5 Tips for Investing in Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies

Learn to buy and properly store major coins before trading.
If you listen to The Three Donkeys podcast, you hear Peter Jennings, Adam Levitan, and I tell stories about trading ridiculous cryptocurrencies like Titcoin, or the time I owned a huge percentage of Vegas’s strip club currency (not to brag).

And so my initial piece of advice here might surprise you: don’t get into crypto so you can buy up coins whose primary purpose is to make it easier to get a lap dance. “Now wait, I’m supposed to swipe this where?!”

This post isn’t meant to walk you through how to buy and store crypto or go into depth about the various exchanges and wallets because there’s a mountain of content out there already, but I’ll give you a few reputable sites/tools to help you out. There’s a lot of good stuff out there, so this is just a shortlist to get you started…

Coinbase

Simple to use
Beginner-friendly place to start buying BTC, ETH, BCH, or LTC
Kucoin.com

Ability to trade cryptocurrency
Beginner-friendly
Lots of bonuses and giveaways
Changelly

Must already own cryptocurrency to use
Allows trading of currency pairs you cannot trade elsewhere
Easy-to-use exchange that searches for best rates at other sites for you
Trezor

High-security hard wallet on which you can and should store coins you plan to hold
Safer than keeping coins on an exchange
There are a variety of other sites and exchanges out there, but there’s really no reason to be trading Einsteinium on an advanced exchange until you learn how to purchase currencies and store them on a hard wallet.

I’d start by learning how to purchase Bitcoin on CEX.IO or a comparable site and send anything you don’t plan to trade to a Trezor or another hard wallet (Ledger is another good one).

A couple tips: use a bank transfer to purchase crypto (lower fees than a credit card) and make sure you enable two-factor authentication on any site you use.

If you want to learn more about crypto basics, check out this collection of resources.

Don’t diversify for the sake of it.
This is going to be pretty unpopular advice. All over the internet, you’ll find people telling you to not put all of your eggs in one basket. This is true for pretty much every type of investment. It’s certainly true in sports speculation; DFS players are told to diversify their player exposure and sports bettors to hedge their bets.

I don’t believe this is smart. The only reason you should diversify is to be able to invest more money, overcoming a lower ROI with more volume to see greater long-term gains.

I’ll use DFS as an example since that’s my expertise. If you think Michael Thomas is the top wide receiver play this week, you should have as much money on Thomas as you’re willing to stomach. It’s high-variance to not diversify, which is why people avoid it—it feels shitty to have large swings—but it will lead to the greatest ROI over the long run (if you’re right).

So why not put Thomas in every lineup? Well, you’re always trying to balance the highest possible ROI—which zero diversification allows for—with the greatest overall profit and the lowest possible risk of ruin (going busto). If you were to seek the highest ROI and greatest profit, you’d not diversify at all and play 100% of your bankroll, which would of course be idiotic since your long-term risk of ruin would be 100%.

As it relates to crypto, I’m of the opinion that you should identify what you believe is the best value, then invest as much money as you’re willing to lose in that single asset. Then, knowing that adding another coin—diversifying—can slightly reduce your risk of ruin, put as much money as you can stomach into that (which should be a lower amount).

In this way, you’re diversifying solely to be able to invest more money, increasing your profit and reducing your risk of ruin.

Okay, now two caveats. The first is that the swings in crypto are bananas. If you haven’t woken up to 35% of your investment just—poof—gone, you haven’t lived my friend. And so with that greater volatility comes more of a reason to hedge.

The second caveat is that it’s more difficult to know what’s “optimal” in cryptocurrency than in other alternative investments. Although I might be off a bit here and there, I pretty much know the top values—or a small pool of players who could be considered the top values—in DFS. It’s somewhat obvious. That’s probably not true in crypto—certainly not to the same extent and especially not for someone like me who doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing.

If you believe in the overarching concept and believe the entire cryptocurrency market cap will rise, there’s an incentive to just stay in the game, meaning it’s probably wise to diversify more here than in more “solved” games like DFS.

Nonetheless, I think something like a 60/25/10/5 type of split is better than putting 5% of your cash into 20 different coins.

Market cap matters more than coin price.
A friend of mine saw that I had some early trading success—mostly just the result of a bull market for altcoins and a few lucky moves—and asked if he could give me some money to invest. I agreed, and so he’s become interested in the space and has his own suggestions of trades to make. In the beginning, those were often, “We should get XYZ because it’s under $1.”

This is the most common mistake I see made by those new to crypto. The price of coins is relevant only after accounting for the circulating supply. The number of coins multiplied by the price of those coins is the total market cap for the token, and that’s what really matters. When you buy any coin, what you should really be focused on isn’t the price of the coin, but what percentage of that total market cap you’re purchasing.

As an example of the difference, take a look at the top six coins in terms of market cap (specifically Ripple), via CoinMarketCap.com:

At the time of writing this, Ripple costs 23 cents—nearly 300 times less than Litecoin and 1,800 times less than Dash. Nonetheless, because of the way in which Ripple operates, there’s a much larger circulating supply, and thus the market cap of Ripple is over twice as large as Litecoin and Dash.

On the flip side, I can’t tell you how many people I know have said, “I’m not buying Bitcoin right now. If I invest $5,000, I can’t even get a whole token.”

But who cares? If the market cap of Bitcoin increases by 20%, someone investing $5,000 will have made $1,000 in the same way that they’d make $1,000 if Ripple increases 20%. Yes, it could be easier for certain coins to see massive swings in value, but that would be due to their market cap and not the coin price. It’s more difficult for Ripple (nearly $9b market cap) to go from 23 cents to 46 cents than for a coin with a $100 million market cap to double in price (regardless of the cost of one token).

The point is that the price is effectively arbitrary based on the circulating supply of tokens. If there were theoretically just one circulating Bitcoin that cost $130b+, it wouldn’t change the merits of your $5,000 investment in it.

Don’t get hung up on the absolute price.

Don’t take profits unless there’s a change in circumstances.
I got a hotel in NYC a couple weeks ago and planned to go up for the day. When that day came, I just didn’t feel like going anymore, so I didn’t. The fact I paid for the hotel meant nothing—it was a sunk cost and that money was gone—and so the only relevant factor was really whether or not I felt like going to NYC that day.

Don’t let past decisions affect future ones if they have no bearing on your happiness (or, in investing, your expected value). With any investment, it’s irrelevant whether or not you’re up or down or you’ve removed your initial investment or you’ve run it up 10x or whatever. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been talking with my mom about crypto and she has said, “You should take out some of the money you’ve made.”

There are really only a couple reasons you should be taking profits, all of which are the result of something changing. One would be that your net worth has shifted and you’re over-exposed to crypto. As an example, let’s say you bought Bitcoin at $1k with $50k in the bank, and you think it’s smart to have 20% of your money in BTC (so you bought $10k of it). If the price of BTC is now $8k and you didn’t sell, your BTC would be worth $80k. Assuming your net worth otherwise didn’t grow, you’d have $80k in BTC and $40k in cash. Even if holding is +EV, it might be too much risk for you to stomach, in which case you’d be justified in taking money out.

Of course, if you think the future of crypto has changed for the worse—or that your money could be better invested elsewhere—then you’d also be justified in changing your allocation.

Finally, although it’s admittedly irrational, I think you could make an argument for removing your initial investment solely for peace of mind. If you invested $1k in crypto and have run it up to $10k, removing the initial $1k isn’t the worst idea if you think it will help you psychologically. A lot of people think and act differently when they’re on a freeroll; just look at how people act in casinos when they’re “playing with house money.” If it is comforting to you think “the worst that can happen is I’m back to even,” then removing a small portion of your crypto funds so you’re on a freeroll is probably fine. It’s not mathematically the right decision, but you can potentially make up for the loss in EV from just having peace of mind that you’ll never be down from your investment.

Leave a Reply