Course Review: Can Hari Swaminathan’s Option Trading Basics course replace a great book?

By March 2, 2017Course Review

I’m admittedly skeptical about options trading courses.

I was semi-burned by the first course I took to the tune of $350. So, when I jumped on to Udemy (more or less an online Amazon for courses) I was highly skeptical of a course selling for $19 which normally went for $180.

I’m thinking, “if the course is so good, why drop the price?”

However, at just $19 it was worth the money and, honestly, the biggest risk was wasting 10 hours of my life to complete the 51 lectures in the course.

Yeah, 51 lectures…

But, I threw caution to the wind and dove into the course. Here’s my proof of purchase:

Udemy Hari Option Trading Basics Receipt

 

And proof of completion:

Hari Option Trading Basics Complete Cert

A couple of quick notes on the overall course before we get started. As you may be able to tell Hari Swaminathan is from India and, for some people, the idea of having to struggle through a heavy Indian accent may be off-putting.

Don’t let it be.

I listened to the majority of this course at 1.5x and had zero issues understanding Hari. I think absolutely new students to options trading should probably keep it at 1x, but if you’re looking to put the playback into high speed, you can do so with complete confidence you’ll still catch everything being said.

With that little bit taken care of, let’s jump into this!

 

The basics of options trading – calls and puts

All stories begin at the beginning…unless you’re Quentin Tarantino…then they just start wherever the hell you want to.

The author of this course, Hari Swaminathan, chooses as his starting point the inception of options. Literally, THE beginning of options.

Though some traders may find the history of options fascinating there are 51 lectures you have to cover to get through this course and out of everything included in the course I think this part could easily be cut.

Granted it won’t save you much time (14:51 to be exact), but at least it’s one less lecture you have to accomplish.

Overall, Hari gets the basics right and covers down on all the fundamentals of puts and calls.

He takes the time to walk you through the profit/loss diagrams for each type of option, explaining along the way how it is you make (and lose) money from the buyer’s and seller’s perspective.

Many of the courses out there tend to dedicate themselves to buying or selling and though Hari alludes to favoring selling options, throughout this course he examines both sides of the market. A huge bonus for anyone just getting familiar with options and looking for an unbiased opinion.

There’s nothing really cosmic or exemplary in the opening portion of this course. However, in my opinion, Hari does a pretty good job. The 25 lectures which compose this portion of the course reinforced everything I already knew, and provide clear explanations of concepts (i.e. intrinsic vs. extrinsic value) which will make it easy for any beginner to understand.

On its own, I don’t think this course would give a new trader the confidence to head out and start paper trading, let alone real trading, however combined with the other modules in this course bundle it’s definitely off to a good start.

 

Building a foundation – The Greeks, time decay and implied volatility

If I was to teach an options trading course today or point someone towards the first thing they should learn about options trading, it would be implied volatility.

Understanding the impact implied volatility has on the pricing of options is key, in my opinion, on knowing which options to trade, when to trade them, and how to improve your probabilities of success.

Hari talks clearly about how duration impacts the volatility of the option and how it further drives changes in the pricing. Using brief examples from his trading platform, Hari walks through identifying which options have higher or lower implied volatility, and he shows how it impacts the pricing of the individual options across time.

Additionally, Hari covers all the primary Greeks (he excludes Rho like most people). He explains how each of the four primary Greeks impact the price of an option and is clear on how to identify the effect of each.

The lesson on Gamma had quite a few video/audio cutouts and was jerky. It wasn’t enough to detract from the lesson but it sure was annoying. I tried recreating the problem another night to no avail which drove me to the conclusion my whole subdivision was hitting up YouTube and/or Netflix and sucking up bandwidth the night I took this course.

The last part of this section of the course discusses option market structure. Hari hits on the high points of what the bid, ask, mark, open interest and volume mean but he doesn’t go into too much detail. He does mention another course called Smart Money which discusses following volume and open interest to make trades, but I would’ve preferred a little more detail in this section.

I checked out his primary site at Optiontiger.com and Smart Money course isn’t listed. The only course I could find of a similar name was at Brandonbinary.com, a site and course i’m unfamiliar with.

I think after finishing this portion of the overall course a new options student would have a good foundational understanding of what options are, how they work and the forces affecting them in the market. I’m still not confident at this point in the course a newbie would be able to walk away and begin trading options without some basics in the variety of strategies available.

Which leads me to…

 

Strategy – putting education into action

The last part of this $19 course (yeah, all this for only $19…) focuses on putting all the previous education into buying and selling options. Those of you who’ve followed me for a bit know I’m really not a fan of buying options as a primary strategy, though I’m glad Hari presents both sides of the market.

Though this is the part of the overall course where the rubber meets the road, but I think this is probably the weakest section. I really would’ve loved to see a more in-depth discussion of both buying and selling options.

That being said, Hari discusses the effect of Theta on both buying and selling options and provides some basic rules on managing winners and losers. I wouldn’t say the level of detail provided allows you to create a real trading plan, but a trader with some exposure to other options trading education should be able to put the information to use.

The best section of this part of the course explains the four strategy choices available to an options trader. Hari discusses these four strategies with example Linkedin and Caterpillar trades and captures it all with an explanation on how a trader should choose a strategy to reduce their risk.

Hari closes this section of the course with a brief bit on how to make trade adjustments. His philosophy, like many others, focuses on managing deltas and the three choices you have on how to adjust a trade when employing this perspective. Again, I think it’s a good basic technique for beginning traders and Hari doesn’t overly complicate the issue. He does make a brief mention of watching vega and theta, but he assumes you’ve understood the previous material on the Greeks and doesn’t provide much explanation as to why.

 

What you really want to know…should you buy the course?

I think the answer to this question is pretty simple. If you’re a beginner looking to dive into the world of options trading, then Yes, buy the course.

If you’re a fairly new trader looking for a quick refresher on the basic concepts of options trading, then Yes, buy the course.

If you’ve traded options for a few years or are successfully employing advanced strategies, then I wouldn’t recommend the course. Though for $19, it wouldn’t hurt to have access to a quick refresher, when needed, on basic trading concepts.

Overall, I think Hari’s course is pretty good and (*gasp*) would be a good replacement, or companion, to many of the beginner options trading books available. In fact, I liked Hari’s course so much I’ll be signing up for another in the future.

If you’re interested in taking Hari’s Options Trading Basics (3-Course Bundle) you can click on the picture below to go through my affiliate link to get started. If when you get to check out the costs shows as $180, then just search for Options Trading Basics (3-Course Bundle) and you should find it for $19.

If you’ve taken this or one of Hari’s other courses, I’d enjoy hearing about your personal experience and thoughts on the course in the comments below.

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