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“Big Money, Less Risk: Trade Options” – (Mark Larson) Book Review

Mark Larson’s latest offering for options investors is an easy to digest, straightforward primer on the basics of options, and options trading. “Big Money, Less Risk” assumes the reader is a beginner to options trading, and thusly starts with a few chapters which introduce the fundamental concepts of options.  These chapters are clearly written, but probably err on the side of being too simplistic. All the relevant terms appear: delta, gamma, volatility, and so forth, but they are only covered at the definitional level. A bit more explanation would have been beneficial to the reader, as Larson then uses these concepts later in the book as the basis for several trading strategies which he recommends.  One feature that is useful for the inquisitive reader is a small quiz at the end of each chapter which provides a nice summary of the material just covered.

The following chapters illustrate the most basic of options trades including long calls and puts, and shorting options. Again these chapters are written in an easy to digest manner, but could have included more detail. Larson then begins to delve into slightly more complicated subject matter such as put spreads and covered calls. At this point many investors may become overwhelmed and confused with the intricacies of these trades, but Larson deftly hits on the salient points of each trade and provides examples which illustrate the benefits, and potential drawbacks of each. In any investment book there is a balance to be struck between content accessibility and detailed completeness.  Many books on options trading have a difficult time with this balance as they can be overly complex, especially when advanced mathematical subjects are introduced, such as explaining Black-Scholes, time decay, or the “greeks”.   

“Big Money, Less Risk” concludes with advanced options trades including bull and bear spreads, and iron condors. As with the other strategies throughout the book, Larson does not go into much detail as to the intricacies of the trades, but that is probably wise since the book is geared towards relative newcomers to options trading. He does provide many charts and tables in his real-life examples. These help bring the examples to life and can take the place of laborious mathematical proofs. While Larson does not necessarily break any new ground in the areas he covers, his book does serve as a competent guide to the basics of options, and potentially profitable strategies. “Big Money, Less Risk” is recommended for investors looking to incorporate trading options into their investment arsenal. Be aware, though, that many of the concepts are not rigorously dissected so the reader may be left with unanswered questions that, if left unresolved, could adversely affect trading performance.