jay_beckner

I play poker and trade options, seeking edges from study, reflection and analytics.

Quarterly Report

Quarterly Report

For the period ending September 30th, 2017

I still physically feel the shock of October 2nd, waking up to horrific news from Las Vegas.

The victims’ stories, coupled with the venue, were just too familiar. Mothers and fathers, teachers, nurses, service men and women... injured or killed. So many. In 2004, I headed to Alaska with the intention of trying commercial fishing. Had I done it, Adrian Murffit’s story could have been mine.

Not knowing the shooter’s motive is so unsettling. Charlie Hoehn’s piece, Thoughts on Vegas, and Why Men Keep Doing This is a thought provoking piece in the absence of a story. Go play, guys.

Symptomatic of the vitriolic nature of U.S. politics today, many observers skipped right over the tragedy and heroism to the gun debate. Why does the dialogue fade when not spurred by related news? Why do we trade facts and logic for emotional absolutes that thwart progress on this and other issues? Banning bump stocks looks to be a bipartisan initiative. Take the win and keep working. It’s consensus that “better background checks” would help reduce gun violence. Where is the leadership that can bundle that project with immigration reform, leveraging technology and big data to enact meaningful change? But I digress.

Especially during life's transitional periods, it’s easy to obsess about your own story. Through natural (Harvey, Irma) and senseless (Las Vegas, countless others) tragedies, the world has a way of forcing us to look beyond ourselves, to be thankful for breath, loved ones and pesky goals and challenges.

As “inactivity” is the quarter’s theme, I’ll proceed with relevant words from a podcast that I also referenced in my last post, Could I Have Been?

Super Investors ...and the Art of Worldly Wisdom, Episode 9: Mark Yusko on Gut Instinct (and Why He Says We're Headed for a Crash) -- July 18, 2017

Mark talked about traders who leverage instinct and the importance of unconscious productivity.

“People who trust their instinct, Steinhart says is that supercomputer in your brain that's working all the time even when you're not paying attention, and if you can channel that, whether it's through meditation or any form of quiet time and solitude and getting away... getting out of the group think is really important... I think [quiet time is] something that all of us need more of in our life, is that time to have those ah ha moments.”

Stillness and solitude is a persistent theme in his communications.

Toward the end of this quarter, I realized I’d been more productive than I felt. I used a lot of background (and active) cycles on trading, analytics and related goals. I took frequent Google Keep notes as my supercomputer kicked out ideas, then organized said notes in a detailed strategy doc. The chart below, outlining an example swing trade, reflects the approach I’m calling “smart neutral.”

Daily chart of XLE showing hypothetical trades based on my recent work.

Daily chart of XLE showing hypothetical trades based on my recent work.

I executed one trade during the quarter, long puts on Baidu, the final act of Trading Three Figures - Take Two. The closing trade post concluded, “With this total loss, trading is suspended alongside poker due to liquidity issues.” I also noted, “Trading small dollar amounts, using relatively short holding periods, continues to be a losing proposition.” When I resume, “trading three figures” is going to mean something very different.

The liquidity piece has been a frustrating reality. Everything I’m trying to do here depends on available capital. In the Q2 2017 update, I stated my intention to sell my car to shake things up, a reprioritization that’s not uncommon in these parts.

Long story short, I still have it. I priced it too high in July and August. I turned down a low offer last month while a better one failed to secure financing. Last week, I accepted an offer from the dealer that sold it to me; a couple hours later, they called to rescind it. Nice. I've probably been too patient, but ongoing HP issues (i.e. another mobility hurdle) lowered my motivation. My third order, to get one working system, was placed on September 6th, to be shipped by the 25th, pushed to October 24th... I've been trying to cancel it for a week. Part of the problem: HP is refreshing the Spectre line (can’t wait, eyeroll). I may have a computer by Thanksgiving. We’ll see on the car.

The negative implications of playing on a short bankroll kept me away from the felt. Since June, I played three live poker sessions, ($492) in 5.25 hours. Again, I was relegated to battling shady Bovada skins to try and grind up a roll online. It was a largely breakeven effort.

The break allowed for more unconscious productivity. In addition to the trading notes, I churned out ideas for poker consistency/ growth, approaching a professional Vegas schedule and balancing the poker grind with data analytics freelancing. See: future blog posts.

In the wake of the shootings in Las Vegas, I feel a shifting relationship with my work history and future. There’s only so much control one has. Success is not a guaranteed result of talent, desire or hard work. Neither is the time we have to realize our potential.

#justgrind

That’s all we can do.


Bradley Nowell of Sublime was prophetic in writing “What I Got” (and in his untimely death by heroin overdose). Maybe his lyrics also contain answers for quelling the senseless violence around the world.

Well, life is too short, so love the one you got
’Cause you might get run over or you might get shot
Never start no static I just get it off my chest
Never had to battle with no bulletproof vest
Take a small example, take a tip from me
Take all of your money, give it all to charity
Love is what I got
It’s within my reach
— Bradley Nowell

Happy 91st birthday (today) to my late grandmother, Clara DeWilde. RIP Curtis Beckner, my dad's father. He passed in September and was my last living grandparent. And Tom Petty.

Could I Have Been

Could I Have Been