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SteelSeries Rival 3 In-depth Review: A Silly-good $30 mouse...is it worth upgrading to $65?

Just an FYI:
I bought this mouse with my own money, so definitely ZERO BS in my opinions of this product. All opinions and criticisms are 100% my own.
*For those wondering about the "upgrading to $65" part that will be towards the bottom of the review*
A Short Blurb about me:
Hand-Size: 19.05 cm x 10.8 cm
Current Mice That I Own/Have Owned: Endgame Gear XM1, Xtrfy M4, Wicked Bunny Rapid RGB, Steelseries Rival 310, Steelseries Rival 3, Steelseries Sensei Ten (current main), Steelseries Rival 600, Roccat Kain 120, Roccat Kone Pure Ultra, CoolerMaster MM710, Logitech G Pro, Logitech G Pro Wireless, Logitech G502, Logitech G602, Logitech M570, G-Wolves Skoll, G-Wolves Hati, Elecom Huge Trackball mouse (main general use mouse), Gamesir GM300 (just got this mouse to test, the review will be coming soon)
Mouse Pad Used For Testing: Wicked Bunny Sprint (Cordura fabric like the Coolermaster MP510)
Grip Style/s: Relaxed Fingertip (Main Grip), Fingertip (when I have to)
\Note\**
All pictures and clips are from a craptastic cell phone camera in a room with poor light, I apologize in advance if I make any photography majors cringe.
Grip Left side view: https://imgur.com/4hzQ8sp
Grip Right side view (Sorry, weird angle): https://imgur.com/XMJmGfa
Mouse/Hand Gap: https://imgur.com/T0GE1i2
Bottom view: https://imgur.com/HLJ5lcS

Unboxing:
The first thing anyone will notice about this product is how tiny the box is. It is the smallest box of any mouse I have EVER seen (I have a sneaky suspicion that's why my local Wal-Mart started putting anti-theft devices on them). The materials used for the packaging are mediocre, however that is to be expected for a $30 mouse (not nearly as skimpy as the Coolermaster MM710 packaging, I think this was the reason for so many issues). No issues with typos that I could find. After you open the box you are greeted with the mouse that is covered with a thin plastic bag that is cleverly inserted into a thick cardboard insert, which utilizes ALL of the available space inside the box. The only other thing in the box is the instructions and that's it. For the price point the mouse is actually protected well and I wouldn't be afraid of having one shipped to you.
Packaging and Contents: https://imgur.com/XBCWtyJ

Mouse Dimensions and Shape:
120.6 MM in length x 58.3 MM- 67 MM in Width x 21.50-37.9 MM in Height. That would make this a small-medium ambidextrous shaped mouse. It is meant to be used with Claw and Fingertip grips. For my hand-size this mouse felt wonderful in relaxed fingertip/fingertip grip, however for smaller hands claw may feel great.
The hump is more towards the middle of the mouse than the MM710 or XM1. Placing this mouse side-by-side with the Sensei Ten it looks like a smaller version of it. It feels similar to the Sensei Ten but not quite an exact miniaturized version of it. The Rival 3's sides feel like this ) ( , but shallow. It doesn't have deep impressions like the Roccat Kone Pure does. It keeps your thumb in place nicely while gaming. The biggest difference that you will feel between the two , and the XM1 as well, is that the flare in the back of the mouse does not flow like the Sensei Ten and XM1. The flare where my thumb rests feels more like a diagonal line to where the flare starts, while the other two feel like the design flows more rounded and fluid from the grip area to the flare. It doesn't feel better or worse, it just feels different. This mouse has low front mouse clicks similar to the other two. Out of the XM1, Sensei Ten, and Rival 3 my fingers sit the lowest to the desk on the XM1, Rival 3 being a solid (but noticeable) second, while the Sensei Ten has my fingers sitting the highest. The mouse clicks have subtle comfort curves that start roughly half way down the buttons (towards the front). I unfortunately don't feel them since my fingertips stop close to where the curve starts. The tips of the mouse clicks have subtle fingertip cradles in them that allows your fingertips to rest for claw grippers. Sadly for me I don't have Go-Go Gadget fingers to use them in-game with my grip style. In my book the Rival 3's shape is a win.
Rival 3 and XM1 top down view: https://imgur.com/5BBo9fv
Rival 3 and XM1 side view: https://imgur.com/1tSAT5o
Rival 3 and Sensei Ten top down view: https://imgur.com/Dn5ODMX
Rival 3 and Sensei Ten side view: https://imgur.com/jI6IYV1
Coating:
The coating is matte (REAL matte, not a semi-gloss like the Sensei Ten) with a fine, smooth texture to it. It resembles a PBT keycap and doesn't irritate the skin. This coating really helps to instill confidence in your grip. The coating does not show fingerprints easily and is simple to wipe clean. It makes a fantastic first impression. The word "premium" crossed my mind more than once as my big mitts fondled it's curves.
Mouse Clicks:
The mouse clicks are 60M Zippy switches. They are light, have middling tactility, spammable and QUIET. That last part may be a game changer for those with roommates, kids, co-workers or easily pissed off spouses. The switches are the exact same ones that are found in the (more than double the price) big brother the Sensei Ten but are lighter. I think the reason for this is because the Rival 3 has split triggers while the Sensei Ten uses a uni-body design. The tactility isn't as snappy as the XM1 switches but not nearly as mushy as the G-Wolves Skoll that I have. These buttons are great for jitter-clicking and those that marathon Kovaak's Aim Trainer or OSU may love this. There isn't any pre-travel on the 3 copies that I've tried. If you click slowly you immediately start to feel the spring compress and almost immediately after that the switch actuates. It feels like a fairly short-throw switch but the XM1 is noticeably shorter. All copies did have a small amount of post-travel, but it was definitely not noticeable in game. The clicks become lighter the further down you press on the clicks, so a fingertip user will have slightly stiffer clicks than someone that uses this mouse for claw grip and places their fingers more towards the front. The clicks have a tiny amount of side to side play but it's not noticeable in use and better than most of the new mice (that cost way more) that have come out recently.
Click sound test 1: https://imgur.com/1WFJRoB
Click sound test 2: https://imgur.com/447nMEX
Rival 3 Vs. XM1 click sound test: https://imgur.com/6UFyBI0
Side Buttons:
Let's get this out of the way first. Yes the buttons are small. I've heard so many people complain about them that it's annoying now. Especially when a lot of those people are using this CLAW/FINGERTIP grip mouse in palm (even though it is marketed as a STRICTLY claw/fingertip mouse). At first...yes it is a bit disconcerting because they are so thin, but after an hour or two I didn't mis-click or miss a button press. I honestly didn't even think about them after that 1-2 hour period. Would I have liked thicker mouse buttons? Yes. Was it a detriment to my game play in ANY WAY past the initial learning period? No. I think they made the buttons this thin to allow for bigger thumbs to comfortably use this mouse without making the mouse taller. These resemble the shape of the MM710 side buttons in a way since they stick out of the mouse like a triangle (point outward). These buttons are obviously shaped to be pressed from the bottom up by rolling your thumb upward, not back and forth like on a lot of palm grip-centric mice. This shape also helps with picking the mouse up as well depending on how you grip the mouse. I also think that for claw grippers you wont have any issues at all, depending on your hand size of course. The front button feels sharper on all 3 copies with a good amount of post-travel (if you press hard), while the back button feels less tactile in comparison with noticeably more post-travel (again, if your monster mashing it). I am not 100% sure if they are using the same switches as Mouse 1&2 but they feel much more tactile in comparison. With all things considered I quite like the placement and feel of these buttons.
Side button sound test 1: https://imgur.com/F3LlqBc
Side button sound test 2: https://imgur.com/SK54tA2
DPI Button:
The DPI button is raised more than some mice that I've used but it never got in my way while gaming. It feels snappy with a medium level of tactility. No complaints.
Scroll Wheel And M3 (Scroll Wheel Click):
When scrolling down the steps feel defined but a little scratchy. When scrolling one notch at a time the scroll wheel stops abruptly after each bump. So for anyone that uses this for weapon swapping, or for jumping/double jumping there is no guess work on what weapon was picked or when the double jump was activated. It is just easy enough to scroll and is virtually silent. When scrolling up however it is MUCH scratchier feeling, and loud when scrolled moderately-fast to fast. The saving grace is that the scratchy sound is quiet when you only scroll one or two steps at a time. The tactility is still there at least and feels the same as when scrolled down. The rubber material on the Scroll Wheel feels nice and grippy without irritating the skin.
The M3 click is quiet, easy to actuate and completely spammable. I like this click a lot, especially since I use it often in certain games to dodge. The M3 side actuation is just as easy to press as it is to press straight down, another win. It only actuates while pressing to the right though, sorry middle finger users. The first time you side actuate the wheel you may feel a double press, this doesn't happen again unless you manually push the wheel back towards the left. Overall I think the Scroll wheel functions great, the only gripes that I have with it I would consider minor. I think very few will complain about it, but I had to mention it for all of the mouse connoisseurs out there.
Scroll wheel and M3 Sound test (listen closely towards the end of the clip to hear that double press that I was talking about): https://imgur.com/bEsXMrm
Mouse Feet:
The stock mouse feet are standard Teflon mouse feet. These in particular are not as fast as the stock G-wolves mouse feet, but they don't feel super slow either. After you break them in they feel smoother, a bit quicker but still maintain good control. They cover a nice amount of surface area and have placed the mouse feet well. They placed two smaller mouse feet in the front and a much bigger foot in the back making a smiley face for your viewing pleasure (or a happy mistake). This is the smart play since more weight will be in the back since that is where most of the weight of your hand rests. There is a cutout around the sensor for a mouse foot but they chose not to put one there. I would have preferred to have one around it since this would take some pressure off of the middle of the mouse and disperse the weight more evenly. However, this mouse is relatively short from front to back which mitigates the problem. The downfall of these skates is how thin they are and the fact that they don't have rounded edges. I don't feel like these will last long which will force you to find aftermarket options. Steelseries does sell replacement mouse feet on their website for around $5, but in my honest opinion I would look elsewhere. The non-rounded edges didn't bother me, nor did I find them to be scratchy, but if you use a really soft mouse pad I have little doubt that you will. Not to mention that when they start to really wear down you will most likely feel it on your mousepad. A nice touch is that they added deep cutouts next to the mouse feet for easy, non-destructive removal. Overall I like the shape of the feet, but they are too thin and could have used rounded edges. PTFE feet on a budget mouse may be too much to ask for.
Cable and Strain Relief:
This cable would have been praised as one of the absolute best cables available...4 years ago. This is by far the biggest con (build wise) of the whole mouse. It is however relatively lightweight and is small in diameter. It isn't crazy stiff but it does hold some of the jankiness that happens while sitting in packaging for a while. After about 3-4 days the kinks started to work themselves out but there was a loop that never completely went away even after undoing it several times. Every now and then it would hit the back of my hand while swiping upward which was super distracting. In my experience I didn't notice the cable 95% of the time when I put it in the bungee built into my monitor; while it was on a bungee at desk-level I didn't feel it around 90% of the time. The strain relief is also a minor con since it is not angled and comes straight out. Luckily the strain relief is flexible so if you have the bungee up higher like I did it really helps to eliminate the feeling of cable drag. If you're at desk level...not so much. Both problems are not deal breakers but definitely something to be aware of. (Sorry I accidentally deleted the photos of the original mouse feet).
Full Strain Relief (outside of the mouse): https://imgur.com/B3MBKQt
Weight and Balance:
All 3 mice that I tried weighed 81g with a bit of cable on my scale. This was nice to see consistency in their molding process. The mouse feels very balanced. I grip the mouse with my thumb and ring finger (parallel from each other) to find where the weight distribution is on all my mice. I like this weight. It is light enough to where it disappears in my hand when I play but heavy enough to feel stable. Two thumbs up.
Stock weight: https://imgur.com/TrjaqNI
Balance test: https://imgur.com/VGi0Ynz
Sensor:
The TrueMove Core Sensor, which I believe is a version of the Pixart PMW 3331, has cpi steps ranging from 100 to 8,500 CPI. These can be adjusted in steps of 100. It has 35g of acceleration, which isn't the quickest that I've seen but faster than some mouse favorites that have come out in 2019 and 2020. This is a big part of how they were able to keep the cost so low. HOWEVER, I don't want anyone to think that this thing can't keep up in fast paced games. I mainly play FPS games and no matter how fast I moved this mouse it never lost track or was any less precise than my PMW 3360,3366, HERO or 3389 sensors. It feels just like a 3360 sensor to me, but not as snappy as a 3389. I never got this mouse to spin out. I will say, I have heard reports of some users having occasional spin outs on hard mouse pads. Sadly I do not have a hard mouse pad anymore to test this. The two biggest problems that this sensor has is 1) The liftoff distance, and 2) The sensor placement.
The sensor liftoff distance didn't bother me much since I use 800 DPI and my 360 degree range is roughly a few inches shorter (width wise) than the Artisan Raiden XL. I think this liftoff distance will affect those that use their entire desk space to make a 360 degree turn. For those that barely lift their mice I don't think that the liftoff distance will be an issue. The sensor liftoff distance can not be changed in the software...bummer.
EDIT My exact 360 range is 17.05 inches/43.30 centimeters. This was calculated here https://gamepros.gg/mouse-sensitivity-converter for any that are interested.
The sensor placement is the BIGGEST con for me, even above the cable and strain relief. It is located too far back. Some folks have raised their DPI levels to combat this problem, but for me I didn't want to mess with my muscle memory. This is a problem because your up, down, left, and right movements will be exactly the same as any another mouse, BUT when you make an arcing motion with this mouse this makes you have to move your wrist, arm, or both (depending on if you're a finger, wrist, arm, or a hybrid aimer) just a bit more to hit the same target. It was frustrating missing targets by a hair... The sensor should have been at minimum dead center. Even after serving these 2 big glasses of Haterade I was able to get used to it...mostly. I never broke any records in Kovaak's with it, but it did make the top 5. I was hit or miss with it in PvP games. It was mostly good. It was great at tracking, but my muscle memory never completely let me get used to long flick shots. In the sensors defense I was getting better with it every day, but I had to stop using it since I did not want to reset my muscle memory back to zero when I test other mice. In short: The sensor doesn't suck, the liftoff distance and sensor placement (in my opinion) does.
Look closely at where the sensor is in relation to my thumb in every picture. I gripped all 3 with the same grip.
Rival 3 sensor placement: https://imgur.com/HLJ5lcS
Sensei Ten sensor placement: https://imgur.com/Slf2977
XM1 sensor placement: https://imgur.com/iG9khp1
RGB:
The RGB has no business being this nice on a budget mouse. The RGB lights are diffused VERY well and is really hard to tell where the lights are on the Mouse PCB. I love that the RGB makes a "U" shape around the sides and back bottom edge of the mouse giving off an under-glow effect when looking straight down. Oh yeah...the logo lights up too... It has 3 distinct lighting zones that can be controlled individually. The RGB is crazy bright. The biggest con to the RGB is that you can't adjust the RGB brightness, you just have to choose a darker shade of the color that you want on the color wheel. Not a huge deal to me, but some may complain.
The mouse has 3 different lighting modes: (4 if you include off) Steady, ColorShift, and Multi Color Breathe. I think the mouse looks best in the "Steady and ColorShift" modes. Sadly the Multi Color Breathe mode has a strobe light effect when the lights dim on any sane speed level. The RGB does bleed into each other and is more apparent depending on how drastically different the colors are in brightness and shade . For example: a dark blue, white, dark blue color scheme will show the white bleeding into the blue more apparently than say a light blue, light green, light blue color scheme. I actually really like this as it softens the transition between colors. Some (I'm sure) will disagree. Overall this is some of the best RGB I've seen on a mouse. (Since my camera is garbage it was really hard to get a shot of the light bleeding or capture the strobe light effect so I left it out).
Static blue RGB top down view: https://imgur.com/xoBO9hH
Static blue RGB Angle view: https://imgur.com/6U9gGjp
RGB off side view: https://imgur.com/WQyGe3Z
RGB off angle top down view: https://imgur.com/YaamJFH
Build Quality:
"No" is the keyword here: No flexing, No wobbly buttons, No shoddy finish, No double clicking (on all 3 copies), No garbage RGB diffusion, and No Rattling...(scroll wheel, sensor, buttons, etc)!
In a word: Solid
Rival 3 Rattle Test: https://imgur.com/49JlIDh
Software:
The Steelseries Engine 3 software is one of the easiest to use that I've come across. It is straight forward and doesn't have useless bloat. All settings from the software will be saved to onboard memory on the mouse so it isn't needed after everything is set up... GREAT feature. It does not allow for different profiles, which sucks, but on the plus side it does allow you to delete unused dpi levels. Which means that you can run only 1 DPI level and remap the DPI button to something more useful. Overall I like the software, it's simple, easy to use, and straightforward.
Software Pic 1: https://imgur.com/OYHuUPs
Software Pic 2: https://imgur.com/4GNr0C6
Aesthetics:
I really like how this mouse looks. The slim frosted plastic around the base of the mouse is almost camouflaged with the lights turned off. I don't see it until I'm just a few feet away. If I didn't know that it was there I probably wouldn't notice it. It can be just inconspicuous enough to be used in a professional setting in an office (since it's 95% black), or set up to be as obnoxious and Willy Wonka-esk as you want. I think adults, kids, and kids-at-heart will love the aesthetics of this mouse (count me as the 3rd variety).
Price:
This mouse comes in at $30, silly competitive for all this thing has to offer.
Am I Happy With My Purchase and Will This Mouse Be My Main?:
Without question the answer is a resounding YES (to the first part of that question)! This mouse has a premium feel to it and definitely competes with many mice above it's price point. Not just in performance but in aesthetics, build quality and use cases as well. I have very few complaints about this mouse and the shape is just as comfortable as it is accurate.
Sadly I will have to say no to the second part of that question. I could see myself playing well with the mouse in competitive games, but not well enough to replace any of my top mice. The only reason for that comes down to the sensor placement, NOT the sensor itself. I am willing to adjust my grip if I really love a mouse, but I am not willing to destroy years worth of muscle memory for one. Tweak a little, yes, completely change it...not a chance. How about for general use? Probably not. The ONLY reason that I say that is the scroll wheel. It doesn't feel amazing to scroll long web pages and the scratchy sound it makes irritates me after awhile.
Steelseries got 90% of the mouse right in my opinion and if they fixed the few issues that I have with it I have no doubt that it would be at least in my top 3. For now I will keep it as a back up.
EDIT After re-reading this post I realized that my answer to "Will This Mouse Be My Main?" was vague at best so I re-wrote part of this paragraph to give a more decisive answer.
Who is This Mouse For (and Not For):
This Mouse is For:
-Medium to Large hand fingertip/relaxed fingertip users (Dare I say GOD TIER)
-Small to Medium hand claw grip users
-People on a budget
-Power PC users who also game (Accountant by day, Apex pro by night)
-RGB fiends
-RGB haters
-Minimalist lovers
-PC users who have to work/play around other people
-People who use medium to high dpi levels (or those that don't mind high stock LOD)
-People that love to mod and/or customize their mice
Who is This Mouse NOT For:
-Palm grip users (small hands can do it, but there are better mice suited for that)
-Fingertip users with small hands (my opinion)
-People who prefer really tiny mice (UL2 for example)
-People looking for more tactile and heavier clicks (I get it)
-Those that like hard to press-in scroll wheels
-Those that want paracord and PTFE feet stock
-People who can't get used to small side buttons
-People who use low dpi levels (at least those that like low LOD)
-*POTENTIALLY* those that use hard mouse pads
-Those that have to have the absolute best sensor tech
-Folks who love white peripherals (this one only comes in black)
- People that don't ever want to touch software
-MMO/RPG players that like a lot of mouse buttons
Improvements I Would Like to See in a new Revision:
-MOVE THE SENSOR FORWARD TO AT LEAST THE CENTER, IF NOT SLIGHTLY FORWARD OF CENTER
-If you aren't going to upgrade the sensor than please add thicker mouse feet to mitigate the problem
-Change the price to $40 and add a paracord and PTFE feet, or at the bare minimum just a paracord
-Add a scroll wheel that is quieter or find a way to mute the scratchy scroll wheel sound
-Make the RGB Brightness adjustable in the software (low priority)
-Add more RGB modes for those that love crazy effects (low priority)
\If you've made it this far you have reached the end of the main review and I will be going into the two fixes for this mouse\**
Is This Mouse Worth Putting Money Into (totaling about $65 including the mouse)?:
The answer to this is completely up to one question: is this mouse perfect for you besides the liftoff distance, cable, or sensor position? If your answer is yes to the first two they are easy fixes (if you have the budget for it), the sensor position can't be fixed sadly.
I absolutely love this shape so I had to find out what the upgrades/fixes would do to this mouse. Here is how to fix 2/3 of the issues.
Liftoff Distance Fix:
EDIT: Thank you to altM1st for reminding me that there is a simple and virtually free fix for the LOD. It is a simple tape mod (I haven't had to use this in years...). I will add a link to tailslol who also wrote a great review months ago that shows a nice picture of where to put the tape and what kind he used. We share a lot of the same view points as well.
https://www.reddit.com/MouseReview/comments/ewp9wf/steelseries_rival_3_review/
BUY THICKER MOUSE SKATES. It may seem like a no brainer solution, but you would be surprised that some people don't think of this. My recommendation is to go with Corepad mouse skates. For this mouse they made them .75-8mm thick. These are considered to be thick skates and many early Logitech G Pro Wireless and G pro users had lots of issues with the early versions. This was because they were so thick and the Lift Off Distance was so low (and unchangeable). That isn't a problem here since the Lift Off Distance is so high. After applying these skates the LOD feels comparable (but still a touch higher) to my XM1 with Tiger Arc 2 skates and the lowest setting turned on. This next option I have not tried but sounds like it may be promising (if it works) is to try the Lexip ceramic mouse skates. They are 1.2mm thick (the thickest I have ever seen) and if they are not TOO thick the LOD distance will be one of the lowest on the market. The biggest con for those feet is that they are said to add around 9g of weight to the mouse.
Cable Fix:
Get a paracord! This step will cost you $20-25. I recommend this step ONLY for those that are able to safely remove the mouse feet without ruining them (the last step will be better for novices). I have paracorded a lot of mice and I just can't seem to do this consistently with teflon feet. Even with the blow dryer method the glue on the bottom of the feet just never seems to sit right when reapplied. PTFE feet are usually stiffer and easier to remove (in my experience). However, if you happen to have the magic technique to do this you will now have a $50-55 mouse. It makes the biggest difference out of the 2 mods/fixes, if you don't mind the stock LOD that is (more details on feel below). After this mod the mouse still feels well balanced even after removing the bulky front strain relief. I have tried cables from CeeSa, Paraflex, Space Cables and a few others. They have all been good. If you are from the USA I highly recommend Scace Cables (the cable I used was from them) as the shipping is faster, quality is just as good as the others AND it has a bit more customization options. If you live in the Eastern Hemisphere I would go with CeeSa, and of course if you live in or around Canada I would go with Paraflex.
Cable and LOD Fix:
This is the best option in my opinion to truly unlock the true potential of this mouse. It is the most expensive and the one that I recommend to do for a paracord modding beginner. The feet will cost $8-15 on top of a $20-25 cord. So just be prepared for that if you go this route. This was the biggest improvement for me on how the mouse moved and handled. You no longer feel the cable swing no matter where your mouse bungee is. I didn't notice much cable drag before but after I swapped the cable out it became VERY apparent how much cable drag there actually was. I've paracorded many mice and it was pretty easy to do. After changing the cable it also made the mouse 3g lighter (for some I'm sure is the biggest improvement). You can also situate the aftermarket strain relief to be angled as well when you put the mouse back together, another win! The mouse feet were a nice upgrade, truly, but the better cable completely transforms how the mouse felt for me. It also increases the mouse's sex appeal...if your significant other gets turned on by tech and matching setups.
Rival 3 weight after Paracord and Corepad upgrades: https://imgur.com/TJMKBYH
*NOTE*
The original strain relief can be used with a paracord, BUT you will have to use a drill to widen the hole for the paracord to fit. I did this on the XM1 because it looks much cleaner that way, on this mouse though a standard heat shrink looks just fine (and of course sheds a few grams). Another tip, the cable will come with a long black heat shrink and a shorter clear heat shrink for the front. I would make sure that after you get the black and clear heat shrinks applied correctly to pull the clear heat shrink partially through the opening hole. Doing this will make the fit more snug and the cable will have no side to side movement. To do this (if you already closed the mouse and it wobbles) GENTLY pull the cord outward while twisting the cable back and forth until a portion of the heat shrink is visible.
I recommend the heat shrink to look like this: https://imgur.com/juNhwiu
Which Fix is worth it and Answering a Future Question
EDIT After adding in the tape mod I wanted to recommend to everyone, who has a problem with the LOD, to try the tape mod FIRST before spending any extra money on mouse skates. After you apply the tap mod try it out in-game for awhile. This should be easier to tell if the mouse is for you without being distracted by the LOD.
If you don't mind the cable, are afraid of opening the mouse, just want to make the mouse better on a budget, and/or just want better LOD, then go with the Corepad skates. You will have only $40 invested and this will compete directly with the stock Razer Viper Mini (for my hand size this one would win hands down). If you want to go all out because you love this mouse and want to transform it into a head-clicking monster no matter the cost than go with the paracord and LOD option for around $65. For me, even after all of these mods, the mouse was still not able to beat my main (that still has a horrible cable and stock mousefeet). Don't get me wrong, it is DRASTICALLY improved, but the sensor placement is still the Achilles heel for me.
Some of you (I'm sure) are already thinking of typing in the comments, "Why would you put so much money into a $30 mouse when you could buy a mouse for $50-$70 with all of those features already added and has a better sensor?". That is a very valid question. And to those people I give you one answer: SHAPE. It doesn't matter if you can get a Model 0 for $50, an XM1 for $60, or even a wireless G305 for under $50. If the shape doesn't do it for you it won't matter how great the sensor is, how soft the cable is, how fast the feet are, how many extras come in the box, or how fast those new optical switches are. It's actually better for people that almost always add their preferred skates and paracords to there mice to their liking and to also match their setup. For people like that it won't matter how good the stock cable or mouse feet are if they are going to take them off anyway and add $35 onto an already $70 mouse.
Ending Statement
Thanks to all that made it this far! I hope I was able to shed some light on this mouse for any that were interested. Overall this mouse is one of the best price to performance purchases I have seen in the mouse world to date. If they fixed the couple of gripes that myself and many others have with the mouse this could absolutely be THE option in it's price range.
If you have any questions or would like to see more pics/clips please feel free to ask in the comment section and I will do my best to oblige. And as always if anyone spots any mistakes in the review I will be happy to fix all mistakes to avoid any misinformation.
Happy clicking everyone!
submitted by MinalanSpellmonger to MouseReview

/r/thetagang needs a FAQ/wiki so I wrote one

EDIT: Wiki now exists and has more info not in this post.

Overview

What is this place? What is theta gang?

/thetagang is a sub for traders who are interested in selling options.

An option? What's that?

Options are derivative financial instruments, which means they derive their value from an underlying, such a stock or commodity. Options are a contract in which the buyer has the right but not the obligation to buy or sell the underlying at an agreed upon price on or by a certain date.
All options have an expiration date after which they stop trading. Because they eventually expire they are also wasting assets, which means they lose extrinsic value as time passes. This is where theta gang comes in.

Uh huh... I don't really understand anything you just said, but I'm curious, why would anyone want to trade options?

There are two main reason why someone would want to trade options: hedging and speculation.
Consider an investor who buys a stock but is worried about a price decline. They can purchase options (put contracts) to protect themselves if the stock's price were to fall. And if they think a stock is overvalued and want to short it, they can purchase options (call contracts) to protect them should the price rise. In both cases the investor is hedging their trade because they are trying to profit from the stock and not the options.
The other reason is speculation. Options allow someone to make a directional bet on a stock without buying or selling the actual stock (the underlying).

Why would someone bother with trading options when they can just trade the underlying?

Leverage. Equity option contracts are standardized and each contract (also called a "lot") is for 100 shares of the underlying. It's a way to have exposure to the underlying without needing the capital to buy or sell 100 shares for each contract. In other words a smaller amount of money controls a higher valued asset.
Options allow a buyer to make amazing profits. If a trade goes incredibly well, they could see profits anywhere from 100% to 10,000% (a few are even lucky enough to get 100,000%). And despite being leveraged the most amount of money they can lose is what they paid to buy the options. This is known as the premium and is paid to the seller.
The option buyer's losses are limited to the premium and their profits are potentially unlimited, whereas for the seller the losses are potentially unlimited and the profits are limited to the premium.

WHAT?!? Why on Earth would anyone sell options with a payout like that? Especially when you could become rich so easily?

If only it were that simple.
The reality is most options expire worthless. If you buy options not only do you have to get the directional bet right, but you have to get the timing right as well.
If you buy a stock and it goes nowhere for a while and then suddenly takes off in price, you make money from this trade. Not necessarily for options. They eventually expire and if the stock soars after the option expires, tough luck. You get nothing and lose all your money.
All of the incredible gains you see with options happen because the underlying made a huge move in a relatively short period. In other words, you have to take an immense amount of risk to make a boatload of money. It's far more likely that the options expire worthless and you lose everything.
And if getting the direction and timing right wasn't hard enough, it gets even worse. Options are priced to lose. Recall that options are a wasting asset. An option slowly loses extrinsic value as time passes. This is referred to as theta decay. If the underlying doesn't move in price fast enough (in the right direction, of course) to offset the loss in theta, you lose money.
This leads to an interesting outcome: an options buyer can be right and still lose money, and an options seller can be wrong and still make money.

WHAT?!?! How can someone be wrong in a trade and still make money?

The value an option has can be split into two parts: intrinsic and extrinsic.
Remember how options have an agreed upon price to trade the underlying at? That's called the strike price. As an example, if a call option has a strike of $10, and the stock is trading at $10.50, the option has $0.50 of intrinsic value.
The extrinsic value is also known as the time value of an option. It's the risk premium the seller receives for taking on the risk of selling options. Using the same example as earlier, if the option is trading for $1.10, the extrinsic value is $0.60.
The intrinsic and extrinsic value combined are the option's premium, and the seller receives this premium in full. So if at the date of the option's expiration the stock is trading at $10.70, the option is worth $0.70. The seller's $0.40 profit is the buyer's loss. And if the underlying is at $10 or less on expiration? It expires worthless and the buyer loses 100%.

This sounds too good to be true. If most options expire worthless why doesn't everyone sell options and get rich?

If only it were that simple.
It's true options are priced to lose and that most expire worthless. What is a wasting asset for the buyer is a wasting liability for the seller. However, it's still a liability and sometimes that liability can end up being a real loser.
It's not just a matter of a win/loss ratio. The magnitude of the wins vs. losses must be considered. The most an option seller can make is the premium, but they can lose far more than that if the underlying moves against them. It's possible for a seller's loss to be multiples of the premium they received for selling an option. If an option seller is really unfortunate, they can experience a loss on a single trade that wipes out months of profits.
There's no easy money to be made trading options.

The Greeks

Let's pretend that I know what options are. How do the Greeks apply to option sellers?

Delta

Delta has multiple meanings:
  1. How much the option's price changes relative to a change in the underlying's price.
  2. The option's equivalent of a position in the underlying (a directional bet).
  3. The probability the option expires in-the-money.
Definition #2 is important to understand when making delta neutral bets (discussed later). These profit from a decrease in volatility along with collecting theta. It's possible to construct a trade where a movement in the underlying does not change the position's value (or by much).
Definition #3 is an approximation. Many option sellers like to sell out-of-the-money options with a delta of 0.30, which means they have an approximately 30% chance of expiring ITM.

Gamma

Delta is not a constant. An option's delta changes as the underlying's price changes. Gamma measures how much delta changes relative to a change in the underlying's price. Option buyers have positive gamma, whereas sellers have negative gamma.
Long (positive) gamma works in favor of the buyer. As the underlying moves further ITM, gamma increases delta and profits accelerate. As the underlying moves further out-of-the-money, gamma decreases delta and losses decelerate.
Short (negative) gamma works against the seller. As the underlying moves further ITM, gamma increases delta and losses accelerate. As the underlying moves further OTM, gamma decreases delta and profits decelerate.
Gamma is bad news for sellers. Theta gang has always been at war with gamma gang. Gamma is also the reason that delta hedging is so difficult when it comes to being delta neutral.

Theta

Beloved theta. The namesake of /thetagang. It's why we're here all here and why you're reading this.
Theta represents the time value of an option. It's the extrinsic value of an option, and as each day ticks away the time value decreases a little. That amount is determined by theta. Theta decay is nonlinear and accelerates as expiration approaches.
The goal of an option seller is to profit from collecting theta. One could sell an option that's ITM and profit from the underlying moving OTM, but that's not a theta bet, that's a directional bet. ITM options also have less time value than at-the-money options. ATM options have the most time value and so the most theta to collect, but are at a greater risk of expiring ITM compared to OTM options.
The more days to expiration an option has the slower the theta decay. 30-45 DTE is a very popular period to sell. Others prefer weeklies.

Vega

Vega measures how much an option's price changes relative to a change in implied volatility.
The IV of an option is the market's estimate of how volatile the underlying will be in the future. The higher the IV the greater the time value of an option, which means options with higher IVs are more expensive.
Option buyers want to buy when volatility is low because options are cheaper. Sellers want to sell when volatility is high because options are more expensive.
The best time to sell options is during the gut-wrenching periods when no one wants to sell because volatility is so high (such as the March 2020 crash). Options become extremely expensive and there are juicy premiums to collect. Look for large spikes in IV.

Vomma

Vomma (or volga) is a much lesser known Greek. It measures how much an option's vega changes as the implied volatility changes.
Out-of-the-money options have the most vomma. This detail will be discussed later in a horror story of option selling gone wrong.

Rho

Rho measures how much an option's price changes as interest rate changes.
No one cares about rho anymore thanks to interest rates being stuck at rock bottom for over a decade.

Volatility

What are some basic details about volatility that are important to know?

Both option buyers and sellers care about volatility (at least they should). Buyers want to purchase when IV is low and sellers want to sell when IV is high.
An option's IV in isolation does not actually tell you if IV is high or low. It must be compared to the historical IV for that option. Two popular methods are IV rank and IV percentile.
For example, if options on XYZ have an IV of 35% and options on ABC have an IV of 45%, on the surface ABC has higher IV. But if XYZ has an IV rank of 75% and ABC only 40%, XYZ's IV is actually higher relative to its historical IV and may be better suited for selling.
There are different ways of measuring volatility and it's important to not mix them up:
  • Historical volatility: This is how volatile the underlying actually was. It doesn't tell you anything about the future volatility of the underlying. This is also called realized volatility.
  • Implied volatility: This is the market's prediction of how volatile the underlying will be in the future. It could be greater than, less than, or about the same as the historical volatility. It's only an estimate and can easily be wrong.
  • Historical implied volatility: This is simply the IV of an option over time. When you're looking at historical data and overlay HV with HIV, you can see how right or wrong the market was estimating future volatility.
  • Implied volatility rank: IV rank is calculated over a period of 52 weeks. The formula is 100 * (current IV - 52 week low IV) / (52 week high IV - 52 week low IV).
  • Implied volatility percentile: This tells you the percentage of time HIV has been lower than current IV. The formula is # of days with lower IV than today / # of trading days in a year (252 is normally used).

What is volatility skew?

To understand what volatility skew is we have to go back to the 1970s.
You may have heard of a theoretical options pricing model called the Black-Scholes or Black-Scholes-Merton model. This model was published in 1973 and became very popular. It was widely adopted in the options market.
The original Black-Scholes model predicts that the IV curve is flat among the various strike prices with the same expiration. It didn't matter if the strike price was OTM, ATM, or ITM, they all had the same IV.
IV stayed this way until the stock market crash of 1987, where the DJIA dropped 22.6% in a single day. This single event changed the options market forever. The IV curve was no longer flat but instead demonstrated a volatility smile (conceptual graph). Strike prices further from ATM started trading at higher IVs.
The crash was a gut punch to investors that taught them extreme moves in markets were more common than you would expect, and options started being priced accordingly. But the volatility smile is not symmetrical, it's actually skewed.
OTM puts have a higher IV than OTM calls. This is due to markets falling much faster than they rise (they take the escalator up and the elevator down). This causes more demand for OTM puts to protect long portfolio positions. Most investors are long the market, and some will sell covered calls which increases the supply for OTM calls.
Note that this is true for equity markets. Commodity markets behave differently. Normally there is a floor in commodity prices (although for commodities with storage or delivery constraints, as we learned in April 2020 they can dip below zero) and IV is higher for OTM calls compared to puts, because commodities can suddenly spike in price due to supply side shocks.
In equity markets IV is inversely correlated with price, that is, IV rises when prices fall (reverse or negative skew). This isn't necessarily true for commodities where rising prices can mean an increase in IV (forward or positive skew).

The story of James "Rogue Wave" Cordier of OptionSellers.com: A tragic lesson in how not to sell options

James Cordier is a former money manager who has the dubious honor of not only losing all the money of his clients by selling options, but even leaving them with a debt because the losses were so staggering.
James was a proponent of selling options and had even written a book about it. He had a now defunct website, OptionSellers.com, which targeted individuals with a high net worth. His strategy was simple: he was selling naked options on crude oil and natural gas. For years he made he made his clients plenty of money. Things were great. Until they weren't... and the results were catastrophic. His clients lost everything and even owed money to their broker, INTL FCStone. Where did James go so wrong?
James was selling naked strangles on natural gas and crude oil. In November 2018, both markets moved against him, but the real losses came from his naked natgas calls. He sent an email with the subject line "Catastrophic Loss Event" to his clients on November 15th, dropping the bombshell that not only was all their money gone, but they may be facing a negative balance.
If you look at a chart of natgas you can see why his accounts blew up. Natgas experienced a huge spike in November and his broker liquidated their positions at an absolutely massive loss.
What mistakes did he make and what can we learn from them?
1. Picking up pennies in front of a steamroller
Part of his strategy involved selling deep OTM naked calls on natgas (call leg of short strangles). Deep OTM options typically don't sell for very much, so in order to collect more money you sell a bunch of them to make it worth the trade.
This is a terrible idea and no one should ever sell a bunch of deep OTM naked options. It can work great for years, until one day it blows up your account. In order to collect a decent premium you have to overleverage yourself. This is extremely risky and you will eventually experience a major loss one day. The odds are not in your favor.
The underlying does not even need to cross the strike price for you to lose money. The underlying's price simply needs to move significantly closer to the strike price and you'll be deep in the red. This is made even worse if volatility spikes, which increases the option's price and your losses (discussed in detail in the next point).
Notice what happened the following months: natgas prices crashed back to what they were before the spike. Had James not overleveraged his positions, he could've ridden the losses out to a profit. In fact, all those options probably would've expired worthless.
There is another reason not to sell deep OTM naked options. Imagine you're a speculator with a small account (e.g., /wallstreetbets). They want to trade but they can't afford to buy ATM or slightly OTM options, so what do they do? Buy deep OTM options, bidding the price up. When a market moves big and the small-time speculators want to trade it, all they can afford are the cheap options, which are deep OTM. This is bad news when you're short them.
2. Not understanding the relationship between price and volatility
Remember how for commodities volatility can be positively correlated with price? Natgas is one of them, and when the price spiked so did volatility. James did not understand the consequences of this.
When you are short options, you have negative vega. As the price spiked so did volatility, and the short vega position piled up his losses in addition to being short delta.
But vega is not a constant. We finally get to discuss vomma now. Vomma measures how much an option's vega changes as IV changes. In other words, as IV increases, so does vega thanks to vomma. When you're short vega and vomma, this is bad news.
Remember which options have the highest vomma? That's right, OTM. So as IV increased, not only did his losses increase due to rising IV, but vega itself started increasing thanks to vomma, further accelerating his losses.
He got wrecked four different ways: being on the wrong side of delta, gamma adding to delta, being on the wrong side of vega, and vomma adding to vega.
3. A total absence of risk management
Risk management is essential when it comes to trading, and selling options is no exception. Selling naked options can expose you to extreme risks, and to ignore it is simply reckless. It's more important to avoid a huge loss than to make a huge profit, because all it takes is one big loss on a trade to make recovering from it impossible, ending your career in theta gang.
Tail risk is a very real concern in trading, and those "rare" events actually happen more frequently than traders expect (fat tails). Look at a price chart of natgas over the past twenty years. You can see random spikes sprinkled throughout the chart. James never stopped to think, what would happen to the value of my positions if natgas were to suddenly spike in price, which I know has happened in the past, and will happen again someday? How could I protect myself against this scenario?
It's pretty obvious that if a one-day or even few weeks move manages to blow up your account and completely undo years of profits, you have zero risk management in place. This stems from not understanding how the natgas market works, and trading it with no regard to risk.
Selling naked calls on natgas is a terrible strategy because natgas can have sudden price spikes, and IV will spike with it. A much better strategy would've been selling a call backspread. You sell an ATM or OTM call, and you buy two or more calls that are further OTM. That way if natgas did spike your losses are limited, and you might even turn a profit on the spike.
Spend the time necessary to learn about the underlying. And don't neglect risk management. If you're going to sell options, you absolutely must understand how the underlying behaves and its relationship with volatility, otherwise you cannot have proper risk controls in place.

Miscellaneous

What are some popular option selling strategies?

The most popular would be covered calls and cash secured puts.
CCs involve selling OTM calls on a stock you own. The short call position is covered by owning the underlying, hence the name (opposite of naked). A single equity options contract is for 100 shares, so an investor sells one call for every 100 shares they own. If the stock price rises beyond the strike price, the seller keeps the premium, but the options will get exercised and the shares called away. They sell them at the strike price, missing out on the extra gains beyond the strike. The seller still makes money on the sale, just not as much as they would have if they sold them at market price. If the stock grinds sideways, the options expire worthless. And if the stock falls in price, the options will also expire worthless, but the seller will lose money on their long stock position. Chances are they will lose more money than the premium they collected from selling the CCs.
A CSP is a naked put that's sold either ATM or OTM with enough money in the account to cover the stock purchase if the option gets exercised. If the stock grinds sideways or rises in price, the puts expire worthless. However, if the stock falls in price the options will get exercised, and the seller will be forced to buy the stock from the options buyer at the strike price, most likely suffering a loss greater than the premium they received.
A CC has the same downside risk as a naked put. If the stock declines in either scenario the investor risks losing far more money than the premium received. If you are comfortable with the risk of selling CCs you should also be comfortable with the risk of selling CSPs. However, you can lose more money in the CSP scenario if you buy back the put before expiration if IV rises enough, vs. holding it to expiration.
Selling a CSP always means selling a naked put. It is not a covered put because you have cash to buy the stock. Whether or not you have enough money in the account to buy the shares at the strike price is irrelevant. A CP means you are also short the underlying, hence it is covered. It's the same idea as a CC, except it has unlimited risk due to there being no theoretical limit the price the stock could increase to, whereas a long stock position can't go below zero (not a guarantee for certain commodities).
Other common strategies are wheeling and volatility crush.
The wheel is similar to selling a strangle but not quite the same. You sell CSPs on a stock you wouldn't be opposed to owning, and in the unfortunate case of being assigned, you then sell CCs to recoup your losses. If you've been selling CSPs for a while you may still be net up when assigned, but if the stock craters you're looking at a significant loss. You hope the stock slowly climbs while selling CCs, but if the stock suddenly spikes your shares may get called away and you miss out on recovering your losses on the upside.
There are variations to the wheel before being assigned. A jade lizard is selling an OTM call spread where the max loss on it is less than the premium collected from selling the CSP. Ideally the stock will trade in between the short put and call strikes and all options expire worthless. You can also trade a ratio put spread instead of just a put.
The volatility crush trade is a delta neutral strategy. It profits not from a change in the underlying's price, but from IV decreasing. It's very popular right before earnings. IV on a stock can spike just before an earnings report is released due to uncertainty (vol rush). Unless you have insider information, you can only guess what the results will be. After the report is released, IV crashes because the uncertainty is gone (vol crush). Everyone knows the results.
You find a company who's about to report earnings and the IV on their options has spiked. You then sell expensive ATM calls, and because ATM options have a delta of about 0.5 you buy 50 shares for every call sold. Your net delta is zero (delta neutral) because you've offset the negative delta from the short call position by buying shares which gives you positive delta. By hedging your delta you've eliminated directional risk. After earnings are released, IV craters and you buy back the options at a cheaper price and sell your shares.
In theory this sounds like an easy way to profit. In reality it's not due to our archnemesis gamma gang. Delta is not a constant and as the underlying's price changes so does delta. If the stock soars after earnings, the call option's delta will increase and your delta exposure will become increasingly negative as the stock rises in price. If the stock tanks, your delta exposure will become increasing positive as the stock falls in price. In either scenario you start losing money from your changing delta position, and the amount you make from IV decreasing must be greater, otherwise you lose money overall on the trade.
You can try to nudge your delta in a direction to hedge against this. If you're bullish on the stock you can overweight your exposure and buy more shares so that you have a positive delta. If you're bearish you can underweight your exposure and buy fewer shares so that you have a negative delta. If you're correct, good news for you. But if you're wrong, you lose more money than if you were delta neutral.
Then you have a plethora of spread trades, such as vertical, horizontal, diagonal, and ratio, some with creative names. There are far too many to cover in this guide in detail. All of them have at least two legs (each leg is a component of the options trade) to the trade where you are both long and short options.

How does assignment work?

There are two main types of option styles: European and American. European options can be exercised only on the expiration date. American options can be exercised at any time before (and of course on) the expiration date.
When an option is exercised, the Options Clearing Corporation randomly selects a member firm that is short the option, and the firm uses an exchange-approved method to select a customer that is short the option. The OCC processes all assignments after market close, and because it processes closing buys before assignments, there is no possibility of assignment if you buy back your short position during the day's trading hours.
An option buyer can exercise their option even if it makes no sense financially and they would lose money. It's their right to do so and you are obligated to fulfill it if assigned. Even if an option expires worthless it can still be exercised. The buyer may be speculating that major news gets released after hours (some options trade until 4:15 PM ET) and when the market opens again the underlying has moved favorably and their gamble paid off. To avoid risking this scenario simply close out the day of expiration.
Only about 7% of options get exercised and the majority occur close to expiration. This is because options still have extrinsic value before they expire, and once exercised the buyer loses the extrinsic value. It makes more sense for them to sell it.
Be aware that if you are assigned you may see a large negative balance or buying power in your account. This may be because the underlying stock trade has not settled yet. It normally takes T + 2 (trade date plus two business days) to settle. Settlement means an exchange of money and securities. Payment is made from the buyer's account to the seller's, and the seller's securities are transferred to the buyer's account. The other reason would be the value of the new stock position. If you have a small account and are now long or short hundreds or thousands of shares, the market value could far exceed the cash value of your account. You'll be forced to close out by your broker. Once either the trade settles or you close out the large negative balance disappears.

What are some scenarios I can expect assignment, especially early assignment?

If an option expires ITM you can expect it to be exercised. Unless instructed otherwise, the OCC will automatically exercise any option that expires at least $0.01 ITM.
Deep ITM options about to expire are candidates for being exercised. They start behaving like the stock itself since there's zero real chance of them not expiring ITM. They have no extrinsic value and in fact may trade slightly below their intrinsic value (at a discount to parity, parity being the intrinsic value). This is because no one really has any incentive to trade the option anymore, especially when they could trade the stock instead, which has more liquidity. A market maker would agree to buy it at a discount and at the same time open a position on the stock and exercise the option, profiting from the discount arbitrage. For example, XYZ is trading at $50, and a 45 call is trading at $4.95. A MM buys the call while simultaneously shorting 100 shares, exercises the option and collects the risk-free profit of $0.05:
(50 - 45) - 4.95 = 0.05
Selling spreads is a very common theta gang strategy, so let's examine the case of early assignment and assignment after expiration.
You sold a 50/55 vertical call spread for $1.40 on XYZ that's trading at $53. It expires in a few days but for whatever reason the buyer decided to exercise early and you were assigned. You're now short 100 shares at $50 while still long the 55 call. Because vertical spreads are risk defined trades, this isn't a big deal. You're still long the 55 call, so you have upside protection which will cap your losses at $360 (500-140) should the stock move past $55. You could take the risk of riding it out and hoping the stock falls or you can close out the trade, accept your losses and move on.
The other scenario is assignment at expiration. This is actually the more dangerous case of the two. Imagine the same circumstances except it's expiration day (Friday). The stock closes at $53, the short call expires ITM, and the long call expires worthless. The short call is exercised and you're assigned. Because you no longer have upside protection anymore, this is not a defined risk trade but instead undefined. You're short the stock over the weekend and no one knows what the opening price will be Monday. If major news gets published Sunday the stock could soar. Or it could crater. This is not the kind of risk theta gang likes to take. You should always close out of your short options on the day of expiration if there's a real chance of them expiring ITM, especially when your long options will expire OTM. Otherwise at that point you're now delta gang.
If both the short and long options are ITM at expiration, the most you can lose is the spread minus the premium received. You might as well close out to avoid the hassle of being assigned and exercising your long options.
The specter of early assignment gets raised quite a bit around the time dividends are paid. The scenarios are different for calls and puts.
You may have read that if the time value of an ITM call is less than the dividend, the call is at risk of being exercised early. This is not because the investor will make money from exercising. Let's illustrate with an example. To be paid a dividend you must own the stock before the ex-dividend date. Call owners do not receive dividends. If you buy the shares on or after the ex-date you won't be paid the dividend, so the call owner will exercise it the day before the ex-date.
XYZ is trading at $50, and a 45 call is trading for $5.25. It's paying a $1 dividend and the ex-date is tomorrow so the buyer exercises the call. They're now long XYZ at $45. The ex-date arrives, the dividend is paid, and the stock is discounted by the amount of the dividend, and is trading at $49. They sell and wind up losing $0.25. What happened? Simply add up the numbers:
(49 - 45) + 1 - 5.25 = -0.25
Whenever you exercise an option you throw away the extrinsic value. It doesn't matter how large the dividend is, since the stock's price is discounted by it on the ex-date. This is a losing trade. The only way the trade could make money is if the stock isn't discounted by the full amount. Sometimes this happens (other news gets published) but this is nothing more than a gamble if attempted. It's not an arbitrage opportunity.
In fact, as the ex-date approaches you may see ITM call options trading at parity. This occurs because the stock's price will be discounted by the dividend, and so the option's intrinsic value will decrease as well. Buyers don't want to be left holding it going into the ex-date because they're going to lose money, so the selling pressure drives down the option's price to parity. It may even trade at a discount, presenting the earlier discount arbitrage opportunity.
If the corresponding put with the same strike price as the call is trading for a price less than the dividend minus interest, then the call would be exercised and you would be assigned early. The trader long the call would exercise their call and buy the put, since this has the effect of recreating the same trade, except they receive the dividend.
It's actually puts that offer a dividend arbitrage opportunity if the time value is less than the dividend. Using the example from earlier, a 55 put is trading at $5.25. You buy 100 shares of the stock at $50. Ex-date arrives, the stock is discounted to $49. You exercise the put, selling the stock for $55, collect the $1 dividend and profit a risk-free $0.75. Add up the numbers again:
(55 - 50) + 1 - 5.25 = 0.75
You may already be guessing what happens to ITM puts as the ex-date approaches. Their price increases due to buying pressure, since the option's intrinsic value is about to increase by the dividend's amount. Once the time value at least matches the dividend the arbitrage opportunity no longer exists.
One other scenario where you may be assigned is when the underlying is trading close to the option's strike price on expiration day. You don't know if it will expire ITM or not. This is called pin risk. What should you do if you're short? Close out. It's not worth the risk if the underlying moves adversely after market close and the options are now ITM. Just close out.

Should I close out of a position after collecting most of the premium earlier than expected?

This is a good idea. A lot of people follow a rule where if they've collected at least 50-80% of the premium they close out of the trade and move on to the next. They especially follow the rule when it happens much sooner than expected.
Collecting the last tiny bit of premium isn't worth what you're risking (a relatively large amount of money to make a small amount). You're picking up pennies in front of a steamroller. What will happen one day is the underlying will make a dramatic adverse move, eliminating all of your profit and even putting you at a loss. You'll be cursing yourself for being greedy and not closing out earlier.
A lot of brokers will even let you close out of a short options trade for no commission if you can buy it back for only five or ten cents.

My position moved against me. What can I do about it?

You have a few choices.
1. Close out
Close the trade. Accept your losses and move on. How do you decide if it's a good idea to close? Ask yourself, if you didn't already have this position would you do it now? Would you open the position now given the current price and market circumstances? If not, close out.
You're going to end up on the wrong side of trades sometimes. It happens to everyone. Sometimes closing out is the right idea. Other times it's not. You can't predict the future, so don't beat yourself up when you make the wrong decision. But always be mindful of risk management and keep your losses small.
2. Ride it out
It's not unusual for option prices to spike only to collapse in price later on. If you haven't overleveraged yourself you have the funds available to ride out the trade. If the answer to the earlier question about opening the trade now is yes, it's reasonable to ride it out. You might even consider selling more contracts, but remember to never overleverage.
Just make sure the HAPI (hope and pray index) isn't high, otherwise it's a sign you should close out.
3. Roll
Rolling is a good idea when you think the trade in the short term is a bad idea, but long term will make money. You close out of your existing position and open a new one. This is ideally done simultaneously so you don't trade into the position one leg at a time, risking a poorer fill on price (slippage) or only getting only a partial execution and your positions are now wrong.
Rolling up is rolling to a higher strike price. Rolling down is rolling to a lower strike price. And rolling out or forward is rolling to a later expiration date. Typically you roll out, and possibly up or down. Whatever you decide, the goal is to roll to a new position that you can sell for more than the loss on the old position. That way you can at least recover your losses, and if you're fortunate, still turn a profit.

I'm doing great! I'm winning on all my trades collecting that sweet, sweet, theta. I want to sell even MOAR!

Slow down there, speed racer.
The second worst thing that happens to new traders is they have a series of winning trades (the worst being they lose all their money). They become overconfident, think they have it all figured out, and place a trade that's way too big for their account. They of course don't realize how clueless they are, discover to their horror the trade was completely wrong, and end up digging through the remains of their now smoldering account.
You've made a bunch of winning trades. Great. Don't let it go to your head. Don't start scaling up massively simply because you've been winning lately. A better strategy is to risk a fixed percentage (e.g., 1-2%) of your account on each trade. As you make more money the dollar value of each trade increases but the percentage stays the same. That way when a trade ends up being a loser, which will happen, the damage is minor and you can still recover.
Theta gang is not a get-rich-quick scheme. If you're going to commit to this you're going to be doing it long-term, which means slowly making money.

I like to sell options on stock indexes like the S&P 500. Anything I should know?

SPY is extremely popular for trading options but there is a much better alternative: SPX. Why?
  • Contract size: Both SPY and SPX options are for 100 shares, but SPX trades the full price of the S&P, so ten SPY contracts equal the notional value of one SPX contract. This cuts down commission costs by a factor of ten.
  • Cash settlement: SPX is cash settled so your account is either credited or debited and you never have to deal with any shares of the underlying.
  • No risk of assignment: Because SPX is cash settled there's no possibility of assignment. You'll never have to worry about early assignment.
  • Favorable tax treatment: SPX options are 1256 contracts, which means they have different tax treatment. It does not matter how long you hold 1256 contracts for, whether less than a minute or over a year, all trades are taxed the same: 60% of gains are treated as long-term and 40% short-term. Theta gang trades are almost always short term (one year or less), so this is the biggest reason why you should trade SPX over SPY. You'll get to keep more of your profits.
  • Minis are available: If you want to trade SPX options but don't have enough money, fear not. XSP is 1/10th the size of SPX, so it's the same size as SPY but has all of the benefits of SPX. The only downside is it's not as liquid.
If you like to trade options on other indexes (or commodities), you should consider futures options. Both futures and futures options are 1256 contracts and receive favorable tax treatment.
EDIT: Hit character limit, rest of post here
submitted by baconcodpiece to thetagang

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