Jim Riggios 100 point butterfly. I really like the approach Jim Riggio takes. Sell volatility when vol is high and buy volatility when vol is low. Simple. I’ve changed my style a bit and I don’t use calendars and I will probably be doing versions of reverse-harveys for the upside rather than using call BWBs. It’ll be sometimes selling or buying iron condors as adjustments to the butterfly structure (depending on skew and volatility). I might have to call my trade something else, probably will end up calling it PEAK.

My November trades are all 10%+ and I have already started closing them all out by removing risk and unwinding the structures.
I’ve got Dec expiry on and I’ll look to put on some January as we get closer to the election (option premium will be elevated and the BWBs cheaper to buy). I might hold Dec but if I am anywhere close to a 6% profit, I’ll probably close them ahead of the election. They’re doing very well right now so it’s possible.

Sep 29 -Rhino M3 Trade Plan

Nothing too exciting related to the trades this week. I usually have some sort of market opinion but I really don’t right now. My guess if I had to state one is that we’d see some more weakness into October and probably touch 2040 and rebound up to 2300/2400 into the end of the year.

I put on some more SPX Rhino trades today. The pricing got way better in the afternoon and I bought several 2160/2100/2020s @ 2.75 and 2.80. Across all of my accounts I have 370/740/370 on. Big. Lots of downside room and lots of upside room at those prices. I’ll probably try to close them all by Nov 8 (start later and end earlier).

Here’s what one of the Dec SPX Rhinos look like

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I’ve got a bit of RUT Rhinos on but not as much. I had great pricing early on but been struggling to get pricing I liked the past few days.

I’ll manage the SPX upside if we should break 2200 by selling condors or RHing. I probably won’t use calendars this time around. I do like how Jim Riggio (Kevlar) handles his trades. Not much else to say right now.

I’ve had to do nothing with any of these trades lately, boring, which is good. I am erring to start more like 86-88 DTE and end by 30 DTE. I am working on a full backtest with some updated rules and adjustment types.

Sep 26 – Trade Plan

My whole day was spent closing down October trades. The SPX monster one reached 10% profit on planned capital, my other SPX ones hit about 7-8% as I was a bit more conservative with upside and the RUT one hit 5% or thereabouts. We’ve got 25 DTE and I am more comfortable starting larger trades later and exiting earlier, plus the SPX one was already at profit target. The debate is on tonight and if Hillary falls dead, faints, coughs for 20 min or anything else, I worry the market will open down big and if she does well, it may open up up big. So yeah, I closed them down and I am happy. I have some 200+ units on Nov/Dec across all the accounts and I didn’t need any Oct exposure.

I got some champagne for the debates (it’s sort of entertainment isn’t it?) and to celebrate the big result for the month. I cleared about 180k in profit across the Oct trades. One more month with a good result would put the account at about 30-40% for the year, maybe 50% if we got 7-10% P/L. Two good months, and I’d be laughing. Sounds like a lot, but the amounts exposed during the last 6-8 months and some of the swings, well, it’s somewhat deserved and I’ll be more comfortable after a few of those good months to cover any bad month.

I entered some SPX Dec BWBs (2160/2100/2020) @ 2.80 today.

Trade 1 – M
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Trade 2 – P

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Trade 3 – D

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Risk taking and pulling the trigger

    Risk taking and Pulling the trigger

Let me preface this with a funny but true story:

In my twenties, I took a big risk, I invested all my net worth and even my future income into a software business idea. So essentially, more than I had. It was a huge risk. It took 16 months to get the software idea from scratch to launch-able. We of course blew past deadlines as is typical, and went over-budget. I had no money left though I had some on its way. I was at a pop machine with a friend and business partner (he’s probably reading this and laughing) but I had one single looney left and I told him, this is my last looney and I’m buying a diet coke with it. I went to put into a pop machine. Guess what? The pop machine stole my very last looney to my name. Sounds super cliche but it’s an actual true but hilarious story. The pop machine ate my last looney. The end of the story is positive, the business worked out fantastically and all is well. But I took a leap and risked it all except one looney which a pop machine stole.

I am part of a chat group (Index Trading Group) which I started back many months ago and has now well out grown me. It is now some 250 people. 250 very smart and ambitious people. It’s grown to a point I never believed possible, I rarely contribute on there though my intentions were good but life, busyness and trading gets in the way as it often does. It’s no excuse. I should contribute more. Anyways, this options community is, in my opinion, immensely changing and shaping the future of retail complex option trading with new brilliant research and ideas. It’s got to be at the forefront of market neutral options trading. I often am even somewhat intimidated and in awe of some of the members abilities to focus and create great back-tested ideas and videos (I think most of those reading this will know who they are). Perhaps, it’s why I rarely contribute, it would take a lot of resource to match the quality they put out. I trade huge accounts which takes up time, I have a business to run and I have a family to take care of. Again, no excuse, so do they. But those become excuses I use to put off doing or coming up with ways to contribute (human nature). Anyways…

Today a topic came up about risk taking and trading for a living. A member asked what it would take to quite your job and trade for a living (the dream eh?). I say that almost facetiously, I trade as if it was for a living probably, and it’s got its perks but it’s also very hard money. I think business can be much easier 🙂 The breakdown from one member was very succinct he had listed out exactly what was required to adequately trade for a living and it was in the ball-park of 5MM which assumed you’d only trade 20% of your net worth and that you had several years put away for reserve. I’d pretty much agree with that except there-in lies the rub. If you used that equation to assess risk taking, you’d probably never make it to 5MM. Whatever gets you to 5MM in net, is likely to have broken that equation. Sometimes, you have to break the usual conservative views on risk taking and make that leap. Now, I don’t know if you should do that with trading per say. If you do do that with trading, you better have done your damn homework and have had a long stretch of success!

In life, and if you want to become successful and rich, you just have to jump and pull that trigger. BUT. You have to give it your all and you have to make sure you have back-ups and fail safes built in. Take the risk but if your fucking taking that risk, if something happens, you don’t sleep if it requires attention, you work your ass off making sure the risk you take works or that you have back-ups and ways to mitigate failure. When I started my business, I put every single cent into it, very irresponsible and would have seemed crazy. It worked out well but I think it was more because of insane persistence, fail-safes and tenacity. Once I made the decision to pursue an idea re software, I did everything I could to make it succeed. It took 7 years before it was profitable, and I worked 14 hrs a day 7 days a week to make it work (in my twenties). I pulled the trigger and being smarter now, I doubt I could ever make the same jump again, it’s just so crazy! But back then, once I had pulled the trigger, it was game on, I had back-ups to make it work and I worked 14 hr days 7 days a week making it work. I gave it my all.

The thing is, trading is so psychological and it’s essentially built on irrationality and the medium/arena (market) is largely unpredictable (some TA’s are screaming right now). I don’t think I’d pull a trigger in trading for a living if I were back in my twenties and about to take a risk.

For instance, on the macro level, trading for a living can largely be successful with all of the points I mentioned above (tenacity, hard work, dedication and backups). So Sure, I agree with that, hard work, tenacity and dedication will eventually lead to success as a trader on a macro level. But it’s not the same as a business..it’s a different beast. It’s a psychological Beast. You make decisions that directly and quickly cost or make you money. Dealing with the repercussions of those decisions whilst in a challenging time (down turn in P/L, stressed about $, needing to make more) etc will wear on you. I’ve made borderline adjustments that have cost me a car. Those adjustments bother me and used to affect my life. If you start second guessing yourself…it will start to affect your well-being. I lost many days of my early trading career life dealing with these frustrations and stress. I wasn’t even trading for a living, it was more of a hobby and the amounts weren’t touching my net worth. I can’t even imagine what it’d be like to trade while requiring it for living. I don’t know if I would wish it on my worst enemy. It can’t be easy. I commend the pro full time retail traders. They are a strong breed. Unfortunately, all of these little unexpected psychological issues of trading are human nature and WILL occur. It’s like running bad in poker, some players never recover, it’s a high speed venture with instant requirements for decisions that can cost you dearly. That will wear you out. This is why the best traders have very strict plans that they adhere to religiously. You cannot have on the fly decisions affecting your well-being or your trading psychology. This leads me to the micro level..

If you get into trading for a living and you run bad, this negativity will seep into your trades and it’s not something you can hit the pavement and make work with tenacity since its so much more complex of a battle (I am mostly talking about the internal battle within yourself at challenging times in trading and with the whole basis of the market being irrational and unpredictable). If a trade doesn’t go your way, and it’s getting desperate, there’s not much you can do and it’ll lead to more risk taking. So the whole internal battle you have psychologically, will tend to burn out or cause failure within someone. You can’t just get motivated late at night as a trader, and make something work instantly. So many times, I’ve thought my way through a problem in business, often times that’s not really possible in trading. That in and of itself, will lead to feeling helpless if you experience a bad run. This helplessness will compound. Then comes along second guessing yourself, and generally putting yourself in a compromised mental position.

With a business, usually, you can solve it with smarts, tenacity, dedication and time. You can, not always, but mostly, make it work! You can work hard enough to get lucky. You can do that on a large macro level with trading in general but not on a micro level which can be devastating to the psychology of the trader. I wouldn’t wish trading for a living on my worst enemy if not properly prepared, well bank-rolled and experienced.

Sep 22 – Rhino M3 Trade Plan

The market hasn’t been friendly the past 2 days but I somewhat mitigated about 70% of the potential move if I had followed normal guidelines. I had hedged some of the trades with calls and reverse harvey’d some of the RUT trades. All in all, it was more neutral with just a bit of upside risk into FOMC. The result, in RUT, we probably went from 5% to about 3% in P/L. In SPX, we went from about 7.5% to about 6%. Not terrible given that we’re at 52 week highs in the RUT. Todays market close was very strong for RUT which hurts the trade a bit since we’re not the right hand side again. Still! We’re profitable and at 52 week highs. Can’t complain, it should set up the next trades well for down or less than 4% up moves 🙂

I was able to remove about half of the SPX Oct position and secure some profits. The SPX monster trade is now up ~60-62k (the max it was up was about 70/75k) despite this large rally post FOMC. The position looks good, has decent theta, though outside the tent, but any pullback would bring some great returns. The upside has not much risk left. I removed the 2175 Call calendars today at 2:30pm as they were at the money. I won’t add any more but I will Reverse Harvey on a pullback. We have that debate on Monday which could bring some small volatility to the market if Hillary bombs. With limited upside risk, I am not in a huge rush to adjust but I’ll keep my eye on the screen and work to RH the position.

Plan: I am looking for a pull back to RH the upper longs and continue to peel off the trade at profit. Ideally, we get some sort of pull-back in the next week.

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All of the November positions are now back to even with the big up-move. Expected. Will need to upside manage those trades soon if we continue up. They aren’t at any adjustment point yet but they aren’t far away either.

Before the FOMC, I managed to get filled on several 1240/1200/1150 December BWBs @ an average price of 2.40! They were 87 DTE I think, but still, great pricing. Makes the upside management easier, and it’ll be easier to profit.

I am considering backtesting a more conservative version of the Rhino that I’ll start cheaper at around 88DTE, do a few more units than normal (more leverage), reduce the P/L target and close earlier than 31 DTE. The cheaper price in the BWB should allow for easier upside management, and the cheaper price and length to DTE will make the trade a lot easier to manage. If I can get a 6% P/L target and leverage that up, it’ll make the trade a lot easier and resilient.

Sep 16 – Trade Plan

    SPX OCT Rhino MONSTER

P/L: ~60,000-70,000

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Getting close to profit target of $120,000. Any good 1.5-2% move down will get it at profit target and I’ll close it up. Good trade. If we get lucky and the move happens a bit later on, the profit can be a lot higher. I’ll be pretty quick to lock up profits as we get into next week since we’ll be approaching the 30 DTE level.

    RUT OCT Rhino

P/L: ~22,000

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Getting close to the 37,500 profit target. Same thing applies as with the SPX one. Will start locking in profits and removing.

    SPX NOV Rhino

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Majority of our shorts are at the 2120 strike and we’re up about 7,000. I have to consider rolling the structure down soon. If we go towards 2100 especially.

    RUT NOV Rhino

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Majority of the shorts are at the 1200 area and any move towards 1190 will require me to roll the structure down @ a profit.