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VINE VOICEon April 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
First off, this book is very light on the Greek. In fact, equations don't appear until the end of the book. It's also very well-paced, quite read-able, and states upfront which parts are for beginners and which parts are for the more experienced.

The first section, consisting of nine chapters, provides the novice with just enough information to get in over her head. The second section, consisting of sixteen chapters, provides the reader with terse basics on some of the more popular options strategies. The third section, titled Special Topics, provides the more advanced readers with fairly complex strategies involving a bit of math; it is here where the equations (and rocket science) finally appear.

The book has two notable weaknesses. For one, it should have invoked the forces analogy. Generally speaking, over the life of an option, there are two main forces, the time force and the price force. The time force works to reduce the value of the option, regardless of the type of option (put or call) or option strategy (naked or covered, single or multiple) selected. Once an option expires, it is worthless, so over the life of the option, the time force moves the value towards zero. The price force can work in one of two ways. It can increase the value of the option, or it can further exacerbate the effect of the time force. The latter, in addition to a lack of graphs, charts and schematics in the first section of the book, really undermined the book- especially in Chapter Four when it introduced The Greeks (delta, gamma, vega and rho)- the mathematical symbols that characterize the way that options behave.

Perhaps the most notable weakness of the book is the lack of specifics on the cost of running an options program (generally speaking, incorporating options can potentially be quite expensive, both on a nominal and a (percentage) total return basis). Options programs can be run in one of two very general ways. The classical way of running an options program is as a hedging- or an insurance- policy. In this method, the investor has bought a stock, and she wants to either protect that position from price declines using puts or accentuate the expected gain using calls for example. The more modern way of running an options program is very akin to day-trading and generally is, for all practical purposes, a trading platform (usually involving naked calls- that is, options not supported by underlying stock position). Beginners are especially and strongly advised to steer clear of the latter.

The book would do well to include the following in future editions:
1. A glossary of key terms
2. A list at the beginning of the book of key terms, symbols and acronyms
3. An anatomy of a basic put and call option, complete with the principal elements of each, in the very first chapter.
4. A more colorful presentation, featuring the use of color, charts and diagrams, that can aid in explaining key points
5. Of considerable importance, ways in which those uninitiated into the world of options can run into problems, and how to avoid them.
6. Most important, a tabulation of the (additional) costs of running an options program, including one scenario using options as a traditional hedge and one for trading.

For the beginner looking for a more concise and easy-going introduction to options, I recommend two books- Bill Johnson's Options Trading 101: From Theory to Application and Michael C. Thomsett's Getting Started in Options. Of the two, Thomsett's is the better the book for the complete novice, with the added benefit of copious illustrations and exhaustive explanation (although not recommended for quick-study types, such folks can still find it useful as a reference). Those at the intermediate level might benefit from a reading of Options for the Stock Investor.

Potential readers of Mr. Olmstead's book should use it as a cursory, bare-bones introduction, and nothing more. Nonetheless, the book is not nearly as intimidating as some of the other books on the subject, such as McMillian's Options as a Strategic Investment, the standard bearer of the subject.
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VINE VOICEon April 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Many years ago, when I was a beginning options investor, I got a couple of good books that I still use for reference:

The Short Book on Options: A Conservative Strategy for the Buy and Hold Investor: This book is all about Covered Calls. It is great for the beginning, very conservative option investor. However, it is very limiting, because it is really about just one strategy. There is so much more to know about options.

Options Made Easy: Your Guide to Profitable Trading (2nd Edition): This book covers a lot more ground--a great breadth of options strategies. When I read it, I remember reading and re-reading descriptions of the strategies to make sure that I understood what I was reading. It is still a good book, but it really isn't the most compelling book from an ease-of-understanding perspective. I would describe it as a textbook or reference book for understanding the various options strategies. One advantage of this is that you can skip to any particular strategy and easily read the nuts and bolts of the strategy without having to read the entire book.

Now let's talk about this book--Options for the Beginner and Beyond. The difference between this book and the second one listed above is the difference between your average college professor and your best one. This author clearly knows how to teach, and that makes all the difference. Just like your best professor planned his/her curriculum to build each lecture on the one before it, this book does the same. Unlike options reference books, this book is one you best read from start to finish. Sure, you might go back and read certain parts again, but you will gain the most by reading it start to finish. I could describe different options strategies before reading this book, but I can honestly say that I did not UNDERSTAND the strategies as well as I now do.
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on February 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
While the title says "For Beginners and Beyond," this is mostly for those who are beyond beginners. While there is a lot about how to trade options, there is very little about how to think about or understand the underliers (the things you are buying and selling options on). Therefore, this is only for people who have actively traded. If you are a buy and hold investor, you may not think that much about entry and exit points (when to buy and when to sell), thinking mainly to add to positions you like over time.

To Olmstead's credit, the book presents a number of scenarios where you can use options to your advantage, both trading them on their own and in positions where you have a position in the underlier as well. However, in places he feels like a cheerleader for options trading, . There's not a lot about when using an option is a bad idea, or even an unnecessary one. Rather, the focus is on which option, and at times you wonder why anyone would ever bother to buy a stock at all when options are so great.

If you are experienced in trading stocks or ETFs and have a feel for how they move but feel like there are times when you know where a security is going but don't know the best strategy to take advantage of it, this is a great book for you. Read it, study the risk charts to get a sense of where you can wind up both upside and downside and take care to have studied all the scenarios so you can find the right one, not one that feels pretty close. Then know that you're still taking a risk and invest accordingly. But if you want to know more about what options are all about, how they work (not just how to trade them) and why they are priced the way they are (and offered at all!) you would do well to check a few titles like All About Derivatives Second Edition (All About Series).
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on March 23, 2014
My husband asked for his book for Christmas. He loves to spend his day reading and investing our portfolio in stocks and thought it would be beneficial to lear about options. But after a few chapters, he decided it's just too complicated and he abandoned the learning project. Supposedly this book was for the beginner but it was still too complex. He was able to make the decision that he just doesn't want to get involved with this risky process so all was not lost.
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VINE VOICEon May 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Professor Olmstead lost me on page 41, when he begins to explain risk graphs. I've got a graduate degree, but on reading and re-reading I find it difficult to unlock the value of the information he's trying to convey. One problem is that his risk graphs display opposite every other one I've seen, with price on the vertical axis and time on the horizontal. (He says it's the "new" way to do it but I haven't seen this anywhere else.) But the bigger problem is that his explanations (and as I'm a writer, I prefer verbal to visual descriptions) obfuscate the chart rather than making it clearer.

Finally I gave up on the risk graphs and read the book for what else it contains. It's got many good examples of very complex options strategies. (Several advanced options traders said, in their reviews of the previous edition, that they learned things they hadn't known and wished they did before they entered a trade). And the introductory descriptions in the first few chapters do lay a solid foundation.

But this book is not, as the title says in part, "Options for Beginners". A much better source of education (and free) is the online courses offered by the Options Industry Council (OIC) at optionseducation dot org. Start there, then come back to this book to fill in the advanced concepts.

Also, one thing that is missing from this book is an appreciation of the fact that most people trade options online today. Olmstead offers the kind of advice on how to choose a broker which would have been appropriate in the 1980s; today it would be much more useful to see screen shots and feature comparisons of the various trading platforms available.

Net net, in this book you'll find a lot of good information including some advanced concepts that are hard to find elsewhere. But it's definitely not, as the flyleaf promises, "EVERYTHING you need to profit from options, hands-on!"
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on November 30, 2014
Useful book for a beginner. My rating was a 1 because of its awful charts, that the author calls modern and I call very confusing. After all, the purpose of a chart is to display your data quickly and clearly. Here are my issues with his charts, in more or less priority order:
1. He reverses the direction of what is usually the Y-axis, often called the dependent variable. VERY confusing! Why?
2. He rotates his charts 90-deg counter clock wise. Again, why?
3. He doesn't label his axes. Careless.
Overall a sloppy job with his charts that ruined the book for me.
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on January 19, 2013
Options are complex but this book goes through every component step-by-step and explains Optins in a language I could understand. Various strategies are covered with the pitfalls and benefits described. All in all a great book for anyone new to Options.
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VINE VOICEon July 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am pretty much as beginner as you get when it comes to options -- I know basically what puts and calls are, but I've never really done any other research. My husband is convinced I'd be great at options trading, though, so I thought I'd set about learning something. I don't think this book was a great place to start. The thing is, I'm not sure it'd be all that great for someone with more intermediate knowledge either.

The good -- I do have a better understanding of options now, and of the different kinds of trades you can set up. There are several chapters where he goes into more advanced trading strategies which were totally over my head. Maybe those would be useful for people who have already done some trading.

The bad -- I don't feel at all equipped to start trading. I'll need to read more before I'm even close. I would like to be able to elaborate on *what* I'm not comfortable with yet, but I'm not even sure enough to try to articulate it. I felt like I read a whole lotta words in this book, but they didn't really translate into any practical understanding.

The one thing I really can identify has a concrete complaint, which made reading this book a lot harder, is that he frequently uses terms without defining them, or says he'll define them later, or defines them in mathematical terms rather than practical. Not useful.

So, overall, I recommend looking elsewhere if you want an introduction to options trading.
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on March 3, 2016
The author does a very good job explaining what options are and how they work for a beginner. By helping someone understand the fundamentals of options, a lot of fear can be dispelled. A recommend read for anyone getting started in options trading.
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on February 27, 2013
Good read but confusing. It could be way better with better graphics to help explain things. The trade graphs are setup sideways as compared to the standard used by my broker and online resources. As it explains trades you can easily lose track of the original cost and month making you search back through pages to find it. The costs and dates change so much that you will be confused. No easy graphical look back to reference from. Besides all that it covers just about everything for options trading.
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