Updated: Apr 5
When I started my trading career, I believed that only FIIs and big players could play option trading strategies. Besides, I had a tough time understanding options chain, put-call ratio, and option greeks.
Little did I know at the time how wrong I was!
Traders love to read and discuss options and many trading strategies using options. But most of them don’t find all the information in one source and face a hard time digesting all the information.
This article attempts to provide complete information about options and many trading strategies using options in a simplified manner.
Table of Content
What are Options?
An option is one of the trading instruments in the stock market.
It is a contract that permits (but not mandatory) a trader to buy or sell an underlying stock or index at a predetermined price over a specific time.
A trader has to pay a small fee to buy these rights, and it is called the ‘premium’ of the option.
A call option (CE) is a contract that gives the trader the right to buy the shares of a security at a specified price until it expires.
If a trader is buying CE, he expects the price of the security to go up so that he can make a profit either by purchasing the shares at a predetermined lesser level or by selling the CE contract.
Buying CE is similar to buying insurance. If nothing happens and if you don’t claim any insurance, the premium is of no use.
Similarly, if the price of underlying security doesn’t go up (due to either down move or sideways move), the premium of the CE becomes zero at the end of expiry.
A put option (PE) is a contract that gives the trader the right to sell the shares of a security at a specified price until it expires.
If a trader is buying PE, he expects the price of the security to go down so that he can make a profit either by selling the shares at a predetermined higher level or by selling the PE contract.
If the price of underlying security doesn’t go down (due to either up move or sideways move), the PE premium becomes zero at the end of expiry.
Long vs. Short options
When a trader buys some shares of a stock anticipating the price will go up in the future, it is called the ‘Long’ position.
In contrast, when a trader sells some stock shares first (without having any position in the same stock), anticipating the price will fall in futures, it is called a ‘Short’ position.
But unlike stocks, if a trader buys CE (anticipating the price will go up) or PE (anticipating the price will go down), it is recognized as a ‘Long’ position in options (option buyer).
Suppose if a trader sells CE (anticipating the price will go down), or PE (anticipating the price will go up), it is recognized as ‘Short’ position in options (option seller or option writer).
Know the Jargons in Options Trading
The price that the buyer of the option gives to the option seller/writer.
The price at which the option buyer and option seller take the contract. It is also called ‘Exercised Price.’
For example, Banknifty is trading at 33265. A trader thinks it will go above 34200 in a week. Hence, he will buy 34200 CE, assuming he will make money. Here, 34200 is one strike price. Similarly, security will have different strike prices to facilitate the trades between option buyers and option sellers.
The last date specified in the option contract is called the expiry date. It is also called an exercise date.
After the expiry date, any options trader cannot exercise their options.
It is a type of option that can be exercised on any date before the expiry.
It is a type of option that can be exercised only on the expiry day. All the options instruments in India support only European options (hence the name CE and PE).
How to Trade Options?
We will take a simple example to understand how to trade using options. Please note, below trading ideas are chosen for the explanation’s sake and not to use in the trading.
The above image shows the daily chart of ICICI Bank.
The price is taking the support 550-560 levels. A few weeks back, it has shown a big breakout along with a gap from the same level.
Hence, a trader John, thinks the price will go up from here. He also predicts it can go up to 670 levels which is the all-time-high levels.
The above image shows the ICICI Bank Option Chain snapshot for the 670 CE strike price (target level) for the immediate month expiry.
John decides to buy 670 CE by paying a premium of Rs. 2.85/- (highlighted in yellow).
The expiry is around 30 days away, and broadly speaking, there could be three possible scenarios:
Scenario 1 – The stock price goes above the strike price, say 700
Scenario 2 – The stock price stays below the strike price, say 620
Scenario 3 – The stock price stays at 670
The Intrinsic Value (IV) of the options at the expiry decides the profit/loss of the options trade.
IV = Spot Price – Strike Price
We need to include the premium paid (Rs. 2.85/-) in our calculation.
Profit/Loss in Scenario 1
700 (spot) – 670 (strike) = 30
Subtract the premium paid, 30-2.85 = 27.15
So the profit is Rs. 27.15
Profit/Loss in Scenario 2
620 (spot) – 670 (strike) = -50
But IV should be a non-negative number; hence we leave it to zero.
There is no need to exercise this option.
Hence, the loss is Rs. 2.85 (premium paid)
Profit/Loss in Scenario 3
670 (spot) – 670 (strike) = 0
Subtract the premium paid, 0-2.85 = -2.85
Hence, the loss is Rs. 2.85 (premium paid)
Two critical observations here:
When the ICICI Bank price stays below 670, the maximum loss seems to be just Rs. 2.85/-
The profit from this trade seems to increase exponentially when the price starts to trade above 672.85 (strike price + premium paid)
Hence, we can declare that John being an option buyer, has limited risk and unlimited profit potential.
ITM, ATM, and OTM in Options
What is In-The-Money (ITM) Option?
ITM option results in positive cash flow to the holder if it is exercised immediately.
For CE – when the spot price is higher than the strike price.
For PE – when the spot price is lower than the strike price.
What is At-The-Money (ATM) Option?
ATM option results in zero cash flow to the holder if it is exercised immediately.
For CE – when the spot price is equal to the strike price.
For PE – when the spot price is equal to the strike price.
What is Out-The-Money (OTM) Option?
OTM option results in negative cash flow to the holder if it is exercised immediately.
For CE – when the spot price is lower than the strike price.
For PE – when the spot price is higher than the strike price.
Options vs. Stocks
Stocks represent ownership in a company. In contrast, options don’t give ownership to the company.
However, options give the rights to buy or sell the stocks at a predetermined level until the contract’s expiry.
Investing in stocks is a safer mode of investment as compared to options. With options, a trader can make quick money, but the risk is also high with options.
Options vs. Futures
Both futures and options are derivative trading instruments. Both can be used for new investments or hedge the existing portfolio (speculation and hedging respectively).
The options contract gives the right (but not the obligation) to buy or sell a security at a specific time before the expiry. In contrast, future contract demands buying and selling of a security.
Option Greeks are the different parameters that affect the premium in real-time. It will help an option trader keep an eye on these parameters to reap the maximum benefits and avoid significant losses with options trading.
It measures the rate of change of options premium concerning change in the underlying price.
It is the change in option delta per unit change in the stock price. In simple words, it measures the rate of change of Delta.
If the gamma is high, Delta is highly sensitive to option prices. Among OTM, ITM, and ATM options, ATM options will have the highest gamma.
It measures the impact on the option premium concerning the time remaining for expiry.
It is the rate of change in the premium concerning change in the volatility. If the option’s vega is high (either positive or negative), the option premium values are highly sensitive to any changes in the volatility.
It measures the rate of change concerning interest rate.
Options Chain NSE
Option chain consists of a listing of call and put options of an options instrument for various strike prices for the selected expiry period.
In this chain, strike prices are mentioned in the middle. On the left side, it will have the details for the call option, and on the right side, it will have the exact information for the put option.
NSE Option Chain gives the exact option chain details for all the eligible stocks and indices in India.
It provides valuable information like Implied Volatility (IV), Open Interest, Change in OI, volume, Bid quantity, Ask quantity, etc.
It is nothing but the total number of open option contracts in the system. It indicates, these contracts have been traded but not yet liquidated.
It indicates the expected volatility of the stock during the options contract. Hence, by default, the options contracts with high IV levels will result in increased premiums.
Put-Call Ratio (PCR)
PCR is calculated by dividing the number of open interest in a put contract by the number of open interest in a call contract (for the same strike price and expiry date).
PCR = Put open interest/Call open interest
Many traders use PCR to gauge the mood of the market. A PCR ratio below 1 indicates that the people are buying more CE than PE. It suggests people are betting on a bullish trend in the next few days.
On the other side, if the PCR ratio is above 1, it indicates that the people are buying more PE than CE. Hence, traders are betting on a bearish trend for the next few days.
An option calculator is based on the ‘Black-Scholes Option Pricing Model’ developed by Robert C. Metron and Myron Scholes in 1997.
It helps to calculate options greeks. It can also be used to calculate the theoretical price (fair price) of the options.
An options calculator receives many parameters such as spot price, interest rate, dividend, volatility, options price, and the number of days pending to expiry as inputs and gives various outputs as shown in the above image.
Visit the Option Calculator page if you want to arrive at any of these values.
Options Trading Strategies
Options trading is one of the most exciting gameplay in the trading community. Because of their potential to make quick money and some courtesy to Nifty/Banknifty weekly Expiry strategy on every Thursday.
Many trading strategies revolve around calls and puts. Long call, Long put, Short put, and Covered Call are some of the basic options trading strategies.
We will explore some of the advanced options strategies.
Options spread is created when a trader buys and sells options of the same security but with different strike prices and/or expiry dates.
Traders use the option spreads in different ways. For example, the buyer of an option will use a spread to reduce the cost of his trade. Option sellers will use the spread to reduce the margin requirements and to put a cap on the loss.
There are three types of spreads:
Horizontal Spread (Calendar Spread)
Vertical Spreads are built using the same security options, same expiry month but with different strike prices.
Horizontal Spread or Calendar Spread are constructed using the same security options, same strike price, but with different expiry dates.
Diagonal spreads are constructed using the options of the same security but different strike prices and expiry dates.
Credit Put Spread and Credit Call Spread are the most popular options for spreads trading strategies.
Credit Put Spread
It is a type of vertical spread designed to earn profits when a trader expects a moderate rise in the underlying security.
It involves the purchase and sale of put options of the same security, with different strike prices with the same expiry date.
The above image shows an example of credit put spread. The price took the support at the support trend line till the previous day.
On 26-Mar-2021, the price opened with a gap and displayed a strong momentum on the upside. Hence, there is a higher probability that the price can witness a positive close for the day.
Hence, a trader can credit put spread to make some profits.
Asian Paint (spot) price at 9.30 AM (15 mins after open) is 2436
Buy 2420 PE at 9.30 AM is 68.7
Sell 2440 PE at 9.30 AM is 78.7
The above image shows the margin details to execute this strategy.
Approx 31-32K are required to execute this strategy, and this strategy gives the margin benefit of 96K.
The above image shows the result of the trade.
As expected, the price closed on the upside. 2440 PE closed at 45, and 2420 PE closed at 38.2.
Hence, the profit made is around 1000, which is close to 3% returns on the capital deployed in 1 day.
This credit put spread strategy has one common feature, which acts as both advantage and disadvantage.
It puts a cap on both the profits and loss.
In the above case, the maximum profit would have been 3000 [(78.7-68.7) * 300]
[(the price of 2440 PE at entry – price of 2420 PE at entry) * Lot Size]
Similarly, the maximum loss would have been 3000 [(20-10) * 300]
[(The difference between the strike prices – premium difference) * Lot Size]
Credit Call Spread works in a similar way but on the opposite side. It should be deployed when we expect a fall in the security.
It is a simple options trading strategy used by investors to protect their portfolio and generate some extra profits.
In this strategy, an investor owns the shares of a company and sells the OTM call option in the same proportion. It works well when we have a moderately bullish view of the stocks.
Let’s say an investor is holding 100 shares of XYZ stock trading at 100 in April. He is moderately bullish on this stock, but he wants to make some money if it displays a sideways move.
In this scenario, he can deploy a covered call option strategy by selling May 110 call of lot size 100 available at a premium of Rs.4.
He will receive Rs.4 x 100 = Rs. 400
The breakeven point is 96 (purchase price – premium received). In simple words, he will end up making some profits if the price stays above 96 during the May expiry.
Below are the possible scenarios:
Scenario 1: The stock price of XYZ rises to Rs 114.
In this case, the strike price on expiry (114) is greater than the strike price of the sold call option (110).
Hence, the investor will sell the holding shares and makes a profit of (Rs 114 – Rs 110) X 100 = Rs. 400
His total profit is Rs. 800 (above amount + premium received)
Scenario 2: The stock price of XYZ falls to Rs 80
In this case, investor will lose (Rs 100 – Rs 80) X 100 = Rs. 2000 in value.
He may not prefer to sell the shares; hence this loss will stay on the paper. If we consider the premiums received by selling the CE, the loss will be around Rs. 1600.
Short Strangle Trading Strategy
Traders deploy this trading strategy when they expect a complete sideways movement.
A short strangle consists of one short call (CE) and one short put (PE).
Both the options should be from the same underlying instrument but with different strike prices.
The profit potential is limited to the total premiums received.
The potential loss is in this strategy is unlimited if the stock price rises and marginal if the stock price falls.
The above image shows a Nifty 15-min chart.
On 31st March 2021, it opened exactly at POC (point of control), and it didn’t break either the previous day high or the previous day close in the first 15-minute after the open.
This condition is called ‘Balanced Open’ in the Market Profile.
(It is a simple concept in market profile. To know more about such concepts, take the Market Profile online course)
Hence, a market profile trader expects a complete sideways move within the previous day range (i.e., between 14765-14948).
Hence, he decides to sell 14900 CE and 14700 PE at 9.30 AM (after 15 minutes of market open).
At 9.30 AM, Nifty 14900 CE is at Rs.33.35, and Nifty 14700 PE is at Rs.81
So, Net Credit = Rs.33.35 + Rs.81 = Rs.114.35
The profit potential is limited to the total premiums received, which is Rs.114.35 (only if held till expiry).
Otherwise, EOD close if it is an intraday trade and the price closes between 14700 and 14900.
The potential loss is unlimited on the upside because the stock price can go to infinity.
On the downside, the potential loss is marginal because the stock price can fall only to zero.
Breakeven stock price at expiration
There are two potential breakeven points:
Higher strike price plus total premium: In this example: 14900 + 114 = 15014
Lower strike price minus total premium: In this example: 14700 – 114 = 14586
If Nifty closes at 14800 (or anywhere between 14700-14900).
It is within the range of the strike prices (14700 PE and 14900 CE).
Hence, both CE and PE options will expire without worth, and therefore the entire premium is the profit.
So, the net profit = Rs. 114 (Rs.33.35 + Rs.81)
If Nifty closes at 14500.
CE will become worthless. But there will be some losses from PE.
Total Loss = 14700-14500 = 200 Points.
Net Loss = 200 – 81 (premium received from 14700 PE) = Rs.119
So, the net loss = Rs. 119
If Nifty closes at 15100.
PE will become worthless. But there will be some losses from CE.
Total Loss = 15100-14900 = 200 Points.
Net Loss = 200 – 33.35 (premium received from 14900 CE) = Rs.166.65
So, the net loss = Rs. 166.65
Now let us see what happened to the result on the intraday level:
Let us see what happened to the CE and PE options.
Profit in 14900 CE (Entry – Exit) = 33.35 – 13.5 = 19.85
Profit in 14700 PE (Entry – Exit) = 81 – 69 = 12
So, total profit at intraday level is 19.85 + 12 = 31.85 points.
Now let us see what happened to the result on the Expiry:
Let us see what happened to the CE and PE options at expiry.
So, the entire premium amount from both CE and PE is profit to the trader.
Profit in 14900 CE (Entry – Exit) = 33.35 – 0 = 33.35
Profit in 14700 PE (Entry – Exit) = 81 – 0 = 81
So, total profit at intraday level is 33.35 + 81 = 114.35 points.
Long Straddle Trading Strategy
This strategy is also known as ‘Zero or Hero Expiry Trading Strategy’ in Indian market conditions.
It is a neutral strategy that involves buying a call (CE) and a put (PE) option of the same underlying asset, same strike price, and same expiry.
It is a good strategy when we expect a big move in either direction (up or down).
Hence many traders deploy this strategy in Nifty and Banknifty on weekly expiry day (Thursday).
It is a limited risk but unlimited profits strategy.
Example – Banknifty on 1-April-2021 (weekly Expiry)
The above image shows a Banknifty 15-min chart on 1st April 2021, a weekly expiry day.
After the IB Range formation (1-hour range aftermarket open), the price failed to trade below the IB range.
Besides, it also was unable to break the previous day's low. It indicates the failure of Initiative Selling as per Market Profile which is a bullish indication.
The price rallied upside and started consolidating at IB high, below the resistance trend line.
Now the time is 2:00 PM and usually on a weekly expiry Banknifty starts to give a big move between 2.00 PM t0 2.30 PM (IST).
Also, observe the last two days of price action. It displayed a narrow range sideways move.
Hence, there is a high probability of a big move on this expiry day.
Now the price can do either of the below two things:
Break the IB high and trendline and can give a big move on the upside
Display a false breakout scenario at IB high/trendline and give a big move on the downside
In either case, there is a higher probability of a big move.
Banknifty price at 2.00 PM is 33504.
Hence, traders can deploy a long straddle strategy by buying both 33500 CE and 33500 PE (nearest strike price).
Long Straddle Orders:
Buy 1 lot 33500 CE at 125
Buy 1 lot 33500 PE at 105
Total Cost = 225
Maximum Loss – If the price fails to give a big move, then the maximum loss is only the premium paid i.e., 225 points.
Maximum Profit – It is unlimited as it depends on the move of the Banknifty.
Breakeven Scenario at Expiry
There are two potential breakeven points.
Strike price + Total Premium = 33500 + 225 = 33725
Strike price – Total Premium = 33500 – 225 = 33275
Let us look at the Banknifty chart after the expiry.
The above image shows that Banknifty showed a breakout above the IB high and resistance line. In the end, it closed at 33905.
After the expiry, 33500 PE went to zero and 33500 CE closed at 355 (after making a high of 422).
Hence, the net profit is = 355 – 230 (total premium paid) = 125 points.
Iron Condor Trading Strategy
It is an advanced options strategy deployed mostly by experts to take advantage of the low volatility market conditions.
It is an extended version of a short strangle trading strategy to manage the risk.
The above image shows the daily chart of Nifty. The price displayed a sideways channel for 2 months, and now it is precisely in the middle of the channel.
When writing this piece, only 4 trading days are remaining for the weekly expiry.
There is less probability for the price to breach above the sideways zone in these 4 days.
Hence, a trader can sell 15400 CE and 14400 PE (8APR2021 – weekly expiry) to pocket the premium. As you know, this is a Short Strangle trading strategy.
The above snapshot is taken from Upstox Pro Option Strategy Builder.
Nifty CMP is 14867.
15400 CE 8APR2021 sold at 40.65
14400 PE 8APR2021 sold at 109.35
Since both the options are sold/written trades, the trader will get the premium of 40.65+109.35 = 150
Assume only 1 lot is deployed for this strategy (Nifty: 1 lot = 75 Qty).
Maximum Profit Potential Rs.11,250 (150 premium points x 75 qty).
Rs.11,250 is guaranteed if the Nifty expires between 14427 to 15298.
All looks good on paper, right?
But this strategy has two significant drawbacks:
It demands a margin of Rs.1,84,437 (highlighted in yellow) to initiate the strategy. Further, this margin will be blocked until the expiry or closing of the trade.
It has two exposed ends. This strategy bleeds if Nifty starts to trade above 15547 or below 14250.
Another experienced trader also decides to implement the same strategy. But with less margin and without having the exposed ends (limited risk).
It can be done through Iron Condor Strategy.
The Iron Condor Strategy improvises the previous short strangle strategy by closing the exposed ends.
It has 3 steps:
Sell 15400 CE at 40.65, and 14400 PE at 109.35, collect a premium of 150 points or Rs. 11,250
Buy 15600 CE at 23.5 to protect the short of 15400 CE
Buy 14200 PE at 68.7 to protect the short of 14400 PE
The total premium points collected (by selling 15400 CE & 14400 PE) is 150 points.
The total premium points paid (by buying 15600 CE & 14200 PE) is 92.2 points.
Hence, the maximum potential profit is 150 – 92.2 = 57.8 or Rs.4,335/- (75 QTY x 57.8 points).
As compared to the short strangle strategy, the profit is reduced. But it offers two significant advantages:
Only Rs.79,848 (highlighted in yellow) is enough to execute the iron condor strategy (compared to Rs. 1,84,437 in a short strangle).
The risk is defined here. The maximum loss is only Rs. 10,665 in any worst scenario. Whereas the loss is unlimited in the short strangle strategy.
This experienced trader collects the total profits of Rs.4,335 if Nifty expires between 14357 to 15513 (high probability).
Options Buying vs. Options Selling
It is a never-ending debate in the trading world. The funny part is that the market needs both option buyers and option sellers to run its show. For example, only option buyers can’t buy their positions if the option sellers are absent and vice-versa also holds true.
So, a trader should not waste time with these debates. If he makes money either with options buying or options selling, he is right; if he loses money (either with options buying or options selling), he is wrong.
As shown in the above image, time decay works in favor of option sellers. It will be aggressive when the option contract is close to the expiry. All OTM options quickly run towards zero at the time of expiry, and many option sellers attempt to make some profits from this move.
Option selling provides the highest winning probability as compared to option buying.
For example, a trader analyzes that a stock will go up in the next few days. So he decides to sell put options to get the premium to his pockets. He will lose money only if the price starts to trade below his options strike price. In all the other cases, i.e., when the price upside or the price goes sideways, he will make money.
In theory, option selling comes with unlimited risk. However, a trader can manage this risk in two ways: 1) by placing an SL buy order and 2) hedging.
Option sellers will lose money only when the price shows a significant move quickly in the opposite direction.
It is possible to make quick gains through option buying when the trading decisions go right. Some traders make over 1000% returns in one day during the weekly expiry day (Thursday). But they cannot repeat the same success every time.
However, option buying comes with two disadvantages – 1) Time decay works against them and 2) Success Rate is low, which can trouble the emotional aspects.
Upstox Pro Option Strategy Builder
Sometimes, these options strategies appear to be complicated. Besides, traders face a tough time imagining or calculating some parameters related to option strategies such as breakeven point, maximum profit potential, maximum loss potential, etc.
Upstox came up with a tool called Option Strategy Builder to answer these questions. It is a simple online tool and helps traders know all these details for any options strategies. Besides, it also shows all the necessary margin details.
The above image shows a good breakout in the Asian Paints Daily chart.
Hence a trader is bullish on this stock and decides to try Credit Put Spread strategy on this. It will be better if he comes to the margin required, maximum profit potential, and maximum loss potential for the selected strike price. This tool helps to get that information before placing the trade.
Go to Upstox Pro Option Strategy Builder and enter the option details.
For example, in the above case, a trader decides the sell 2500 PE and buy 2480 PE to initiate the credit put strategy.
It indicates the margin required is Rs. 32,253, the maximum profit potential is Rs. 28710 (when the stock moves above 2584.65), and the maximum loss potential of Rs. 22950 (when the price trades below 2530.85).
After seeing all these details, traders can make a better decision to trigger and manage their options trades.
Options Trading Books
There are many books written on options.
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You will learn 3 tested intraday trading strategies along with explanations and examples to execute them through options.