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Is Option Trading Gambling?

Nov 14, 2007
We have seen it way too often, haven't we?

Advertisements that tout making thousands of percents in profits within days and millionaires made within weeks, all by option trading! Such advertisements usually draw hordes of hungry, indebted gamblers who need that "one big win" to recover their debts or losses elsewhere to their unusually expensive seminars.

95% of those who walked into such seminars, paid for it and actually traded options, lost all their money. 3% will make some money within the first few trades and then lose it all subsequently. 1% will really make some sustainable money and a final lucky 1% will make the 1000% a month on their first month (again, just to lose it all within the next month). Anyone who has been in this predicament usually think that option trading is nothing more than just a gamble on an instrument that has no value of its own.

Yet, many professional traders and fund managers are making a good, consistent profit from option trading! These professionals don't make 1000% a month in profits, neither will they ever, but they continue to make a living in the markets month after month, year after year (me included)!

So, what makes option trading a real investment and trading activity to these professionals and a mere gamble for those who lost all their money attending option trading seminars?

The difference is in ATTITUDE. Attitude governs decisions and actions. Anyone who approaches option trading with the "get-rich-quick" attitude will also soon find themselves "getting-poorer-quicker" simply because these punters hoping to "make-it-big" on their next trade, totally rejects any semblance of a trade management strategy, totally cast aside sensible analysis in favor of a 50/50 "bet" and take totally senseless out of the money positions that either make it big or expire completely worthless!

A real option trading professional utilizes sensible money management strategy on every trading opportunity, weighted against the potential risk of non-performance. This means that a real option trader will never put all his money into one big out of the money position! A real option trading professional utilizes trade analysis methods based on proven methodologies so as to put the odds of performance in their favor and never treat every trade as a 50/50 bet. A real option trading professional calculates the amount of options leverage to be used on every trade so that his portfolio is never over-leveraged. A real option trading professional do not expect to make it big on his next trade and he is not aiming for one huge home run but a series of small wins that eventually adds up. A real option trading professional never allow one loss to wipe out his portfolio because he treats the market with respect knowing that no matter how much analysis has been conducted, there is always a chance that the market will work against him.

In a nutshell, a real option trading professional (and an option trading winner who stays in the game for years) differ from a gambler (who rarely survives for more than a month) mainly in terms of mental attitude! The wrong mental attitude transforms option trading from the sensible and sophisticated financial instrument that it is into nothing more than lottery tickets.

The problem with most option trading seminars today is that they don't put these critical elements of successful option trading together! All they teach are how option trading can make anyone rich very quickly! It is like teaching someone how to queue up for a lottery ticket! A real option trading system incorporates all the critical elements to successful option trading; From looking for trading opportunities systematically, to analysis of that opportunity in view of the trading horizon required, to selecting the correct option based on the requirements of that opportunity to risk balanced trade management and more! One such option trading methodology is the Star Trading System that I have taught online for years.

So, isn't it time you reviewed your attitude and approach towards option trading?
About the Author
Jason Ng is the Founder of Masters 'O' Equity Asset Management. He is a fund manager specialising in options trading. Please visit MastersoEquity.com & OptionTradingPedia.com for more info.
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