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on January 16, 2013
first, the author (Mark D. Wolfinger) has the "street cred" to be authentically reliable. i found the book a little paltry in terms of actual strategies to employ though; there are, for example, not much in the way of vertical (credit) spread strategies despite an entire chapter dedicated to "Credit Spreads". the flow of the book is a bit choppy as well and i found myself having to re-read things in order to make them fit cohesively and this is a problem when trying to explain (in plain, simple terms) myriad "EXAMPLES", as the author describes them throughout. this book does, however, offer some helpful, useful, cursory overviews about Greeks, position sizing, risk management and other extremely vital information - particularly for "newbies" to options trading. generally speaking, it's a good start if you're vaguely interested in the topic but if you're looking for clear cut specifics, this isn't a "go to" resource - particularly in terms of actual strategies to employ. i appreciate the complexity of the subject matter but i think it could have been: A.) edited better, B.) probably cut in half, and, C.) offered more succinct directives for traders with specific "goals" or proclivities in mind (e.g. you're "bullish" or "bearish" or "neutral" and here's what you do - bam!). it's not an easy read, particularly for the "Rookie" audience intended - IMHO. too many footnotes, far too much anecdotal "this or that" which confused me somewhat. is Mr. Wolfinger a qualified "expert"? probably. but that doesn't necessarily equate to being a good writer. otherwise, it's a decent "primer" but a lot of the superfluous "fluff" could've been more cohesively presented with far fewer words, footnotes and anecdotes. as a relative "Rookie" myself, i was hoping for something much more simplistic and easier to comprehend. i was disappointed that this offering didn't quite meet my expectations. your mileage may vary though, depending on your experience/ exposure to the wonderful world of options. happy trading!
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on March 17, 2012
I bought this with a skeptical and even somewhat negative attitude. I planned on not annotating the book so I could resell it, but I quickly broke down and started highlighting!

My option-trading experience was limited to buying options for speculation (the "lottery" approach), so I had a few big killings that were offset by numerous small losses. Sometimes I guessed correctly about how a stock would move (and when), but still made little or no profit! 8-[] The author explains how this happens.

In his "former life" the author got a Ph.D. in Chemistry from a real school; that's a *lot* of coursework. So he knows very well how to write a textbook, and it shows. Various conservative options strategies (that I never knew about) are explained very well along with other topics that a successful options trader/investor should know about, such as equivalent positions and "the Greeks."

The book is almost devoid of typos, a rare thing these days. That is more than just a nicety; it turned out to be important because some of the material requires thought and in a few places I initially thought that the book was in error. But the quality of the material gave me faith that it was probably correct, and upon re-reading and reflection those parts dawned on me and I understood.

Some of the chapters have quizzes, and the answers are also free of typos. (A source of confusion with some books.)

This gets an *unqualified* five stars! (But why am I helping people who will be competing with me in the marketplace? I should give it a one-star review!)
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on October 4, 2013
The Rookie'$ guide to Options, The beginner's Handbook of Trading Equity Options.
I've never traded options and bought this book in hopes of doing so.
I gave this book three stars because it isn't a book for beginner's. I am glad I bought the book and think it will be very beneficial when I become a rookie option trader.
Let me explain that last statement. When a Rookie shows up for his first major league baseball game he is a rookie. That's not to say he knows nothing about baseball, he is not a beginner at this game but he still has a lot to learn about how they play in the "big league". That is how I feel about this book. If you've never traded options I don't think this is the book to start with. Once you've read a beginner's book and gotten your feet wet I believe this book will teach you how to become a proficient swimmer. I'm happy to own this book and look forward to using the strategies presented in it once I understand more about options. The author appears to explain each strategy very well. Why you would choose certain strike dates, in the money, out of the money options etc.
I'm a bit of a cautious person when it comes to my money. I don't want to trade options until I understand the basic's like the back of my hand. Had I been trading simple options for several months and wanted to expand and get more value out of my option trading I would probably give this book five stars. But being a beginner, never having traded an option, I don't feel this book gave me the knowledge to take that first step.
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on January 28, 2009
I imagine my quest to successfully trade the market was fairly typical. Eventually I arrived at a fork in the road, one direction lead to washout-- the other an epiphany that not losing money was infinitely more important than pushing for gains. When I picked up Wolfinger's book I was at such an inflection point, and regretfully I'll admit it wasn't my first visit.

Mark's writing style is sensible, easy to understand, obsessively objective and thought provoking. He has a unique way of presenting obvious but frightfully neglected facts such as an admission that, he personally; does not possess the "skills" required to determine in advance where the market is going. Of course nobody does but he'll let you admit that to yourself... if you're so inclined...

It's a book for absolute neophytes up through experienced traders but the "rookie" title makes me chuckle as I find myself explaining things I've learned to peers (full-time professional traders).

Read this book (then read the chapter on equivalences- again). You may lose all desire to trade or own stock (as I have) or learn to effectively protect your investments, or you may decide that options aren't for you. Either way-- you'll gain an understanding sure to advance your probability of success in the market.
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on June 28, 2009
My introduction to Mark's book was by way of SFO Magazine (another good read). I'll keep this short; many have made good points before me. Two major items make me recommend this book: Sound and practical advice and Mark's encouragement for learning. If you ever go to some investment seminars (not sales pitches), you will often encounter some side note/comment the speaker will mention that gives shape to the person, the design and or message. It can make the information more real and less dry/impersonal and, frankly, sometimes more useful than the rest of the hour. The Rookie's Guide to Options has those side notes/tidbits. Remember that an experienced (and successful) professional has distilled those experiences and what better way to follow that success than to know the plan of attack by a pro? Mark gives his approach from beginning to end. That alone worth the book.
Second, I mentioned the author's willingness/encouragement for learning. If a teacher is unapproachable, or seems distant, aloof, he does not encourage learning, enthusiasm, life. I read the book as if I were in a classroom along with other, enthusiastic rookies. There was a sense of dialogue - a welcomed change from the dry option mechanics. Mark also responds to E-mails quickly and answered any questions I had before and after I purchased the book. I spent good money on a good book. I only wish I had purchased it before I lost other good money! Best wishes to all.
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on January 5, 2009
Well, I'd like to start with this. When learning investments I have found that it pays to get your advice from people who meet the following two conditions:
1. That they are experts in their field.
2. That they have YOUR interests at heart.

These two conditions are superbly met throughout this book. The author spent decades trading options as a market maker and for his own account. He has made and lost money and in reading this book you are educated to make trades that fit your style and comfort zone, all while Mark shares real-life experiences and examples as well as the why's of specific trading strategies.

At first, I felt a leaning towards labeling this a textbook, except that would not do the book justice. While its content, examples and insights are what you would expect from a textbook it is much more than that. It is well written and I found it extremely readable. As one of the other reviewers noted, I too have found the author extremely gracious about answering what in hindsight (after reading the book), were very basic questions that I had emailed.

After trading options for the last few years with losses (even after paying some of the advisers that we all see advertised)I feel positive that if I had read this book first (it wasn't available then) I would have prevented losses and increased profits 50K or more. That's not a bad ROI! Needless to say I recommend this book.
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on November 15, 2008
Mark participates in an online options forum. I praised his book there and he asked if I would be willing to review it here. I'm not sure I can add much to what has already been written here. Donald West's review is especially detailed.
This book actually holds your hand through profitable methods of trading. You still have to understand options to be successful, but this book is more practical than most. Most importantly, the emphasis is on decreasing risk. Options can be used like lottery tickets or can be used to make investing much safer than buying stocks, as the average investor does. Mr. Wolfinger is not a gambler, and he advises you not to gamble either.
Is this the only options book you need? Perhaps. I can't be sure, since I already understood options well before I read it. If you are serious about taking control of your investments, then options can give you real advantages. But don't think that you'll skim over any book and then sit on a tropical beach the rest of your life making a few trades. Options are complicated and will leave you baffled at first. If you make the effort then they can be very rewarding. The good news is that this book is clearly written and practical. It really is one of the 5 best books I've read about options.
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on November 25, 2009
For those of you like me who have regular full-time jobs but also enjoy trying to build our savings by investing in the stock market, this book is for you. I consider it to be a must read for anyone interested in learning more about options trading. Not only are the chapters clear, concise and practical, but the author writes in an interactive manner and grabs the reader's attention; he is never patronizing and leaves a lot for the individual investor to think about on their own.

Mark touches on many topics, but he emphasizes three basic methods: the covered call, selling puts, and credit spreads. His underlying message is that options are meant to minimize the risk of losing money, which is completely opposite from how I believe most individual investors use them (speculative leverage devices). In fact, I found it interesting that many online brokers don't allow relatively new traders to use these conservative investment techniques (begin conspiracy theories).

In summary: for anyone interested in using options, get this book... the title says it all. Another nice bonus is that the author, Mark Wolfinger, really seems to enjoy teaching new investors and answers questions regularly on his blog, which you can find at: [...]
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on April 14, 2010
This is a serious book by someone who knows how it works. To me, options were always one of those esoteric things that professionals used to make the big bucks. While I'm a pretty good stock picker, I was always dissatisfied with the performance of my buy/sell actions because of my inability to parse the ticker to react to unanticipated changes in the stocks I held. I knew options offered a way for me to protect my portfolio and could offter a way to get better pricing for my buys but I never could find the time or resources to figure out how that worked (without going blind in front of my PC.) This book has helped me do that. If you want to invest like a professional without having a ticker board in your bedroom, buy this book and spend the time to really grasp what it's telling you. Of course you'll learn you need to do more homework before you leap, but believe me...that effort is WELL is worth the trouble.
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on February 28, 2010
I don't view myself as a complete "Options Rookie" since I've been trading options for a few years and have obtained steady positive results over the past year....typically using the methods described in this book. In addition, I have read several other options books and studied other option training material. However, I decided to read this book for the additional education. I'm glad I did and strongly recommend it to anyone fairly new to options.

The other reviews posted here provide good overview of the book's details so I won't repeat them. Frankly, my objective in posting this review is to add to the total number of positive reviews on Amazon, since this book deserves the praise.

"The Rookies Guide to Options" provides a level-headed, realistic approach for making money with options. Equally (or more?) important, it provides good background on how to minimize losing option trades......which WILL happen! Therefore, understanding risk management is essential even when pursuing "high probability" option strategies. I was happy to see good emphasis on that subject throughout this book. When applicable, the book also offers comments from the different perspectives of a Trader, versus an Investor.

Bottom line, this book is well-worth the money and well-worth the time to read.

Good Trading!
Steve T.
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