Option Credit Spreads Destroyed My Life

By: Morris Puma

Hi everybody and welcome to this article on credit spreads. In this class today we will be discussing the importance of adjustments and what can happen to you if you do not know how to properly manage your options positions. One of the most popular option spreads on the market is called a credit spread, and we will be looking at this particular spread today. Some people consider this to be a high probability type of trade but until you actually work with this strategy, you may not know or understand the risk involved. An options credit spread can be particularly risky if it is traded alone, meaning that it is not being hedged by any other option position.
Unfortunately, the options credit spread is one of the first trades learned by all option traders. I think most option traders are first attracted to this option spread because it is very simple, it makes money over time, and it has a very misleading high probability rating. The other reason most beginning option traders begin using this strategy is because it is all over the Internet. However, it is not publicized all over the Internet and in basic option trading courses because it is a great strategy, but rather, it's very simple to learn and to teach. This is the main reason why it's all over the Internet.
It's well known that an option trader can enter into a credit spread with a 90% probability that he will make money on the trade. That is well known. That is the popular belief, especially amongst beginning option traders. This is true, but do not ignore the other side of the picture. Even though you have a 90% probability to make a profit on the trade, you must consider what goes on while the trade is in play. People don't talk about the level of stress involved.
People don't talk about how they can be way behind on the trade sometimes the whole time they're in the trade. People don't talk about how they get down to the very last day and they are risking 90% just to make a small 10%, and they don't talk about how they can't sleep at night and how they are praying to God that their stock might go up tomorrow. Finally, one of the most important things that nobody tells you about the credit spread is that a 90% probability doesn't mean that you're going to make money nine times in a row and then lose one time. The sad truth is that you might lose 90% on your first trade. This happens all the time.
The problem with the credit spread, in particular, the short-term credit spread, is that it's a very directional trade. Even though it has Theta on its side, it has Delta and Gamma working against it. For the small amount of Theta that you get from a short-term credit spread, you are picking up even more danger by trading this option spread with very high Gamma. What this means is that as the price of the underlying changes, the profit and loss on the trade also changes very quickly. This type of trade is a lot more volatile and risky than most beginning option traders know.
In conclusion I would just like to say that the credit spread definitely has a place in my options trading portfolio, but I only use credit spreads in conjunction with other option strategies. As a standalone strategy the credit spread can expose your trading capital to enormous risk. So if you insist on trading credit spreads, then please make sure you are trading safely by hedging them with other option spreads.

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