Rodeo Cowboys Don’t Make Good Options Traders

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Honestly, would you ever ride the bull?

Not a bull market but a real raging bull? I sure as heck wouldn't but some people would love the thrill.

Others even like running side by side with bulls (drunk albeit). Not this guy, not ever - I'm just not that fun my wife would say.

But this same concept came be directly associated with new options traders. There is a certain "thrill" that traders naturally look for when starting out, yet this mindset can be very destructive.

Have You Ever Been Disappointed With A Trade?

Sure you have. I have as well. But that's not what I'm talking about. . .

If you are getting emotionally disappointed (and overly happy) with the outcome of a trade, you are heading in the wrong direction. This means you are taking it personal which then assumes that you are making directional "picks" and not trading individual strategies.

All too often we get into this game for the thrill of being right on a directional trade. But then we don't pick the right direction, so we continue to trade more and more, looking to feel that thrill again. Some would even relate this to a drug addict looking for the next high.

If you've been caught up in this trading spiral, there is hope. And home comes in the form of structure!

Start The FREE Course on “Trade Adjustments“ Today: What happens when a trade goes bad? Do you roll out to the next month, move your strike prices, add/remove one side or do nothing at all? We'll give you concrete examples of how you can hedge different options strategies. Click here to view all 15 lessons ?

Be Mechanical NOT Emotional

Emotional traders get crushed in markets like these that doesn't care how you "feel." Stop focusing on being right and start taking a more mechanical approach. Be systematic about your trading - almost like a robot.

Mechanical traders look for specific events to occur before they use their strategies. For example, if you are a seller of premium and decay (like I am) you have to wait and look for high levels of implied volatility. When the time comes, you need to jump in with both feet and trade.

There is very little thinking evolved! When the setup presents itself - make a trade and let the probabilities take care of themselves. There is not much else to this game than that.

3 Step Therapy for Rodeo Cowboys

If you already know you are guilty of being a thrill seeker, I have a 3 step system that will help curb your desires for riding bulls (i.e. trading too much for the sake of trading).

First, make a short list of strategies you are comfortable trading no matter what the market gives to you. Again you don't have to be able to trade all the strategies that are out there because I don't either and I did just fine last year.

Second, identify that ideal market situation that you allow you to place a trade. For example, if you want to trade vertical credit spreads you need high levels of implied volatility relative to the overall market.

Third, systematically scan the market and look for indexes or ETF's that fit your criteria. If the trade fits make the damn trade! Keep your position size small to minimize the underlying cash investment as you learn to become more mechanical.

No, too bad right?

Of course, this is a simplified system but you get the idea. Be mechanical about options trading. Nobody can ever pick the right direction trade after the trade so don't sweat losses or gains. Trade the probabilities and let the strategies do the work for you.

Now, it's your turn. . .

Add your comments below and let me know how you think you can become a more mechanical trader. If you know, you are a rodeo cowboy right now add a comment and let me know what you think is holding you back from trading differently.

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.