88 Chris Romano

Dec 11, 2023

Chris is an onchain altcoin trader and maximises his edge by being early in projects with good fundamentals.

What attracted you to trading?

I’ve always loved games and I have played a lot of poker during my studies. In the beginning I loved trading because it was a zero sum psychological game like poker, Player vs Player. But over time, I felt like it didn’t have enough depth for me. I found more depth in focusing on fundamental analysis and combining that with price action. Only looking at charts and daytrading feels a bit like playing a game to me, and after a year of playing a game it bores me.

"Only looking at charts and daytrading feels a bit like playing a game to me, and after a year of playing a game it bores me."

How long have you been trading and what markets have you traded over your career?

I’ve been trading on and off for about 15 years now, but bought my first derivatives 25 years ago. It all started in traditional markets, where I traded stocks for a while as a day trader. It was a good introduction and it also taught me that even in professional trading there’s a lot of unprofessionalism. Many are there for the kick, the dopamine, and not because they’re great at trading. I was basically breakeven myself and I did not find the intellectual challenge that I needed. In 2017 I started in crypto and it was clear to me this was a different ball game, even though on the surface it looked the same. There’s a lot of asymmetric information to trade on, simply making an effort can give you a great edge.

As it matures, do you feel like crypto is becoming more like tradfi to trade? 

Yes, eventually the asymmetric information will become symmetric. Any market eventually becomes more efficient, and I think it will happen to crypto too. This is why these have been the golden years, we have to make them count.

"these have been the golden years, we have to make them count."

How long did it take you to become profitable? Were there any major milestones where things just started to click?

It took me 1.5 bullrun to keep my profits, so around 4 years. I started in 2017, had a huge run up of 13x, but I had higher goals. They were never met and my portfolio ended below my initial investment in March 2020 (covid crash). It was very depressing to open the app every single day and seeing the money evaporate. It was a tough lesson and it made me realize that in crypto the money in your portfolio is not your money until you take profits.

Did you ever think about quitting?

In the past? No, I was really persistent. But I am regularly thinking of quitting now. Or at least quit/slow down Twitter and minimize the trading activity. 

For the bullrun after it, I planned to do it differently. During 2020 I saw that we had bottomed and started depositing more fiat. In 2021 my portfolio went up fast, yet again I didn’t take profits and it went -80% yet again. This time I had a physical reaction on the day of the big crash mid 2021. This was the trigger for me that something had to change. From then on, I decided you have to make sacrifices to have a good night's sleep. Finally at the end of 2021 and also during the first half of 2022 I ended up taking a lot of profits. Key is: it’s fine to take profits when the market is already trending down. This is one of the hardest things to do, psychologically. But better to sell at -25% than to end up at -95%. And that’s where we ended up eventually.

"it’s fine to take profits when the market is already trending down."

What is your plan for the next/coming bullrun? 

This year was already a big bull run for me and my trading buddies. 2024 will probably be my last active year in the spotlight, whether that’s the end of the bullrun or not.

What does a typical day look like for you?

It’s very important for me to have a decent work life balance and I think it’s one of the most overlooked aspects of the crypto market that’s on 24/7. Therefore, I wake up, make breakfast for the kids and often bring them to school. Then I take a walk or go to the gym. Only then when I get back is the first moment I log in. Check Twitter, prices/charts and telegram to research. After one or two hours I go for a coffee or a lunch outside. Often in the afternoon I do some more work. Then I have dinner with the family and in periods where crypto is vibing I work the whole evening too. I think work/life balance is underrated in crypto, so I’m trying to do as much as possible to keep it balanced. So no crypto before 9AM, and preferably not after 10PM. But, I’m also aware that there might not be generational wealth opportunities in the future such as we are seeing now in crypto. Staying flexible because we should not take it for granted.

Who did you look up to when you first started trading?

There were some big accounts that were doing similar things to what I was doing. Crypto ISO comes to mind, he’s one of the best swing traders out there but also is a great thesis trader where he holds longer term. For gem hunting I was inspired by Wavejumper who did a lot of fundamental research for the coins he invested in. Lastly I was looking at this maffia PFP called iamluciana (capo) who was doing crazy returns on lowcaps. It’s cool to be able to work with these guys on a daily basis now, to bounce ideas and to be on the same level of thinking.

Tell us about your most memorable trade

I have two that stand out. I invested in PYR in the pre and public sale at $0.3 with a significant portion of my portfolio. I remember calling my friend Matt to discuss our sizing and I called it ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity’ because we knew we were onto something undiscovered. It was my first trade where I really focused on benchmark analysis to be able to gauge future valuations. It went from $8M market cap to $1B and even averaged out at 50x it boosted my portfolio greatly.

More recently during the bear market this year I met Kamino and Cevo. Cevo shared a short whitepaper of a project that Kamino found: within 10 minutes I was on some vague DEX on solana to buy a token called $RLB at $0.004. I’ve seen so many projects in five years that by now I feel like I’m able to see in five minutes whether a project has potential or not. If it does, I’ll do a deep dive later. With rollbit (the crypto casino), it didn’t just have potential; The millions of revenues were there, the millions of users were there, the pageviews went parabolic, the team didn’t have tokens as the token was airdropped only after the platform already had been running for a year or so. I was very sure of exceptional risk / reward at that price. But a lot of people ended up passing it up because they didn’t want to take the hurdle of bridging to solana. For me, it’s a selling point when a great project’s token is hard to buy because it gives you time and an advantage over others. You get in when it’s hard to buy and no one wants to do the effort, you get out when it’s easy to buy. Fast forward: RLB was gaining traction but also the worst FUD I have ever seen for a project. Allegedly there were people hired to FUD it and even FUD my account of being a paid shiller for them. By now, it wasn’t about the money anymore. I just wanted it to succeed, for myself and for my followers. We all know the outcome, it pulled a 65x from where I posted my thread and it was my most profitable trade of 2023. 

The biggest lesson in there is: know what you buy so you know when to hold.

"You get in when it’s hard to buy and no one wants to do the effort, you get out when it’s easy to buy."

How do you determine your exit on such a huge multiple like that?

It all comes back to knowing what you hold. If you know what you hold, you will know its potential. If there are any red flags changing it, consider them and be flexible with your position. If everything is on track I take partly profits but don’t exit the majority of my position.

What’s the best trading advice you’ve been given?

Profit is profit.

What drives you to keep trading?

Nothing gives me the kick of buying a lowcap and seeing it grow into a solid project and price going 30x+.

Would you say you’ve ‘made it’? If not, what does ‘making it’ look like to you?

For me it’s not so much about material things. Making it for me means having the freedom to do what I want when I want it. In this sense, I have made it. I only work because I want to and I have fun doing it. I accomplished my dream. But I do work too hard, whereas I always stated during my life I could never understand workaholics. My plan is to kill the coming bull run and take a step back.

What's the most important quality in a trader and why?

Patience, in the crypto market there are more opportunities than anywhere else so it doesn’t make sense to force trades. Also, when your fundamental analysis is good enough often patience is needed when price action doesn’t follow immediately. I’ve had numerous positions where my analysis was good, I stuck with it and it eventually went up hard. Also had numerous positions where I ended up selling impatiently and it went up hard.

"the crypto market has more opportunities than anywhere else so it doesn’t make sense to force trades."

How do you view the pain of a missed opportunity vs other pains.

Relatively speaking, there’s nothing more painful for me than a bad investment. I do plenty of bad microcap investments, but the ones where I have conviction that turn out bad hurt the most. Firstly because when I have conviction I trade with size, and secondly because when I’m convinced I am also vocal about it and it will mean followers have lost too. 

How would you describe the way you trade?

I think it resonates more with investing than with trading, because most of my positions are long term.

Has the way you trade changed over time?

Yes, I’m much less greedy now than I was before. I have realized that money isn’t everything and I take profits more regularly. A lot of people, including the old me, get very stressed because of their positions. Why? Because they have 95% of their net worth in crypto. No surprise that they get stressed. The more balance, the more headspace for good decisions. When you make decisions because you need to make money, you will make poor decisions.

"The more balance, the more headspace for good decisions. When you make decisions because you need to make money, you will make poor decisions."

Why do you think you have success trading?

I think it’s a combination of the following three factors 1) because I worked to develop my crypto knowledge (how to vet projects) 2) because I put in enough hours to have developed a gut feel for what will do well and what not 3) because I worked hard to develop my network consisting of people with a similar skillset.

What's the worst thing about trading and why?

That you will never be able to execute perfectly. In some things I strive for perfection, so this can really annoy me from time to time.

"You will never be able to execute perfectly."

Is there anything you work on to refine your edge or system regularly?

Other than my Twitter journal, I don’t. I’m probably overestimating myself here but it’s all in my head. I know the rugs I’ve experienced, the pumps, the dumps, the concepts I’ve analysed, all the charts I’ve watched; Everything will have to come together. I have invested more than 10.000 hours into crypto and now it’s just gut feel.

What's something you've learned in the last 6 months that has made you a better trader?

Learning to read the narratives. I always was more of a fundamentals investor, though I’ve become a better narrative trader due to Cevo and Kamino. The basics are simple, but you need to get it into your system: If A happens, it will result in B. So if Facebook rebrands to Meta, you need to get your ass to your trading station and buy every single coin related to Metaverse.

What's the mistake you find hardest to avoid when trading? Any tips to avoid it?

I lack patience in taking a position. When I want a position, I want it now and I can’t wait a day. I’m really good at not taking positions because things ran too hard, but when I actually do I might buy during a correction that isn’t finished yet. I then try to justify it by saying ‘it will be higher in the future, and I’ve got better things to do than wait around’. Which is partly true, because with on chain trading you currently still have to be physically around to trade large positions. In that sense, I’m looking forward to CEX trading again.

"When I want a position, I want it now and I can’t wait a day."

If you could give someone starting trading tomorrow one piece of advice what would it be and why?

Start small. You’re going to make so many mistakes and you won’t see it coming. Fail fast, lose small. Chances are high you will even lose it all at some point, almost all of us have been there. Blown up leveraged accounts, lost everything gambling on [redacted], money on FTX, all in on $LUNA, all stables in $UST. Never keep all your money in one place. But: never give up and have fun haha. Because there is no space like the crypto space.

"Start small. You’re going to make so many mistakes and you won’t see it coming."

How would you describe your relationship with risk?

In general I’m quite risk averse, however crypto is inherent to risk. One important way for me to reduce my risk is taking positions in lowcaps at an early stage. Preferably so early that my risk is low if the project doesn’t rug, so it’s mostly up to me to assess whether they will survive or not. This way I often have about maximum -50% risk vs  1000%+ reward. I don’t recommend others less experienced doing it the way I do, I always advise others to take initials out earlier so you can survive in this game. Also never go all in to micro/lowcaps, if you want to gamble go to the casino. I don’t like gambling.

What goals do you set for your trading?

Interesting question, I don’t think I have any goals. Maybe just wait and sell much higher.

Fill in the blanks

  • Most traders would be better off zooming out.

  • What separates the pros from the rest is that they know their weaknesses.

  • A good trader should never be married to his or her bag. Keep an open mind, see when sentiment is changing and act accordingly.

  • The biggest misconception about trading is that it’s easy. It resonates a lot with the classic way to describe poker: It’s a hard way to make an easy living.