on November 30, 1999
This book finally delivered the subject of options into my head. I have tried for years by reading McMillan and with Schaeffers high priced newsletters (where I lost lots of Money) to understand options. McMillan was far too technical for me to understand and Schaeffer ... well he is all about selling his newsletters. Fontanills appears to have no agenda and appears genuinely interested in conveying his ideas to the public.
The book introduces the basics well with just enough detail. The examples are in stocks and futures which I quickly got used to. I have no intention of trading futures but they were just examples to get the point across. Fontanills he confided his business is actually as a money manager of stocks and stock options.
The book moves on to more advanced strategies including his delta neutral examples. He covers butterflies, condors, long synthetics, spreads and a total of 26 strategies. I recently noticed other people copying Fontanills work but ... then imitators will always copy the master I suppose.
I also bought the Options Workbook to accompany this book as it helped me test my knowledge. The downside of the books is that I was left wanting more and more from this guy, and when I put down the book I started it again. Oh, the appendix were useful and well set out.
In summary, this book delivers. It is easy to understand, written at my level not above my head. It is not all theory but offers a practical application that I have actually started to apply.
Thank you Mr. Fontanills for taking the time to teach us small investors the secrets of your trade.
on October 2, 2002
George Fontanills devotes four of the 18 chapters on the delta neutral strategy. Excluding the detailed description of Fontanills' trademark strategy, the majority of the book is geared toward beginners. After providing a rather detailed description of how he entered the financial markets, Fontanills describes several of the economic factors that drive stock prices. Next he moves into the self-analysis section. This part includes information on risk profiles and margin concepts. Frequent readers of investment books will notice that many publications contain a chapter on this topic. Later, he moves into a discussion of options as an investment vehicle. All of the basics are covered, long calls and puts, short calls and puts, covered writes, naked positions, spreads, strangles, and straddles. Each of these is explained and then charted, for the visually oriented learner. Naturally, the gem of the book is the delta neutral strategy, which involves either a long or short straddle or strangle. The idea of the strategy is to help traders profit in both trending and non-trending markets, the latter of which is a very difficult concept for many people, thanks to the great bull-market of the 1990s.
The well-versed options trader will consider the book nothing more than a refresher course, as much of the material is introductory. In the four chapters which address the delta neutral strategy, Fontanills provides a thorough description of the system. After covering what he calls the "nuts and bolts," he discusses several more advanced strategies, including butterfly spreads, condors, ratio spreads, backspreads, and a few variations of each of these combinations. Fontanills finishes off with advice on placing orders and adjusting open positions.
There are two very important factors when considering all of the complex strategies presented in the book:
Are complex investments with three or more legs actually that much safer and profitable?
Do these strategies actually work in the real world, or are they only good on paper?
Many professional options traders will be the first to tell you that simply going long calls and puts are the two riskiest options strategies. Most that I know will tell you that they primarily trade two kinds of spreads, debit spreads: bull call and bear put, and credit spreads: bear call and bull put. Spreads containing three or four legs can be very expensive to open and close, because of the multiple commissions. Imagine opening and closing a four-leg position -- that would include eight commissions. This leads us to the second problem, the likelihood of actually finding these positions. Much like the works of Marx and Engel, it all seems so easy when its presented with laboratory conditions. In fact, in a world filled with rapidly changing prices and option values, it can quite difficult to achieve the perfect combination of price and delta value to actually open these positions. The more complex strategies like butterflies and condors, require a delicate balance of many factors, and as traders know, the more factors that there are to manage, the more difficult it will be to control.
The second piece of the package is The Options Course Workbook, which includes "step-by-step exercises and tests" to help people better understand what they have read.
While the advanced options trader may want to leave this one on the shelf, anyone looking for a great introduction to both both beginning and advanced strategies should definitely take a look at The Options Course.
on January 5, 2000
I was given the book for Xmas by my wife who trades options for a living to encourage me to stop day trading.
I could not put the book down. Easy to read, practical and non promotional. Just the down and dirty of how to make money trading.
This man's style is to try to help others. Cancer victim and now successful money manager. Don't get me wrong he does only talk about that stuff in passing to indicate that his life has not been all rosy.
The trading information is to the point and step by step. I found myself seeing for the first time why I had to trade options. He explains how to find the trades, analyse them, delta neutral trading techniques and how to enter/exit the trades. The appendix are invaluable.
My wife was very amused when I opened an options account on January 5. But I had to read this book to finally understand how to trade them.
Oh, I asked my wife why this book and she said that she has seen everything out there and Fontanills leaves them all in the dust. A real trader that can communicate the concepts. Many other salesman have scooped up his ideas and profess them as there own.
...learn from the master and avoid the $$ scams.
Now to put it all in practice
on August 10, 1999
I've read dozens of books on options and investing. They all work pretty well in a bull market. A pre-schooler can make money in a bull market! The strategies George teaches in his book are the best I've learned for making money in bull, bear and/or sideways markets. Do you know what the risk curves look like for various strategies you've been trading, and how time affects the curves? You'll learn them here. If you write covered calls, how would you like to triple your % return and cut your downside risk to a third, just by using another strategy you'll learn? Do you know what Delta is? How it can be used to maximize profit and keep a trade Delta Neutral? I didn't, but I understand it now and won't make the same mistakes again. What's gamma? Theta? What I learned is that the floor traders are using these strategies every day as they move billions of dollars around. Why hasn't anyone explained them this well before? I used to think straddles made little sense, since the put and call will offset each other's profits, right? I learned differently. I learned about ratio backspreads and how to look for spreads that offer 3:1, 5:1 reward:risk profiles, or even more. I learned about combining spreads to create nearly-free trades, and trades for neutral markets that can remain profitable even as the stock channels between limits. The methodologies are important to understand and George explains them well, including times that are good to put on a trade, and his rules for taking part or all of a trade off the table, and why. I also like his advice that we pick one or two strategies in one or two sectors and specialize in them. I know I'm enthusiastic about this book, and it's because it offers real value for the price. How much is it worth to have an expert trader with you, sharing the best of what he's learned over his career, distilled for you to look at over and over again? Is it worth the cover price of the book? Amazon discounts it, so you'll get it for even less! If the prayer method of trading isn't working for you, read George's book! If you trade an account with more than $1,000 in it, you can't afford NOT to read it. The next trade you make should be your credit card number for this book! In fact, the more you have in the market, the more valuable the book is for you. If you pick up one idea or one distinction, or avoid one mistake for having read the book, it will have paid for itself hundreds or thousands of times. Again, no one put me up to this, but I spent tens of thousands on an MBA in finance and marketing and never learned how to make money....so shouldn't I be excited by someone teaching me not only how to make money, but how to protect what I have? You should, too!
on November 21, 1999
The author tries to cover too much material and doesn't know to what level audience he should be writing so he tries to write to everyone...and is unsuccessful.
The first 5 chapters are extremely basic and describe the different types of markets (e.g., index, futures, stock, and how to spot profitable trading opportunities (in one chapter?)). If someone wants to know how to trade options they should already know this basic information which is actually free information in various sites on the internet. Finally in chapter 6 he starts "Options basics" - this is good. Chapter 7 is "Delta Neutral trading" -- Good explanation of the concept but not enough info for you to start doing it. Chapter 8 - good explanation of the Greeks - "Delta, Gamma, theta and beta" - a good basic explanation. Finally in chapter 9 we start getting into some good stuff for people that have experience trading in the market...those just starting to trade in the market may start to lose it here. Pages 95 to 205 are the only reason I would read this book and then because I want to trade stock options I get frustrated because 90% of his examples are with commodity futures, bond futures, currency futures -- in explaining covered writes he give examples of IBM and Dell Computer. If I am just starting out wanting to learn how to trade stock options then examples should be given on these types of options. Otherwise it is confusing and it is hard for the reader to translate examples from futures options to stock options. I would like to see the author rewrite this book and decide who his audience is...if for experienced traders who are starting out in options trading then expand on 95 to 205 and decide if you want to focus on stock options or other types of options or give examples using several types of options...I only care about stock options.
Don't let the title of this book fool you into thinking that you can trade options after reading this book...there is not enough info there for you to trade options successfully...the author is probably hoping that you sign up for one of his workshops.
on June 11, 2002
Takes a lot of $$$ to do the complex delta neutral options strategies that are this book's focus. Why not get the most band for the buck by reading Sy Harding's "Riding the Bear", which details how the market almost always is weak May 1-Nov 1 and goes up for the most part Nov-April. Then, learn options at the cboe site and optionscentral site plus consider Charles Caes' excellent "Tools of the Bear" (which is flexible enough to also guide you in bull markets). John Murphy's wonderful book, "Charting Made Easy" gives you the decisive advantage of using technical analysis at a bargain price. After learning from these resources, consider buying puts or calls on the NASDAQ QQQ or on individual stocks. As a tiny investor I am up 75% year-to-date as of June 11, doing the above.
Warning: Fontanills writing style is at-times less than clear, beginners should avoid this book. George is a true expert and easy to talk to, but his delta neutral style is pricey.
on August 24, 2000
I don't understand the overwhelming high rating for this book. Some of the concepts are there, I don't think they are all there though..
For a book that is claiming to be a 'course', the writing style was too subjective and not scientific. (for example he defines four parameters and gives them greek letters and only uses one ..).
It could well be this is the best book out there I don't know. But chances are one would need more than this book to go through to get the full scope..
If I compare this to the Technical Analysis book by John Murphy for example, that one was a complete joy to read. The author covers all aspects of his topic and makes excellent references to other work. In contrast, this book makes few or no references to other publications taking about options.
In conclusion, I think this is an over-rated book. It probably is worth more than 2 stars, but don't buy it solely based on the reviews on this forum, but try to borrow it first (which I couldn't do) before spending good money on it ..
on August 1, 2004
Mr. Fontanills provides in this book the foundations for delta neutral trading strategies using options and futures. The book has a quite long (too long in my opinion) introduction on how to get started in the market, in the broadest sense (from the difference between stocks and options, to how to make a good investment....)
Afterward, he moves deep into the details of option/future delta neutral strategies. This part is not a 100% easy read, so I would not say it is an absolute beginner book.
Although the contents are generally well discussed and presented I would urge you to work with a spreadsheet as companion, where you need to test all the formulas the author propose for break-even and profit. Doing that I found some incogruences.
Unfortunately, as a lot of trading books, also this one over indulge in promoting Mr. Fontanills professionale services, but, to be honest, this is less evident than in other books.
on September 4, 2001
The author used many charts and graphs which were helpful in understanding the text. Also, the index and summary of option strategies was well done.
It seems that the main point of the book was on delta neutral trading. After reading the book, I have a partial understanding of what delta neutral trading is and less of an understanding of how to implement the strategy.
The book contained annoying jargon like "put on a trade." Also, an option's delta was referred to as, for example, "100 deltas" rather than "delta equals 1."
I have read "All About Options" by Thomas McCafferty, "Getting Started in Options" by Michael Thomsett, and "Understanding Options" by Robert Kolb. All of these books were easier to understand, easier to read, and easier to implement than Mr. Fontanills' book.
on September 22, 2000
I have read the book, attended Mr. Fontanills his $2500 seminar where he explains these strategies and subscribed to his expensive newsletter($1000+/year). Most of these strategies don't work. He basically uses one stragegy ( LEAP BULL CAlL SPREAD)which may work in a bull market ( What doesn't?). It is based on guessing what happens to the stock in 2 years. By the time you find out, you have paid George over $2000 in subscription fees. I konw, because I followed every recommendation, and lost a lot of money.