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Why poker is relevant to trading crypto

Why poker is relevant to trading crypto

When I was 17/18 I played online poker regularly, working my way up from micro stakes to mid-high levels. The cryptocurrency scene often reminds me of the online poker one, and indeed many people I know who used to play poker are now enthusiastically involved in cryptocurrencies. This is not a surprise since online poker players are generally young and male (the most prominent crypto demographic), have a high risk appetite and enjoy both the thrill of competing and the love of gambling.

Cryptocurrencies present a 24 hour, 365 a day a year opportunity to meet these needs and there are a number of lessons I took from poker that I believe are equally as applicable to cryptocurrencies. 

Bankroll management is king

In poker, no matter how good you are, you will always go through stretches where everything seems to go against you. The most improbable of situations will occur, times where you had a 99.5% chance of winning will evaporate before your eyes, your opponent taking your money with even a deserved abashed look or the maniacal glee of a person who revels in someone else's suffering as much as they do their own victory. 

The same thing will happen in cryptocurrencies. 

It might not be any one opponent, but the improbable will happen and the key thing is to not have over leveraged yourself such that either you are forced to make a move you know is not the optimum one or you find yourself wiped out, your funds gone. You cannot profit from a run of good luck if you lost everything prior to it. Margin trading is particularly dangerous, with a sudden unexpected piece of news (such as today's abrupt Segwit2x cancellation) enough to prove ruinous. Your bankroll is the most important thing you have. You need to remain in the market long enough to let your investments appreciate. Do not overextend. 

Do not trade on tilt

When a poker player is emotionally affected following a (usually bad) play, they are said to be on tilt. This means they are not thinking clearly, and end up making bad decisions. The ability to avoid going on tilt, and retain full objectivity, is what can separate the good from the great players. 

Cryptocurrencies, again, are no different. Do not trade when you're not in the right state of mind. Do not trade when drunk. Do not trade when you've had an argument with your partner. If you make a trade for the right reasons then even if it goes downhill you will be able to understand either where you went wrong or be able to chalk it up to unforeseen events. If you make a bad decision when emotionally affected you'll just have wasted your money.

Take profits

It is tempting to let your Blockfolio balance accumulate, see the numbers keep appreciating further and further, never to touch your hard earned gains. Taking profits, however, is key. There is nothing wrong with taking money out now and again, particularly at points you have already identified to take it and doing so will make you better prepared to deal with any sharp sudden downturns. If the market dropped 90% tomorrow and took 2 years to recover, as Bitcoin has done previously, would you be content to wait?

Taking profits means that no matter what happens, you will be able to rest safe knowing that you are up no matter what. I tend to let any investments in alts go to 100% gains, take the principal back into ETH, and then leave the remaining stake to ride. It is much easier to weather storms when your net cost is 0 and its all profit. This does not mean you should take all your profits out - simply that taking some out from time to time to treat you or your loved ones can be a good idea.

Don't trust any service providers

The poker community was rocked owing to a huge scandal involving two large poker providers, Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker. For years rumours of a 'God Mode' account, which would allow a user to see the cards of all his opponents, swirled around the poker world but were roundly dismissed as the bitter ruminations of losers. Thanks to sterling work by poker forum users, the scam was uncovered and the two companies brought to their knees. A number of other poker sites have subsequently gone on to have been revealed as cheating or defrauding their customers.

When I was playing poker I only kept what was absolutely necessary to play on each site, and I spread it around all of them as much as possible. I recommend the same with crypto sites. Even though they are much improved, they are still susceptible to either willful or negligent harm to customers. Keep your crypto assets in your own storage, and leave as little on exchanges as possible. 

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