To have a "Long Options Position" means to have ownership over a single or a group of options contracts.
What does it mean to be "Long" an options contract? How far away must the expiration date be in order for an options position to be "Long"? Or did I simply get the meaning of "Long" wrong in the context
of options trading?
Indeed, Being "Long" in options trading doesn't mean taking an options position with very long expiration. Being "Long" an options position is exactly the same as being "Long" a stock or being "Long" a futures contract and is opposite to a "Short Options Position". However, many beginners to options trading often misunderstand being "Long" as betting to upside because being long a stock or being long a futures contract means you are betting to upside on a bullish outlook (Read about the Six Directional Outlooks In Options Trading). This isn't necessarily true in options trading as being "Long" an options contract can also be a bet to downside depending on what options position is being put on.
When you are "Long" a call option, you own the rights to buy the underlying stock at the strike price anytime prior to expiration and benefit from price appreciation of the call option when the price of the underlying stock goes upwards.
When you are "Long" a put option, you own the rights to sell the underlying stock at the strike price anytime prior to expiration and benefit from price appreciation of the put option when the price of the underlying stock goes downwards.
As you can see above, depending on whether you are long a call option or put option, you could actually be making an upside or downside bet. As such, being "Long" in options trading does not necessarily suggest an upside bet like in stock trading or futures trading.
In such situations, all the different options making up the options position or options strategy, are treated as a whole, just like how wheels, engine and chassis put together is known as a "Car". So being "Long" a particular options strategy such as the Bull Call Spread, means that you are in ownership of a Bull Call Spread which consist of a long call and a short call. As such, being "Long" an options position doesn't necessarily mean you are holding only "Long" options contracts but that you are holding ownership of a group of various long and short options contracts working together as a whole.
Being "Long" an options greek is to own a position with that specific options greek at its default state. For instance, the default state of Delta, Gamma, Vega and Rho are positive, as such, to be long delta means to own a position with positive delta, to be long gamma means to own a position with positive gamma, to be long vega means to own a position with positive vega and to be long rho is to own a position with positive rho. However, for Theta where the default state is negative, to be long theta means to own a position with a negative theta.
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