Gap Trading 101: A Beginner's Playbook to Market Gaps

gap trading 101 a beginners playbook to market gaps splash srcset fallback photo
Page content

Gap trading is a strategy that capitalizes on the price gaps that occur between trading sessions. These gaps can signal significant market moves and provide traders with lucrative opportunities. By understanding the different types of gaps and how to trade them, beginners can develop effective trading strategies that leverage these market phenomena.

Gap Trading 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Market Gaps


Gap trading is a popular strategy among traders looking to capitalize on the price gaps that occur between trading sessions. These gaps, which can be driven by various factors such as earnings reports, economic data releases, or significant news events, often signal strong market momentum and provide opportunities for substantial gains. This guide explores the fundamentals of gap trading, helping beginners understand how to identify and trade these market gaps effectively.

Understanding Market Gaps

A market gap occurs when a security’s price opens significantly higher or lower than its previous close, creating a gap on the price chart. There are four main types of gaps: common gaps, breakaway gaps, runaway gaps, and exhaustion gaps. Each type has distinct characteristics and implications for trading strategies.

Types of Market Gaps

  1. Common Gaps: These gaps are usually caused by normal market fluctuations and are typically filled within a few trading sessions. They often occur in quiet trading periods and are not usually associated with a significant price movement.

  2. Breakaway Gaps: These gaps occur at the beginning of a significant price move, often at the start of a new trend. They are typically driven by strong news or events and are less likely to be filled quickly.

  3. Runaway Gaps: Also known as continuation gaps, these occur in the middle of a strong trend and indicate that the trend is likely to continue. They are typically accompanied by increased volume and are less likely to be filled immediately.

  4. Exhaustion Gaps: These gaps occur at the end of a significant price move and signal that the trend is losing momentum. They are usually followed by a reversal or consolidation and are likely to be filled quickly.

Identifying and Trading Gaps

To effectively trade gaps, it is essential to identify the type of gap and understand the context in which it occurs. This involves analyzing price charts, volume data, and market news to determine the likely cause and implications of the gap.


Consider a stock like Inc. (AMZN) that closes at $3,200 and opens at $3,300 the next day, creating a $100 gap. If the gap is accompanied by high trading volume and significant positive news, it is likely a breakaway gap, indicating a potential new upward trend.

Trading Strategies for Different Gaps

1. Common Gap Strategy

Since common gaps are often filled quickly, a popular strategy is to trade the gap fill. This involves entering a trade in the opposite direction of the gap with the expectation that the price will move back to the previous close.


If AMZN experiences a common gap up from $3,200 to $3,250, traders might short the stock at $3,250, targeting the previous close at $3,200.

2. Breakaway Gap Strategy

For breakaway gaps, traders look to enter in the direction of the gap, expecting a strong continuation of the trend. This involves entering a long position after a gap up or a short position after a gap down.


If AMZN gaps up from $3,200 to $3,300 due to strong earnings, traders might enter a long position at $3,300, anticipating further upward movement.

3. Runaway Gap Strategy

Runaway gaps indicate a continuation of the current trend. Traders can enter in the direction of the trend, using the gap as confirmation of the trend’s strength.


If AMZN is in an uptrend and gaps up from $3,300 to $3,350, traders might enter a long position at $3,350, expecting the uptrend to continue.

4. Exhaustion Gap Strategy

Exhaustion gaps signal the end of a trend. Traders look to enter positions in the opposite direction of the gap, anticipating a reversal.


If AMZN gaps up from $3,300 to $3,350 after a prolonged uptrend, traders might short the stock at $3,350, expecting a reversal back towards $3,300.

Practical Application in Coding

import pandas as pd
import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

# Example data for AMZN stock prices
data = {'Date': pd.date_range(start='1/1/2023', periods=30, freq='D'),
        'Close': np.random.normal(3200, 50, 30)}  # Simulated closing prices around $3200

df = pd.DataFrame(data)
df['Open'] = df['Close'].shift(-1)  # Simulate gaps by shifting close prices
df.set_index('Date', inplace=True)

# Identify gaps
df['Gap'] = df['Open'] - df['Close']

# Plotting the gaps
plt.figure(figsize=(10, 6))
plt.plot(df['Close'], label='AMZN Close Price')
plt.plot(df['Open'], label='AMZN Open Price', linestyle='--')
for i, row in df.iterrows():
    if abs(row['Gap']) > 20:  # Example threshold for identifying significant gaps
        plt.axvline(x=i, color='r', linestyle='--', alpha=0.5)
plt.title('AMZN Gap Trading')

This code simulates AMZN stock prices, identifies significant gaps, and plots the gaps on a price chart, providing a visual representation of potential trading opportunities.


Gap trading is a powerful strategy that allows traders to capitalize on significant price movements caused by market gaps. By understanding the different types of gaps and employing appropriate trading strategies, traders can enhance their trading performance and achieve substantial gains. Whether trading common gaps, breakaway gaps, runaway gaps, or exhaustion gaps, it is crucial to analyze the context and volume to determine the validity and potential of the gap.

In summary, mastering gap trading requires practice, patience, and a thorough understanding of market dynamics. As traders become more proficient in identifying and trading gaps, they can leverage this strategy to capture significant market moves and optimize their trading outcomes. Integrating gap trading into your overall trading strategy can significantly enhance your ability to predict market trends and maximize your profits.

Excited by What You've Read?

There's more where that came from! Sign up now to receive personalized financial insights tailored to your interests.

Stay ahead of the curve - effortlessly.