May 22, 2023
Sicarious is a speculator, crypto trader, and angel investor.
What attracted you to trading?
The promise of easy money, lol. I bought a trading bot advertised on Reddit that turned out to be a scam but then fell into trading on my own.
How long have you been trading, and what markets have you traded over your career?
I started out punting pharmaceutical microcaps on Etoro while bored at work and then bought my first Bitcoin in late 2013–just a couple of days before the China ban that dropped the price 50% overnight and popped the 2013 bubble. It only took me a month or so from that experience before I began dabbling in shitcoins to make my money back. But I wouldn’t consider it “trading” until 2015 when the crypto markets dried up. So, I shifted my focus to the forex markets and began multidirectional trading with a system and charting. After a brutal 6-month education that only the forex markets can provide, I got back into crypto, and these markets have occupied 95% of my trading focus ever since.
I started out punting pharmaceutical microcaps on Etoro while bored at work
How long did it take you to become profitable?
My trading/crypto career has been one of five steps forward, four steps back, over and over again. I’ve gone bust half a dozen times and dragged myself back into the game with just a thousand dollars or so left to my name each time. But I’ve generally managed to eke out an edge in most of the market conditions I traded, even if my edge was simply “being terminally online and clicking faster” or the infamous “OKCasino margin call clean up” trades.
A significant milestone that sticks out was a point in 2015 when I realized that I was a bad trader, and I was becoming a bad employee. This realization hurt, as trading was my dream, but I’d always been the hardest-working employee wherever I’d worked. So I gave myself three months to get good at trading or give it up for good and focus on more realistic ambitions. I didn’t magically become a great trader by the end of those three months, but I buckled down, built a system, and started taking risk management seriously.
Another milestone would be November 2016 when I lost my day job and from then on have been a full-time crypto trader.
I’ve gone bust half a dozen times and dragged myself back into the game with just a thousand dollars or so left to my name each time.
Were you in finance or anything related to trading?
No, I worked first as an executive assistant and then as a membership manager for a non profit. I made very little money and had zero exposure to financial markets. I stumbled across Bitcoin on Reddit just in time to buy the very top of the 2013 pump, two days before China banned Bitcoin. The ban crashed the price by 50%, and I got into trading to make my money back.
What does a typical day look like for you?
To be honest, I’d barely consider myself a trader anymore, at least not in the same sense that I used to be one. Throughout 2017 and 2018, I spent 14+ hours a day behind a screen trading anything that moved in crypto. My wife used to call me from work to remind me to eat; I was so in the zone. These days I focus on longer-term investments and spend most of my time pursuing non-crypto interests. Yet some habits die hard, and you’ll still find the Bybit app on my phone for when my gambling addiction demands a fix or the market serves up a layup.
My wife used to call me from work to remind me to eat; I was so in the zone.
Who did you look up to when you first started trading?
When I shifted away from solely fomo’ing shitcoins to trading futures markets, CryptoOrca was probably the most significant influence on me throughout that evolution. In a time when the majority of people were just playing hot potato with the coin of the week, Orca was busy charting and studying how markets flowed. He gave me (as a noob) the time of day and helped me see how to trade for myself instead of just following other people’s calls.
What’s the basic premise of trading for yourself?
It’s been said so much it’s almost a cliche now, but cliches are cliches for a reason: “Don’t focus on making money, focus on making good trades, and the money will follow.” I finally turned things around for myself years ago because I lowered my position size and stuck religiously to my risk management rules. My biggest problem for years, and the biggest problem with most losing traders, is that their position size is too big. Trading beyond one’s size introduces a host of issues, namely feeling pressured to place stop losses too closely (death by a thousand cuts) or trading with no stop losses and weathering significant drawdowns just to close the trade once it finally crosses over into being barely profitable. In the end, the math will always get you.
Don’t focus on making money, focus on making good trades, and the money will follow.
Tell us about your most memorable trade.
I all-in panic shorted the pico bottom of Bitcoin in early 2015 as we broke below $100 on OKCasino. I honestly thought it was over. The site crashed right after I entered my trade, and when it finally came back online, I saw Bitcoin had bounced, and I was just dollars away from being liquidated for my entire stack. The site immediately went down again, and when it finally came back the second time, I saw my trade was just below break even. I’ve never closed a trade so quickly. By the end of the month, Bitcoin was up 3x from there.
Or perhaps my first experience trading with leverage. I doubled my balance by just blindly longing every pullback throughout the day. I remember calling my big brother on my drive home from work, euphorically telling him about how my first experience trading with leverage went. He congratulated me and suggested I take a week off from trading to celebrate my success and clear my head. Instead of heeding this advice, I took the next day off work and stayed home to trade without distractions. Three hours into the day, I’d liquidated my entire account, which was 90% of my crypto stack and just over a year’s salary at my day job. I’ll never forget the physical illness I felt deep in my gut, staring numbly at my computer screen, watching a year of my life evaporate. I spent the rest of the day curled up numbly on the floor or dry heaving over the toilet until my wife got home from work, and I had to pull myself back together. I didn’t look at a chart, Twitter, or a crypto chat, for about two weeks after that, but eventually, it was back to the grind, and I fought and scraped myself back into the game.
I took the next day off work and stayed home to trade without distractions. Three hours into the day, I’d liquidated my entire account.
What’s the best trading advice you’ve been given?
“The market doesn’t care about you.” While self-obvious, it took me years for that truth to sink in and affect how I managed my trades. “Hope” has no place in trading. The market doesn’t owe you anything. If you all-in that trade, it can go to zero, bankrupting your whole family and putting you on the street. The market won’t even blink. You are nothing. And having the humility to realize that and act accordingly is how we, as traders stay in the game. Not prioritizing risk management is a twisted form of entitlement.
“Hope” has no place in trading. The market doesn’t owe you anything. If you all-in that trade, it can go to zero, bankrupting your whole family and putting you on the street. The market won’t even blink.
What drives you to keep trading?
I genuinely enjoy trading. It’s the world’s greatest PvP game.
Would you say you’ve ‘made it’? If not, what does ‘making it’ look like to you?
Today I woke up early and worked out before the family was awake. I started breakfast for my daughters and sat outside on my back step with a coffee watching the sunrise. I checked the charts and Twitter since I’m an addict, but I spent the rest of my day playing with my kids, working together in our garden, studying what I wanted to, and then I took a call with a crypto project I’m seed backing. I took my girls grocery shopping and didn’t have to look at food prices. I still work and trade throughout the week, and I haven’t truly “made it” yet, but I’m on the path to where I want to be, and all I need to do at this point is keep on heading in this direction, and I should get there in due time.
What's the most important quality in a trader?
Adaptability. The market is constantly changing, and you have to change with it. I’ve worn a lot of different hats in my career, changing trade styles or even markets as opportunities shifted.
The market is constantly changing, and you have to change with it.
How would you describe the way you trade?
Currently, I tend to make longer-term bets on coins and projects, but I cut my teeth as a short-timeframe scalper. Scalping with high leverage on the 5-minute chart is how I initially built my stack in the early days (and I have the grey hairs to prove it!). Evolving from scalper to investor/swing trader took a lot of work. Still, the new priorities that came with starting a family made it a necessary change, and it’s arguably a better way to live life and build wealth anyway.
Has the way you trade changed over time?
I started out making money by “fomo’ing faster” on whales’ public microcap calls. I used to trawl shitcoin mining pools and go all-in on miner rentals when I found the big players’ footprints. I used to copyedit whitepapers for projects so I’d know what was coming up that was worth buying. I’ve traded futures on a dozen exchanges, traded forex, bought dozens and dozens (and dozens) of ICOs and presales, I’ve swing traded majors, bought and scalped NFTs on half a dozen Layer1s, spent countless hours on bitcointalk looking for new launches, and seed invested in some of our industry’s most notable projects. I am currently staking a bag until 2026; I’ve farmed airdrops, sold Bitcoin for cash in Starbucks parking lots, and rooted out and exploited niche arbitrage opportunities, all in the never-ending search for an edge. To not change the way you trade in a market as fast-moving as crypto is to give up and die.
To not change the way you trade in a market as fast-moving as crypto is to give up and die.
Why do you think you have success trading?
The relationships I’ve made over the past 9 years, no doubt. I am honestly not a great trader, and barring about a year where I lived and breathed every tick of the market, I never really was (but damn, was that a good year). But I’ve managed to surround myself with some of the smartest, hardest working, and most loyal people in crypto. Pair these friendships with my refusal to ever call it quits, and that’s why I am still here today.
What's the worst thing about trading and why?
Trading is a constant reminder that you fell short. No matter where you close or open a trade, you could’ve always done better. It’s one of the few jobs in the world where you can show up to work, do your best, and end the day with less money than you started.
Thinking back over the past nine years, most of the worst situations I found myself in were 100% my fault and stemmed from acting impulsively or against my own rules. At the same time, many of my best plays were simply due to being in the right place at the right time. If you can instil discipline into your life and into your trading, and keep yourself from being your own worst enemy, you will have a massive leg up on 90% of all other market participants.
Trading is a constant reminder that you fell short. No matter where you close or open a trade, you could’ve always done better.
What's something you've learned in the last six months that has made you a better trader?
Honestly, I’m not sure I’m a better trader than six months ago, haha. But I suppose I’ve learned that I’m okay with that. There is more to life than trading, and while I loved the thrill, trading has always been a means to an end for me. Back when I traded nonstop, I was one of the better scalpers I knew, catching dozens and dozens of moves a day on the 1 - 5 minute charts and trading anything that moved. And while I don’t (and can’t) trade like that anymore, it set me on a path to where I am now: spending most of my time each day investing in the well-being and happiness of those I love and enjoying this gift we call “life.”
What's the mistake you find hardest to avoid when trading?
Improper position sizing. 9 years in, and I’m still a greedy bastard who is far too familiar with the right-hand side of that sliding leverage bar. I’m open to tips myself. Some weaknesses you just can’t shake, but if you know what your weaknesses are, then you can at least set up boundaries to limit their ability to harm you.
9 years in, and I’m still a greedy bastard who is far too familiar with the right-hand side of that sliding leverage bar.
If you could give someone starting trading tomorrow one piece of advice, what would it be?
Lead a disciplined life outside of trading–your trading mentality does not live in a vacuum from the rest of your life. But if you can be disciplined, not overtrade, and patiently wait in the wings until your entry triggers hit, you can make a career of just taking money away from undisciplined apes who are being forced out of their positions. Unless it’s a raging bull market, in which case, let loose and go full retard.
you can make a career of just taking money away from undisciplined apes who are being forced out of their positions.
How would you describe your relationship with risk?
I used to thrive on risk. But having kids tempered that side of me, and I am far more conservative now. That’s probably why I’m just a shell of the scalper I used to be. But it’s a different chapter of life for me, and I’m mostly fine with that change.
What goals do you set for your trading?
In the early days, I had the common noob goals: “make x% every week,” but eventually, my goals centered around simply staying disciplined with my risk management, trade sizing, and entry triggers. “Did I trade this position with discipline, sticking to the plan, and sticking to my thesis until completion or invalidation?” If I can look back at the trade and say “yes” about that, then win or lose, I’m happy with my performance. Discipline is a constant battle you can’t ever win; you just have to wake up each morning and fight all over again. Every time we sit down to trade, we’re just one click away from being a gambler. The allure of that “easy money” all-in trade is always right there, just a click away.
But here in crypto, we are trading the best markets in the world. Your biggest job as a trader is just to survive and stay present for when the “raining money” opportunities come along.
Discipline is a constant battle you can’t ever win; you just have to wake up each morning and fight all over again.
Fill in the blanks
Most traders would be better off being investors instead.
What separates the pros from the rest is discipline, humility, and iron conviction.
A good trader should never risk your ability to keep risking tomorrow.
The biggest misconception about trading is that if you work hard you’ll end up like me. I’ve been blessed beyond what my ability deserves, and I am well aware of that fact. I’ve watched far better traders than myself get wiped out during a moment of weakness and just disappear. Gigabrains and harder workers than myself, bankrupted by black swans outside of their control. Survivorship bias is real. Starting with $1000 and turning into a crypto millionaire (then losing it all, and doing it again. And losing all that and doing it again) is not the norm.