Oct 16 – Update (#2)

Nice pop there. Pretty much bringing account back to normal now. Through the event I did have some vol related draw downs, nothing that stressed me out or anything but I didn’t love how I entered the event re trades/hedges and sizing which is prompting me to create a much more concise trading plan which I am really excited about. I feel really good about how things went and where they will go from here. I am basically shaking off some pests and revising some of the plan to be even more robust. Right now, I am developing a concise and mandatory trade plan that’ll be printed and bound and at my desk. As I mentioned before, I am taking my optimistic honey badger mentality and focusing it on entirely on risk management instead of out-sized returns and I am super relieved and kinda super excited about it. I am going at it hard. It’ll be epic to create any sort of trade plan that can handle large money that does 30-40% returns but doesn’t flinch in events. Ideally, it’s going to be a lotto as well. That’s an amazing feat. Thanks to the PMTT Group. Once developed, I’ll probably be looking forward to the next crash event 🙂

This plan, it’ll have all sorts of idiosyncratic rules and requirements that I am going to force myself to follow. It’ll also contain journals of my thoughts related to how I felt during crashes, what I did, tools etc. I’m accepting the returns that I calculated (more modest) and I am putting risk at the first priority. Take care of risk and the returns will come (compounded or otherwise). That’s the key I think.

Update on account and management:

ES:

By EOD, I have removed most of my PCS that I had on for the HS3s and am sitting at about even on an account level for the EDF/ES account from start of crash till now, all said. Not bad. I closed off all the Dec including the ATM PCS today (maybe a bit premature as I closed them around 2795 rather than the 2815 its trading at now).

Jan HS3s are locked and loaded in a really nice zone for quick profits in the next 14 days. Could add 40k in profit by end of Oct.

The Mar HS3 is down about 59k while the hedge is locked in at 30k profit so the combo is still down 29k total. Could recover quickly but EDf did force me to liquidate and lock in some loses last week. Not bad still. I also had initiated a 100 wide PDS at 2775 last week which hurts the UEL (upper expiration line) a bit.

The BSh factory is now profitable. I will use the next few days to start forming the BSHs and should be ready to rock soon as a hedge.

SPX

March CC campaign is at even now (wow!) and I have some bearish STT covering it which are down about 6k. So all in all about -6k to 10k on the whole thing.

Jan CC campaign is doing fantastic. It’s got so much theta that it could swiftly make a lot of cash in the next 14 days

Dec CC campaign. About even now (from pre-crash—but was at target anyways before) but has no real juice or risk. Will slowly turn into a hedge.

BSH Factory. Is profitable now. I was a bit too aggro on the short puts so I might use the opportunity to start forming on any signs of a down turn. Not really worried as it’s december shorts and they are deteriorating quickly.

X4: Removed for loss of 15k

Rhino: About even.

KH recovering some of the draw down.

All in all, I am about about 1.5-2% on the account and a week sets that even in theta and a month should be aces in profit.

If I get a few weeks to a month to rejig my plans, form factories and work on sizing then any further vol should be easily deflected if not profitable from here on in.

Oct 1 – BSH Factory, CC (BWB-STT) campaign and poker

On Wednesday I just finished up a mastermind presentation in the PMTT group that talked about how to deal with your trade portfolio in a crash, the BSH factory campaign and how to harvest the STT-BWB. It went well, lasted about 1.5 hours and had 155 slides. It’s hard to talk about all this stuff on the blog as the info is protected in the group. It’s kinda what probably makes this blog stagnate at times. I have to get creative while not divulging our IP. If it was up to me, I’d share a lot more but it’s unfair to the group.

I did have some back of mind reservations presenting this campaign as I thought it was the “nuts” and I worried about having tons of people selling the same strikes on the same opportunistic days, but I dunno, I don’t ever want to be that guy, I don’t need to resort to that in life and my integrity is worth more than whatever perceived value there is. My belief is the group works because we all generally share our good ideas and in return we get tons of smart “eyes” looking at it and making it better. It works and this is what makes it tick and I’m going to continue on this path. Besides, the value back has been incredible and I am glad that we’re all exploring furthering the campaign in both its theory and its practical implementation. Returns in spades.

On Friday, I had 12 units of Rhino waiting to fill and it did right at the end of day at a good price @ 2.75 for the Dec 1710/1670/1620 BWB. Nice. I just closed off my other 10 units that I put on in July for 21k in profit. I still dabble in the ATM trades for diversification. Though, I hate taking this shit off sometimes. I had a host of Call calendars, Call BWBs and put BWBs and taking one part off leaves the other side exposed and sometimes fills just suck. It took me 2 hours to close it and I was cursing the entire time.

On the opposite spectrum, the STT CC campaign is much easier to manage and I usually just convert the structure to a hedge structure late in the trade. Saves commissions and adds some insurance. The STT CC is my bulk trade right now coupled with the BSH factory which will be for both income and hedging. Pretty much all I do now is some Rhinos (super low % of account), CC campaign, BSH factory and opportunistic HS3. I also dabble in some mechanical equity investing but its just for utilizing some of my balance (for further info check out the motley fool mechanical investing forum (search TMF mechanical investing) or check out imarketsignals.com. It’s cool stuff. The community in mechanical investing have been doing it for 20+ years.

Poker

I’ve been studying every day ramping up for the Oct WPT in Montreal. This is going to be practice run at the PSPC in January. I have about 40 hours of study left I suppose just to get me on par level in knowledge with the average competition. Not an easy game as I’ve been at this since 1999 ;). When I was in my twenties, I mean, I felt like my generation was easy competition, I’d put in reasonable efforts and excel in whatever it may have been..ie. Poker at the time was jokes, first person shooters on PC was jokes or whatever. Now, I put in probably 800 hours into PubG and still suck, back in the day my wife and I played Rainbow 6 lockdown/vegas and were top 100. Now, I doubt I break top 100k 🙂 I don’t know, it feels like everything is taken next level (or ten) by this new generation. The kids in poker now have just perfected everything. They literally eat, breathe, shit poker. It’s all they do and they do it right. They’ve broken down the game to levels that are so far beyond. If they put that effort into anything else (trading, business start ups etc) they’d probably have easier success though. I’d gather that to be earning reasonable money in tournament poker would take the same effort it takes to be be a professional trader but with less variance.

All that said, After Oct, I might hire the best tournament coach in the world to get me prepped. The prob is he’s like 375 EUR an hour 🙂 Steep, but thats what you get for the best. I might start with a more reasonable one and get ramped up towards him. BencB is the coachs name. Epic track record.

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.

155 Unit STT

Been a while again…regretfully

I was traveling over the holidays. Ended up buying a piece of land for a cottage and a new Model X Tesla P100D. Then to top it off, I then flew to Bahamas to compete in a few poker tournaments including the Stars main event championship.

Poker went pretty awesome. I got a 1st place finish and a 62nd in the main event only to be busted out when I had AA vs Ryan Riess’s AK. I was a 93% favorite after I 4bet shoved but he caught 2 kings on the flop and I was eliminated. Bad beat. But I walked away with about 15k for my efforts.

I can tell you despite the good results, it didn’t feel that great. My chip stack was healthy as was the villain (Ryan Riess). I was a huge favorite and I am confident that with my style of play, I’d have made the final table with that win. As well, when he called my 4bet shove with AK, we had to wait several minutes as the photographers, tv crews and some writers came over to analyse the hand. So I was sitting there, super excited, knowing I was a 93% favorite ..basically already counting my chips and smelling the final table only to have KK flop. Brutal.

I might have to add in a section on this blog for poker as I am now back at it and will be playing the circuit. Next stop WPT on Feb 9th in Montreal.

Here were some of the highlights:

In the trading world, I have moved over to doing a good % of my trading portfolio in the STT(Space Trip Trade) and BSH (Black Swan Hedge) trade combo. I got a big one on for May right now—>155 Units!

I am excited about the trade and it should be fun and interesting. I was satisfied with the back-testing and I think the trade will be my main staple trade along with a 30% combination of the ATM trades (Rhinos). I closed off most of the Feb Rhinos and have only some March and April. I’ll enter the Rhino trades opportunistically when pricing is good and use them as a hedge to to the mid 5-10% downside moves.

I’ll get a post up analyzing my current STT trade shortly. I have a few more debit spreads to add and it’ll be complete.

Oct 10 – Rhino M3 Trade plan

Not much to report. All the trades are sitting comfortably, we’re in a range that isn’t affecting much per say. I’ve got Dec and Nov expiries on and profits are rolling in. Great few months.

NOV:
For RUT I have 1150/1200/1240s

For SPX I have 2040/2120/2180s

DEC:
For RUT I have a mix of 1140/1190/1230, 1150/1200/1240 and 1160/1210/1250s

For SPX I have 2020/2100/2160s

I am approaching the need to RH the upper longs for both trades but I will wait till tomorrow since its reduced volume today re Columbus day.

I’ve been backtesting a longer variant of the SPX Rhino (80/60 wings) where I start 88 DTE and end before 31 DTE. I reduce the planned capital by half or in other words, accept a 5% return on the original planned capital of 25k for 3 units. The results were very good so far. The trade is easier to manage both on the upside and downside though quite boring 🙂

I’ve also been looking at uneven condors as adjustments (sell and buy volatility when skew is favourable for either). I like how Jim Riggio approaches this. When volatility is low, and skew steep, I might enter a symmetrical butterfly with a long call (buying cheap iv) and convert it to BWB when vol gets higher on a large down move.

As for the market, I have not the foggiest where things will go but bonds should be putting some pressure on the SPX especially if we clear 1.75. I still see a small correction to the 2040 area before making ATHs for end of year baring no surprises re Trump.

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 9 – End of Day

Ah what a great day 🙂 It’s nice to be cheering and enjoying a beautiful market fall and even praying for a 3-5% gap down on Monday rather than being stressed out and at adjustment limits with collapsing P/L like I used to be in the modified iron condors days. Obviously, No disrespect or gloating intended. I’ve endured two hard corrections in my life where I wasn’t properly prepared, so I am allowed to say that. So no disrespect or gloating intended re anyone reading this that is long the market. I’ve earned it!

Like I mentioned a few times, I have some Sept Lottos on (specifically 100s of 1050/1100/1140s and 1060/1110/1150s from the Sept campaign that were worthless a few days ago. I had hedged them off the last 2 weeks with call BWBs etc that were all removed. It was cheaper to leave them then to pay commissions closing them. Of course we’re pretty far from 1150 or 1140 but if we got another 7% down before Thursday expiry, they could stand to make a LOT of money. I’ll definitely close most if we get an equivalent -3.5% move on Monday as we had today (it’ll make the Sept profitable) so its probably not actually likely that I’d hit the real big profits as they could, unless we have a mega gap down on Monday. Either way, neat.

All my other trades are doing great. The down move helped a lot. I wish I was a bit quicker removing the remaining upside hedges but it is what it is. I figured we may get back up to 2200 with SPX and 1265 area with RUT before a fall and I didn’t want to expose myself to a runaway up move. Balance. The same day i believed we topped out, I had bought some call BWBs for October. Bad timing but proper risk management. I only use my technical analysis for small things and finer adjustments within my overall parameters.

Ironically, I might actually have to roll down and adjust my Nov trades if we gap down on Monday, which is kinda funny given how much room there was just yesterday. I don’t remember the last time I did downside adjustments, not even Brexit brought me to that. They’ll all be profitable, so it’s welcomed.

Here are my Nov RUT trades which I don’t think I posted. The short strike is at 1200. So as we approach it, I’ll need to roll it down. I may also condorize it or add some call BWBs to help with an upside bounce. I won’t mess about with adjustments if we do gap below 1200 and touch 1190, I’ll be fairly quick to roll down the entire structure. I’ll give it 10 or so points since we’re far away from expiration but not more. If it gapped down the next day and you were at 1190, it’d be on the very slippery left side slope.

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Sep 9 – Trade Plan

A pullback! Right on time. So I guess the 1260 area WAS the big resistance zone where we’d experience a pull back. Got that one right! It was the upper trend line and matched a few other technicals, plus the bollinger bands were historically compressed, made sense we’d experience a pull back here. I just try not to let it affect too many of my decisions as it could go anyway. I still put on my call BWBs for October yesterday since the position got uncomfortable on the upside.

I have a few Sept lotto’s left over and a 8% pull back would be epic.

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-12-21-41-pm

C’mon 5% fall by Thursday 🙂

This is the first big 1%+ red day in a long time and it’s so nice to see volatility return. I hope we have a follow up Monday. It’d get our account nice and profitable for the year. There has been no mean reversion or respite from this rally in RUT. It’s made the trades uber boring and almost got me to the point of demotivation. But, volatility always returns.

Here’s my October RUT trade:

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Here’s my October (Monster)

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-12-25-24-pm SPX trade: