A Temporary Trader

Heather Cullen

Heather Cullen

In The Money

Heather Cullen ITM Blog Temporary trader the wheel strategy

Temporary Traders & The Wheel

When I was young, I was told that if I couldn’t say anything nice about someone then don’t say anything at all. Good advice in social situations – but with investment advice? Not so much.

A lot of readers are committed to the Wheel options strategy that we looked at last week, so I decided to investigate it a bit more. I knew the theory, of course, and had tried several times to put it into practice, but as I wrote last week, it just didn’t seem to be a viable strategy to make money. I thought maybe I am missing something so decided to investigate further. I went down the wheel strategy rabbit hole. One name kept coming up: Jake Broe. He had a lot of videos (50) and followers (423k) on YouTube.

Heather Cullen Blog The Wheel Temporary Traders

88k views? 423k subscribers? That made my blog look positively puny! Clearly, he knew something I didn’t. So, I watched some of his videos where he explained the Wheel strategy.

Heather Cullen ITM Blog The Wheel Temporary Traders

Then, as there were 50 videos and I didn’t have that much time, I thought I would watch the most recent one. It was made on 22nd June 2022. It started with him giving his view that the market was going to keep going down, he had the charts to prove it, and so he had liquidated all his positions so that he could short the Nasdaq.

He showed a screen shot of his account showing that he had made $1k overnight, which he had, but naturally my attention went to his YTD performance. Here it is:

Heather Cullen ITM Blog The Wheel Temporary Traders

Yes, he made $1k overnight – but check out the YTD. In 5 months, he lost 57% of his capital! That got my attention. Are people really following someone who loses that much money? I started to listen attentively.

He had cashed up so that he could use all his money to short (buy puts on) QQQ, ATM, short dated (3 months, September expiry). Being ‘safe’, he was going to buy one third this week, another third the next week and the rest the week after, and then sell them all 30 days before expiry in mid August.

 Here are some of the quotes from the video:

I’m using all available cash to short the Nasdaq . . . How can I lose money on this trade? I’ll only lose money if this is the bottom and there is a V-shaped recovery – but there are a lot of miracles that need to happen in the next 2-3 months for me to lose money on this trade! . . . I am 100% willing to lose all my money if I am wrong on my investment thesis.”

Brave words. Here’s the chart with his entries and exit:

Heather Cullen ITM Blog The Wheel Temporary Traders

Well, it was the last video he ever made. Obviously, he was completely wiped out. Fair enough, he was ‘100% willing to lose’. But this is a guy with tens of thousands of people following his advice – what about them? Did he care that they were wiped out too?

Heather Cullen ITM Blog The Wheel Temporary Traders

I have hesitated about writing this blog post. Schadenfreude is an unattractive trait – but if I keep people from being sucked into losing their money by following bad advice then I am willing to wear it.

To the markets . . .

Well, good news for a change! All 3 major indices are finally making new all-time highs. All have now exceeded the highs of Dec 21 / Jan 22. Excellent news! “Let joy be unconfin’d!”

Heather Cullen ITM Blog The Wheel Temporary Traders

SPY Chart

SPY closed at a new high of $487.41, and has been trading over the resistance line for 6 days now. After the initial long green candle, the rest have been relatively small candles but heading upwards which I think is a good sign. Doesn’t look like ‘irrational exuberance’ to me, more a slow, steady ascent. However, a retracement to test support at 480 would be entirely normal behavior. We’ll just have to keep watching to see what it is going to do.

Heather Cullen ITM Blog The Wheel Temporary Traders

Since we entered the trade in November, SPY is now up 12.4%. If you are using a strike of 50% your position is up 25%, and if you are slightly riskier at 60% then you will be up 30%. In just over 2 months? I can live with that. About time we had a good trade! And keeping things in perspective:

Heather Cullen ITM Blog The Wheel Temporary Traders

SPYG Chart

Similar to SPY, other than it is not making new all-time highs. We got into the trade in late March and have not had an OUT signal so we are still in the same trade (although we may have rolled our options it is still essentially the same trade). SPYG is now up 24.6% so your positions will be up 50% if you used a 50% strike and up 60% if you used a 60% strike. Nice. But remember that we have been in this trade 9 months, whereas the SPY trade has only been going just over 2 months.

Heather Cullen ITM Blog The Wheel Temporary Traders

In perspective we see that it has a way to go but is heading in the right direction.

Heather Cullen ITM Blog The Wheel Temporary Traders

INTC Chart

I don’t usually comment on individual stocks, but in view of the effect this one had on the Nasdaq on Friday, and in the idea of selling naked puts in the wheel strategy. This is a chart of Intel Corp (INTC) a blue chip stock, that reported last week. It exceeded analyst expectations:

In the fourth quarter, Intel reported adjusted earnings per share of $0.54 on revenue of $15.4 billion. This performance exceeded the average analyst estimates, which predicted earnings of $0.45 per share on sales of $15.15 billion.

Sounds pretty good – wouldn’t you have expected it to go up? Instead, it dropped:

Heather Cullen ITM Blog The Wheel Temporary Traders

The drop was large: 12%. In one day! Why did it drop even though it had good results? Because its estimate of earnings for the first quarter was below analyst expectations.

Heather Cullen ITM Blog The Wheel Temporary Traders

Intel & the Wheel Strategy

Intel is a blue chip stock, a supposedly ‘safe’ stock that you could use in the Wheel strategy. If you had sold puts 1 week to expiry at 4% under the current price you would have made approx. $18 premium per contract. You would have been exercised of course; anyone holding INTC stock would much rather sell them to you for $48 than sell them on market for $43.62. You would have had to buy 100 INTC shares for $4,800 but they would only be worth $4,362. You would have made a loss of $438, minus, of course, the $18 premium you get to keep.

Was it worth the risk? I find it strange (or not) that proponents of the Wheel never show examples like this!

QQQ Chart

But onto QQQ. Clearly Intel dragged the Nasdaq down, as did KLA (-6.6%, also in the semi-conductor industry). But lets keep it in perspective; INTC has a weighting of 1.41% in QQQ. However, the sentiment weighed on the market.

Heather Cullen ITM Blog The Wheel Temporary Traders

As yet QQQ hasn’t made a new resistance level, and is in ‘blue sky territory’.

VIX Chart

The VIX continues at its post-covid lows.

Heather Cullen ITM Blog The Wheel Temporary Traders


Heather Cullen Blog ITMeter

The week ahead . . .

It’s my birthday tomorrow; what I would like as a birthday present from the universe is a lovely bullish week! Wouldn’t that be nice?

The futures are looking pretty neutral right now, 12 hours to market open.

Heather Cullen ITM Blog The Wheel Temporary Traders

Fingers crossed for a lovely week with new all-time highs!


Comments, Questions & Answers

28 thoughts on “A Temporary Trader”

  1. Hi Heather – I just finished reading your ITM bull market strategy book but I am struggling to find SPY contracts that meet the rules of a strike at least 60% of current price and effective price <1% of current price. Should I wait until the market levels out or do you recommend going higher on the strike until I find the sweet spot? Any guidance you can provide will be great!

    1. HI – Just answered a similar question above. I know it is hard to get options that conform to the original books, written when interest rates were low. Here’s what I said:
      I am addressing this in the book update which I am really hoping I can get published later this week. But – a sneak preview: the new option pricing is mainly due to the higher interest rates, so I have redone the numbers am going to recommend 50% strike and 1% time value and 60% strike and 2% time value. The details will be in the update but that may help you find the right option in the meantime.
      Hope this helps.

  2. George Halongton

    Dear Heather,

    Happy Birthday to Heather. May you live a full and long life like Warren Buffett so we can have the blessings to read your weekly blogs of investing and trading regularly. Thank you so much.

    George Halongton

  3. Hi Heather,
    Thank you for what you do. Would it be possible for you to include GLD in your backtest of ITM and ITMB? That’s what I’m most curious about, but as a bonus, it would be nice to also see TLT and QQQ.

    1. Hi Brian
      I haven’t tested ITM on GLD – it actually hadn’t crossed my mind, mainly because gold is a commodity not a stock (plus I just had some options expire on me in January – they weren’t worth selling so I just let them go) Because it is a commodity it isn’t as affected by mass psychology as stock indexes so I imagine it wouldn’t work too well. Re TLT – again many tyears ago when interest rates went to below zero in some countries, I went bullish on TLT – and got burned, they stayed much lower for much longer than I thought.
      Re QQQ – yes, I use ITM on QQQ and it has worked, but I haven’t tested it on my new system – I am concentrating on getting the new editions of my books out, and its taking longer than I wanted, but as soon as they are finished I will be testing on QQQ and other indexes.

  4. I believe that Jake Broe stopped making investment strategy videos. Most of his videos now are on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He is very well spoken but he was just dabling with the wheel strategy and realized it has its challenges. This he stopped making investment strategy videos.

    1. HI Ed, yes I saw that. His trading videos stopped dead on the day he made the one about shorting the Nasdaq. But it is concerning that all the videos are still there, and people can find them and take his advice.
      I guess I should be more ‘caveat emptor’ but I still don’t like to see people misled.

  5. George Halongton

    Dear Heather,

    Your weekly blog is so real and full of honesty and insight. I enjoying reading it very much similar to reading the Berkshire Hathaway annual reports by Warren Buffett and Charles Munger. Once again, thank you so much for sharing with us your wisdom in trading and investing.

    George Halongton, Los Angeles

  6. Hi Heather!! Happy birthday
    I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of the wheel strategy. It’s never really made any sense to me how that methodology makes money long-term. I’m an old school options trader. Selling premium in high volatility. Kind of the tastytrade way. I love options trading!! Did it profitably for over 10 years. I feel like I have a decent understanding of how options work. I don’t trade options anymore that much. Just no time to do it. Anyway, In my opinion, the wheel trade has a lot more risks in it than the average YouTube guru suggests. I trade to earn a return on my capital. I think your analysis of the wheel strategy is spot on. I know a fair amount about options and I don’t do the wheel trade….. I think investors and traders alike need to understand more about the wheel trade and the actual risks involved for implementing it.

    Again, Happy Birthday and thank you for an entertaining and informative blog.

  7. Jake Broe was not trading the wheel when he decided to short QQQ. He made a 50/50 bet that the market was going down. He gambled and he lost. It’s a great example of what not to do, but has nothing to do with “the wheel”.

    I learned the wheel strategy from a Reddit poster called ScottishTrader. He has helped many of us understand how to trade the wheel profitably. He explains the strategy in simple terms and doesn’t seem to be selling anything. He doesn’t have a YouTube channel. He explains how to mitigate risk and get in and out of trades profitably. If you want an honest way of looking at how the wheel works, look him up.

    I trade the wheel, DITM (SPYG, SPLG) and a few cheap OTM calls. I’m happy with all three strategies. Thanks for your books and this blog and all you do for traders.

    1. HI Jeff – yes, I know that he was not using the wheel when he decided to go all out on puts – sorry if I made that inference.
      I’ve just googled ‘scottishtrader’ and found him on reddit – but it only seems to be a Q&A. Have you any other link you could share?

  8. Happy Birthday Heather! Enjoy your special day. Thank you for your honesty and all that you do for us. You keep things fairly straight forward where most everyone can follow along and understand what you are teaching us. Your trading style doesn’t require us to have to check the market 3 times a day as most have a full time job. You have shown that the less complicated the better and still be able to do quite well. So again I say a big thank you for letting a average joe be able to grow a nest egg for retirement without a fear of going broke! Dave G. ps. I have all your books and reread them every so often. I usually pick up something new each time.

    1. HI Dave – how kind! I do love feedback like this – apart from making me smile it also lets me know I am pitching things at the right level, sometimes you wonder if you are getting it right.
      So – its lovely to have it confirmed – thank you!

  9. Happy Birthday Heather, hope you have a fantastic birthday, and thank you for all your hard work all year long. I look forward to all your blog posts, and making lots of money along with you and everyone else here.

    1. HI Jeff – thank you so much! Yes, I had a lovely birthday, went with some freinds to a lovely french restaurant – and ate too much! Feeling rather sluggish today, but it will pass.
      And thank you for your kind words about the blog.

  10. What are your thoughts on buying ATM call leaps on SPY and for every 2 call leaps buy 1 ATM PUT 3-6 away from expiration and adjust the put ie move it up a strike as the market moves based on my analysis of risk graph the max downside will be 15 percent at any given time and once you moved the put up couple of time you can be in a proverbial bulletproof position ie you can’t lose money even if the market crashes like Covid type crash etc 2 such long ATM leap calls 2 year out and 1 ATM 6 month put combination will give us 90 delta for a fraction cost with extra downside protection Let me know what you think It maybe topic for another book.

    1. Hi Ilyas,
      This is a variation on the straddle – I think it is called the ‘Strip’ strategy? If you can make it work then it fine – every time I have looked at these combinations I always end up thinking that it is a lot of trouble, and also complicates things if you see an OUT signal and decide to get out of the market.
      These days I just go for simplicity – which is not to say that it won’t work, so do keep us posted an how you go.

  11. The reason I’m writing to you is to get your impression about sort of combining DITM options with a growth stock as the underlying rather than SPY. It seems to me that the basic strategy of your methodology is buy DITM options in order to set the effective price equal to the intrinsic value combined with an underlying equity that is highly likely to go up. Let me provide an example: As I write, Jan 26,’24 the most recent quote for NVDA is $610, The Jan 17, ’25 call with an $80 strike carries a premium of $532 yielding an effective price of $614. That’s within 1% of the stock quote. Granted, there is much greater risk associated with buying options against a single stock rather than an index, but I am very confident that NVDA will only go up from where it is today. The obvious advantage to this approach is that NVDA is likely to rise much faster and higher than SPY. Bear with me, assuming I am cognizant of the risk and willing to accept it, are you aware of anything else that I should take into consideration? BTW, I’m long NVDA with a 16% position.
    Peter G

    1. Heather, the “Wheel” trade is really a simplification and mis-understandinh of the “Ricochet” strategy traded successfully by myself and my CBOE friends for several decades. The issue is that it must be used on stocks that trade mainly sideways, have very outstandingly strong option premium prices and usually pay a very nice dividend of 8% or more which tends to put a floor on the stock price. REITS, BDCs, many times are good candidates. If the trade can producr 4% – 5% each month, that provides a pretty stellar yearly gain. I ONLY make the trade on high dividend payers with a floor of 6% – 8% dividend so I’ve already determined I would be happy to own the underlying at a reduced price but still attempt to avoid assignment if possible. This is in no way a low risk strategy and certainly not a “set and forget” one until the cost basis has been reduced a lot by repeated premium sales. I’ve looked at many of the scam websites and books and agree 100% with you that they underplay risk and ease of making profit and grossly overplay how easy it is to find the right underlying for using the wheel.

      1. Hi Gregg – yes, I can see that that would be the ideal underlying fr the Wheel strategy. Would you mind sharing some of the current good candidates to that other people can check it out?
        Thant would be great.

    2. Hi Peter, there’s no reason not to use the ITM strategy on a particular stock – in fact its better than owning the stock. But – the reason I do indexes is that they are more predicatable than stocks, which can have sudden dips and increases – the indexes even this out to a large extent.
      But if you are right about Nividia going higher then yes, you wil do better than on SPY.
      Its always a trade off between risk and return!
      Hope this helps.

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