OAP 066: The Drawbacks Of Paper Trading – Why You’ve Got To Have Skin In The Game

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Paper trading has its place in the investing world, but it likely isn't as useful as many brokers and financial gurus make it out to be. In fact, I'd even argue that if you are currently paper trading you're probably not using the virtual platforms to get the optimal experience out of them. Now, I won't deny that paper trading does have some benefits in helping traders learn the mechanics, but the drawbacks, in my opinion, outweigh the perceived usefulness.

In today's newest podcast episode, I'll walk you through all the major pitfalls new investors make when trying to paper trade stocks and options. And if you're still adamant about paper trading, that's fine too because I'll help you get 10x more results from your paper trading activities by accelerating your learning curve with a few simple tweaks. Ultimately, at some point, you've got to make the jump into real money trading and the sooner you do the better off you'll be. There's no substitute for real-world, real-money experience in this business.

Benefits of Paper Trading:

  • The biggest single benefit to paper trading is it helps you get familiar with the mechanics of how to trade; working with the platform, getting orders into the market, setting up pricing.
  • Paper trading gives you the ability to enter multiple trades at the same time, which you might not have in a real trading account.
  • You also have the ability to start considering your portfolio balance, allowing you to understand how to look at your overall portfolio and how to analyze it.
  • With paper trading you can easily go back and retroactively test all of the mechanics of trading. You can immediately see the impact of different trades in a paper trading account.
  • Paper trading can be used as a great learning tool to simulate methods of how to rebalance your portfolio, to understand which trades will get it back to neutral in various scenarios.

Drawbacks to Paper trading:

  • With paper trading you are not using your own money and do not have any “skin in the game”. Trading with real money emotionally connects you with the market causing you to make different decisions than you would paper trading.
  • Without real money in the game, you are not forced to make decisions about generating income. When your money is at risk, it forces you to start making serious decisions about how you allocate, which requires more patience, diligence, and research than paper trading.
  • When you are paper trading, often times if your trades are unsuccessful it gives you a false sense that because it isn't real money it does not count, and that you will do better when you are trading actual money, which is in fact not true.
  • Paper trading fills happen a lot quicker than it actually does in the real market. This may cause you to get much different pricing in the real market compared to when you are paper trading.
  • When paper trading, traders will often times open up large $100,000 paper trading accounts, which is not representative of their true account size that they will be starting with.

Conclusion:

Paper trading definitely has its place in the market as a learning tool to understand the mechanics of trading. However, you need to start making real money trades as soon as possible. Making trades with your own money is what will ultimately get you to where you want to be with your overall trading, income, and wealth goals.

Option Alpha Podcast Show Notes[FREE Download] Podcast Show Notes & Transcript PDF: No time to read the show notes right now? We've made it incredibly easy for you to save time by giving you instant access to the complete digital version of today's show. Click Here to Download Your FREE Copy ?

Free Options Trading Courses:

  • Options Basics [20 Videos]Whether you're a completely new trader or an experienced trader, you'll still need to master the basics. The goal of this section is to help lay the groundwork for your education with some simple, yet important lessons surrounding options.
  • Finding & Placing Trades [26 Videos]Successful options trading is 100% dependent on your ability to find and enter trades that give you an "edge" in the market. This module helps teach you how to scan properly for and select the best strategies to execute smarter option trades each day.
  • Pricing & Volatility [12 Videos]This module includes lessons on mastering implied volatility and premium pricing for specific strategies. We'll also look at IV relativeness and percentiles which help you determine the best strategy to use for each and every possible market setup.
  • Neutral Options Strategies [7 Videos]The beauty of options is that you can trade the market within a neutral range either up or down. You'll learn to love sideways and range bound markets because of the opportunity to build non-directional strategies that profit if the stock goes up, down or nowhere at all.
  • Bullish Options Strategies [12 Videos]Naturally everyone wants to make money when the market is heading higher. In this module, we'll show you how to create specific strategies that profit from up trending markets including low IV strategies like calendars, diagonals, covered calls and direction debit spreads.
  • Options Expiration & Assignment [11 Videos]Our goal is to make sure you understand the logistics of how each process works and the parties involved. If you don’t feel confident in the expiration processes or have questions that you just can't seem to get answered, then this section will help you.
  • Portfolio Management [16 Videos]When I say "portfolio management" some people automatically assume you need a Masters from MIT to understand the concept and strategies - that is NOT the case. And in this module, you'll see why managing your risk trading options is actually quite simple.
  • Trade Adjustments/Hedges [15 Videos]: In this popular module, we'll give you concrete examples of how you can hedge different options strategies to both reduce potential losses and give yourself an opportunity to profit if things turn around. Plus, we'll help you create an alert system to save time and make it more automatic.
  • Professional Trading [14 Videos]Honestly, this module isn't just for professional traders; it's for anyone who wants to have eventually options replace some (or all) of their monthly income. Because the reality is that mindset is everything if you truly want to earn a living trading options.

Option Trader Q&A w/ Brandon

Trader Q&A is our favorite segment of the show because we get to hear from one of our community members and help answer their questions live on the air. This week's question comes from Brandon who asks:

Do you think it's important to take into consideration the direction in which the stock might move after earnings before placing a trade?

Remember, if you’d like to get your question answered here on the podcast or LIVE on Facebook & Periscope, head over to OptionAlpha.com/ASK and click the big red record button in the middle of the screen and leave me a private voicemail. There’s no software to download or install and it’s incredibly easy.

PDF Guides & Checklists:

  • The Ultimate Options Strategy Guide [90 Pages]: Our most popular PDF workbook with detailed options strategy pages categorized by market direction. Read the whole guide in less than 15 mins and have it forever to reference.
  • Earnings Trading Guide [33 Pages]: The ultimate guide to earnings trades including the top things to look for when playing these one-day volatility events, expected move calculations, best strategies to use, adjustments, etc.
  • Implied Volatility (IV) Percentile Rank [3 Pages]A cool, simple visual tool to help you understand how we should be trading based on the current IV rank of any particular stock and the best strategies for each blocked section of IV.
  • Guide to Trade Size & Allocation [8 Pages]Helping you figure out exactly how to calculate new position size as well as how much you should be allocating to your each position based on your overall portfolio balance.
  • When to Exit/Manage Trades [7 Pages]Broken down by option strategy we'll give you concrete guidelines on the best exit points and prices for each trade type to maximize your win rate and profits long-term.
  • 7-Step Trade Entry Checklist [10 Pages]Our top 7 things you should be double-checking before you enter your next trading. This quick checklist will help keep you out of harms way by making sure you make smarter entries.

Real-Money, LIVE Trading:

  • IWM Iron Butterfly (Closing Trade): Exiting this IWM iron butterfly options trade gave us a $1,100+ profit after pinning the stock price one day before expiration at the peak of our spread.
  • CMG Iron Condor (Opening Trade): I just recorded my live trading platform (and real money account) as I walked through the process of entering a new iron condor trade in CMG stock. Inside you'll see me analyze, price and fill the trade in real-time.
  • APC Strangle (Closing Trade): Took about $150 out of this small APC strangle trade even after the stock moved completely against our short call strikes this month. But as always, implied volatility always trumps direction and because IV went down, the value of this spread dropped more-so than the impact of the directional move higher.
  • IYR Call Credit Spread (Adjusting Trade): This adjustment is good for 2 reasons. First, it reduces the overall risk in the trade if IYR continues to move higher. Second, it still leaves room for the stock to fall back down into our new profit window.
  • XHB Straddle (Closing Trade): We were able to bank a $120 profit early in the March expiration cycle for our XHB straddle with the stock trading right in the middle of our expected range.
  • AAPL Call Calendar (Opening Trade): Look behind the scenes as I use our new watchlist software to filter quickly and find this AAPL call calendar spread trade during overall low implied volatility in the market.
  • COF Strangle (Adjusting Trade): Here I recorded my live trading screen (and real money account) showing you the entire thought process we used to make an adjustment to my current short strangle in COF to reduce risk.
  • GDX Strangle (Opening Trade): With gold's high IV we are getting into a new strangle with a 70% chance of success and a decent credit for selling option premium.
  • IBB Iron Condor (Closing Trade): Today we're exiting an iron condor we traded in IBB for a $142 profit. Inside you'll see me analyze the exit price and fill the trade in real-time.

Thank You for Listening!

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About The Author

Kirk Du Plessis

Kirk founded Option Alpha in early 2007 and currently serves as the Head Trader. In 2018, Option Alpha hit the Inc. 500 list at #215 as one of the fastest growing private companies in the US. Formerly an Investment Banker in the Mergers and Acquisitions Group for Deutsche Bank in New York and REIT Analyst for BB&T Capital Markets in Washington D.C., he's a Full-time Options Trader and Real Estate Investor. He's been interviewed on dozens of investing websites/podcasts and he's been seen in Barron’s Magazine, SmartMoney, and various other financial publications. Kirk currently lives in Pennsylvania (USA) with his beautiful wife and three children.