Just a few days ago, Karim Rahemtulla, one of my counterparts at Mt. Vernon Research, stopped by our office in Delray Beach, FL to say hello. I think he was only looking for some chocolate, but, as is often the case when two traders get together, the conversation turned to the market.

It turns out we were both trading the S&P Financial Select SPDR (XLF) put options. (Just a reminder: Puts are instruments that benefit the buyer when the stock, or, in this case, the ETF, drops in value.)

Now the odd thing is that Karim was selling the XLF puts and I was buying them. He was betting that the XLF would remain above the 20 level. So he was making money by collecting the premiums and letting the puts expire worthless.

I was buying the April 28 puts, which meant that I made money when the XLF fell from $27.50 to $24.50.

Two totally different approaches to trading the XLF puts. But we were both making money.

I prefer buying options to selling options. When you buy an option, the worst that can happen is you’ll lose 100 percent of what you paid for it. Meanwhile, your upside is unlimited. When you sell an option, your gain is maximized then and there. But your downside is unlimited. Given the choice, I’d rather maximize the upside and minimize the downside of any trade I make.

That is the name of the game when it comes to trading. There are many ways to trade. There are many ways to make money in the market. The key is to find the type of trading that works best for you.

[Ed. Note: Rick Pendergraft is a professional trader and market analyst. In Rick’s new investment service, he gives easy-to-follow, step-by-step advice that you can use to create consistent, automated income. ]

Inspired by his high school economics teacher, Rick Pendergraft fell in love with the markets at an early age. He entered his first investing competition at 17, and opened his first brokerage account before he finished college. At the age of 23, on the third options trade he had ever placed, Rick turned $1,800 into $22,000 in less than a week, when the company he bought became the target of a takeover. He admits it was a stroke of luck, but it was a memorable education as to the leverage that options can provide. After a ten year career in banking, Rick decided to pursue trading full-time. To get his foot in the door, he started out in the sales department at Schaeffer's Investment Research. It was not long before his talent was recognized and he was invited to apprentice under Bernie Schaeffer, one of the top options traders in the world. Rick thrived in his new position and twice received the award for "Top Trader."Rick has developed a loyal following of readers who are grateful for his timely warnings and profitable advice. He is widely recognized as a market expert and has been frequently quoted by Reuters, BusinessWeek, Forbes, USA Today, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. Rick's primary focus is on identifying short and intermediate term rising and falling trends in the major market sectors. His analysis is based on technical factors along with indicators of market sentimentRick lives near Delray Beach, FL with his wife and three children.

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