To be able to take short positions, we need to understand margin trading. Trading on margin means we are trading with borrowed money. On exchanges like Poloniex, we can trade Bitcoin with a handful of coins (there are fewer coins offered for margin trading) with 2.5x leverage. That is, if we own 1 BTC, we can borrow up to 2.5 BTC to trade with. To be clear, this is not 2.5 BTC that we own. Now, on a trade that nets us 10% profit, we are bringing home .25 BTC instead of .1 BTC.
Altcoins and Bitcoins tend to react to each other. Sometimes they do the opposite of each other and sometimes they do exactly the same thing. It is not rare to see Bitcoin go down while alts go up (and vice versa). This is because almost everyone who has alts has Bitcoin, so they tend to move out of Bitcoin when it goes down and move into alts (and vice versa). Almost just as often as this is the case it isn’t the case. Many times, all coins will go up or down together (generally following Bitcoin’s lead). This dance often results in Bitcoin outperforming altcoins, however every x months we will see an alt boom where alts outpace Bitcoin quickly. If you can time that, great. Try to spot it coming and there is big money to be made. Meanwhile, alts can be tricky to just HODL, as they tend to lose value against fiat and BTC in the off season. Learn more about the relationship between Bitcoin and Alts. In a word, alts are generally more volatile than Bitcoin.
Keep a critical perspective on the data that exchanges are providing you: technical analysis is only as good as the data it’s analyzing. When looking at volume numbers, for example, ask yourself: What’s the source of this information? Has it been validated? Could other factors be skewing the number? Beyond just looking at the numbers, it’s important to understand the meaning of those numbers: what they imply, and what biases could be influencing them.
Dad Advice: Don’t invest more than you can afford to lose. No really, there will be many great investments in your lifetime, there has been in Bitcoins lifetime. Bitcoin doesn’t cost $225 anymore. The chances that you’ll never have to work again if you invest your life savings in Bitcoin aren’t non-existent, but they aren’t as good as they used to be. If Bitcoin ends up down, you’ll be hodling the bag while others are on to better and brighter pastures.
No, the successful trader is not me. I’ve gotten lucky a few times and I’m still refining and trying out strategies; on the other hand, I’m part of communities of people who trade on a daily basis to grow their portfolios, and while some of the results can be attributed to luck, a majority of it is based on fundamentals, good habits, and experience.