Gamma Scalping Trading Strategy

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Written By
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Written By
Dan Buckley
Dan Buckley is an US-based trader, consultant, and part-time writer with a background in macroeconomics and mathematical finance. He trades and writes about a variety of asset classes, including equities, fixed income, commodities, currencies, and interest rates. As a writer, his goal is to explain trading and finance concepts in levels of detail that could appeal to a range of audiences, from novice traders to those with more experienced backgrounds.

Gamma scalping is an advanced options trading strategy that capitalizes on the changes in an option’s delta, trying to profit from short-term price movements.

In this article we break down the concept.


Key Takeaways – Gamma Scalping

  • Market Neutrality
    • Gamma scalping allows traders to manage risk in volatile markets by adjusting their positions to remain delta neutral.
  • Gamma Trade Execution
    • Selling shares as the price rises (to maintain delta neutrality)
    • Buying back shares as the price falls (ditto)
  • Potential Profit Scenario
    • By continuously adjusting the delta hedge as the price fluctuates, the trader can potentially profit from the changing gamma values, as described in our example below.
  • Exit Strategy
    • Closing the option position as expiration approaches or when volatility is expected to decrease is a reasonable exit strategy for this type of trade.
  • Cost Consideration
    • Effective in high volatility environments, but transaction costs can erode profits, so it requires careful cost management.


First some basics:

Understanding the Greeks


Gamma measures the rate of change in an option’s delta as the price of the underlying asset fluctuates.


This reflects how much the option’s price changes in relation to the underlying asset’s price movement.

Related: Greeks to Know in Options Pricing



Delta-Neutral Position

Gamma scalping strives to maintain a delta-neutral position.

This means the overall gamma exposure in your options portfolio is close to zero.


Mechanics of Gamma Scalping

Adjusting Positions

The trader actively buys and sells options contracts to keep the delta close to zero.

Capitalizing on Gamma Shifts

As the underlying asset’s price moves, the gamma of the options contracts changes.

The trader exploits these shifts to potentially generate profits.

Hedging with Underlying Asset

Gamma scalping often involves taking an opposite position in the underlying asset to hedge against directional price movements.


Gamma Scalping Trade Example

Let’s illustrate a simplified example of a regular gamma scalping trade.

Keep in mind that this is for educational purposes, and real-world trading involves more complex scenarios.


  • Underlying Asset: XYZ stock currently trading at $100.
  • Options: We’ll focus on at-the-money (ATM) call options expiring in one week.
  • Assumptions: Let’s say the option’s delta is 0.5 and gamma is 0.05. This means:
    • For every $1 increase in XYZ, the call option price should rise by $0.50.
    • Every $1 change in XYZ price increases the option’s gamma by 0.05.

Step 1: Establish Delta-Neutral Position

  1. Buy Options: You buy 1 ATM call options on XYZ (1 contract = 100 options) at a cost of $2.00 per share ($200 total).
  2. Hedge with Stock: To make the position delta-neutral, you short-sell 50 shares of XYZ stock (1 contract x 0.5 delta x 100 shares).

Step 2: Price Movement and Gamma Impact

  • XYZ Rises to $102:
    • Each option’s delta increases to approximately 0.60 (increasing from 0.5 due to gamma of 0.05 per $1 move)
    • To remain delta-neutral, you need to sell 10 additional shares of XYZ short to offset the increased delta.
  • XYZ Falls to $98:
    • Each option’s delta decreases to approximately 0.40 (decreasing from 0.5 due to gamma of 0.05 per $1 move)
    • You need to buy back 10 shares of XYZ to re-establish delta neutrality.

Step 3: Gamma Trade Execution

Essentially, you’re executing the following throughout the life of the options contract:

  • Selling shares of XYZ as the price rises (to maintain delta neutrality).
  • Buying back shares as the price falls (again, to maintain delta neutrality).

Step 4: Potential Profit Scenario

Let’s say XYZ’s price fluctuates between $98 and $102 over the option’s lifespan.

You make small profits each time you buy low and sell high, essentially capitalizing on the changes in the option’s gamma.

Exit Strategy

You would close the option position as expiration approaches or when you feel the price volatility may decrease.

Important Notes

  • This is a simplified example. Real-world gamma scalping involves more complex calculations, frequent rebalancing, and continuous monitoring. Effective gamma scalping is typically done with algorithmic trading systems.
  • Gamma scalping is risky. The strategy depends on ongoing volatility, and incorrect adjustments can lead to losses.

Real-world gamma scalping would also consider factors such as:

  • Changing Volatility – The impact of changing implied volatility on option prices.
  • Time Decay (Theta) – The effect of time decay on the options’ value, especially as expiration nears.
  • Market Liquidity – How liquidity in the options and stock markets can affect the execution and costs of trades.
  • Transaction costs (commissions, paying the spread, etc.) can greatly impact profitability.


Types of Gamma Scalping

Regular Gamma Scalping

This involves buying calls and selling the underlying stock (or vice versa) to maintain delta neutrality.

Reverse Gamma Scalping

This is a more advanced strategy where the trader starts with a short delta position (selling options) and exploits gamma changes in the opposite direction.


Pros and Cons


  • Potentially profit from small price movements.
  • Manage risk through delta-neutral positioning.
  • Adaptable to different markets (i.e., not dependent on directional moves).


  • Requires a strong understanding of options greeks and options pricing.
  • High level of monitoring and active trading needed.
  • Can be complex to execute and may not be suitable for all traders.


Other Factors

Market Conditions Sensitivity

  • High volatility increases option gamma, and larger delta changes for small price movements
  • Creates more opportunities for profitable position adjustments, but also higher risk
  • Low volatility results in fewer opportunities for delta adjustments
  • Traders have to look at the markets they’re trading and adjust strategies accordingly

Cost Implications

  • Transaction costs (commissions and bid-ask spreads) can erode gamma scalping profits
    • Frequent adjustments to maintain delta neutrality lead to accumulated costs
  • Higher-frequency strategies require careful cost management
    • Negotiate lower commissions or seek venues or markets with tighter spreads

Theta Decay Impact

  • Theta (time decay) causes option value to decrease as expiration approaches
  • At-the-money options with highest gamma are most affected by theta decay
  • Gamma profits must outweigh theta decay losses
  • Traders often close or adjust positions before theta significantly impacts profitability

Risk Management Techniques

  • Maintain delta-neutral position (if not, then directional exposure is a component, which may be unwanted)
  • Dynamic hedging – adjust hedge ratio in response to market movements
  • Stop-loss orders to limit losses on unfavorable positions
  • Portfolio diversification across expiration dates and underlying assets
  • Understand the Greeks, how they interact, nth-order influences, and their effect on risk profile

Liquidity Considerations

  • High liquidity in underlying asset and options market is important – allows for quick position adjustments at favorable prices
  • Illiquid markets lead to wide bid-ask spreads and slippage costs
  • Sufficient trading volume and open interest are necessary


  • Software and algorithms automate processes (e.g., real-time market analysis and fast responses to changes) – gamma scalping is difficult to do manually
  • Maintain delta neutrality, execute trades at specified thresholds

How Realistic Gamma Scalping Is for Day Traders

  • Challenging due to complexity (e.g., calculations required, costs) and high trade frequency
  • Requires strong understanding of options pricing and Greeks
  • Significant time, resources, and expertise needed


FAQs – Gamma Scalping

How does gamma scalping work?

Gamma scalping involves adjusting the delta of an options portfolio to neutral by buying or selling shares of the underlying asset as the stock price moves.

This strategy tries to profit from the change in delta (gamma) of options positions by capitalizing on short-term price movements of the underlying asset.

What are the risks associated with gamma scalping?

The primary risks include significant transaction costs from frequent trading, the potential for large losses if the market moves sharply against the position, and the challenge of accurately predicting short-term price movements.

Additionally, managing the complex dynamics of options Greeks under varying market conditions requires expertise.

Can gamma scalping be profitable for day traders?

Gamma scalping can be profitable for day traders who have the necessary expertise, access to sophisticated trading systems that specialize in it, and the ability to monitor and adjust their positions frequently.

Nonetheless, it requires a significant commitment in terms of time and resources to manage the risks effectively.

How does time decay (theta) impact a gamma scalping strategy?

Time decay (theta) erodes the value of options as expiration approaches.

This can offset the gains made from gamma scalping.

Traders need to actively manage their positions to reduce the effects of theta.

To do so, it requires the closure or adjustment of options positions before time decay impacts profitability.

What are the necessary tools or technologies for effective gamma scalping?

Effective gamma scalping requires:

  • real-time market data
  • advanced options analytics software/systems to monitor and predict the Greeks’ behavior, and
  • a trading platform capable of executing trades quickly and efficiently

Additionally, automated trading systems can help manage the high frequency of trades needed for successful gamma scalping.



Gamma scalping strategies involve dynamically hedging delta exposure by continuously buying and selling options and underlying assets to exploit gamma changes and profit from incremental price movements.

Overall, gamma scalping is a sophisticated trading strategy best suited for experienced options traders comfortable with managing complex positions.