How to trade options with a small account
My belief is that anyone who is interested in options trading should start small and get a feel for how options trading works. Many traders are drawn to options because they offer leverage and the ability to construct market neutral positions. Your goal as a new options trader should be to assume a level of risk in your trades that is boring while you get a feel for how trades work and what fits your personality.
The following list goes through some important concepts a new or aspiring options trader should understand. However, the percentage of account equity at risk will frequently be larger. That larger percentage at risk makes it extremely important not to take significant losses. Options positions can be constructed that risk a low dollar amount per trade, but dollars at risk is just a starting point for managing risk. However, most how to trade options with a small account traders do not trade in a way that allows positions to reach the maximum loss.
Positions are frequently managed so that the maximum loss and target gain differ from the risk graph. The challenge with giving a one size fits all number for the maximum percentage at risk per trade is that the number depends on your percentage gains and your winning trade percentage. The Theta Trend system document has a chapter on Expectancy that goes into risk and position sizing in more detail.
Suppose you set up a dollar based maximum loss for a new options position and know what that means as a percentage of account equity. The next step in trading an options position is understanding what changes will bring about that loss. If price only needs to move a small amount to hit your target loss, you are probably assuming too much risk. Options traders are always watching volatility because it impact their positions.
Using time spreads and longer dated options will increase the significance of volatility. Diversification across markets, expiration cycles, and strategies are all ways to reduce risk. In a small account, diversification becomes more challenging because the margin for trades will take up a larger percentage of account equity. The Butterfly is one of a few options strategies that works well in a small account.
If price trades higher, a second Butterfly can be purchased to stretch how to trade options with a small account the expiration break even lines. If prices trades higher again, the first Butterfly can be rolled up. The goal of the strategy is to keep the market trapped under the expiration break even lines without taking too large of a loss.
The benefit of trading the strategy is that the position will generally make money on the downside due to skew. Many traders like to how to trade options with a small account high probability Iron Condors by selling deep out of the money options. The trades make money a high percentage of the how to trade options with a small account, but sometimes require adjustments to keep risk under control. A little more information on Iron Condors can be found here. Weekly options provide the opportunity to make quite a few trades every month.
However, Weekly Options have some additional risks that make them more dangerous for a small account. Positive Theta Weekly Options positions frequently carry high directional risk think gamma that can potentially destroy a small account.
Suppose you sell a 5 point wide, 10 delta SPX vertical with a week to expiration. That vertical will likely be sold for around a. The problem with that type of a position is that even though you might want to close the position for less than the maximum loss a gap against the position can lead to a larger than planned loss. As a result, a smaller amount of capital should be allocated to strategies that use Weekly Options and that can be challenging or impossible with a small account. Additional information on trading Weekly Options can be found herehereand here.
There are both positive and negative Theta ways to trade options directionally. Positive Theta directional trading allows options traders a way to be only partially right or even wrong on direction and still come out ahead. The vertical spread allows options traders a way to directionally trade a market without the need to be completely correct on direction.
The trade will make money if the market moves up, stays about the same, or even goes down slightly. The trade will make money as long as price remains above the short strike at expiration. Download the Theta Trend How to trade options with a small account for a good overview on positive Theta, directional options trading here. The reality of trading options with a small account is that commissions can reduce returns and become a significant factor in your trading.
Feel free to post any questions you have in the comments below and thanks for reading. What is planned capital in this context? Say for example that we sell a 10 point wide SPX vertical how to trade options with a small account for a 1. In that case, the maximum risk is 9. If our planned capital for the trade was 10k, we could theoretically sell 11 spreads and stay within planned capital. One thing to keep in mind is that planned capital is different from the desired loss.
In the vast majority of cases, the loss point should be much less than planned capital. Obviously we could wake up with the market at zero and that might not be possible, but generally speaking the loss should be much less than planned capital. I only buy puts and calls with at least 2 month expiration. Understand Your Loss In Terms of the Position Suppose you set up a dollar how to trade options with a small account maximum loss for a new options position and know what that means as a percentage of account equity.
Volatility Options traders are always watching volatility because it impact their positions. Anticipate Capital Needs and Adjustment Money Diversification across markets, expiration cycles, and strategies are all ways to reduce risk. Weekly Options Weekly options provide the opportunity to make quite a few trades every month. Hi — it does help, thanks!
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