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Poor Man's Covered Put



A poor man’s covered put” is a put diagonal debit spread that is used to replicate a covered put position. The strategy gets its name from the reduced risk and capital requirement relative to a standard covered put. The strategy is also much safer than a covered put because there is no naked short stock component.






Profit loss chart of a Poor Man's Covered Put


The trade will be entered for a debit. It’s important that the debit paid is no more than 75% of the width of the strikes.

Buy an in-the-money (ITM) put option in a longer-term expiration cycle

Sell an out-of-the-money (OTM) put option in a near-term expiration cycle


Stock at $100

Purchase (Expiration 2) 110 put for $15
Sell (Expiration 1) 90 put for $5
Net debit = $10.00 on a 20-point-wide long put diagonal spread


The exact maximum profit potential & breakeven cannot be calculated due to the differing expiration cycles used. However, the profit potential & breakeven area can be estimated with the following formulas.


Width of Put Strikes - Net Debit Paid


Long Put Strike Price - Net Debit Paid

tastytrade approach

A poor man’s covered put (PMCP) is a great alternative to trading a covered put. This is because a covered put position incorporates shorting stock, which is a strategy with undefined risk. Trading a PMCP is a way to define the risk of the trade and use less capital.

The setup of a poor man’s covered put is very important. If we have a bad setup, we can actually set ourselves up to lose money if the trade moves in our direction too fast. To ensure we have a good setup, we check the extrinsic value of our longer dated ITM option. Once we figure that value, we ensure that the near term option we sell is equal to or greater than that amount. The deeper ITM our long option is, the easier this setup is to obtain. We also ensure that the total debit paid is not more than 75% of the width of the strikes.

We never route poor man’s covered put spreads in volatility instruments. Each expiration acts as its own underlying, so our max loss is not defined.



In the best case scenario, a PMCP will be closed for a winner if the stock prices decreases significantly in one expiration cycle. This is because the put options will trade closer to intrinsic value and the profit potential for the trade will diminish.


For losing trades due to the stock price increasing, the short put can be rolled to a higher strike to collect more credit.


Episodes on Poor Man Covered Put

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