Our public marketplace leaderboard recently had its first million inkle trader take his place as #1. We've interacted with this person on several occasions as he's very good about providing us feedback, alerting us to dead markets, etc. and also runs some markets, but we thought it would be interesting to ask him a few questions and share with you his answers so everyone can hear a bit more about the "man behind the million" and have insight in to what it's like to be the big fish.
1) When did you start using the Inkling public marketplace?
Early November, 2006.
2) How did you find us?
I've known "Char" (blogger's note: Char is #5 on our leaderboard) for about ten years, since we met at a summer camp for
Unschooling teenagers. We've got a fairly tight nit group of old friends from there, quite a few of whom have Inkling accounts. There were 4 of us on the top weekly traders list one week, it was pretty cool. Anyway, Char harassed me for a few months til I got an account, and then started grumbling a few months later when I passed him. :-D
3) Are you an active stock trader in real life?
Truth be told it never occurred to me till recently, mostly because I've never had enough money to invest any, let alone do it where there's any risk. Playing around on Inkling has certainly made me think about it, but I'm not sure I'd be any match for the pros since my biggest advantage is probably just paying more attention than the average Inklinger. When real money is on the line people tend to check their portfolios a little more often. Also, on Inkling I can buy or sell based on a price set by the last person who traded that market. In real-money markets, you have to buy or sell based on what somebody else will actually take or give, which certainly limits the chances for making a mint because nobody else is paying attention.
4) Do you run a lot of markets or just trade in other people's?
I do a lot more trading than running, mostly because it's easier. I have run a few markets though (which should be listed on my bio page if I've updated it properly) and I'd like to run more.
5) What is your day job?
I'm a Nursing student, half way through school. Inkling is one of the completely free hobbies I use when I have a passionate desire to Not Think About Pharmacology For A While. I used to be a Massage Therapist, but I didn't have the money to build a real practice so I was stuck with meaningless spa jobs, which wasn't really my thing. I'm hoping Nursing will give me the health science background, the steady income, and the undergrad credit I need to delve a lot farther into Alt Med.
6) You're the #1 trader right now - do you brag about this to your friends?
Only the ones with Inkling accounts. Mostly just Char (Hi, Char!). Nobody else really cares, and I respect that. :-D
7) What is one feature Inkling doesn't have you would like to see?
Hmmm.... A good exchange rate to US dollars? (Ha ha ha). I'd like to see a tighter system for market cash-out. I dig the user-made-market thing, but it gets old real fast when the manager doesn't cash out a market for a week or more after it's closed. On a similar note, I'd love to see people think through their closing times a little better. If the time of an event being predicted is known, the market should probably close just before that event starts, or part way through. A month earlier is usually pointless, and a day later after the basketball game or whatever is over is just free money for sleazy after-the-fact traitors like m... er... nice weather recently, isn't it?
8) Any inside trading strategies you'd like to share?
Well, first off I should admit that I've done my share of exploiting loopholes like markets that should have already been closed, but most of my earnings have been more dignified. When I started off, two things I learned quick were not to sell short and not to make long term investments. The details of how selling short works have changed a bit, so it might be a bit more plausible now, but when I started it could lock up all your assets pretty quick. The long term investment thing is just kind of obvious: when you don't have much capital, it's not a very interesting game to play if you put everything in a stock
that won't close out til summer of '08 and leave it there.
My main trick early on when I didn't have massive amounts of cash to toss around, was to play based on predicting what other people were going to buy or sell, rather than what I necessarily thought the end result would be. Then I cash myself out when my investment is showing decent gains. For instance, if a new market opens up at 50, and you think it belongs at 70, then buy it up to 60, and wait for somebody else to buy it up farther. As soon as it hits 70, who cares how it'll cash out in 3 months, sell and put the money somewhere else. You can make a lot of money just by noticing new markets or batshit traders
(who's mistakes are bound to be corrected (Hi, Obscure Politician Fans!)) before folks like me who never bother to trade less than 100 either way do. Just leave some room for the next guy to agree with you, and then cash out when they do.
Once I had a bit more money to throw around, I started doing a bit more long term stuff, and throwing my weight around more on stuff I was confident in (cause if I lose, who cares?). Also, more on the "trading tricks" end of things, I realized that with some capital available, there's a lot of money to be made on hording the last 5% on fairly certain markets. I tend to troll the "expiring soon" list for markets there's basically consensus on that are closing in a week or two and are sitting around $90-93, or $6-10. It takes a lot of capital, and you get really screwed if the market swings, but there's a couple thousand to be made buying from $90 to $98, and if you buy a couple weeks before the market cashes out, it's a pretty good return.
Lastly, and this one goes for anybody: Do some research. I've made several small pretend fortunes on markets I knew absolutely nothing about, just because nobody else did either, so once I searched a bit I was ahead of the game.