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Confessions of a NOOB (learning to trade options)

Recently dough (and tastytrade) presented me with the opportunity to learn how to trade options, while allowing their viewers to follow my progress. So here I am, learning to trade from SCRATCH! I’m literally coming into this game knowing nothing about trading.

To start things off, I’ve been using the video content on dough.com, and streaming tastytrade from within the dough platform, to lead the way for my self-study journey into the world of trading. I’m realizing that there are ways to learn how to trade other than the traditional routes, which would require taking on a full-time position with a firm and receiving training. There are guys like me that are already quite established in their industries and just want to have some extra income on the side. There are those who are just getting out of university, don’t like the idea of having to answer to someone else, and who would rather work their own hours and live a lifestyle more in line with what makes them happy. Then there are those who may want to work on the road, allowing them to travel or possibly split time living in more than one city. I mean, what could be better than spending your summers in New York City and your winters in San Diego, California?

Learning how to trade options, and more importantly, TEACHING yourself how to do something, can be one of the most rewarding experiences. It opens the doors to financial freedom and the flexibility of being able to choose how often you actually want to work.

 

Where Do I Start?

To start with, I’ve been using dough.com to watch one of tastytrade’s daily shows called “Where Do I Start.” I was also able to go back and watch the archived episodes on tastytrade where they literally start with someone learning the definitions and basic concepts of trading.

The ability to see old archived episodes has been great for me since my full-time career, playing poker, doesn’t allow me to dedicate time to learn how to trade on a regular basis. I go through weeks when I can put in several hours a day, and others when I’m completely engaged in my poker tournaments.

 

The Basics: Calls VS Puts

One of the things I was embarrassingly confused about was just being able to remember how a put and call worked. Memorizing them is one thing, but when you are trying to make trades in real-time, it’s easy to get them mixed up.

Let’s break these two terms down into easy to understand definitions.

Call Option: A contract where the buyer has the right, but is not required, to BUY an agreed quantity by a certain date for a certain price (the strike price). So if you think a stock will go up you can purchase the agreement to allow you to buy the stock at a certain price even after it has gone up. There is a fee to purchase the contract call a “Premium.” You can buy this contract, or you can be the person selling it, and collecting the premium.

Put Option: A contract where the buyer has the right, but is not required, to SELL an agreed quantity by a certain date for the strike price. So if you purchased a put expecting a stock to go down in the future, once it goes down you can still sell it for the agreed upon price. Again, the buyer would be paying a premium to the seller for this contract.

What helped me understand these terms the most was just getting my hands dirty and diving into a trade.  I asked a few traders to walk me through some trades and eventually I went from memorizing how the options worked to actually intuitively understanding how they worked.

Another thing that helped was simply Googling different terms as I heard them in the training videos when I didn’t fully understand them. Sometimes hearing something isn’t enough and actually reading it or seeing it reworded may help us grasp the concept a lot better. Investopedia has been a pretty reliable site for trading definitions.

dough.com has a ton of helpful video resources for beginner traders, including ‘Where Do I Start.” In addition, the tastytrade Network has a plethora of other shows covering different aspects of the market that I dabbled in to help me figure out which interest me most.

One of the best pieces of advice I received was to figure out what industries, products, and or companies interest you the most and start trading them. When I first started, I kept trying to figure out which industry or stocks were going to be the most lucrative and couldn’t seem to find an answer. Now I realize that all you are doing is making predictions on how the market will react based on the limited information that you have.  If you are making these predictions with companies and sectors you are interested in, then your intuition and ability to understand the intricacies of the industry are going to help you make better predictions. Beyond that, it will also keep you interested and excited about trading, which is the most important thing in my book. If you are passionate about what you are doing and put in the effort, it’s almost hard not to succeed!

For now I’m back on tour at the poker tables, playing tournaments on the west coast of the United States.  I’m looking forward to getting back on the dough platform in the next couple weeks and taking my understanding of this game to the next level. As I’m finally being able to fully grasp the rules of the game the next step for me is figuring out where my edge is going to come from and what type of information I am going to be using to make my predictions on the market. To follow my trades check out my profile on dough.com!

 

Helpful Resources: 

dough.com: an online trading platform featuring video lessons, live feeds from real traders, and an awesome visual interface to help you place trades.

Investopedia: Helpful for definitions and general investment education.

tastytrade.com: 8 hours of live, actionable Market talk everyday, plus a ton of helpful archived content.

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