High-stakes gamble formed around Bitcoin vs Segwit2x debate

A $4,300,000 USD (1000 BTC) wager has formed between Charlie Lee and co. versus Roger Ver in an unprecedented event where both parties are putting money where their mouth is on the Segwit2x debate.


For anyone out of the loop, the most contentious issue to date in Bitcoin politics is the Segwit2x hardfork that is looking to occur in November. To get further context on the scaling debate, you can read this summary titled “The What, Why, and Who of Segwit2X (for noobs)“.

As for my own perspective, you can read the words framed perfectly by Bitcoin developer John Newberry:

This is also the view of people who have spent more than a couple of hours educating themselves on Bitcoin’s unique value proposition (hint: “evolving” into Paypal 2.0 is not part of it).

With further developments, Crypto Insider aims to cover Segwit2x in more detail. But for now, let’s get to the multi-million dollar wager.

~$4.3M USD on the line

The wager began when Charlie Lee made a public call-out. The founder of the Litecoin project, and a major proponent against S2X , came up with an ingenious way to add some skin in the game:

This was perfectly timed. Up to this point public discussion across Twitter, Reddit and Bitcointalk was becoming increasingly muddied with useless noise from both sides of the debate. This wager offers an opportunity for the respective parties to add skin in the game and turn this debacle away from polemics and into action. What greater form of signaling exists than with your wallet?

If the respective mouthpieces are aligned to their causes, this is an easy wager. Jeff Garzik (arguably the sole publicly dentifiable developer pushing for Segwit2x) stated the following prior to Charlie’s challenge:

If this is his belief (and not a paltry attempt at spreading unsubstantiated FUD), then taking this trade would:

1. solidify public confidence in the S2X fork (or “upgrade” as they like to call it)

2. be incredibly profitable

However, there was no response to note from Garzik. Nor Voorhees and Silbert for that matter. Instead, we had a surprise entrance from Bcash proponent Roger Ver:

The vitriol was palatable from the normally diplomatic and smooth-talking Roger Ver. He claimed that only an “economically illiterate” (Roger’s words) person would support Bitcoin vs the irresponsible, rushed and centrally-decided “upgrade” that is S2X (my words).

Charlie’s response:

In addition to the initial rapport between Charlie and Ver, others reportedly joined in to make it a 1000 BTC (~$4,300,000 USD total) bet.

Here’s the summary posted by Ver:

Segwit2x gamble

Screenshot captured on Sep 30th, 15h30 GMT

Kudos to Ver for stepping up and taking the trade, but all this shows is intent. An attempt to turn what would be a PR disaster for anti-Bitcoin proponents (Bcash and S2X) into something positive.

This also leads to some questions on where the intentions of Ver and co. lie. What function does Bcash serve if the S2X coin relieves the commonly-held argument of fee pressure (for the time-being at least)? The more interesting question is: do Bcash and S2X serve the same function (attempts to “take control of the network. take control of the name Bitcoin“). That’s for another post though!

Back to the topic at hand, ultimately the wager is meaningless until intent is codified and made binding. Let’s get this show on the road – put the wager into a smart contract with smart dispute resolution. Or do it with a cryptographically enforcible atomic swap. (don’t ask me about the technicalities, just do it!).

Until then, there’s only the reputation of public figures on the line, and that doesn’t mean much with how quickly previous misdeeds are forgotten by parts of the community.

Edit Sep 30th, 21h40 GMT: 

Trace Mayer, major Bitcoin investor, wants to up the ante. He feels that 1000 BTC doesn’t represent a significant enough portion of Roger Ver’s holdings to constitute as skin in the game. He’s looking to raise the stakes 25x to make it a “cool” 25,000 BTC (~$108M USD). 

Edit #2 Sep. 30th, 22h00 GMT:

Roger Ver begins to establish plausible deniability for backing out of the escalating bet. He calls the idea of using atomic swaps to make the wager binding in code “retarded”. 

Keep watching this space to see how it continues to unfolds!

Featured image from Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Disclaimer: This is an op-ed. The views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect on Crypto Insider.

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