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For some investors, even betting on a bitcoin bubble is too risky. 

According to S3 Analytics, short sellers looking for bitcoin exposure have turned to shorting bitcoin-related stocks instead of going all in on the cryptocurrency. 

"If all the talk of bitcoins makes you think of a beautiful field of Dutch tulips swaying in the wind, then you might be looking for alternative ways to gain exposure to the asset without buying or selling the actual coin or trading futures contracts," S3 wrote in a Tuesday note.

With that, then, there are stocks that can offer exposure to the crypto class and its blockchain technology without all the risk. "Short sellers have begun to use these stocks as a bitcoin short proxy instead of outright or futures bitcoin trading," said S3.

When bitcoin futures opened on Sunday, Dec. 10, "long sellers dipped their toes into the water while short sellers primarily look at the trading activity from the comfort of their cabanas," S3 noted. Short sellers were reluctant to cannonball in because of thin trading volumes that could hinder short exit strategies, their tendency to avoid accumulating exposure during rallies and a widespread broker decision to wait several days before transacting. Plus, S3 said, "the cash settlement of the contract hindered arbitrage trading."

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Short sellers then piled in on bigger stocks with exposure to blockchain or crypto classes -- that means more trading liquidity and diversity.

"Short sellers will now have several avenues to accumulate short Bitcoin exposure," S3 said. "What was once a one-way market has turned into a multi-lane expressway going both north and south."

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