Option Strategies Cheat Sheet: Your Ultimate Trading Weapon

Option trading is like chess: understanding the moves gives you the edge. With so many strategies out there, it can feel overwhelming. That’s why an “Options Strategies Cheat Sheet” is your best friend. It condenses complex strategies into easy-to-understand snippets. Think of it like a playbook for your investments.

I often laugh at how most new traders dive in blindly, throwing money around without a plan. That’s a one-way ticket to losing your shirt. With a quick glance at a cheat sheet, you can avoid those rookie mistakes. From covered calls to iron condors, these cheat sheets break it down—no fluff, just action.

Options can be risky if you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s where the magic of a cheat sheet shines. It minimizes those risks by simplifying strategies. Whether you want to hedge, speculate, or increase income, the right strategy is just a cheat sheet away.

Understanding Options Basics

Options trading can seem like a labyrinth. But stick with me, and you’ll get a grip on the essentials: calls, puts, strike prices, expiration dates, intrinsic value, and extrinsic value.

Calls and Puts

Let’s get one thing straight first. There are two primary types: call options and put options.

Calls give you the right, but not the obligation, to buy an asset at a set price.

Puts give you the right, but not the obligation, to sell an asset at a set price.

These aren’t just theoretical gigs. They let you speculate on price movements or hedge your positions. Think prices will rise? Grab a call. Expecting a decline? Snatch a put. Remember, it’s all about anticipating price moves.

Strike Price and Expiration

Now, let’s talk about the strike price and expiration – the dynamic duo of options.

The strike price (or exercise price) is the price at which you can buy (call) or sell (put) the underlying asset. It’s the core of your option’s value.

Next up is the expiration date. Every option contract has a finite life. The closer to expiration, the less time the price has to make a move. This ticking clock can ramp up the pressure. Miss the deadline, and your option turns into a pumpkin. No value, no party.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Value

When we dig into an option’s price, we talk about intrinsic and extrinsic values.

Intrinsic value is the real deal. It’s the inherent worth of the option at any moment. It’s calculated like this: Intrinsic Value = Current Price – Strike Price. For a call option, if the stock is trading above the strike price, you’ve got intrinsic value. For a put, it’s the opposite.

Extrinsic value (or time value) is the price tag on opportunity. It’s what traders are willing to pay for the potential movement until expiration. It’s influenced by time remaining and volatility. The more volatile the underlying asset or the further the expiration date, the higher the extrinsic value.

That’s the skinny on the basics. They may sound complicated at first, but break them down, and they’re easy to get your head around. Stay tuned – there’s more to come.

Options Trading Principles

Options trading can be great if you know what you’re doing. But it’s not a game for the reckless. Let’s talk about the most crucial parts: Risk Management and Reward vs. Risk Ratios.

Risk Management

Risk management is everything. If you can’t handle risk, you shouldn’t be trading options. I mean, it’s like giving a toddler a loaded gun, right? Stupid.

First, never trade more than you can afford to lose. This isn’t some Vegas trip. Set aside a portion of your capital specifically for options trading. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Position sizing is key. Only a small percentage of your total capital should be risked on a single trade. Typically, 1-2%. That’s it. Don’t get greedy.

Next, use stop-loss orders. These are your safety nets. They limit your losses automatically. Say you buy a call option for $5. Place a stop-loss at $3. This way, if things go south, you don’t lose everything.

Reward vs. Risk Ratios

This isn’t just about making money; it’s about making more than you lose. Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many folks get this wrong.

For every trade, calculate the Reward vs. Risk Ratio. If it’s not at least 2:1, don’t even think about it. This means the potential upside is at least twice the potential loss.

Here’s an example:

  • Buy a Call Option: Cost $2
  • Target Price: $6
  • Stop-Loss: $1

Your potential reward: $6 – $2 = $4
Your potential risk: $2 – $1 = $1

Reward vs. Risk Ratio: 4:1. That’s what you want. This ratio ensures that even if you win only half the time, you’re still making money.

Use these principles religiously. Without them, you’re just another gambler waiting to lose it all.

Bullish Strategies

If you think the market’s going up, you’d be wise to consider these bullish options strategies. They can help you profit from upwards trends while managing risks.

Buying Calls

Buying call options is the simplest bullish strategy. By purchasing a call, you’re betting the stock’s price will rise. Here’s how it works:


  1. Buy a call option with a strike price below the expected increase.
  2. Pay a premium upfront for the right to buy the stock at the strike price.

Example: Suppose XYZ is trading at $50. You buy a call with a strike price of $55 for $2. If XYZ skyrockets to $60, you can buy at $55, and your profit is the difference minus the premium paid.


  • Unlimited profit potential.
  • Limited loss (only the premium paid).


  • You lose the entire premium if the stock doesn’t move above the strike price.

Bull Call Spread

The Bull Call Spread involves buying and selling calls. This strategy reduces your risk and cost, while capping potential gains.

How to Set It Up:

  1. Buy a call with a lower strike price.
  2. Sell a call with a higher strike price.

Example: Let’s say XYZ is at $50. You buy a call with a $50 strike for $3 and sell another call with a $55 strike for $1. Your net cost is $2 (the premium difference).


  • Reduced net premium.
  • Limited risk (max loss is the net premium paid).


  • Capped profit potential.

If XYZ hits $55, you make $3 on the $50 call, but lose $1 on the $55 call, netting $2 profit ($5 gain minus $3 premium).

Covered Call

A covered call pairs owning the stock with selling a call option. It generates extra income on stocks you already own.


  1. Own the underlying stock.
  2. Sell a call option.

Example: You own 100 shares of XYZ at $50. You sell a call with a $55 strike for $2. If XYZ stays below $55, you pocket the premium. If it rises above $55, you sell your shares at $55, keeping the premium and realizing gains from the stock price increase.


  • Generate additional income.
  • Limited downside risk since you own the stock.


  • Limited upside potential if the stock price soars.

Your profit is capped at the strike price plus premium. If XYZ jumps to $70, you’ve missed out on gains above $55.

These bullish strategies can make your portfolio sing when the market is on the up and up. Use these tools wisely to balance your potential rewards and risks.

Bearish Strategies

When you’re convinced a stock’s headed for a nosedive, certain options strategies are your best bet. These aren’t for the faint of heart. We’re talking about leveraging puts and spreads to turn a profit while managing risk.

Buying Puts

Buying puts is the simplest bearish strategy out there. You purchase a put option, giving you the right to sell the underlying asset at a set price.


  • Unlimited Upside: The lower the stock drops, the more you make.
  • Defined Risk: Your maximum loss is the price of the premium.

If you buy a put with a strike price of $50 for a $2 premium and the stock falls to $40, your profit is $8 per share (excluding the premium).

  • Breakeven Point: Strike price – premium paid
  • Profit Potential: High

I like buying puts if I believe a stock’s about to tank and I don’t want any surprises on my downside.

Bear Put Spread

The Bear Put Spread involves buying a put with a higher strike price and selling another put with a lower strike price. This limits both risk and reward.


  • Buy: Put option at a higher strike price.
  • Sell: Put option at a lower strike price.


  • Reduced Cost: Selling a put reduces the net cost.
  • Defined Risk and Reward: You know exactly what you can lose and gain.

If you buy a put with a strike price of $50 for $4 and sell a put with a strike price of $45 for $1, your net cost is $3.

  • Max Profit: Difference in strikes – net cost = $5 – $3 = $2.
  • Max Loss: Net cost = $3.

This strategy’s perfect if I think the stock will decline moderately, not crash.

Protective Put

A Protective Put involves buying a put option for a stock you already own. It’s like insurance.


  • Hedge: Protects against a drop in stock price.
  • Preserve Gains: Locks in profits if you’ve already made gains on the stock.

You own a stock priced at $60. You buy a put option with a strike price of $55 for $2. If the stock drops to $50, you can still sell it for $55.

  • Max Loss: Premium paid.
  • Protection Level: Strike price.

Overall, using protective puts lets me sleep at night knowing I’ve covered my bases against big losses.

Neutral Strategies

Neutral strategies shine when the market isn’t going anywhere. Instead of betting on big moves, these strategies rake in small but steady gains by exploiting market stagnation. Two such strategies are the Iron Condor and the Butterfly Spread.

Iron Condor

The Iron Condor is a beast of a strategy. I love it. It works best when the market is as exciting as watching paint dry. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Sell an out-of-the-money call: This brings in premium.
  2. Sell an out-of-the-money put: More premium.
  3. Buy a further out-of-the-money call: Limits your risk in case the market soars.
  4. Buy a further out-of-the-money put: Limits your risk if the market tanks.

The idea here is to collect premium on the options you sell while capping your potential losses with the options you buy. Make money if the market stays within a specific range. The tighter the range, the higher the potential profit but also the risk.

Butterfly Spread

The Butterfly Spread is a pretty neat trick. It’s all about capturing minimal market movement.

  1. Buy one in-the-money call: This is your anchor.
  2. Sell two at-the-money calls: This defines your profit zone.
  3. Buy one out-of-the-money call: This caps your risk, just like your in-the-money call.

This strategy profits from low volatility and small price movements. It can also be set up with puts. The key is that you want the stock’s price to end up at the middle strike price at expiration. The payoff diagram looks like a butterfly hence the name.

I use this when I expect the market to sit tight. The payoff won’t make you a millionaire overnight, but it’s reliable. And in trading, sometimes consistency beats shooting for the moon.

Volatility Strategies

Volatility strategies are key for traders who want to profit from big price swings. These setups include the Straddle and the Strangle, both designed to capitalize on market uncertainty.


A Straddle involves buying both a call and a put at the same strike price and expiration date. This method banks on big moves in either direction. You win if the stock price rockets up or crashes down. Perfect for when a major event is looming.


  • Unlimited profit potential.
  • No need to guess the direction of the move.


  • High cost.
  • Needs significant price movement to be profitable.


  • Stock XYZ is priced at $100.
  • Buy a call option at $100 strike.
  • Buy a put option at $100 strike.
  • If XYZ skyrockets to $120 or plummets to $80, you make money.


A Strangle also bets on volatility, but it’s cheaper. Here, you buy an out-of-the-money call and an out-of-the-money put. The stock has to make a bigger move for you to win, but your initial risk is lower.


  • Lower cost than a Straddle.
  • Potential to profit from large price swings.


  • Needs a larger move to be profitable.
  • Limited by how far out you go with strike prices.


  • Stock XYZ is priced at $100.
  • Buy a call option at $110 strike.
  • Buy a put option at $90 strike.
  • If XYZ shoots up to $130 or crashes to $70, you profit.

Both strategies thrive in high volatility environments. Picking the right strategy depends on your risk tolerance and how much volatility you expect.

Options Greeks

Let’s talk about the so-called “Greeks.” They’re like the sacred scrolls of options trading. These metrics help us make sense of how different factors affect an option’s price.


Delta measures how much an option’s price changes with a $1 move in the underlying asset. In simple terms, if Delta is 0.5, a $1 increase in the stock price adds $0.50 to the option.


Underlying Asset Move Delta Option Price Change
+$1 0.5 +$0.50
-$1 0.5 -$0.50


Theta is your clock. It tells you how much the option’s price will drop each day. Options lose value over time, and Theta quantifies that daily loss.


Gamma is Delta’s hyper friend. It measures how fast Delta changes with the stock price. If Gamma is high, Delta can change rapidly.


Vega measures how much an option’s price changes with a 1% change in volatility. High Vega means the option price is sensitive to volatility changes.


Volatility Change Vega Option Price Change
+1% 0.2 +$0.20
-1% 0.2 -$0.20


Rho measures how much an option’s price changes with a 1% change in interest rates. Not the sexiest Greek, but important when rates fluctuate.


Interest Rate Change Rho Option Price Change
+1% 0.1 +$0.10
-1% 0.1 -$0.10

Know these Greeks, and you can navigate options trading with skill.

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