How to Make 23% With an 80% Chance of Success Trading SPY

Weekly options have become a stalwart among options traders. Unfortunately, but predictably, most traders use them for pure speculation.

But that’s OK.

As most of you know, I mostly deal with high-probability options-selling strategies. So, the benefit of having a new and growing market of speculators is that we have the ability to take the other side of their trade. I like to use the casino analogy. The speculators (buyers of options) are the gamblers and we (sellers of options) are the casino. And as well all know, over the long term, the casino always wins.

Why? Because probabilities are overwhelmingly on our side.

So far, my statistical approach to weekly options has worked well. I introduced a new portfolio (we currently have four) for Options Advantage subscribers in late February. So far the return on capital has been slightly over 70%.

trading SPY weeklys

I’m sure some of you may be asking, “What are weekly options?” Well, in 2005, the Chicago Board Options Exchange introduced “weeklys” to the public. But as you can see from the chart above, it wasn’t until 2009 that the volume of the burgeoning product took off. Now weeklys have become one the most popular trading products the market has to offer.

So how do I use weekly options?

I start out by defining my basket of stocks. Fortunately, the search doesn’t take too long considering weeklys are limited to the more highly liquid products like the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY), PowerShares QQQ (NASDAQ: QQQ), SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (NYSEArca: DIA) and the like.

My preference is to use the S&P 500 ETF, SPY. It’s a highly liquid product and I’m completely comfortable with the risk/return it offers. More importantly, by trading SPY options, I’m not exposed to volatility caused by unforeseen news events that can be detrimental to an individual stock’s price – and in turn, my options position.

Once I’ve decided on my underlying issue – in this case SPY – I start to take the same steps I use when selling monthly options.

I monitor on a daily basis the overbought/oversold reading of SPY using a simple indicator known as RSI. And I use it over various time frames (2), (3) and (5). This gives me a more accurate picture as to just how overbought or oversold SPY is during the short term.

Simply stated, RSI measures how overbought or oversold a stock or ETF is on a daily basis. A reading above 80 means the asset is overbought; below 20 means the asset is oversold.

Again, I watch RSI on a daily basis and patiently wait for SPY to move into an extreme overbought/oversold state.

Once an extreme reading hits, I make a trade.

It must be pointed out that just because the options I use are called “weeklys” doesn’t mean I trade them on a weekly basis.

Just like my other high-probability strategies I will only make trades that make sense. As always, I allow trades to come to me and I don’t force a trade just for the sake of making a trade. I know this may sound obvious, but other services promise a specific number of trades on a weekly or monthly basis. This doesn’t make sense, nor is it a sustainable — and more importantly, profitable — approach.

OK, so let’s say SPY pushes into an overbought state like the ETF did earlier this year.

trading SPY weeklys

Once we see a confirmation that an extreme reading has occurred, we want to fade the current short-term trend, because history tells us when a short-term extreme hits, a short-term reprieve is right around the corner.

In our case, we would use a bear call spread. A bear call spread works best when the market moves lower, but it also works in a flat to slightly higher market.

And this is where the casino analogy really comes into play.

Remember, most of the traders using weeklys are speculators aiming for the fences. They want to take a small investment and make exponential returns.

Take a look at the options chain below:

SPY options chain

I want to focus on the percentages in the far left column.

Knowing that SPY is currently trading for roughly $209, I can sell options with a probability of success in excess of 80% and bring in a return of 23.1%. If I lower my probability of success I can bring in even more premium, thereby increasing my return. It truly depends on how much risk you are willing to take. I prefer 80% or above.

Take the Jun16 212.5 strike. It has a probability of success (Prob.OTM) of 81.34%. Those are incredible odds when you consider the speculator (the gambler) has less than a 19% chance of success. It’s a simple concept that many investors aren’t even aware of.

If you are interested in learning how I approach weekly options for income, please give my free webinar on June 8 at 12 p.m. EDT a look. You’ll not only learn how I trade weekly options, you will also learn a few other simple options strategies that use probabilities to your advantage, followed by some real-time trades. Click here to participate.

Published by Wyatt Investment Research at