Least likely to succeed character : The upseller

Friday, 22 February, Year 5 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

Upselling is the disreputable commercial practice of trying to convince a customer to buy either something larger, something more or something else atop what they came in looking to buy. If a guy comes into a cutlery shop looking for a knife and a fork convincing him to buy a set of a dozen (because who knows, maybe he gets married one day - to eleven different women), convincing him to buy a fork and a knife made out of silver (because it's useful and an investment these days!) or convincing him to also buy a spoon and a soup pot (he doesn't like soup now, but maybe it's because he never tried this particular pot ?) are all fine examples of upselling.

They are also examples of failing at being a merchant, because the business of being a merchant is not about pushing as much useless shit though retail channels as possible. The business of being a merchant is about providing customers with exactly what they need. Or what best serves their interests. It's not really clear, and where there's ambiguity there's going to be assholes, and so the upsellers are born. Sure the knife-and-fork guy isn't getting married, doesn't need to be "investing" in silver and will never like soup. But he might, right ? That's exactly the way of thinking that leads to the occasionally prosecuted egregious cases such as selling elderly people 70 years' worth of toilet paper or nine organs. They might need that, right ? Seller makes his "success" bonus in any case, in spite of there not being any success whatsoever involved, and that's that.

The corrupt practice of upselling isn't limited to retail necessarily. The sort of broken minds that do it there do it everywhere. One of my favourite examples is upselling support from the receiving end. You have no idea what that is, right ? Let me show you a fine example of the nonsense :

From : Some Guy.
To : BitBet Support
I can't find any documentation about what the payout will be for investments on any existing bets. How exactly do you compute how much payout to each investor at the end of the bet? How much of the investments are paid to investors on the winning side, and how much is kept by bitbet?

Where would I find this documentation on your site?

Some Guy

Leaving aside the bizarre semantics issue of calling Bitcoin bets "investments", this piece of nonsense is so accomplished as to make me suspect it may well be crafted deliberately. For one, the stuff's discussed in the FAQ. For the other, any, literally any already resolved bet shows in excruciating detail how much was bet and when, how much was paid, it's all there. As a random example, take Bitcoin and Silver price to intersect in February 2013 :

11-02-13 22:57 Yes 99`956 0.03000000 1PBB2 0.04542420 1JZQG
11-02-13 22:57 No 99`956 0.07000000 13cxS 0.00000000 1F5xm
11-02-13 23:48 No 99`700 11.00000000 1NE1t 0.00000000 1K4Fs
11-02-13 23:48 Yes 99`700 0.02000000 1Jt8S 0.03025595 1ChrY

Seems pretty clear to me, but what do I know.

From : BitBet Support
To : Some Guy

Hi Some Guy,

BitBet keeps 1% of the total aggregate bet. The remainder is paid out to the winning side, proportional by weight. Let's take a simple example to understand this better :

A bets 1 BTC on winning side at weight of 100`000. B bets 1 BTC on winning side at weight of 50`000. C bets 10 BTC on losing side.

Total bet is 12 BTC, so BitBet takes 0.12 BTC. The remainder 9.88 BTC is split according to weight : A gets 1 + 6.58666666 = 7.58666666 and B gets 1 + 3.29333333 = 4.29333333 BTC.

This is documented both in the FAQ (prominent link at the top on each page) and in the bet history of any single closed bet, you can review the amounts bet and the amounts paid retroactively (both on the site and confirm via blockchain analysis).

All the best,
Mircea Popescu

The reason I take the time to type out a response like that is because I enjoy treating people I don't know like they're actual human beings, take them seriously and so forth. This is in stark contrast to the correct way to treat people in any sort of retail venture, which is touched upon in this other article and basically boils down to exactly what happens when you try to call your cable company or whatever other tech support. Or Paypal.

The only problem is that perambulatory failures masquerading as human beings fail to react adequately to this great boon. Instead of some packaging of the fundamental "Sorry for wasting your time, I should read more and talk less." the OP comes back with...

Thank you, you've answered my question about your fee on the aggregate bet. But you have not told me how to determine, when I make my bet, what my payout will be if I win. I read the FAQ thoroughly and there is no information there about the calculation of the payout.

The fact that he's completely glossing over the sticky point that he's either lied earlier as to not being able to find what BitBet takes or else he's lying now when he claims he's read the FAQ already shows me he's one of those. In that context it doesn't surprise me that he adds the loaded question about "calculating his payout when he makes his bet" thing. It's exactly the sort of thing dishonest "salesmen" who fail at selling by selling old ladies 70 years' worth of TP do. I guess he must think he's pretty clever, in his stupidity, and I guess it's a little far fetched for him to grasp quite how many such pretty clever idiots make up my daily breakfast. Enfin, let's give him space to show himself :

Your payout depends on the total bet by the other side, and your relative weight. There isn't a way to determine at the time you bet how much a win will bring.

This article may also interest you : Let’s understand mutual betting together.

All the best,
Mircea Popescu

Predictably, the response doesn't fail to amuse :

Yes, I can see from that article that would be a good way to invest if I have a good estimate of the probability of the outcome *and am willing to monitor the market and continue to invest in it*. But alas, I have a life, and not necessarily more resources than all of the other investors.

I don't know about line betting, but there certainly are systems where you bet at a given probability and are guaranteed a given payout (known at the time that you bet) if you win - without the house taking any percentage whatsoever. See, for example [link redacted] (real money) or [link redacted] (play money). That would seem to have all of the advantages and none of the disadvantages of the system you've selected.

I've redacted the links because I'm pretty well convinced he's self promoting. What was I saying earlier, upselling support from the receiving end ? That's it right there.

"Hello I am calling about my Ford car. I can not find the wheels on it."
"Well... have you bought a car from us ?"
"Well then you wouldn't see any wheels would you."
"Yes but you see, here's this dubious garage where I polish the serials off engines and also convert cars from wheels to tracks. Why don't you use tracks ? Tracks contain wheels that spin just like real wheels and also can never go flat, so it would seem they have all the advantages of wheels and none of the disadvantages."

He's just tried to upsell the Ford support. Why doesn't this happen in the real world ? Because in the real world the only interaction failed salesman could possibly dream to have with Ford CEO is the latter urinating on his head from a ways above. Since I don't do that, I'm exposed to this sort of nonsense. There's absolutely no hope that the various assholes, spammers, dishonest salesmen and all the rest of the human scum will simply just give up being scum suddenly, it's quite clear that in time I'll have no choice but to install the same sorts of barriers. I guess I'm enjoying the socialising while it lasts.

But be that as it may, what the guy is pushing (while carefully avoiding naming it) is some sort of InTrade. That system works as a sort of binary options : at any point there's bids and asks in the book. Suppose the event is "Coin toss comes up heads". The odds of this event are 50:50. If the contract is for a Bitcoin, then any price of either heads or tails over 0.5 BTC is good to sell, and any price under 0.5 BTC is good to buy.

How much can you buy or sell ? Well, exactly as much as there's available in the book. What is your profit ? Well, exactly the price differential : what you paid minus .5 plus what you sold minus .5. Simple enough to understand, and for this reason very popular with the modern mob[ile vulgus], ie the Internet people.

What if somebody decides to manipulate that market ? Suppose whoever maintains the site introduces fake trades into the history. What can you do about it ? Nothing at all, trades are also binary, ie strictly between a seller and a buyer. If you see 100`000 Bitcoins traded at 0.6 for tails that's not your problem, it's strictly between whoever bought and whoever sold, and neither of those happens to be you.

Now suppose it was mutual betting instead, and someone had in fact bet 60`000 Bitcoin on the heads to the 40`000 Bitcoin on the tails. There's no less than 20`000 Bitcoin in this bet for you to take. A, you "have a life", and moreover "do not have the capital" to "invest" in this ? That's all fine. Someone else will. What mutual betting does and the binary thingee does not is verify the market is not manipulated by the very simple mechanism that it can't be. You don't need to wait for a counterparty to register your trade, everyone's trades are open and you can participate in the whole thing.

There's no other way to implement betting correctly, and this is easily proven by the fact that InTrade style betting can be implemented atop BitBet infrastructure as it is (and anyone interested is more than welcome to do this instead of dumb shit like trying to upsell support). So is line betting, so are all the other inferior / cheaty sorts of betting available. The converse is however not true, you can't implement BitBet on top of an InTrade system without underwriting a huge liquidity risk.

It's not happenstance that BitBet does betting the way it does, and it'd be to the great benefit of pretty much everyone individually and Bitcoin, the Internet and the world in general if people learned to submit to their betters more and opine out of the mouth less. At least, that's the way I feel about it.

Category: S.BBET
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7 Responses

  1. There’s no other way to implement betting correctly, and this is easily proven by the fact that InTrade style betting can be implemented atop BitBet infrastructure as it is


  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Friday, 22 February 2013

    Event is coin toss = tails.

    Step 1. BitBet shows 100 BTC yes, 100 BTC no. InTrade shows 10 contracts ask at 0.4.

    You buy the 10 contracts on InTrade, paying 4 BTC. Your upside is now +10 if yes, 0 if no. Your capital at risk is 4 BTC. Total EV = 3 BTC, loss capped 100.0%. ROI = 0.75 on 4 BTC.

    You bet 4.16666666 BTC on no with BitBet. Your upside is now +10 if yes, 3.99999999 if no. Your capital at risk is 8.16666666. Total EV = 2.9166666 BTC, loss capped 51.0%.

    Step 2. BitBet moves to 100 BTC yes, 205 BTC no.

    Your upside is now +10 if yes, +2.03252032 if no. Your capital at risk is 8.16666666. Total EV = 1.932926831 BTC, loss capped 51.0%.

    You bet 52.5 BTC on yes with BitBet. Your upside is now +80.57377049 if yes, +2.03252032 if no. Your capital at risk is 60.16666666. Total EV = 11.21981207 BTC, loss capped 93.9%.

    You sell 50 contracts on InTrade (providing it actually has the liquidity to not murder you on slippage) for 0.55. Your upside is now +108.07377049 if yes, +29.53252032 if no. Your capital at risk is 110.16666666. Total EV = 13.71981207 BTC, loss capped 51.4%.

    On it goes, endlessly. Whenever good contract offers show up on InTrade you can buy them without any worry whatsoever, because you will always be able to hedge on BitBet, either way. When the pool moves on BitBet you can go on InTrade to hedge only if there's anything on the market, and you're always at risk of slippage. If you don't manage to find good contracts on InTrade or don't particularly wish to be bothered you can simply just shrug and wait for the event, which is precisely the way a system with both of them available will resolve (just as soon as it runs out of idiots loving "the advantages" of InTrade, of course - 'till then it will simply function as a pump).

  3. Gustaf`s avatar
    Monday, 1 July 2013

    You seem to be stark raving mad. His questions are entirely reasonable, well put and have absolutely nothing to do with "upselling" anything. I presume it is just a matter of you hating your job and taking out your frustrations on innocent customers.

  4. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Monday, 1 July 2013

    Stark raving mad eh ? That's a thought.

  5. Gustaf - you know, he's unemployable.

  6. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Monday, 1 July 2013

    Onoes, the whole system is breaking down!

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