Imagine a proud condor, a magnificent bird of prey, soaring over vast landscapes. Much like an options trader, the condor relies on its environment to thrive, reacting to the volatility of the wind beneath its wings. 

Now, imagine a condor that defies the norm, choosing to fly into the storm rather than away from it. This daring bird, the reverse of what we might expect, provides an apt metaphor for the intriguing options trading strategy known as the Reverse Iron Condor. Just as our bird finds its thrill and reward in the storm, this strategy comes alive in a high volatility market environment

Ever wondered how it might feel to harness the turbulent market winds, not as a detriment, but as a propellant for potential profit? 

Venture with us as we delve into the intricacies of this adventurous cousin of the traditional Iron Condor, designed to capitalize on significant market movements. 

Understanding the Reverse Iron Condor 

Venturing further into the depths of options trading strategies, it’s time to unravel the specifics of the reverse iron condor. By nature, it is an adventurous cousin of the traditional iron condor, distinguished by its aptitude for high volatility environments.

The traditional iron condor strategy is designed for quiet markets. It sells an out-of-the-money put spread (the lower wings) and an out-of-the-money call spread (the upper wings) in anticipation of a market that will hover within a specific range. The potential profit is the premium received from selling these wings, with the risk being the difference between the strike prices minus that premium.

On the other hand, the reverse iron condor has a divergent rationale, designed for those times when the market decides to make some noise. Rather than selling the wings and buying the body, like its traditional counterpart, the reverse iron condor flips this on its head. It involves buying an out-of-the-money put spread and an out-of-the-money call spread, betting on a significant movement in the market, either up or down.

A profit/loss chart showing the reverse iron condor, vaguely resembling bird wings on either side, represented by arrows moving out from a symmetrical body.

You can see once the strategy is graphed its name starts to show in its shape. Notice its wings as the green arrows, showing where and how the strategy profits, above the break-even line. And the body being in red, below the break-even line.

The key to understanding the reverse iron condor is appreciating its upside-down risk-reward dynamic. Instead of a high probability of a small profit, which is typical of the iron condor, the reverse iron condor brings a lower probability of a larger profit. This can be attractive for traders seeking more substantial returns, albeit at a higher risk.

In essence, the reverse iron condor is the audacious trader’s response to market volatility, seeking to leverage drastic price movements to generate potentially substantial profits. This approach offers the opportunity to navigate market storms that would otherwise be detrimental to more conservative strategies like the traditional iron condor. 

An image illustrating an iron condor chart, where profit is evident in the short strike and loss in the long strike.

You can see that the graph looks identical as the reverse iron condor, just that it’s flipped along the x-axis.

Trading a Reverse Iron Condor

Unraveling the intricacies of the reverse iron condor can feel like solving a well-crafted puzzle. Each piece, whether it’s selecting strike prices or setting expiration dates, plays a vital role in the overall picture. But fear not, let’s break it down piece by piece, starting with the setup.


In setting up your reverse iron condor, you need to be clear about your expectations of the market. Do you anticipate a significant move, either upward or downward? The reverse iron condor is designed for such situations. It involves purchasing and selling two different pairs of calls and puts, with the same expiration date, to establish a range within which you expect the price to move significantly.

Entering the Reverse Iron Condor

When you’ve identified a high-volatility situation, it’s time to enter the reverse iron condor. Here’s how:

  1. Buy an out-of-the-money put option. This forms the lower wing of your condor. The strike price should ideally be below the current market price of the underlying asset.
  2. Sell a put option closer to the money. This forms the lower body of your condor and generates a premium to fund the purchased positions.
  3. Buy an out-of-the-money call option. This creates the upper wing of your condor. The strike price here should ideally be above the current market price of the underlying asset.
  4. Sell a call option closer to the money. This completes the upper body of your condor, generating a premium that, again, helps fund your purchased positions.

Exiting the Reverse Iron Condor

Exiting a reverse iron condor, like any good party, requires knowing when to leave. Being subscribed to stock trade alerts can assist here, as these alerts can notify you about significant market movements that may impact your position. Typically, you wait until expiration – if the underlying asset’s price falls within the range of your bought wings, both your sold options will expire worthless, and you’ll be left with the value of the bought options.

Adjusting the Strategy

The market is like a river—always changing, always flowing—and sometimes, you need to adjust your strategy accordingly. If the underlying asset’s price is not moving as anticipated or the market’s volatility changes, you may need to adjust the strike prices of your options, or even the type of options you have bought or sold.

Remember, adjustments should be done strategically and not as a knee-jerk reaction to market fluctuations. Always consider the transaction costs involved in making adjustments and ensure these don’t eat into your potential profits.

Crafting a reverse iron condor is like setting up dominoes; each piece should be carefully positioned for the chain to work. Successful trading of this strategy requires meticulous planning, diligent risk management, and a dash of market savviness. Happy trading!

Market Conditions and Strategy Selection

The financial markets are a lot like the weather: sometimes calm and predictable, other times erratic and stormy. And just as you wouldn’t wear a raincoat on a sunny day, you wouldn’t employ a reverse iron condor under just any market conditions. Understanding the climate is crucial for choosing the right attire, or in our case, the right strategy.

The reverse iron condor thrives in an atmosphere of high volatility. Like a surfer waiting for the perfect wave, this strategy capitalizes on significant price swings in the market. Specifically, it is most effective when you anticipate a considerable price movement, but are unsure in which direction it will go.

These high-volatility situations often arise in the face of significant events or announcements. Consider earnings reports, economic indicators, or FDA drug approval announcements. The uncertainty leading up to these events often leads to substantial price swings, making it prime time for a reverse iron condor to take flight.

Example of Reverse Iron Condor

Let’s bring the reverse iron condor to life with a practical example. For this scenario, imagine you’re an options trader who believes that the price of Coinbase (COIN), say it’s currently trading at $90, is about to experience significant movement due to an impending earnings report. However, you’re unsure about the direction of the price movement. This is where the reverse iron condor comes into play.


  1. Buy an out-of-the-money put: You buy a put option with a strike price of $85 for a premium of $1. This cost forms part of your initial outlay.
  2. Sell a closer-to-the-money put: You sell a put option with a strike price of $88 for a premium of $2. This premium helps offset the cost of the bought positions.
  3. Buy an out-of-the-money call: You buy a call option with a strike price of $95 for a premium of $1. This is the other part of your initial outlay.
  4. Sell a closer-to-the-money call: You sell a call option with a strike price of $92 for a premium of $2. This premium further helps to offset the cost of the bought options

Potential Outcomes:

  1. Significant price movement: If COIN moves significantly, say to $100 or drops to $80, both of the sold options expire worthless. The value of the corresponding bought option, either the call or the put, would increase due to the price movement. After accounting for the initial outlay (net premium paid), this would result in a profit.
  2. Insufficient price movement: However, if the price of COIN stays around $90, neither the call nor the put spreads would have much value. You would lose your initial outlay, which is the maximum risk you face in this strategy.

Risk-Reward Profile of Reverse Iron Condor

Understanding the risk and reward potential of a trading strategy is akin to knowing the possible paths on a journey. It helps you prepare for the terrain ahead and aligns your expectations with the reality of the market. Let’s delve into the risk-reward profile of the reverse iron condor. 

Maximum Profit & Loss

The reverse iron condor is a limited-risk, limited-reward strategy. This means that both the maximum profit and maximum loss are determined at the time of setup.

Maximum Profit: This occurs when the underlying asset’s price moves significantly and falls within the range of the bought options at expiration. The profit equals the difference between the strike prices of the bought and sold options (the width of the spread) minus the net premium paid for the position.

Maximum Loss: On the other hand, if the price doesn’t move significantly and stays within the range of the sold options at expiration, the options will be worth little or nothing. In this case, you lose the net premium paid to set up the position, representing your maximum loss.

Breakeven Points

Breakeven points for the reverse iron condor are the strike prices of the bought options plus and minus the net premium paid. In other words, the underlying asset’s price needs to move enough to cover the cost of the strategy before you can start seeing profits. 

Impact of Underlying Price Movement

The reverse iron condor is a non-directional strategy, meaning it doesn’t matter whether the underlying asset’s price increases or decreases, as long as the movement is significant. If the price of the asset rises above the call spread or falls below the put spread by an amount greater than the net premium paid, the strategy results in a profit. However, if the price doesn’t move significantly and stays within the range of the sold options, the strategy could result in a loss.

The risk-reward profile of the reverse iron condor reflects its essence as a high-volatility strategy. It capitalizes on significant price movements in either direction but runs the risk of losses if the market remains calm. It’s a bit like a trapeze artist, where the thrill of soaring through the air comes with the risk of a miss. In both cases, careful planning, accurate timing, and sound risk management are key.

Pros and Cons


  1. Non-directional: One of the main advantages of the reverse iron condor is its indifference to the direction of price movement. Whether the market soars like a falcon or dives like a falcon, as long as the move is significant, there’s potential for profit.
  2. Limited Risk: The maximum potential loss is limited to the net premium paid to set up the position. This makes it easier for traders to manage risk and align it with their risk tolerance levels.
  3. High Profit Potential: The strategy can provide high returns if the underlying asset experiences significant price movement. It’s particularly useful during periods of expected high volatility such as earnings seasons or major announcements.


  1. Limited Reward: Although the potential profits can be high, they are capped by the width of the spread minus the net premium paid. No matter how dramatic the price movement, the profit cannot exceed this limit.
  2. Risk of Small Moves: If the underlying asset’s price stays within the range of the sold options, the reverse iron condor can result in a loss equal to the net premium paid.
  3. Commission Costs: As this strategy involves four different options positions, transaction costs can be relatively high. These costs can eat into profits, especially on smaller trades.


In the vast financial skies, options strategies are as diverse as the birds that traverse the globe. The reverse iron condor, named for the largest flying land bird in the western hemisphere, carries with it the audacity of its avian counterpart, embracing the storm rather than shying away from it. This intricate options trading strategy, designed for high volatility, can provide the daring trader with the potential for significant profit, regardless of the direction of the market’s swift winds. However, like navigating a storm, it requires careful planning, diligent risk management, and an intuitive understanding of the market’s shifts.

It’s important to bear in mind that the thrill of a larger profit comes at the risk of losses if the market fails to roil as expected, much like our reverse condor whose daring flight can end in a rough tumble if the storm fails to manifest. Moreover, the strategy’s complexity, along with the costs involved, could nibble at your profits like tiny beak pecks. Nevertheless, when wielded with knowledge and precision, the reverse iron condor can open up exciting opportunities for seasoned traders.

As we close our exploration of the reverse iron condor, we’re reminded of our metaphorical bird, bravely navigating the storm, embodying the spirit of this daring strategy. As you venture forth in your trading journey, may you harness the winds of volatility as skillfully as the reverse condor, riding the market’s storms to potential profits. 

Reverse Iron Condor: FAQs

Does the Reverse Iron Condor Guarantee Profits Every Time?

Just like the iron condor, the reverse iron condor does not guarantee profits every time. It is a strategy that thrives in a highly volatile market, capitalizing on significant price movements of the underlying asset. However, if the market remains stable and the asset’s price stays within a narrow range, the strategy could end up being unprofitable. Moreover, factors such as transaction costs and timing also play a vital role in the overall profitability.

Which Variant of the Reverse Iron Condor Yields the Highest Profits?

The profitability of a reverse iron condor depends on various factors including the choice of the underlying asset, the distance between the strike prices of the options, and the level of market volatility. There isn’t a universally “most profitable” variant as it largely depends on the trader’s personal objectives, risk tolerance, and the prevailing market conditions.

How Can One Close a Reverse Iron Condor Position Profitably?

To close a reverse iron condor profitably, you ideally want a significant price movement in the underlying asset. If such a move occurs, you can close the position before expiration, securing the profits. However, it’s important to monitor the asset’s price movements closely, as price reversion can erode profits and even lead to losses.

Can you Highlight the Key Differences Between a Reverse Iron Condor and a Butterfly Spread?

The reverse iron condor and the Butterfly Spread are both options trading strategies, but they thrive under different market conditions and have distinct risk-reward profiles. A butterfly spread benefits from low volatility and has limited risk and profit potential. In contrast, a reverse iron condor is designed to profit from high market volatility, betting on a significant movement in the price of the underlying asset. The butterfly spread involves the combination of a Bull Spread and a Bear Spread, whereas the reverse iron condor consists of buying an out-of-the-money put spread and an out-of-the-money call spread.

How Reliable is the Reverse Iron Condor Strategy?

The reliability or success rate of the reverse iron condor strategy largely hinges on the trader’s skill in accurately assessing market volatility and effectively implementing the strategy. In a high-volatility market, a reverse iron condor can provide a high probability of profits, albeit with higher risk. However, if market volatility decreases or the underlying asset’s price stays within a narrow range, the strategy can result in losses. Hence, it’s essential to carefully monitor market conditions and manage risks accordingly.