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Risks of Long Calls/Puts and Short Calls/Puts

💡 Mastering Risk: Long/Short Calls & Puts

This curriculum will aid you in your quest of becoming a true options savant, starting with risk management for long/short calls & puts.

Long Calls

In the realm of crypto options, long calls represent a bet on the appreciation of a cryptocurrency.

However, this strategy is not without its pitfalls. The volatile nature of the crypto market means that even a correctly anticipated upward move might not be sufficient to generate profits.

This is especially true if the option was purchased when implied volatility was high, leading to an inflated premium. The subsequent decline in volatility, a phenomenon known as volatility crush, can erode the option's value. Additionally, the relatively nascent state of the crypto options market can sometimes result in liquidity issues.

Wide bid-ask spreads can make exiting a position costly, especially in less popular or newer cryptocurrencies. To navigate these challenges, traders need to be discerning about when and how they enter positions Monitoring market sentiment, understanding volatility dynamics, and being wary of overpaying for options are crucial.

Long Calls: A bet on the appreciation of a cryptocurrency doesn't come without drawbacks; even a correctly anticipated upward move might not be sufficient to generate profits.

Long Puts

Long puts are essentially bets on a cryptocurrency's decline.

While they can serve as effective hedges against bear markets, they come with their own set of challenges. In a market known for its bullish cycles, long puts can quickly lose value.

Moreover, the skewness in the implied volatility across strikes can impact the pricing of out-of-the-money versus in-the-money options. This skew can sometimes make certain strikes disproportionately expensive.

To manage these risks, traders can consider strategies that reduce the net premium outlay, such as bear put spreads. Additionally, a keen understanding of market sentiment and the factors driving it can help in timing the purchase of puts more effectively.

Long Puts: Although an effective hedging tool in bear markets, long puts can quickly lose their value with the everchanging market conditions.

Short Calls

Selling calls in the crypto market is a high-risk strategy.

The market's propensity for bullish surges means that short call positions can lead to significant, even catastrophic, losses.

Beyond the market risk, there's also the operational risk of early assignment. Especially in the case of options that are deep in-the-money or if there's an upcoming event, like a hard fork or major regulatory announcement, the risk of assignment increases.

To mitigate these risks, traders can consider defined-risk strategies, like bear call spreads. Additionally, maintaining a close watch on market news and being ready to adjust or close positions based on changing market dynamics is crucial.

Short Calls: In the volatile crypto markets, selling options is an especially high-risk strategy.

Short Puts

While selling puts can be a lucrative strategy in a bullish market, it's not without its dangers. A sharp downturn can lead to significant losses.

Moreover, the volatile nature of the crypto market can lead to frequent and substantial margin calls. The obligation to buy the underlying at the strike price in the event of assignment can also result in significant capital outlays, especially if liquidity dries up in a market downturn.

To navigate these challenges, traders should ensure they have sufficient liquidity to handle potential assignments. Diversifying across cryptocurrencies and employing strategies that define risk, like bull put spreads, can also help in managing the dangers associated with short puts.

Short Puts: As with selling calls, selling puts can quickly lead to significant downturns in the event of a sharp turn in the markets.

Advanced Considerations

We've now covered key risks for basic options strategies, along with ways to manage them. It's time to look into the main things to consider when managing the risks of these strategies:

Implied Volatility (IV)

  • Definition: Implied Volatility is a metric that reflects the market's expectation of future volatility for the underlying cryptocurrency.
  • Impact: A higher IV suggests that traders anticipate larger price swings in the cryptocurrency. This can significantly affect the option's price, as options become more expensive in high volatility environments.
  • Why It Matters: Traders use IV to gauge the potential risk and reward of an option. A sudden spike in IV, even without a move in the underlying asset, can lead to substantial changes in option premiums.

Time Decay (Theta)

  • Definition: Theta represents the rate at which an option's value erodes as it approaches its expiration date.
  • Impact: Every day, all else being equal, the option loses a portion of its time value.
  • Why It Matters: For option buyers, time decay works against them, especially if the underlying asset's price remains stagnant. Option sellers, on the other hand, benefit from time decay as they can potentially buy back the option for less than they sold it for.


  • Definition: Liquidity refers to the ease with which an asset can be bought or sold without causing a significant price change.
  • Impact: Crypto options might have lower liquidity compared to traditional markets. This can result in wider bid-ask spreads.
  • Why It Matters: Reduced liquidity can make it more costly for traders to enter and exit positions. It can also lead to "slippage," where the price at which a trade is executed differs from the expected price.

Risk of Total Loss

  • Definition: The possibility that an option can expire without any intrinsic value.
  • Impact: If the market doesn't move in the anticipated direction before the option's expiration, the option can become worthless.
  • Why It Matters: Unlike owning the actual cryptocurrency, where one can hold onto the asset indefinitely hoping for a price rebound, options have a finite life. This means traders can lose their entire investment in the option.

Understanding Risk: Not only is understanding risk paramount in crypto options, it's essential to know the practical methods for managing it.

Test Yourself!

Why does understanding IV matter when managing the risks of long calls?

  • The price of an underlying asset correlates heavily with IV.

  • IV is a metric that reflects the market's expectation of future volatility for the underlying cryptocurrency. Even if the underlying price remains stagnant, a small move in IV could have large implications for the price of the call option.

  • IV is a metric that reflects the likelihood of an options price moving aggressively in the future.