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# Understanding the Straddle

Straddles are one of the most common option positions. A long straddle consists of being long both a call and put on the same strike in the same expiration. You are hoping the stock moves somewhere far away from the strike.

The value of a straddle, being composed of options, is determined by the level of volatility.

Volatility is simply the standard deviation of returns.

The value of a straddle:
• is determined by the level of volatility
• inverting — it can also be used to imply the level of volatility

If compound returns for a stock conform to a normal distribution and we have a reasonable estimate of the volatility we can use Black-Scholes to compute option prices and of course straddles.

This is the Black-Scholes formula for a European-style option assuming no dividends:

Gross.

You know what’s more fun? Shortcuts.

You can get a very close approximation for a straddle price with the following formula:

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ATF Straddle Approximation
where:
S = forward price
σ = annualized volatility
t = fraction of a year until expiry

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I think you’ll find this visual derivation of this approximation highly satisfying
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Visual Derivation of Straddle Approximation