Don’t Chase Trends This Weekend!

So I’m going to be the contarian voice with the Pro Tour in Hawaii: I don’t think there is a lot of money to be made by trying to stay ahead of the spikes and chasing the new hot tech.

Actually, let me rephrase that: I don’t think there’s a lot of extra money to be made this weekend.

The Pro Tour this weekend is going to showcase the best of the best playing for a lot of money. Teams of professional players have been huddling and practicing for some time, getting ready, debating pick orders, choosing sideboards, etc.

We will get to watch them, and we will see immediate effects on prices. The important thing to note, though, is that value is only to be gained in one of two ways:

  1. Selling at a price before the price drops lower.
  2. Buying at a price before the price increases.

So if you’ve got TCG loaded and you’re ready to buy at a moment’s notice, I want you to stop for a second. How many are you going to buy? And how many are you going to sell?

Chances are, unless you manage a storefront, you’re not going to buy too much. The question also begs, why are you buying? If you’re trying to acquire a supply of a card (let’s use Fumigate as an example) in order to sell it at a higher price, are you ready for the associated fees and shipping and the time problems?

At this point I want to refer you to Travis’s awesome piece from more than two years ago, and it still holds very true: “My Spec Quadrupled But I Only Made 75 Cents Each” because he does an excellent job detailing the problems of cashing in when you hit it big.

Travis doesn’t bring up PucaTrade, which gives you an approximation of retail value, but in real terms, you’re going to have a very hard time making big money on stuff you buy, especially if you’re buying a lot of something. PucaTrade allows you to send out things before they crash, but it’s not an exchange built for speed.

Now, I’m not all doom and gloom. Being quick to act means you can get things cheap that you’re going to play with, and that is something I’m all for. It is a really terrible feeling, being keenly aware that this $10 card was just $5 a couple of days ago. That’s real money because it’s saved. We also have the officially-named ‘fear of missing out’ which means that we are anxious about not being aware of an opportunity, of not getting in quick enough.

So for example, if a White-Blue control deck goes on camera and wipes the floor with a Smuggler’s Copter deck, and the WU player has 4x Fumigate, then lots of people are going to play follow the leader and pick up a set of Fumigate, which will climb the price. Let’s say it doubles and hits $5.

Being early to act can be worth the $10 you just saved on a playset of Fumigate. Good job!

What I do not want you to do is be the person who is buying Fumigate during the spike at $4 or so. It’s not topped out, but it’s slowing and you want to get your set before it hits a higher price. In this case, I’m going to tell you to calm down. Almost all of the cards that spike during the Pro Tour will travel back down. Cards have to see a lot of play, too.

Think Kozilek’s Return. That’s kept a price. But so many other cards don’t keep the heights they hit, and go right back to a good level, especially the brand-new cards from the set that’s still being opened. For instance, the darling of PT Eldritch Moon was Emrakul, the Promised End.

See that graph? It sure did spike in price for a couple of days…and then went back as more were opened. This is not a trend you want to be chasing.

It’s not impossible for you to make money this weekend. You will most likely gain value this weekend if you move fast on the cards that see a lot of play, but gaining value is not the hard part. The hard part is trying to make money off the continued climb. As Travis pointed out, you’re buying at a low retail price, but you’re probably not going to sell at a retail price.

So my advice to you this weekend is to sit back and watch. Don’t feel like you’re going to miss out. You can list those few cards on eBay. Avoid the fees, trade it away. Try to relax and enjoy the top 8 in Hawaii!

I don’t think you can gain enough value from high-speed trades and resales to make it worth your time. This puts me at odds with a lot of others, but it’s how I feel and I want you to take a deep breath and just enjoy the best in the world play this awesome game.