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Options 101: Expiration, Strikes, and Basics

January 19, 2016

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Welcome back to the Options 101 series presented to you by Tackle Trading! In this segment, we are going to explore the basic question: what is an option? During this segment, we will also dive into the basics of strike prices and expiration. This series will be a blog series originally and then supplemented with videos and quizzes down the road. If you like the series, please post in the chat and let me know.

Options are contracts

Options are contracts. They were designed and created so that institutions and investors could control the risk of their core positions. Speculation and direction were a bi-product of this creation. Options are always tied to an underlying instrument. That product can be stocks, futures, ETF’s and indices. The contract itself is independent and can be traded with or without ownership (long or short) in the underlying product. Options can be exercised by the buyer or assigned to the seller.

Options expire

Options expire. Like the milk in your fridge, there’s a date printed on the options contract that after that point they no longer exist. Most options expire on a Friday and settle on Saturday. Index options expire on Thursdays and then settle on Friday mornings based on the settlement value of the index. If you’re going to trade index options you need to check the expiration date. Some index options expire on Friday as well. A simple phone call to your broker or help request can give you any clarity you need.

Calls & Puts

Options come in two types: calls and puts. As a trader, you have the opportunity to buy and sell the options. You can buy one option and sell another option to create a spread. Spread trading, whether in vertical, calendar or ratio spread versions, are very popular strategies in the options market. We’ll examine these strategies in upcoming sections of the options 101 series.

Option buyers

When you buy options, you are considered as an owner of the option. Some traders call this going long or purchasing a debit. Both are true. Buying an option has a set risk, higher reward and can be done in any basic account qualified for options trading. To trade options, you generally need to request permission with your broker by submitting a form either when you set your account up or after the fact by communicating with them. You can buy options in IRA, Margin, and Cash accounts. If you have a margin account you will be subject to the SEC rules on day trading if you have an account less than $25,000. If you plan on day trading options you may want to talk to your broker about account alternatives that don’t have these restrictions.

Options sellers

Option sellers are taking on a credit trade that is generally part of combining the sale with other positions they own – like stock ownership in the example of a covered call. You can sell options naked. A naked put position is one of the most popular options strategies used in the market – and one of the most proven to work. Options sellers need to set up a brokerage account with an appropriate trading level. You can sell options in a portfolio margin account, margin account or IRA. Your margin or buying power requirements will change depending on your account type. Options selling is a fantastic type of options trading and will benefit from time decay. If you’re going to sell options, you need to understand the risks of assignment, margin changes and leverage.

Strike Prices

On any given underlying equity, there are strike prices available for you to choose from. There are many reasons why a trader chooses an In, Out- or At-the-money options. As you develop your strategies, you will learn why you choose to use one type of strike over another. Strike prices come in increments of 1.00, 2.50, 5.00, and other non-standard increments. To find out what strike prices are available for the options you want to trade, simply open an options chain inside your broker and look at them. The strike you choose will define the nature of the contract. If you buy a 20 strike call, it will determine that you have the right to buy at 20.00 specifically. If you buy a 20 strike put. It will determine that you have the right to sell the underlying at 20.00 specifically. If you sell a 25 strike call against a stock you own, you are giving the rights up to the market that the market can take your stock at 25.00. The strike price determines your exact contract obligation or rights.

Next in our series of options 101 we will examine the symbols themselves, quotes for an option chain and the bid/ask spread. We will also discuss Open Interest and Volume. Thank you for reading, and as a team member of Tackle Trading – Get in the Game!

Options Trading for Beginners

Continue learning the basics of Options trading with this additional freemium content from Tackle Trading.

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Options Greeks Guide [Free Content]

The Options Greek Guide is a simple, powerful resource to help you better understand how to use the Greek’s.
As you build, enter, and manage Options Trades, it’s helpful to understand the math behind the Black Scholes Option Pricing Model. Using the Options Greek Guide will give you the information and training on how time, volatility and asset price changes impact options values.

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Options Report [Premium Content]

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8 Replies to “Options 101: Expiration, Strikes, and Basics”

  1. cmarsh says:

    Awesome Tim!! Really is great to see options 101 because at this point in time that is where I’m at.
    Really wish I could say I was a pro. But one must learn to crawl before one can walk. Please keep up the great work y’all are doing. And keep it coming. “Print it or video it and I will be there to read it and watch it over and over.
    I will ( with y’all expertise ) be a pro one day. Hoping it’s before I retire.

  2. Mark Carroll says:

    Good article Tim! Very helpful and easy to understand. Thanks!

  3. Awesome post Tim, thanks! Yes, I was ready to ask about Open Interest on TOS, is it reflecting the contracts bought, sold, or both? TT – Get in the Game!

  4. Solon Stephanou says:

    Thanks Tim, this is awesome! I meant to comment on your first installment. I really appreciate that you and the other coaches are going to great lengths to cover the basics and making these things so simple and duplicatible. These Options 101, Forex 101, how to place an order videos, and other basic posts really help fill in the gaps and accelerate the learning process. May I suggest a dropdown tab to keep these posts in as they are so basic, fundamental, and timeless and I know that I’m gonna go back to them and re-read them. Once again, thanks for all that you and the other coaches are doing for us and I’m really grateful how all of you are going out of your ways to help us succeed.

  5. Horby Lopez says:

    Thanks Tim. This is great stuff. I’m glad you took the time to write this as it clarifies many of my of the holes in my understanding of these concepts. Trying to get in the game!!

  6. Brian Cross says:

    Thanks for setting this up, helps to keep the basics refreshed and cover gaps in the process. 🙂


    Nice article

  8. CARLOSLEAL says:

    Very exited to get this information, thanks!

Comments are closed.

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