What is an option strategy that someone could employ to simply go long/short volatility?? Assuming I want 0 delta(0 gamma if possible) risk in my option position, how do I take a directional view on volatility? I know that Strangles/Straddles/Iron Condors are all ways to play volatility expansion if it goes beyond the width of your strikes. Not to mention you do maintain a 0 delta position until the price starts trending one way or the other for Strangle/Iron Condors. Are these option positions only way to play pure implied vol?

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    $\begingroup$ I must admit I am a bit confused by the question. Not working for a quant desk or in trading directly I don't know the "slang". What do you mean by "to play volatility expansion" , "to play pure implied vol" ? $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 15:19
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    $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variance_swap $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ much obliged :) $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 20:30

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Iron condors/strangles/straddles (or any other option strategies) are affected by volatility, but are NOT pure volatility plays.

All option strategies are affected by a myriad of factors besides volatility, including but not limited to: directional movement in the underlying (delta), rate in change of delta (gamma), time passing (theta), interest rates changes (rho), etc..

If you want to take a pure directional bet on volatility, you can use volatility-related futures, such as the VIX futures.

CBOE VIX Futures

Futures on VIX provide a pure play on implied volatility independent of the direction and level of stock prices. VIX futures may also provide an effective way to hedge equity returns and to diversify portfolios.


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