Saturday 30 November 2013

How I made $30,000 this month, by not playing chess.

I failed the goal I set myself for November. It was simple, just do chess tactics daily for at least 1 hour. I didn't keep to it. Why? The first week of November I got an incredible urge to solve my current financial situation. I realised that if I remained inactive work wise, I would probably run out of savings by February and have to get a job somewhere (ugh!?!). I completely stopped playing chess and started brainstorming how to solve my situation and earn some money.

It wasn't just a matter of having money to survive, HMRC has been chasing me for a £20,000 debt for a few years now. Since my last start up started making losses, I never had any extra money to pay towards this. I've been hovering below $5,000 in cash the whole time. I knew I had to pay this debt off soon or they would get incredibly pissed off. The last 6 months of working at Sharkius I didn't get paid anything, the year before that I got minimal amounts. I even considered bankruptcy at one point but chose not to. Playing with the tax man is not fun.

So this month the urge was very intense. I had to get rid of this debt. My chess ambitions came to a standstill. The things I tried were:

  1. Making a new web site
    Unfortunately I lost interest because it was a chess thing, that is probably going to bring utility more than money. I will finish it at some point, it's really cool.
  2. Playing Poker
    I've had $5,000+ tournament wins before and I tried my luck again. I noticed an improvement in my game thanks to chess, but alas, losing with AA against KK has nothing to do with skill. $400 profit pocketed, but no more.  Next time.
  3. Brainstorming new businesses
    From tourism to technology. I realised that I'll have the same problem I had all year, lack of capital to do anything meaningful without having to raise money. I don't really want to raise money again, not just yet anyway. Most of the businesses I thought about were trying to integrate bitcoins somehow, maybe I will do one of them in 2014, who knows?
  4. Messing about with bitcoins and it's altcoins
    I already knew about bitcoin since about March 2013. I thought it had potential; however, being unfortunate enough to lose a whole $1,200 on the closure of bitcoin-24, I was unable to buy and hold any bitcoins. Thus, I did not make any profits from its huge increase to $1,200. This time, I wanted to do a bit more than arbitrage the market for the odd few hundred quid I'd make fortnightly. I studied my options.

The last try, option number 4 would end up having something significant in it. First, I used the last of my money (just a couple grand), to arbitrage the markets to the max. Having generated a healthy profit of a couple thousand, I started day trading. Initially I lost around $600 day trading. It was painful. It seemed like I could never get the decisions right. I sucked. I was about to give up.

At this point I was only day trading bitcoin, but having studied the whole crypto currency scene a bit more, I realised there is a lot of potential in other coins. Some of them are quite ingenious and who knows, maybe in 2 years they will surpass bitcoin. I picked PTS (Protoshares) for the best candidate to gain value. I made 50% gains overnight, I was ecstatic.

However, as things were going, and my rotten luck of the moment was, I managed to get my computer hacked and lost $1,500 worth of PTS... I felt really shit that day. If you are into crypto coins, be very careful. I had never ever been hacked before. I'm a techie, and its the biggest insult to get hacked. But it happened. The positive was that I managed to catch the hacker getting the coins out of my computer wallet and I rescued another $1,500 worth of my coins. To add insult to injury, PTS are worth 4 to 5 times today than what they were when I bought them!

I thought about forever quitting crypto coins, cursing them, hating them, but after waking up the next day I felt better. Instead of being mad at myself, I was now grateful I didn't lose it all. I realised that I let my guard down a little and that if I just was more careful, I should not be hacked again (I hope!!). This small capital I had leftwas enough to do something.

A couple of weeks after, things turned around and I had a bunch of HUGE swings in luck. I had moments where I was up a few thousand and moments where I missed the right moment to sell, and thus missed out on $7,000 in profit. These moments the coins would collapse back down and my profit would go from $7,000 to $0. I also had moments were I would lose over a grand in half an hour. These daytrading experiences were hard to take. Very, very painful.

Daytrading really does suck. It is so stressful. I noticed, that because I really wanted to pay off this debt so badly, losing even $10 off any profits I made was especially painful. If I didn't have any debt I thought, I would take more risks and not care if I went down a whole grand. If I didn't have any debt, I would be a better day trader. That maybe true, and we will find out, since I've now managed to make enough to pay my debt off and have a little bit left over.

Yes!!! So I managed to multiply my money nearly 10 times, great! What do I do with it? Keep day trading or play it safe and pay the debt? This question was killing me for a few hours. If I changed my bitcoins to FIAT now I could miss out on the next 2x multiplier. A 2x multiplier at this level would mean winning $20,000 in profit over the course of a day... I could do it...

After long deliberation I realised that I did not want to risk a penny of the debt money. I may end up making less profits by trading with only $1,000 rather than all my capital, but at least I will sleep well knowing that my debt is paid off. I will also have more time to get back into chess, without the debt breathing down my back.

By paying this debt I've bought myself some more time to do whatever the hell I want in life, and that's awesome. I'm not financially free as I would like to be, not just yet, but it kinda is like that for me anyway. Having a few thousand that you manage to somehow top up every now and then, is just enough. Also, it seems that as soon as I get under pressure, I will find the ways to top my balance up anyway, I've done it before, I've done it this month, and I will do it again when I need it next.

Now, to play chess, climb rock faces, conquer mountains and perhaps just a little bit more of day trading.

If anyone wants to learn more about crypto-currencies, especially alt currencies, please watch this video, I think it's great:

Eventually, one of the alt currencies will be to bitcoin, what today's Twitter is to Facebook. Unfortunately I missed the Quark boat, 1000% returns in a week, crazy. Why wasn't I there? Looks like a solid coin too.

PS.- Please don't jump into just any coin as this guy recommends, that is his only mistake in his video, some coins are scams and some coins are just too weak and will die out. Do some research first, like you would with any investment.

PPS.- None of this blog post is intended as investment advise and any positions you may open due to this post are solely your responsibility and not mine. You understand that any investment is risky and you could lose all your money. Thus, you should not invest money you cannot afford to lose.

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Friday 1 November 2013

New Concrete Goal + Progress Update

I've just realised that all my goals are very abstract. Abstract in a sense that I have to play games and achieve good results to get to my goal. This kind of goal does not help because I do not feel a sense of achievement unless I reach a particular rating (eg 98th percentile!). Instead, I should be setting goals that will improve my play whether or not I reach a particular rating. To this end, I've decided my goal for November will be to do at least 50 hours of Tactics Trainer on chess[dot]com and at least 1 hour a day for 20 consecutive days no matter what. This kind of goal can be achieved with just a little bit of determination, and I am guaranteed results whether I win games or not. Also, if I don't achieve it, I will feel ashamed because I know at least one or two of you read this and I do not want to look like an ass by not achieving my goals ;-)

As for the progress report, due to my bad goal setting, I've fallen behind quite a bit. I made a promise not to play 15|10 games until I improved, and I have kept that promise. Because of not being able to play those games though, I've lost will to study hard and I've spent my time doing other things instead such as day trading, poker and building a chess web site. The last is the most productive thing I've done, and it will definitely help me when it is finished. However, I am disappointed that I have made little progress on my chess strength.

Enough said, below is my miserable performance on Tactics Trainer for October. November shall correct this. I promise myself and the world!