May 14, 2019 – Trade Plan (STT BWB + BSH)

I ended up closing out my Jul 18 and Jul 31 STT remnants at a pretty awesome profit. I am left with August, September and October. The Aug and Jul ended up acting as moderate hedges to the Oct/Sept expiration which actually put my balance higher through the modest volatility events last week and put it right positive in the past two days. I am on target for a 20-22% H1 2019 and will end June at around 17%-18%. Exactly as predicted and planned.

That’s the beauty of running these in expiration campaign style. The older ones protect the newer ones and everything just meshes together perfectly. The older ones will hedge the 3-8% drops as you fall right into their built up profit zones and anything greater than 8-10% will be likely covered by the BSH OR you’ll have time to roll (if it was a slow grind) either way you’re good and only dealing with modest drops in P/L. Feels like a beautiful well oiled machine now.

I am not straying or considering much else in terms of trade types for the main portfolio. I want a clean year of just STT+BSH and I want to be a master of just one main trade type. I doubt I’ll deviate much other than finding more efficient ways to adjust.

All in all a good year so far.

May 8 – Trade Plan STT+BSH

Interesting few days. The VIX spiked 40% yesterday on a 2% down day. The relatively binary event on Friday is causing some funky skew which is affecting existing trades and makes new ones attractive to put on.

I slammed on trades through the last few days with the lowest amount being yesterday (the best time of entry) and now I only have a bit of dry powder now and definitely not as much as I wanted. My P/L gain from April to May was fairly slow which makes me wonder if I should be less always on and more selective and patient so I have more dry powder. The problem with that approach is that your yearly returns can be more variant. If we have low vol years, they’ll suffer. It’s also difficult to know just when to put them on. I’d probably wait for a force index trigger. If we got 4 force index triggers a year and those trades made an average of 10-12% on PC with a much lower than average MDD then it would make some sense to look at this.

Here was an interesting article re yesterday:

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-05-08/vvixtermination-what-was-behind-yesterdays-historic-volatility-move

If I got on several units yesterday, I’d be very happy with the entry. The P/L today would already be quite high and they’d be resilient AF due to being put on in an already skew/vol rich environment and you’d have less BSH costs. Tough to figure out. I will look at the number of times force index triggered (to see if it’s a reasonable number per year on average) and then backtest all those dates as entries and see just what the returns are and annualize them. Basically what I am saying, is if we start entering lower vix environments like we had in April, I wonder if I should be mostly dry powder, rather than continuously raising UEl etc I should just take lower P/L targets and go mostly cash waiting for an opportunity. Now I’ve entered into an environment where having some more dry powder would be fantastic. I can accept risks for starting 20 VIX STTs if VIX goes to 30. I am cool with that because the effects are less pronounced than when you go from a very low vix environment and you get double whammied with skew and vix changes. The effects of the first 10 VIX points is a lot more pronounced on new STTs than going from 21-31.

My newest October ones put on throughout this event are down about $500 a unit. Normal. Time is always on its side. As time goes on, the profit hump builds up and the trades gets naturally more delta negative and less and less vega negative. This means vol effects it less and less as it goes on while we’re getting natural protection from the negative deltas increasing each day. So give it another 12 calendar days and it’ll be profitable all things equal (including current vega and skew conditions). You’ll see that the most exposed time of any STT trade is the initial week or two from initiation. Once time goes on, you’ll get less and less affected by things. For instance, My Aug/Jul31 are not affected, in fact, I harvested them last week when Vol was low and they’re unaffected short a bit of a drop in the overall T+0 but with any relief they’ll be closer to the profit tent and that’s when you get the big pops in P/L. You’ll notice that the most profitable times are when we have a larger fall followed by a cessation and subsequent vol relief. Why? because you’re sitting right in that sweet spot.

Anyways,

A tally of the main account:

32.5 Jul 31 units w/ a very long runway and harvested lower puts –No significant risks or vega (but taking up margin!)
150 Aug units w/ a very long runway and harvested lower puts –No significant risks or vega (but taking up margin!)
42.5 Sep units that were affected by the drop (dropped to break even PL with loads of theta)
60 Oct units that were significantly affected by the drop (dropped to -500 a unit)

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.

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 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

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-2-13-36-pm

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
screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-5-08-33-pm

Trade 2 – P

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-5-09-03-pm

Trade 3 – D

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-5-09-28-pm

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 16 – Trade Plan

    SPX OCT Rhino MONSTER

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

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-12-24-04-pm

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

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-1-10-36-pm

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

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-1-13-40-pm

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

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-1-15-01-pm

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