Breaking Down the Gamma Squeeze: A Novice’s Guide

Hey there! Ever heard of the term ‘Gamma Squeeze’ floating around in the world of finance and thought, “Gosh! Yet another head-scratcher to understand!”? Don’t sweat it! We’re going to break this jargon down to its bare bones for you in the simplest way possible. So buckle up and let’s embark on a fascinating journey to understand what a Gamma Squeeze is.

Understanding a Gamma Squeeze

First off, let’s tackle the basics. The term Gamma Squeeze is as exciting as it sounds. Picture this – it’s like a roller coaster ride in the stock market, where the prices of stocks shoot up like a rocket! But how does this happen? It’s all a play of options trading.

Now, before we dig deeper, you might be thinking, “Hold on a minute! What on earth are options?” Good question! Options are nifty little financial instruments that give you, the investor, the right (but not the obligation) to buy or sell a security at a specific price on or before a specific date. Got it? Great!

So, back to the Gamma Squeeze. This phenomenon occurs when the buying of options causes the price of a certain stock to spike dramatically. It’s a domino effect, really – the more options bought, the higher the stock price goes!

Examples to Illustrate Gamma Squeeze

Suppose we have an imaginary company, let’s call it Acme Inc. Now, imagine you are an investor who bought options to purchase Acme Inc. shares at $50 each in the next month. Suddenly, everyone starts buzzing about how great Acme Inc. is doing, and more people buy its options. This causes the stock price to climb.

Now, the folks who sold the options (the option “writers”) have a dilemma. If Acme Inc.’s stock price shoots past $50, they might have to sell you shares at that price, even if the market price is higher. To cover their bases, these option writers buy Acme Inc. shares in the market. This buying action pushes the stock price up further – it’s a snowball effect!

As more and more people jump on the bandwagon, buying options and causing option writers to purchase shares, Acme Inc.’s stock price shoots through the roof. That, my friend, is a Gamma Squeeze in action!

The Effects and Implications of a Gamma Squeeze

As thrilling as a Gamma Squeeze sounds, it’s not all sunshine and roses. Sure, it might be a field day for the folks who owned the stock before the squeeze. But those who jump into the action later might be left holding the bag if the stock price plummets.

And remember our friends, the option writers? A Gamma Squeeze can be a nightmare for them if they didn’t hedge their bets properly. They may have to sell stocks at a loss when the price skyrockets.

In the grand scheme of things, a Gamma Squeeze can cause wild swings in the stock market, leading to volatility. While this can create opportunities for savvy traders, it’s also a stark reminder of the risk and unpredictability in the stock market.

Peeling Back More Layers of a Gamma Squeeze

To understand a Gamma Squeeze even better, let’s explore it with a few more examples. But before that, it’s crucial to add another player to our knowledge bank – the ‘Market Maker.’ These are big financial institutions that ensure smooth trading by selling when investors want to buy and buying when investors wish to sell. They also play a significant role in a Gamma Squeeze.


Think of Acme Inc. again. In our previous example, we saw how the price of Acme Inc. skyrocketed due to increased buying of options and shares. But where do these shares come from? Enter the Market Maker.

Market Makers, like their name suggests, ‘make the market’. They ensure there’s enough supply to meet the demand. When an investor buys an option, the Market Maker typically takes the opposite side of the trade. If the investor is buying a call option (betting the price will rise), the Market Maker is selling that option.

But here’s the twist: To protect themselves, Market Makers ‘hedge’ their bets. If they’ve sold a call option, they’ll buy the underlying stock. This way, if the stock price does rise, they can cover their potential loss. And guess what this does? It pushes the stock price up even more!

Gamma Squeeze in the Real World

Gamma Squeezes aren’t just theoretical – they happen in the real world too! A notable instance occurred in January 2021 with the stock of a company named GameStop. It was a classic David versus Goliath scenario, where a group of small-time investors on Reddit squared off against big Wall Street hedge funds.

The Reddit investors started buying up GameStop options, triggering a massive Gamma Squeeze. The hedge funds, which had bet against GameStop, were caught off-guard as the stock price soared from about $20 to nearly $500 in a matter of days!

This real-life example underlines the power (and peril) of a Gamma Squeeze. It can turn the market on its head and disrupt the best-laid plans of investors and traders alike.

The Data Speaks for Itself

To quantify the impact of a Gamma Squeeze, let’s glance at some figures. In the GameStop saga, data shows that on January 22, 2021, over 1 million call options of GameStop were traded. This was an unprecedented surge, as the average daily volume in the previous year was just 183,000!

When these call options were exercised, Market Makers had to buy up GameStop shares to hedge their positions. This led to a buying frenzy, causing the stock price to explode. It was a textbook Gamma Squeeze!


In the end, understanding what a Gamma Squeeze is all about comes down to understanding the mechanics of options trading and the role of different market players. It’s a tale of demand and supply, of hedges and bets, of small traders and big institutions.

Remember, while a Gamma Squeeze can present lucrative opportunities, it also brings high risk. As the saying goes, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Diversify your investments, keep learning, and you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the thrilling roller coaster of the stock market.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a gamma squeeze?
A gamma squeeze is a financial phenomenon that occurs when the buying of stock options causes the price of a certain stock to spike dramatically. This is typically driven by a rapid increase in demand for the stock due to speculation or other market factors.

What does a gamma squeeze do to a stock?
A gamma squeeze can cause the price of a stock to increase sharply in a very short time. As more investors buy options betting that the stock price will rise, the market makers – who sold the options – may need to buy the underlying stock to hedge their position, driving the price up.

What is an example of a gamma squeeze?
A famous example of a gamma squeeze is the GameStop phenomenon in early 2021. A wave of retail investors started buying GameStop options, causing the stock price to rocket from around $20 to nearly $500 in a matter of days!

What is a delta gamma squeeze?
Delta and Gamma are two critical measurements in options trading. While a gamma squeeze refers to the rapid rise in a stock’s price driven by options trading, a delta gamma squeeze is a more complex situation involving changes in both these measurements. It can lead to even more dramatic shifts in stock prices.

Are gamma squeezes rare?
Gamma squeezes are not common because they require specific market conditions, including high options activity and significant price movement. However, they are not unheard of and have occurred in the past, as seen in the GameStop example.

Has a gamma squeeze happened?
Yes, gamma squeezes have happened in the past. The most well-known example is the GameStop case in early 2021, which was widely reported in the media.

How do you detect a gamma squeeze?
Detecting a gamma squeeze can be challenging as it requires a keen understanding of options trading and the ability to analyze market data. Some signs may include a rapid rise in a stock’s price, a significant increase in options activity, and high volatility.

How do gamma squeezes end?
A gamma squeeze can end when the buying pressure from the options trading subsides. This could happen when the options expire or when the stock’s price gets so high that it discourages further buying.

Is high gamma good or bad for options?
High gamma isn’t inherently good or bad – it depends on the investor’s position. High gamma means that the price of the option is sensitive to changes in the price of the underlying stock. For option buyers, high gamma can be good if the stock price moves in their favor. For option sellers, high gamma can be risky if the stock price moves against their position.

Was GameStop a short squeeze or gamma squeeze?
The GameStop case was a combination of both a short squeeze and a gamma squeeze. The initial surge in the stock’s price can be attributed to a gamma squeeze, driven by high options trading. As the price rose, investors who had shorted the stock (betting that the price would fall) had to buy shares to cover their positions, leading to a short squeeze.

Why is it called a gamma squeeze?
It’s called a gamma squeeze because it involves the measurement ‘Gamma’ in options trading. Gamma measures the rate of change in an option’s delta based on a one-point move in the underlying asset. A gamma squeeze involves a rapid increase in the stock price due to the dynamics of gamma in options trading.

What are 3 examples of gamma?
In the context of this article, examples of gamma include its role in options trading (as in a gamma squeeze), its use in measuring the sensitivity of an option’s delta to changes in the price of the underlying asset, and the concept of ‘gamma hedging,’ where traders adjust their positions to account for changes in gamma.

How high can a short squeeze go?
In theory, a short squeeze could push a stock’s price incredibly high, even to infinity. However, in reality, market dynamics, regulatory mechanisms, and investor behavior usually prevent such extreme scenarios. The GameStop case saw the stock price rise to nearly $500 from around $20 due to a short squeeze.

What is gamma scalping vs delta scalping?
Both gamma and delta scalping are strategies used by traders in options markets. Gamma scalping involves adjusting one’s position in an option to capitalize on changes in the underlying stock’s price, typically by trading the stock itself. Delta scalping, on the other hand, involves adjusting one’s position in the underlying stock to capitalize on changes in the option’s delta.

What is a good gamma for options?
There isn’t a universally ‘good’ or ‘bad’ gamma. High gamma means the price of the option is very sensitive to changes in the underlying stock’s price. This can be good for an options buyer if the stock price moves in the right direction, but risky for an options seller.

What are the different types of squeezes?
In the world of finance, there are several types of ‘squeezes.’ A short squeeze occurs when a stock’s price rises sharply, causing those who bet against the stock to buy shares to cover their positions. A gamma squeeze, as we’ve discussed, is driven by options trading. There are also credit squeezes and liquidity squeezes, which occur in different contexts within financial markets.

What is a gamma crush?
A gamma crush refers to a sharp decrease in an option’s gamma. This usually happens after significant events like earnings announcements when implied volatility falls. A gamma crush can lead to rapid changes in an option’s price, impacting traders who hold positions in those options.

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