Saturday, 25 January 2014

Bitcoin for Books? Why not!

I've been receiving stories, both happy and sad, that are blog worthy. I will start with a happy one just for fun! :) Thanks "Erin" for this.

How Just Dice Paid for My Books

At the request of Deb from JustDice.com, I decided to write about my story with JustDice over the last few months. I will apologize in advance for what will be a pretty lengthy blog post.

The best place to start would probably be with introductions and background to my situation with Just Dice. My name is Patrick and I am a sophomore in college in the United States. Before I decided to attend college, my parents recognized that I would need to learn the value of financial independence before entering "the real world." Since I also have a sister who is rapidly approaching college age, my parents decided to strike a deal with me to both help the family financially and teach me a little bit about financial independence: they decided to pay for whatever of my tuition + room/board wasn't covered by scholarships if I would pay for supplies, books, and food. I figured I could cover the meals with money that I made working a minimum wage job as a shipping boy back home, but the exorbitant cost of books left my budget pretty deep in the red. While my parents decided to float me the difference in books for my first year in college, they absolutely refused to cover them for the second year, forcing me to find some way to make the money up.

Entering the summer between my freshman and sophomore years, I drove home to live with my parents and come up with a way to get extra money for the books this coming semester. My shipping job wouldn't pay me above what I was already making, nor give me extra hours beyond what I was working. I had no considerable assets to sell off for book money, and even that wouldn't cover books in the long term. I couldn't torrent most of the books since most of them were written by university professors who had limited publication and hadn't been seeded. I considered taking out a small loan in order to cover the books, but given my youth and anecdotal evidence I've received from my friends about the predatory loans they've taken out, I decided to against it. The semester was rapidly approaching and I needed a way out (and yes, selling illicit substances was out of the question).

Enter bitcoin. I learned about the concept back in the fall 2012, but didn't eventually buy any until the summer of 2013 after the April spike. I toyed around with bitcoin speculation, putting in $25 dollars or so in July, but didn't make much beyond an extra twenty dollars or so by August or so. The process was going too slowly. Reading various bitcoin forums, I stumbled upon JustDice. Now, I'm not too experienced a gambler (having only gambled a few dollars at a Catholic school carnival game in high school) and nobody in my family had a history of gambling, but I did know my way around statistics and a 1% house edge seemed reasonable (from what I had read).

In September, a few weeks before school started, I made the plunge. I put about $50 into bitcoin to gamble with in JustDice. Like many first-time gamblers, it went about as smoothly as expected: lost everything in just under 50 rolls. Crushed, I decided to step away from JustDice and figure something out. A month later, I'm in school and it's nearing crunch time for supply purchases and I hadn't made much money above what I had for food. I went back to the bitcoin forums and researched gambling strategies and techniques: I was going to strike back into JD. I learned about martingale, watched videos, learned about whales like Nakowa and dreamt of making hundreds of thousands like he did. I reinvested in bitcoin, bigger this time: $168.44 (I still remember that initial purchase). I began to play. I played cautiously, betting 2% of my invested money and martingaling from there at 49% or so.

The money began to rack up. Soon I had made twenty dollars, twenty whole dollars, which was a good few hours at work at my job. Damn, I could buy a nice meal at a restaurant with that! But I remembered my mission. I worked up to $30 and called it quits because the nerves were getting to me; what if I lost everything? I needed to step back for a bit. I relished in my winnings, but needed more. I sold the thirty dollar difference to buy an international relations book I needed for a quiz that month. I decided to keep going and the money kept trickling in, dollars at a time.

My gambling strategy was working and I managed to cover (barely) my essential books for the fall semester. Around December, I told my parents I made the extra money selling old clothing and novels I had lying around my dorm (of which I had none). During winter break, I discovered LiKaShing, the famous JD whale. He discussed his gambling strategy of waiting with low bets until the likelihood of a number above 95% or below 5% was likely to come up and bet larger with a higher profit margin. I was skeptical (the Gambler's Fallacy was nagging in the back of my head), but his massive profits didn't lie. I tried my hand at the LiKa strategy. I reinvested: 100 dollars this time, and went to work.

Waiting. Patiently waiting. Roll after roll of "0 BTC" bets, waiting for the magic numbers to feel close. Then: profit. Dropped in about 1% of my winnings on a bet and it paid off 20 fold (19.8, but close enough). Then the waiting began again, a fisherman waiting with dozens of empty bites. This cycle continued through winter break, I waited for my parents to leave the house before booting up JD. I got active on the chat boards, talking to others who were bitten by that same gambling bug, dreaming to one day make enough to "rain" on a few people. I would continuously bet, nothing too aggressive. If I lost a great deal, I would change account so the profit numbers wouldn't psych me out and make me chase profits. As of today, January 24th, my numbers were called: I had made over $400 dollars between mid-December and today, enough to cover my books for the semester and a little bit of extra money to buy a delicious $15 food buffet at the local fast food joint.

But I kept going. I put .1 in and lost it all. I was angry at myself, pissed that I couldn't just keep what I had. I made the classic gambler's mistake and chased my losses: I put more into JD to see if I could win it back. Lucky for me, I nailed it: lucky number above 95% while I hit the high button. I made back by .1 with interest!

But I wanted more. I sat for a while today as the dreams kept nagging: could you get to $500? 600? Hell, even $1000? Patrick, could you cover this semester's tuition? I remembered chats that I had over the last few months: "I was up to 3 bitcoins from a .1 investment and lost it!", "I'm chasing -2.5 profit margin", "LiKaShing just lost 100 or so bitcoins today, what a rough stretch!" I wouldn't be one of them, but it was hard to turn down the extra profit. I couldn't pull the trigger; I had to get out. The best gamblers knew when to hold em and knew when to fold em. The BTC is still sitting in a wallet, waiting to be cashed. A ticket. A golden goddamn ticket for my books. I remembered all JD meant to me over the last few months: soaring wins, heart-wrenching losses, and a sense of comraderie with others trying to make it big. The movie Rounders said it best: the best poker pros don't remember the big wins, only the slap-across-the-face losses. So I pulled out and decided to retire before the inevitable slap. I don't know how I'm covering next semester's books or how to replace the adrenaline rush I got from JD, but I'll find a way. For now, that answer won't be JustDice.

If you enjoyed my story and want to send a tip, my address is: 1Aj36gH4zCKRwNx15nSUB6m88Xw5J8Pfwr

Thanks so much for this story. 
I say all dicers chip in a tiny bit and get this boys books paid for!  

7 comments :

  1. Hey, it's evajo from the chat board. There's a competition for the next hour with a .1 BTC prize for whoever donates the most in the next hour. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Evajo, I dropped some BTC your way like I said I would. Sorry about the chat, it gets a bit crazy.

      Delete
  2. Nice story Erin, good that you was able to reach a goal and didn't ended busted. sometimes you have to control the greedy and hurry monster (very hard task) to get it. stop in a solid point is better that try to chase those almost impossible dreams and end busto. Good luck in your road and keep learning from everything on this life.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice Story, but stop gambling or you life will look like the next post on this blog

    ReplyDelete
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