Zeneca’s portfolio peaked at $20M — and he has ‘2021 vibes’ again: NFT Collector


A former professional poker player for 15 years, Roy Bhasin — known as Zeneca in crypto — grew a huge following on X as the spreadsheet guy who tracked daily floor prices of NFTs during the 2021 mania. 

Zeneca saw his NFT portfolio skyrocket to eight figures at one point, but then plunge back to earth. He then transformed himself into an NFT creator in November 2021 with the launch of ZenAcademy and The 333 Club.

Zeneca aka Roy Bhasin
Zeneca, aka Roy Bhasin.

After enduring the brutal NFT bear market, Zeneca has more recently been all in on Fantasy Top. The new game, built on the Ethereum L2 network Blast, is similar to a fantasy sports league but with Crypto Twitter personalities replacing the athletes and X engagement metrics replacing the sports scoreboard.

While it may sound cringe-worthy to some, it’s taken the timeline by storm, and Zeneca has brought back his patented spreadsheet. 

“My mojo is definitely back. I’m jumping out of bed in the morning because I want to go check prices and check if my team has tweeted,” he says. “I feel so many others doing the same, and it’s just sort of created this energy, which, to me, I haven’t felt since 2021. It’s really giving me a lot of 2021 vibes.”

Pro poker player to NFT degen

Zeneca, an Australian living in Dubai, began playing professional poker around 2005. He says the skills he learned helped him navigate the chaotic waters of crypto and NFTs, as he developed a healthy disassociation from money and the ability to focus for long periods.

Zeneca Fantasy Top Card
Zeneca Fantasy Top Card.

Although he played the majority of his poker online, he also has plenty of experience on the tables at casino tournaments. It wasn’t unusual for him to spend 14 to 16 hours per day fully immersed in online poker, which mirrors the life of many professional crypto degens glued to screens. 

“As a professional poker player, you sort of learn to have a healthy disassociation to money, where you can’t care too much about money because then you’re sitting at a poker table, and you’re looking at a pot, or a bet, or a bluff, and you’re thinking, that’s a week’s rent, that’s a car, that’s a holiday, that’s a new iPhone or whatever.”  

“If you think like that, you’ll just never make logical and rational decisions. But on the other hand, if you don’t care enough, then you just start spewing chips away. You don’t care about the consequences. So, either end of the extreme is no good either. You must thread that needle and have a healthy dissociation to money.”

Zeneca Bored Ape PFP with Ecumenopolis background
Zeneca Bored Ape PFP with Ecumenopolis background.

Round-tripping crypto portfolio and selling NFTs 

Zeneca was at one point up $20 million on paper from just a $50,000 cost basis in 2021, but as is the rite of passage for so many people in crypto, he rode his portfolio back down 80%–90%. 2021 was the actually second time the Aussie had ridden his bags down. 

In 2017, when he first entered crypto, he was a little more passive — nothing on-chain, rather buys and sells on exchanges. 

“In 2017, I probably put in $5,000 to $10,000. I think at my peak, it was worth around $200,000 buying ETH and then buying Ripple, and just buying random coins on BTC Markets,” he says. “I did take profits along the way, similar to 2021/2022, but nowhere near as much as I probably should have. Percentagewise, riding down was pretty similar across both cycles.”

The mental anguish and pain of round-tripping can leave crypto degens prioritizing how they think about selling, and Zeneca feels like he could write an entire book on the subject. 

“At a high level, I still have not gotten great at selling. I’ve gotten a lot better, but I still struggle. I think the number-one reason is portfolio fatigue, just having too many tokens across too many chains, too many wallets, and not being able to track it all and keep it all front of mind.”

Over the past 12 months, he’s been trying to streamline his profile down from thousands of NFTs, but he says it’s a “mammoth task.”

“I think there’s such a thing as overdiversification, and less is more in so many instances, so my goal is to just get to a portfolio that’s manageable with maybe […] 10 to 20 things that I can just keep an eye on. I can have a better idea of when I might want to sell. It’s not so overwhelming that I’m making mistakes by bag-holding to zero.”

Crypto and poker are similar

Zeneca draws similarities between his two worlds of poker and crypto, highlighting the competitive nature of both bankroll management and the often overlooked psychological side of both endeavors as giving the edge.

“You don’t want to sit down with all the money you have at one table, the same way you don’t want to just put all the money you have in one random memecoin. You need to allocate your bankroll appropriately and take sort of calculated risks, calculated bets with a reasonable percentage of your bankroll at each one,” says Zeneca.

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He says crypto and poker are also jobs where you can “work” for a month and still lose money. Despite the parallels, the 36-year-old thinks crypto might have the edge on craziness.

“Crypto is sort of just another level. It’s a global playing field. You’re playing against millions of people instead of a poker tournament, which is thousands, or a poker table, which is 10. Crypto is crazier.”

Making money in crypto, to NFTs, to true believer

Known for deep-dive blogs and insightful X threads, Zeneca has been very open about how he is approaching this current bull market, acknowledging that most people’s motive is simply to make money, but he now has other motivations, too.

“I think I sort of came full circle. Most people come into the space to make money. I came in 2020 and 2017 to make money.”

“In 2021, I also fell in love with NFTs. I became an art collector, and that’s genuine. I still love art. We recently got an apartment and hung up some NFTs as art, and it brings a lot of joy to life. I am very grateful and appreciative of crypto and NFTs for bringing that out in me and allowing me to experience that in life.”

The Great Color Study by ACK - owned by Zeneca
“The Great Color Study” by ACK, owned by Zeneca.

He says he fell in love with digital collecting, the idea of games and online communities, and then DeFi and the potential of blockchain technology.

“It was like I came for the money, then fell in love with a lot of the positive, genuinely groundbreaking and revolutionary things that the space is doing.”

Zeneca is still passionate about NFTs and Web3, but his new persona arc is that it’s okay to lean into accepting that much of crypto is an online casino, where the winners are those best able to shift and adapt to new narratives.

Crypto and NFT projects rarely succeed

Having seen what life is like behind the curtains of a project founder via ZenAcademy, and being privy to hundreds of pitch calls for crypto startups as an angel investor, Zeneca says that despite many incredible projects, most ideas are stillborn.

“Most of these projects and ideas just fall flat. They struggle at marketing, or they’ve built this cool thing, but nobody actually wants to use it. It is just the realization that it’s not enough to build something interesting.”

“But if you want users, if you want to build a big successful company or app, project or whatever, you need to understand your market, you need to understand marketing, customer acquisition, all of these things.”

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“I sort of view it on two levels now, where you have the macro zoomed-out view of where crypto is. We’re miles ahead of where we were in 2021, which was miles ahead of where we were in 2017. Gas costs have come down. We have all these layer 2s and alternative layer 1s. Wallets have gotten so much better. You can create wallets with an email address in a minute now.

“Whereas on the day-to-day time scale, it’s really about making money. That’s what most people are turning up to do,” he says, adding that the casino gambling side of things is “not for everyone.”

“I can see it being a downside as well because it paints the whole crypto space in a negative light to a lot of people. Vitalik had an article a while back on how we have to make crypto cypherpunk again, and I think there’s a lot of truth to that.”

NFT business vs. NFT community

Throughout the mania of 2021 and the insane NFT period of January–April 2022, it was widespread practice for project founders to promise the world (or the metaverse) to holders and deliver very little as prices continued to soar, resetting expectations in an infinite upward trend.

But ZenAcademy and The 333 Club tapered expectations from the get-go, so the difficult decision to wind back his projects in 2023 amid the bear market wasn’t accompanied by the backlash many other founders grappled with.

Fidenza #291 by Tyler Hobbs - owned by Zeneca
“Fidenza #291” by Tyler Hobbs, owned by Zeneca.

“We tried a lot of things over the couple of years, and basically, the realization I had in late 2023 was I didn’t want to run a company. I wanted to run a community, and so many NFT projects struggle with trying to build a profitable business while also keeping the community happy,” Zeneca says.

“It’s almost as if every decision is going to be at the expense of one or the other. If you’re trying to do something for profits, the community is generally not going to be that thrilled. If you’re trying to make the community happy, generally it’s going to cost money.”

“I didn’t enjoy the difficulty and the grind. There’s so many elements of running a business, like the paperwork, the admin, the stuff that I’m really not good at.”

“But I love the community aspect. I love hanging out in the Discord, talking with people. I love sharing my thoughts and alpha. I love that every week, we have a couple of calls with the community, and I’m still doing all of that. The realization late last year helped me accept that the business was not going to succeed.”

Rapid-fire Q&A with NFT Collector Zeneca

Favorite NFT in your wallet? 

Meridan #536 by Matt DesLauriers - owned by Zeneca
“Meridan #536” by Matt DesLauriers, owned by Zeneca.

“I would say either my Fidenza or one of the Meridians I own. We got a big print of this Meridian and hung it up on the wall in our new apartment, and it brings a lot of joy.”

Favorite one-of-one art piece?

“There’s a Hackatao piece that I won in a raffle for minting the first-ever PUNKS Comic. I love their art style. I’ve been in love with it for a very long time. Most of my collecting is like generative art, one-of-one of a certain collection or editions. My Meridian, too, there’s a lot of Art Blocks that I love.”

Are Ethereum NFTs coming back?

“Yes and no. 99.9% are not coming back, but there’s a small fraction that are going to blow everyone’s minds. You’ve got your Autoglyphs, your Squiggles, your Punks. There are a bunch of other ones, but most are not going to come back. Maybe Pudgy Penguins will blow everyone out of the water again because they’re sort of killing it. But we’re not going to see an early 2022 ever again.”

Who are your top three favorite follows on X for NFTs?

B-Cheque: “He is a really good one and a top favorite.”

OSFand Sam, aka NFT Stats: “I almost group OSF and NFT Stats together. I like them a lot because they’re active, they tweet a lot, they’re in the trenches. They have a really good pulse on the market, and I feel like they can be pretty up to date about what’s going on across NFTs and memecoins, and even macro. You can group Mando into that category as well, basically the FOMO hour crew.”

Greg Oakford

Greg Oakford

Greg Oakford is the Head of Growth & Partnerships for Upside DAO, a leading Australian crypto & web3 co-working hub and investment fund. He is an avid NFT collector and the co-founder of NFT Fest Australia. Prior to crypto, Greg was a marketing and sponsorship specialist in the sports industry working on professional events.

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