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Trader's Boot Camp Week 1 - What's This About?

Learning about options trading from the ground up

by 2/22/2013 5:11:11 PM
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So I'm about to embark on every parent's worst nightmare -- teaching my 16-year-old son to drive. Why do I mention this on an online site devoted to options trading? Because the roles are now reversed -- I am learning to drive in this world myself. And as soon as I started this position in early January, I immediately wanted to know how everything worked. I wanted to try to trade myself (albeit in pretend mode as I don't have that big a retirement nest yet). But that isn't practical and given my lack of experience, my pretend account would be pretty empty pretty quickly.

So I thought it might be interesting to express what I learn through interviews and the like in this space over the next few months. Each week, I'll tackle a different aspect of options trading and the options world, hopefully with a sense of humor and brevity while avoiding as much jargon as possible. In addition, I am going to try and find as many real voices as I can, including our own trading experts, those from the outside, and even real investors talking about how and why they trade options. And yes, there will be a sprinkling of music, movie, and sports references. Gotta keep your attention somehow, right?

I know what many of you more experienced traders are thinking: this is training wheel stuff. But who couldn't use a good review of the basics now and again? Using another analogy in my own life --- I've returned to the gym after letting myself go following a nasty Achilles tendon rupture six years ago. Who couldn't stand to get back into shape, right?

And who knows, perhaps I might surprise you with something you didn't know already. On that note, here is a list of potential future topics:

  • A review of basic strategies, including: covered calls and cash-secured puts, aggressive margin trading, spreads, strangles, etc.
  • The difference between volume and open interest, and why each is important.
  • Brokers' fees and who charges how much for what.
  • How to tell if an option is priced fairly, and whether or not the premium you paid is a good value.
  • A look at the different types of traders, and a possible trader personality test.
  • How option trading can REALLY impact a stock's price on the market; and how mergers or stock splits can impact options prices.

Disclaimer: What I will NOT be doing is any paper trading/mock trading of options. Everything I will write about will be hypothetical or will concern events that have already passed. And I will also be keeping with our editorial mission of promoting the Schaeffer's Expectational Analysis method, trying to explain that method from time to time.

But I don't want to make this just about me. I am hoping that anyone who is interested will contact me on Twitter at @jamespilcher or at with story or topic ideas. You can also reach us at Schaeffer's on our Facebook page, LinkedIn page, or Twitter account.

Just don't ask me to explain an Iron Condor -- at least not yet.


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