Crypto-Games Bankroll Returns

A friend of mine invested in Crypto-Games.net ethereum bankroll a few months ago, and this post will evaluate those returns over this timeframe.

He deposited 27.85134771 ether on October 5, 2017 and he now has  28.42479382 ether, a gain of 0.57344611 ether.

To find the time weighted rate of return, I will divide 0.57344611 by 27.85134771, which is 2.05%.  Then I will apply a factor of time. There have been 26 days in October, 30 days in November, and 17 days in December for a total of 73 days since he made his investment, divided by 365 days in the year equals 20% of the year. So I will take 2.06% divided by 20% of the year, to get an annualized rate of return of 10.29%.

10.29% rate of return is a high rate of return in the fiat world, but I guess this is commensurate with the risk of investing in an bankroll of an online casino running on ethereum? Another thing to keep in mind with this rate of return is the investor also gets the ups and downs of the price of ethereum since his unit of account is US dollars.

Augur Project Status Update

Augur project aims to be an open source decentralized prediction market running on the ethereum network. Its a really cool idea, but it seems like a long time until its ready for live real money trading, or maybe I’m just impatient?

Augur was founded in 2014 with the first release coming in June 2015. Development was funded token crowdsale in October 2015. In 2016, Augur beta was released for testing on the Ethereum testnet. The project has gone through a few iterations since then, and while the community is waiting for real money release, the value of Augur tokens has been on a wild ride. At the time it was issued, the Augur tokens were one of the biggest Ethereum ICOs ever. The current market cap of Augur tokens is 11 million “REP” worth almost 500 million US dollars at the time of writing.

Back in December 2016, the value of REP tokens had been falling since the ICO, trading under $3 per REP, but by the summer of 2017, the price had climbed near $35 per REP. After trading in a range to just below $17, the REP tokens are now trading at all time highs above $40.

I’m not sure we can use the price of Augur REP tokens as a sign of the project’s progress/success. The value of REP tokens are secured by the ethereum blockchain, so digital security of REP tokens is as strong as the ethereum blockchain itself, but at the price of alt coins has been rising across generally, the REP price has gained as well. Its unclear how much of the gains in REP price are due to the specific viability of the Augur project, and how much is due to the general rise in the market value of alt coins. One way to find out would be to construct an index of alt coins, and compare REP returns to that index, try and strip out the market risk.

I’d really like to see Augur and other open source prediction markets such as Gnosis be successful, and I think they will be eventually, but I wish progress towards real money trading would happen sooner. To follow the progress of Augur, check out their regular blog posts.

Let’s talk about how Augur will work. Augur isn’t a for profit business, it will be an open source decentralized prediction market. This distinction is very important because its open source decentralized nature will be one of the features that protects it from being shut down by governments. Since Augur will run on blockchain tokens, it will become very difficult (if not practically impossible) for governments to stop Augur. There will be an Augur app that provides a basic user interface, but the real volume of Augur will likely come by interacting with the network by way of their API, check out their API documentation. If Augur can exist for real money trading, then hosted service providers will emerge to provide users with services that will help users interact on the Augur network. This will come in the form of business that exist to house user accounts, historical data for users, to guard user’s data and money, to provide payment services, etc. There will be data service providers that provide useful information to users.

I can think of lot’s of viable business models that will come to exist once Augur exists for real money. There will also be all sorts of ethical issues that emerge such as what to do about death markets, etc.

The odds that Augur will exist for real money use are getting higher, and I think the odds are becoming likely.

Trade Bitcoins, Ethereum, Litecoin Online

I frequently get asked about how to trade crypto currencies. Aspiring traders see the daily swings in the bitcoin price and wonder whether they should take up trying to pick the highs and lows by trading. This post will describe some trading methods and provide you with a list of venues where you can trade.

The first thing to understand about crypto currencies such at bitcoin, ether, and litecoins, is their value is represented by their market price which is simply set by the powers of supply and demand. There is no central authority that determines their market price, so if you want to profit from the daily price swings, you’ll need to have a trading strategy that takes advantage of this volatility.

You’ll also need to choose your trading venue(s). Where you trade will be based on your trading strategy, but also on your legal/tax jurisdiction. Since you’ll need to comply with the laws of your local government, you should choose exchanges that are compliant for you. The place where you trade will be different if you’re American, Canadian, European, Japanese, etc. And sub-state governments such as provinces and states will also have their own laws. It’s common today for each US and European state to regulate bitcoin differently so do careful research to ensure you are trading in a tax compliant way.

The place(s) where you trade will also depend on your strategy. If you are arbitraging the bitcoin price between different exchanges you’ll need to hold accounts at more than one place, and also have wallets that serve as conduits/transfer nodes for cash, if you’re making your trades manually you’ll be more concerned about the trading dashboard and other human readable analytics, but if you’re using a bot to conduct your trades you’ll need the best API access with easy to use functionality.

Here is a step-by-step tutorial of how to trade on QuadrigaCX, a Canadian based bitcoin exchange. Once you open your account, you can fund it with Canadian dollars using Interac if you verify your account. You can also fund your QuadrigaCX account with bitcoin, ethereum, and litecoin without verification.

Once logged into QuadrigaCX, choose the “trade” tab from the header menu near the top of the page. As the image below shows, you’ll arrive at a page that shows the current market for CAD/BTC with a simple interface you can use to buy and sell. You’ll notice the best bids are listed on the left side in green, and the best offers are listed on the right side in red. These prices are bids and offers from other users on QuadrigaCX just like yourself who are buying and selling. You might be familiar with a market like this since it operates just like a stock market such as the TSX and NASDAQ.

 

 

You’ll notice on the image above, the current market has a best bid of $9,995.01 and a best offer of $10,000.06. This means another user is willing to buy at $9,995.01 and another user is willing to sell at $10,000.06. If you’d like to make a trade right away (a market order) you can sell to the user bidding $9,995.01 and buy from the user offering $10,000.06.  Depending on your trading strategy, you might only be willing to buy at $9,500, so in this case, you can place a order at that price and join the other bids in the order book. Your order will be placed with the quantity you determine at $9,500 until the market drifts down to that level and another user chooses to sell you their bitcoins at that price. Conversely, if you’d like to sell your bitcoins, but only at $10,500, you can place this order as well.

On QuadrigaCX, limit orders placed manually on the dashboard do not have expiration dates, so all orders are essentially good till cancelled (GTC).

As you review the order book from the image above, you will also notice an “amount” beside each price listed in the order book. This is the quantity being bid or offered by all users at that price. This quantity will help you determine whether your order can be filled entirely at the posted price or whether you should choose to pay up or offer down from the best posted price.

 

 

When trading, always keep the fees in mind QuadrigaCX charges an explicit fee of 0.50% per transaction. So if you buy 1 bitcoin at $10,000 CAD, your actual cost will be $10,050. You should also pay attention to the “spread”, which is the difference between the best bids and offers. Using the example above, with a current bid of $9,995.01 and an offer of $10,000.06 the spread is $5.05 or 0.06%. The spread represents an implicit cost of trading too.

Here’s an example of an easy to implement manual trading strategy with a bullish bias. Say you have $1,000 CAD to trade with, you’ve noticed the price of bitcoin is quite volatile, so you plan to make a market on QuadrigaCX to take advantage of this volatility. You will risk 10% of your account with each trade so your unit size will be 0.01 bitcoins since the current price is $10,000.

You place an order to buy 0.01 btc @ $9,993, which is slightly below the current market price using the example image above. You place the order and wait for the market to come to you, when your order is filled, place an order that is 3% above your purchase price (9993 * 1.03 = $10,292), enter your order to sell 0.01 btc @ 10,292 and leave the order in the market.

In the meantime, if you’re still feeling bullish, place another order below the current market, and if this order is also filled, place an order 3% above your fill price. Keep doing this until you reach the maximum value of your account. As you do this, the price of bitcoin will bounce around going up and down, and your orders will fill at prices where you make a spread between your buys and sells. You profit when the price of bitcoin trades within the range of volatility your limit orders imply, and you lose when the price of bitcoins drops straight down.

This is a simple market making strategy with a bullish bias that takes advantage of the volatile price of bitcoin. You can obviously tweak your own strategy to suit your own goals. You could use technical analysis to choose your entry and exit points, etc. Its completely up to you!

Follow this link for a long list of exchanges from around the world.

QuadrigaCX Common Account Verification Questions

Opening an account at QuadrigaCX is the best way for Canadians to buy and sell cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins, ethereum, and litecoin. If you are a Canadian who wants to begin trading or investing in cryptocurrencies on a safe Canadian based bitcoin exchange then you’ll need to open and verify your QuadrigaCX account. It might seem daunting at first, to give QuadrigaCX your personal information, but this is for your own safety since QuadrigaCX is complying with all Canadian money laundering law (AML) so you can be sure you’re following all relevant Canadian laws by using QuadrigaCX.

To verify your QuadrigaCX account, you can either connect your Equifax account, or you can upload your identification manually. The information required includes:

  • A Photo or scan of a Passport or Drivers license – must be in colour
  • A Photo or scan of a bank statement or utility bill showing your name and full address
  • A Photo of yourself holding the government issued ID that you have provided

When I registered, I took a picture of my drivers license from my phone, I downloaded a copy of my phone bill from Rogers.com, and I took a picture of myself holding my drivers license. A few minutes later, a representative from QuadrigaCX called me to confirm my identity, and even asked me to confirm some credentials listed on my LinkedIn profile.

 

 

Here are some common verification questions:

How long does ID & Address verification take?

ID & Address verification is processed manually by the QuadrigaCX Fraud & Compliance team and they aspire to process all new applicants within 72 hours. However, during times of incredible demand for crypto-currencies, there may be delays.

What do you require for ID & Address Verification?

QuadrigaCX uses a manual process performed by members of their Fraud & Compliance team.

Requirements:
– Photo or scan of a Passport or Driver’s license – must be in colour
– Photo or scan of a bank statement or utility bill showing your name and full address
– Photo of yourself holding the government issued ID that you’ve provided. In the same picture have a note that reads “ID VERIFICATION FOR QUADRIGACX.COM” along with today’s date. Make sure your face will be clearly visible and that all ID details are clearly readable.
– Business accounts are required to provide an extra document that supports you are in control of the company, such as articles of incorporation and corporate resolutions.

All of these requirements must be uploaded via the secure file upload within the verification section.

Does QuadrigaCX accept international IDs?

Yes, QuadrigaCX accepts IDs from almost all countries with the exception of the Unites States of America. Canadian Money Service Business (MSB) laws prohibit QuadrigaCX from servicing clients within the Unites States of America. QuadrigaCX will not service US citizens or clients utilizing bank accounts domiciled within the Unites States of America.

Do I need to be verified to trade on QuadrigaCX?

Verification is not required if you plan to fund your QuadrigaCX account with bitcoin, ether, or litecoin and then trade on the exchange for any other fiat or crypto currency.

How does the verification process work?

For Canadian users, QuadrigaCX offers two methods of verification. To become verified, users must complete at least one of the two verification methods:

  1. ID & Address verification where you securely upload copies of your ID and proof of address.
  2. Instant verification in partnership with Equifax where you are served multiple choice questions based on information within your credit file.

By completing either form of verification you enable numerous funding options. Users who complete ID verification gain maximum Interac Online limits and those who complete both methods of verification unlock additional access to EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) funding.

Do I need to be verified to withdraw?

Verification is not required withdraw any fiat or crypto currency from the exchange. Verification is only required to fund your account with CAD or USD.

How to price CoinRoster bitcoin pools

This post will describe how to use binary options to estimate the odds of a pari-mutuel pool. Friends of mine run a fantasy sports site called CoinRoster where they host pari-mutuel pools on a variety of topics including the bitcoin price. The CoinRoster bitcoin pools are fairly straight forward, users are presented with a binary question such as “will the bitcoin price be over/under a fixed price at a future date”. As the image below shows, at the time of writing, CoinRoster had a pool asking whether the price of bitcoin will be above or below $5,000 USD on February 1st 2017 based on the CME reference price. This pool closes in a few hours with the current bitcoin price is $6,352.

This is a simple market with two possible outcomes, the price will either be $5,000 and above, or below $5,000 as described by the pool’s terms. With the current price of $6,352, we can use a binary options calculator to determine the theoretical price for each outcome. We can even go a step further by converting the binary option price into an odds number format that you prefer, in the example below, I use decimal odds.

To start, let’s tally all the information we need to price the binary option:

Days Till Expiration 92
Strike Price $5,000
Underlying Price $6,352
Volatility 90%
Risk Free Rate 1.25%
Distributions 0

The days till expiration is the settlement date of the pool, in this case, the pool closes on October 31st, and settles based on the February 1st price, this is 92 days.  The strike price is $5,000 since this is the price that the pool uses to determine the outcome (either above or below). The underlying price is the current price of bitcoin, which is $6,352. To estimate the volatility, I used the average implied volatility rate for options on deribit.com, I chose a level of 90%.  I used a risk free rate of 1.25% and there are no dividends or distributions which might impact the price, so this number is zero.

Now we have all the variables, to determine the binary option prices, simply visit a free binary options calculator online and plug in the numbers, below is a screenshot.

With these variables entered, we get a result of a binary call price of 0.62 and a put price of 0.38. The first thing we should notice is since there are only two possible outcomes, the sum of call and put prices should be exactly 1.00. We should also notice that the call option is worth much more than the put option, this makes intuitive sense since the strike price is $5,000, while the underlying price is currently $6,352, making the call option “in the money”.

The binary option values can also be viewed as percentage chances, in other words, a binary option value of 0.62 is like saying there is a 62% chance of the outcome happening. To convert the binary option into an odds format such as decimal odds, simply divide 1 into the binary price = 1 / 0.62 =  1.612 or oppositely 1 / 0.38 = 2.63. Now we have an estimated price for each outcome in this pool, 1.612 for above and 2.63 for below.

In this example, the main variable that will impact the calculation is the volatility rate. We could assume different levels of volatility and get much different results. For example, instead of using a volatility level of 90%, if we used a level of 30%, the result would be binary prices of 0.935 call and 0.065 put. This makes intuitive sense since the less volatile the underlying is, the less likely it is to make big swings “out of the money” in this case, below $5,000 by February 1st.

The CoinRoster bitcoin pools are fun ways to bet on the price of bitcoin, whether you are hedging or speculating.

Tiny Amounts of Free Bitcoins

Bitcoin faucets are websites/apps where users receive tiny trickles of bitcoins by completing some action, such as watching ads. FreeBitco.in is a faucet site that allows users to receive free bitcoins each hour (currently 0.00000047 btc) per hour, but this site also has a few different games that users might find fun and/or profitable.

In addition to an hour faucet, FreeBitco.in also has a lottery, a savings account, and a dice game.

The free bitcoins users receive each hour requires them to run a simple lottery game, where there is a 1/10,000 chance to win up to 0.04732608. But almost all of the time, users will simply receive the minimum amount. If you like lotteries, and you want to play once per hour for free, sign up for FreeBitco.in

FreeBitco.in also profits from their dice game, which carries a 5% house edge.

Maybe my favorite part of this site, is if users leave their funds on FreeBitco.in, they will earn daily interest, current at 0.0109589% per day, or just above 4% per year. Who knows whether this is some kind of ponzi, there is no way to tell, but I find it interesting that the rate of return is close to what users can expect to receive at the time of writing by lending out their balances as margin loans on such sites as Poloniex and Bitfinex.

One way to boost your daily interest is to make referrals. You will receive 25% of the interest received by your referred users, at current rates, this means about 1% per year in referral commission from the savings account.

The Future of Poker

The history of poker is filled with lots of ups and downs. And although the game has been played for generations, the most popular form of poker in America, called “no-limit holdem”, started gaining mainstream appeal after the the annual World Series of Poker began in 1970 at Binion’s Horseshoe in Las Vegas. The WSOP grew steadily over the next few decades, and by 2003, what started as a game for a handful of elite players, was now attracting hundreds of entrants from all walks of life from around the world.

By 2003, the game of poker was still fairly personal. WSOP main event entrants were still mostly populated with career gamblers, rather than your average Joe. But the advent of online poker dramatically changed poker’s popularity and how the game was played. Online poker opened up the opportunity for anyone to become the main event champion, and since the study of poker was not yet academic, much of the most popular poker strategies were still based on personal experiences rather than data.

Online poker changed the poker world. The Moneymaker affect showed us that anyone could become the main event champion. Poker’s popularity soared in the 2000’s because poker became accessible to anyone with an internet connection, worldwide. And live games benefitted from online’s growth too. By 2004, the number of WSOP main event entries climbed to 2,576 and reached a high of 8,776 by 2006.

As the popularity of both online and live poker grew, the study of poker was also advancing. The new technologies that made online poker possible, also fuelled the study of poker as the data generated online gave everyone the statistics and math they could use to improve their game. With the growth of online poker, a way to beat the game became possible and today a computer can consistently beat a human playing limit holdem and will soon be able to beat a human at no-limit holdem.

Today, we are witnessing the rise of bots, computer programs that can outplay their human opponents. How does this impact the game?

Almost all online poker sites such as Pokerstars and 888 discourage and ban bots. This makes sense for them in the short term. A good poker game for a card room is one that generates volume. The game needs both rec players and pros to feed the games, but if the rec players can’t win, they probably won’t play. We’ve already reached the point where rec players lose pretty regularly online. Its almost impossible for online poker rooms to completely ban bots since its a costly technological arms race that drains resources.

But the flip side of tough online games is the continued growth of live games. The 2017 WSOP recorded the third most number of entrants ever, and the trend in live games is up. As we become wealthier, and more experience oriented, I believe the demand for live poker will continue to grow. A nice side benefit of a live poker game is how players don’t need to fear bots. The advantage a computer has against humans at the poker table comes from the raw ability to crunch more numbers. A computer can process many more possibilities in order to determine the best play of every hand. Humans can’t calculate the data fast enough in their heads, so in a live game, they must rely more on instinct, reading opponents, and other types of strategies.

I think the future of poker is one where bots compete online. The online poker games that will have continued popularity in the age of bots are ones that include a greater element of chance, more like traditional casino games that don’t require any skill. Think about the growing popularity of games like “Spin & Go”. In this type of game, bots are subject to the same probabilities as humans with these types of games.  Profit for the online card room can be baked into the random element along with a rake.

Although there may be some growth of online poker from new players going forward, especially in emerging markets, the online market in American & Europe is probably saturated. Rich knowledgeable players from wealthy markets will become increasingly aware of their particular disadvantage online, and so they’ll find other ways to play poker. Live games could see a resurgence. Live poker rooms can attract more players by improving their experience and making poker an entertainment activity that highlights the social elements of the game.

Is there an online poker room that doesn’t discourage bots?  This might be another area for growth. Providing a place where programmers can pit their bots up against each other for real money. A kind of clash of machines. I’m looking forward to it.

 

Free Play at CoinRoster Fantasy Sports

My friends are promoting their fantasy sports site, based on bitcoin, called CoinRoster.

As a special promotion, they are giving away 0.02 bitcoins worth of free play to any new user that signs up using a link from my page!

The bitcoins can be used to play on CoinRoster, but they can’t be withdrawn until they have been played 20 times, which in this case is 0.40 bitcoins worth of play.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with bitcoins, at the time of writing these 0.02 bitcoins are worth about $40 Canadian dollars or $25 US dollars.

I’d say the best games they currently offer are about Golf. They have a weekly golf fantasy game and also have a daily hockey game. In the summer they tell me they’ll have a baseball game going and in the fall they will do NFL.

Toronto Maple Leafs First Round Odds

Friends of mine have made a bitcoin fantasy sports website called CoinRoster and there are a lot of opportunities for a sharp sports bettor to make profits. The challenge is their site doesn’t have that much liquidity, but over time I hope they can gain more traction.

CoinRoster posted a pari-mutuel pool on how many games the Toronto Maple Leafs will win in their first round series against the Washington Capitals. The way I began determining the odds was to consult the series betting odds at William Hill. I see the Caps are 1.25 to win the series against the leafs. These odds imply a % chance of 80% (1/1.25). This means there is a 20% chance of the Leafs winning the series, and expressed as a decimal, these odds are 5.00.

With this information in mind, I looked at the market at CoinRoster for how many games the Leafs will win the first round. I noticed that the odds for 4 games (which would mean the Leafs win the series) was currently 57.00. The sum of any other number of games (zero, one, two, and three) should also be the inverse of the odds to win four games (since the Leafs will either win or lose the series) and we already know this number (according to William Hill) should be about 1.25 (80% chance).

So if the current pool is 0.00836 btc, then 0.001672 btc should be bet on four games and the balance should be divided between the other four options (zero, one, two, three). Obviously, the market doesn’t think the Leafs will win the first round.

Price of a Binary Option

Consider an underlying price of 918. You are presented with the choice of buying or selling a European binary call option with 1 day till expiration and a strike price of 918 (i.e. at the money). The 30 day historical volatility of the underlying, as measured by standard deviation, is 5%, and the risk free rate is 1.50%.

Since this is a binary option, the bet is about whether the underlying price is going up or down tomorrow. So how should this option be priced?  If the price of the underlying is more than 918 in a day, the binary pays off 1, if the price is lower than 918 in a day, the binary pays off 0. Is this a 50/50 bet?  An amateur would say the option should be worth 0.50 since there is an equal chance of each event happening. But the price of this binary call is actually worth slightly more than 0.50. How so?

To value the option scenario described above, we need to consider the (1) time value of money and (2) the volatility of the underlying. If we use a black-scholes model, with the variables listed above, we come up with a call price of 0.506.

Try out various calculations on this example, check out the CME binary calculator link, here.

Using the same variables, but changing the time to expiration, comes up with the following values.

Days till Expiration Binary Call Price
1 0.506
30 0.531
90 0.552
180 0.572
365 0.599