Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Option Paper Trading

Option paper trading is a term used to describe the way we may test an option trading system without using real money. There are several major benefits from doing this.

1. You are able to prove to yourself whether the strategy you have chosen or been trained in, is actually, a consistently profitable one. It also permits you the opportunity to tweak and improve the system and see the financial outcomes without any real exposure to risk. This can give you confidence in the system itself.
2. The process of option paper trading "trains" you the way to react to unfavorable market situations. A component of any good options trading system is the assmption that a percentage of trades are going to be losing ones. You need to be psychologically prepared for this. Where a predetermined stop loss is part of your system then you need experience in accepting losing trades before you use your own financial resources.
3. The best options traders tell us that 90 percent of trading success is about psychology. You must have the right state of mind when reaching trading decisions. When you assume the mindset of a gambler, you will feel the pain of gambling losses. It is absolutely essential you tackle your trading with the mindset of a serious entrepreneur. On a daily basis you'll make business decisions in accordance with strict criteria. You will need to be patient and wait for the right setups and confirmation signals so that you will not make the mistake of attempting to predict the market before it shows you where it's going.
You will need to practice the way you manage your trading funds and use position sizing in a systematic way so that you don't risk too much of your money on any one trade. You may need to make some blunders in this area and "feel" the consequences of greed or unwarranted risk. Option paper trading is not just about discovering trading opportunities, but also about learning the self discipline that's so necessary if you wish to realize success.
Where and how to Paper Trade
Typically the most popular options brokers such as TradeKing, OptionsXpress and ThinkorSwim, include an attractive feature which allows you to paper trade without resorting to real money. They give you a "Paper Trading" tool, where live options prices are applied to live stock prices and you can try out your trading strategies without risking real money. But everything else is real, including trading reports which keep track of all your transactions and brokerage costs, so that you can observe what your profit or loss could have been, had you been trading with your own funds.
You simply add an imaginary sum of money to start with and then carry out your trading plan. This is an ideal way to gain real confidence that you can actually make a living trading options.
One final thought. Option paper trading must be taken seriously for it to be truly effective. A casual approach which neglects to monitor your trades or enters doubtful positions knowing that you can't really lose, is a dangerous psychology. Trust me, once you graduate to using real money, everything will change at an emotional level ... so use it as a serious training ground and you will be rewarded.
Owen has traded options for many years and is writes for "Options Trading Mastery" - a popular site that explores the best Option Trading Strategies including the popular Iron Condor.