All posts by Douglas Johnson

I'm a 20 year old college student with a scholarship from Gamers Helping Gamers. I write finance articles for, am a Resident Assistant at school, intern at the Sheriff's Department, and play League of Legends.

Stitch Together

Alright. So… I have no topic for this week. I tried, I really did. I sat in front of my screen for two hours trying to think of something that

1) I genuinely cared about

2) I could relate to Magic finance

Unfortunately, I don’t really care about the Commander 2015 spoilers, except for the fact that Necrotic Ooze dodged yet another reprint opportunity. I love both of the new Golgari commanders, because they give me an overabundance of options for my favorite queen of life and death. Honestly, I’m surprised that she didn’t make it into the deck herself.

Now you see, this is the kind of thing I was trying to avoid. You don’t give a damn about me talking about Commander 2015; that’s Jason’s job. I can’t talk about Standard, because I don’t care enough about the format to pay attention. Grinder finance is Jim’s area of expertise. My niche in our arsenal of writers is collection buying, and I think there’s only so much I can say before I start to repeat myself to death. Whatever. I’ll just wing it this week, and see what comes out. There’s got to be at least some relevant info in here for someone.


I do enjoy Pucatrade, I really do. However, I just have too much stuff constantly moving in and out of my collection to keep my haves list current. I think it would literally take me days just to piece together my current inventory as a have list, so I rarely (read: never) really send cards nowadays. Instead, I’ve taken up the practice of buying points for $.70 on the dollar from Facebook groups and Twitter acquaintances.

Due to the fact that I have a large Commander/non-competitive customer base in my area, every now and again, I get requests for certain cards that I don’t happen to have in my inventory. For whatever reason, some of these customers prefer to avoid buying cards online themselves.  I appreciate that they would prefer to support a local business, because it works out well for me when they request to have me order cards for them.

So, let’s say that I buy 2000 Puca Points for $14 from someone in a Facebook group focused on the buying and selling of Puca Points and other MTG currency. Then, local customer Jimmy texts me and asks, “Hey DJ, do you have any Wurmcoil Engines?” If I don’t happen to have any Wurmcoils, I’ll usually reply with something like this: “No, but I can order one for you using the trade credit I have on a website, and it would cost you $18. Is that okay?” I’m usually met with an affirmative answer of some kind, because who doesn’t like the convenience of someone else ordering your cards for you? I then put the Wurmcoil on my want list, have it shipped to me at the cost of 1800 pucapoints, and get to turn those points into cash back at a 100-percent conversion rate.

Now, your results will vary with this when it comes to more obscure cards. If someone asks me for a foil version of an older common or uncommon, or something that I know will take Puca forever to send me, then I’ll kindly let them down and tell them that I don’t think I’ll be able to get it with trade credit, but that I can order it off of TCGplayer or eBay for them, as long as I’m still making a couple dollars for my trouble.

If you’re someone who doesn’t have the time to grind the Puca system by constantly sending out small cards and churning them into big cards, you might just be able to use it as a bridge to turn your 70 cents into a dollar, if you’re willing to wait and have a potential customer base waiting in the wings.

Tools of the Trade

I’m literally just looking around my desk/workstation and looking for things to write about at this point. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever brought up how useful having your own business cards can be, even if you don’t decide to turn Magic into a full-time trade. While I would never advocate whipping them out while in an LGS, they’re a cheap and professional way to maintain a customer base through Craigslist, word of mouth, and good, old social-media outlets.

I personally use Vistaprint to make my cards. They were cheap (I paid $31 for 500 double-sided cards and used an existing logo/design, so they were only about six cents a piece), and the ordering process was very easy. The below pictures are the second version of business cards I’ve ordered, and you can get them even cheaper than that if you opt for a blank backside and take advantage of sales. The first time I ever ordered cards from Vistaprint, I took advantage of a “250 free sample cards” option and used a stock background, and they only charged me the $6 shipping. They still worked well enough to land me several collections back in the day, which made it all worthwhile.

Shoutout to Tim Ano, a former classmate of mine who designed the awesome logo and background.


I’ve found several ways to make sure that my lotus logo gets spread throughout the community. I tend to give them out after each Craigslist meetup, leave them in my display case for the store employees to distribute to anyone who asks about the cards in the case, and I personally like to include them in the envelope whenever I ship out cards to someone who’s semi-local on TCGplayer. I’ve actually gotten a text from someone who I once sold cards to through TCGplayer, and I ended up buying their collection because they only lived two hours from me.


Here’s another tool that I use constantly, whenever I buy collections, or trade for other cards at less than retail. If you’ve ever been to a Grand Prix or dealt with someone who does what I do, this picture looks familiar. It makes buying lots of cards at buylist a simple breeze, and the mat is simple enough to make with only a sharpie and ruler. The same rules apply here as with the business cards: please do not bring this type of mat to the LGS without prior consent. If you can work out a deal with your shop owner so that you can buy cards for them or in their place, that’s great! Just be sure to make sure they get something out of the deal for sharing their space and customers.

I’m actually in talks with my graphic designer friend Tim to try and get a customized design for a custom mat, which I will then order from It will definitely look a lot more professional than the dirty and used mat above (to be fair, that’s my travel mat; I have a matching, yet cleaner one at the store). Would you rather sit down across someone with a mat like mine, or the one below?

1034176 (1)

If you’d rather not spend a lot of money on a mat just to look fancy, though, that’s perfectly understandable. That’s money that could be spend buying cards at buylist prices! You can find brand new blank playmats on eBay for less than $8, and then take a sharpie and a ruler to it for free.

Useful Gift Boxes


Apparently there’s been some pretty funny controversy on how the Battle for Zendikar gift box is still sub-par quality compared to the Theros and Khans of Tarkir gift boxes. I really don’t care because my fiancee knows not to buy me Magic-related product for presents, but I would like to let everyone know that the Return to Ravnica boxes are actually of very good quality in my experience. I use them reguarly to hold sleeves, toploaders, and other shipping supplies that I keep at my workstation.

I’m not sure if they intentionally cut corners on these boxes or if it was just negligence, but if you’re someone who does like the style and size of the boxes to hold their collection, I recommend the RTR one. I mean, they can’t be that expensive….

Wait, what the hell? Someone bought a sealed RTR gift box for $90 over the summer? And ABU has sold them for $40? Uhh… I was going to suggest that you grab them for cheap from other players and save them if you pick up collections in them while you throw the THS and KTK ones to the curb, but damn. I didn’t think they’d be this expensive on eBay. I mean, does anyone actually have any of these things still sealed? Props to you, I guess. I got like three or four RTR gift boxes as a combination of birthday and Christmas presents three years ago, and I cracked them all for those sweet Dreg Manglers because I’m a Golgari member ’til death and beyond. If anyone reading this actually owns the sealed ones, throw them up on eBay and see who bites.

Actually, this brings me to a good point on sealed product. If you’re eyeing the BFZ gift box and thinking “Man, I should totally buy this for $25 and then sit on it for three years, I’ll make a ton of money selling it later,” then let me correct you. Don’t do that. I’m assuming that the RTR one is selling at a premium due to a combination of being  the only one study enough to stack on top of itself, plus the lack of print run from being the first of its kind. New generations of sealed product have always held a premium when they’re the first of their kind, just look at the original Commander, Planechase, and Duel Deck. Wizards doesn’t know how to anticipate what the demand will be, so they suddenly become scarce three years later.

Anyway the point is not to buy the BFZ gift box if you’re looking for long-term profit. Hell, the Tolarian Community College professor suggests not to buy it at all if you’re looking for up-to-par box quality and good EV.

End Step

Kabira Evangel is part of the reason I love bulk rares. Oh, I picked these up for a dime a piece two years ago? Now I can sell them for ten to twenty times that. There’s still time to do similar things with cards like Crucible of Fire, Heartless Summoning, and all of the new bulk rares from the new Commander set. You literally have nothing to lose.

Eye of Ugin has managed to creep up by around 25 percent since Battle for Zendikar’s release, so there’s definitely real demand for the “old” Eldrazi cards. It’s up to you whether you sell at $4 or wait for a couple more dollars, but I’m always happy to find a buyer at full retail.

Sibling Rivalry

Douglas, the Returned

Wow. It feels like I’ve been gone forever, but it’s only been a week. A mixture of a stomach bug and huge workload at school joined forces, so I took the week off from writing and tweeting about Magic cards. Now that we’re up and running again, I want to pick up where I left off, and continue to focus on collection buying. I don’t want to pretend to know what I’m talking about by bringing up Commander spoilers, even if it is the only format that I play anymore.

I went to Twitter two weeks ago to crowd source a collection buying topic to talk about, and Scott Munro wrote in with this gem:


While I’m lucky enough geographically to be one of the only cash buylists in a 45-minute driving distance, most of the people reading my articles and trying to level up their finance game probably don’t have that luxury. Some of you guys live within an hour or two of a huge LGS that has an iron grip on a lot of the collections that come through your area. Some of you have to compete against, well, people like me. Heck, some of the locals reading this article might even be reading it to learn how to compete against me. That’s fine, too. The content of this article originally had a lot more references and metaphors for treating your competition like your brother or sister, and how sometimes you have to give each other space and sometimes you have to work together, but… meh.


Anyway, there are two prevalent strategies that I want to bring up that can help you build your own personal brand as a buyer and seller of cards, without encroaching on another established buyer’s territory. One focuses on flying solo and trying to learn the weak areas of your competition, and the other involves cooperation between you and the buyers that you’re “competing” with, for lack of a better word, so that you can both end up winners.

Anytime, Anywhere

Let’s say that for argument’s sake, you have an LGS within walking distance of you. We’ll call them CardGarden, or CG. CG is a great LGS, and you love to play FNM there every week. They have solid enough buy prices that a lot of your local players will regularly sell their cards to CG when they need cash, and fair sell prices such that you can’t really catch them unawares by grabbing cards that should be priced much higher. All in all, CG is a quality LGS that you enjoy attending and playing at, even if you personally don’t buy or sell with them.

How do you buy cards locally at buylist prices when most of your players default to a known constant? Well, a brick and mortar store inherently has limitations. They can’t stay open 24/7, so there’s a window of opportunity when their doors are closed. Again, we’re going to come back to Facebook because it’s one of the hot spots for buying and selling cards locally. If it’s a Sunday evening at 9:00 p.m. and your LGS is closed, Bill might post his Modern deck on Facebook in the local group in order to pay his rent, insurance, or whatever. If Bill needs cash ASAP, you can send him a PM and he’s much more likely to negotiate with you.

While you obviously don’t always have a ton of windows where your LGS is closed, there’s also the possibility that the person selling their binder or deck doesn’t have the transportation to make it to CG. If you have a car or are able to meet the person without them putting in any actual effort, you can step up your game where the LGS is rooted to one specific location. The magic words, “I have cash in my hand and can drive to you right now,” have sealed the deal on many collections in the past several years for me, and adds an extra convenience factor to sweeten the deal even if you’re not paying as highly as the LGS.

Pure // Simple

Now, this obviously isn’t always going to work: no method here is a guaranteed get-rich-quick scheme that will leave you with thousands of players swooning at your door trying to sell collections next week. A relationship and brand take time and trust to build up, and it took me years before I had people messaging me saying, “Hey, my brother’s friend told my mom to tell me that you buy Magic cards.” With enough time and effort (and a bit of luck), I do think that it’s possible for anyone to pull it off.

Back to Bulk

Does your LGS buy bulk commons and uncommons? Most don’t, at least in my experience. Some shops also pay less on even the higher-end Legacy staples, just because there’s really no market for them in the area. I’ve seen a store offer a mere $40 for a minty Force of Will to a kid that found it in his dad’s shoe box collection. Because the owner had no experience running Legacy events, he knew that it would sit in his stock forever, and he didn’t sell on TCGplayer at all. Even if you have no way to move that Force of Will locally, it doesn’t take a brick and mortar store to message the guy on Facebook later and give him the option of $55 or $60, then flip it on TCGplayer for $85 later.

Arms Dealer

The point I’m trying to make is that there are probably some things your LGS (or other local finance grinders) try to stay away from. Maybe it’s outside of their comfort zone, or maybe they don’t know the intricacies of the outs for it. This works in your favor. If nobody else in your area buys bulk commons and uncommons, pick up that banner and make some room in your closet. If there’s something that your LGS or other buyers want to stay away from, that’s a chance for you to move in and find the person who wants that particular product without stepping on any toes.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

In that same vein, it’s entirely possible for you and other local buyers to work together. Let’s keep going with the assumption that your LGS doesn’t buy bulk. It can’t move it because it mostly sells to competitive players for Standard/Modern nights, and it’s way too much work to deal with 50,000 cards in bulk that the store owner has at his house.

Now this sounds like an opportunity. If that bulk has been sitting at his house from cracking boxes over the past few years to sell singles and he’s not going to move it, why not make an offer so that you and him can work together? Pay him $200 to get those 50,000 cards out of his basement, or maybe work out a deal where you give him cards equaling a bit more than that in value. Hell, if he knows that he has a constant out flow to incoming bulk, it gives him a reason to start taking it in at the store if he knows that he has a low-effort out that will guarantee a profit margin. He buys it from locals at $3 per thousand, then you swoop in and pick it up at $4 or $5 per thousand.

Icatian Moneychanger

End Step

Before I make my exit for the week, I just want to talk really quickly on what you don’t want to do to play the finance game with other local buyers. Getting into a bidding war with your LGS is not a good way to secure repeat customers and a positive reputation, even if it nets you a few collections or decks in the short term. Name your price, and let the customer decide where he takes his supply.

Even if you pay lower than the other buyers, you can find areas where you can make up for the raw cash with a convenience factor. If someone responds to your offer with, “CardGarden is paying $130 on this lot,” after you offered them $100, so be it. Don’t just one-up them and offer $140 just to steal the business—stick to your original number and let the seller make the call.

Being able to meet up at 11:00 p.m. in a Wal-Mart parking lot on a Saturday night to buy a collection when no one else in town wants to do so has its perks. Being open to buy anything and everything from bulk to basics will allow you to access markets that other vendors and buyers don’t want to get involved in, and it will secure you future lasting relationships that can help build your brand name. Good luck, and let us know if you have tips of your own!

Started from the Bulk and Now We’re Here

So has anyone found interesting lots on Facebook as a result of last week’s article? I’m curious to see if anyone found some nice decks, piles of staples, or anything else at a significant discount while using the methods I described.  That article was a sort of flashback/addition to one from almost six months ago, so I figured I might as well repeat the trend. Does anyone else remember this personal anecdote that I wrote up back in June? I wanted to explain my evolution from “random high school student and FNM grinder” to “that one guy who buys all of your Magic cards and has most of what you need for your deck.” I felt that it was successful in doing so for the most part, but it lacked in a pretty significant area that I’m surprised nobody called me out on.

Starting from (Almost) Nothing

I never really actually explained anything in detail with hard numbers about how much cash flow I started out with, how I used that initial cash flow to get cards, and the methods that I used to recycle that money into more cards and money, then into more money and cards, and slowly build a house of some sort. Almost like a house o—oh, forget it. I actually got the idea to write this article thanks to @LengthyXemit on Twitter, who just recently  put out a floor report of GP Madison for us. The afterthought at the end is actually what sparked this for me: what would you do with $100 if it was all you had to start your MTG finance portfolio?

Bonus Question:
If you had $100 to start your MTGFinance portfolio what would you buy?

“Collection at buylist” – Ogre
“Original Zendikar Lands at a quarter or less” – Ryan Bushard
“Bulk Rares at 10 cents as long as I had an out”- CoolStuffInc Buyer
“Bulk C/U at 3 per K” – Floor Grinder.
“A collection from a local player” – This editor

“Most of the above.” –Douglas Johnson

Personally, I’d try and diversity my investment a little bit, but my answer incorporates most of the above responses. I’d want some bulk commons and uncommons at $3 per thousand, a good chunk of bulk rares at a dime a piece, and a couple of small starting local or Facebook lots at approximately  buylist prices. I disagree with Ryan on the Zendikar lands, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Now let’s hop back in that time machine to when I was an FNM grinder in high school. I was lucky and had literally zero bills to pay, so any income from my unpleasant job at Kmart went straight into my only hobby.

Let’s say for argument’s sake that I only had $100 to spend on cards back then, and was starting from absolutely nothing.  We have to try and grind this $100 into $200, while keeping both cards and cash liquid at all times. Nothing loses a returning customer faster than the phrase, “Sorry, I don’t have cash at the moment. I can’t buy that.”

If we start at $100 cash, then we want to stick to getting as much bang for our buck as we can. We might not want to jump in the big pond by buying Force of Will from a local higher-end player for a buylist of $70 (even if he needs the money)—that runs the risk of the same guy coming back with another Force or equally high-end card while we have almost all of our initial hundred tied up in a single card. While there’s a chance that  we could flip the Force for $90 on TCGplayer (or more likely, Facebook) for instant return, I think it’s much more wide to go wide instead of tall with our initial investment.

If I’m a young teenager with a hundred dollars in a pool full of larger fish with big pockets, I want to attack a smaller market that they’re not bothering with. Don’t be the guy chasing after everyone else’s Expeditions lands. There are tons of competitive players with thousands of commons and uncommons sitting in their basements from sets and blocks in the past. Does your LGS even buy bulk rares? What about bulk commons and uncommons? These are common blind spots of some tournament grinders, because they just don’t want to take the time and effort involved in picking, piecing, and sorting out their cards. There’s a physical space constraint on bulk, as well, and some significant others don’t take kindly to their living rooms being full of white boxes of cardboard.

This makes bulk one of your more attractive options when starting from a low cash level. Instead of sitting on your hands for four months waiting for your Mantis Riderto jump from $.50 to $3, you could be processing thousands of cards over and over again.

Immovable Object

Another reason why we’re sticking with bulk is that there’s really no risk of it ever going down in price. Unlike buying singles, a thousand bulk commons and uncommons literally cannot go down in price. The invisible non-competitive players out there outnumber us financiers and grinders on a scale that’s probably somewhere around 10:1. Those players just want a bunch of cards to jam decks with, and you can be the one to help them do that.

How much bulk can you get for $100? Well most larger vendors at Grands Prix only pay $3 per thousand, so you’re going to want to beat that to at least be an attractive option. I personally pay $4 per thousand as long as it’s a mix of commons and uncommons, mostly English, and near mint. I know, I’m a stickler for details. If you have an out ready and waiting, you can pay $5 per thousand, like Xemit, in order to aggressively accumulate as much bulk as possible. At that point, though, people will start bringing you more bulk than you can handle. Remember that we’re on a budget here and only want as much as we can handle without having infinite number of people try to overload us. Let’s stick to $4 per thousand.

So that’s 25,000 cards, assuming we do decide to burn all of our allowance on non-rare bulk. What do we do with that many cards? Well, first, we pick them. I’m not going to go over how to pick because that’s another five articles by itself, and a lot of picking ability just comes down to first-hand experience. I will go over one of my favorite ways to get rid of bulk though, and that’s the ever so useful Craigslist.

Easily Movable Objects


The above picture is my personal listing, which reminds me that I need to update it because it’s about to expire. My rules are very clear, and my customers knows exactly (well not exactly, because it’s 1000 randomized cards, but you get the point) what they’re getting. I realize now that I’m writing this that if you want to mirror my strategy exactly, then you need to invest a bit more in additional 1000-count boxes, but you don’t really have to use the white BCW boxes. You can use old Fat Pack boxes (they hold around 600 cards each), empty cardboard booster boxes, or even make your own out of scrap cardboard.

Did you notice that my binders, pick boxes, and that 12K-count card house are in the picture? That’s not on accident. Non-competitive players who buy your bulk commons and uncommons want to make their decks better, and you can use your own personal collection to sell cards out of to help them with that goal. This is why I believe combining bulk rares with your C/U is ultimately the best starting point, because you give your customers so much more cards per booster pack than they would have experienced at Wal-mart, and they even get to customize their decks before dropping the cash.

Alright, so let’s say that instead of buying just 25K in bulk, we only found 15K and spent $60. We also picked up a hundred or so bulk rares from BFZ and Khans block and spent $10, leaving us $30 or so for random cheap singles that we might happen to come across. We throw up a Craigslist ad and get a hit, someone looking to return to the game with three other friends without breaking the bank. If we sell them 10K of the bulk and 30 of the rares, we get $76 assuming we sell bulk rares at five for a dollar, like I do. Now we have $106, 15k left, and 70 or so rares, and that’s assuming we picked the bulk clean and found literally nothing. Simple math aside, you can see where we start to ride the value train and grow a collection. If we rinse and repeat this process several times, we can start grabbing singles that are worth selling on eBay, Facebook, and TCGplayer.

End Step

While we’re on the topic of bulk rares, sometimes you end up getting lucky once a rotation happens when you re-dig through your boxes of cards you once paid a dime for several months ago. I managed to find seven copies of Hidden Dragonslayer in my white bulk rare box, and that’s a multiplier you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. The same thing happened with Crackling Doom and Mantis Rider, so be on the lookout for potentially playable bulk rares from BFZ that could do the same. I certainly don’t hate buying Blight Herder or Felidar Sovereign for dimes if you can find competitive players looking to pawn off the remnants of their non-Gideon lottery tickets to support trading for your fetch lands.


Facebook Acquisitions, Part 2

My definition of when I buy a “collection” has always been loose at best. I classify pretty much everything as a collection, because it’s just easier to have a category in place for when I mark it on my spending spreadsheet for the month. Even if I just buy someone’s EDH deck at buylist prices, I label it as a collection. Four thousand commons and uncommons that a Legacy player was looking to move from his basement? Also a collection in my book. Maybe I should start to refer to the smaller pickups as “acquisitions,” because I’m not buying out their entire accumulated (or collected, if you will) lot of cards. I’m just buying what they don’t need at the moment.

Lik Dis If U Cri Evertim

Back in May of this year, I wrote about my first few lots that I had purchased through Facebook at buylist prices. I’m not referring to that guy from high school on your friends list who happened to see one thing in his feed about Magic, so he sent you a private message reminding you that he still lives in the area and has a collection of cards he wants to sell you from 2003 to 2005. While those are nice and lucrative (albeit rare), I’m talking about having someone from California ship me two of her tier-one EDH decks at buylist prices. You don’t have to spend time sorting through bulk, and you just get to immediately throw the cards up on TCGplayer, eBay, or another buylist that you know will pay just a little higher than what you gave the seller.

Are these acquisitions an every-day occurrence? No, definitely not. I will say that they’ve been a more frequent find than Craigslist nowadays, and I find myself sending messages to sellers at least a few times a month on average (compared to less than once a month of finding a Craigslist ad worth sending a reply to). Not every seller is willing to take your offer of approximately buylist prices, and that’s okay. We’re there to give them options, not force-feed them our Cutco knives.

I’m going to go through my most recent collection  acquisition step by step, and try to show you how both sides can leave the conversation and transaction without being ripped off, and without feeling like you’re being ripped off.

Where Do I Find Them? 

Well, you want to be a part of a lot of Facebook groups, for one. Does this result in a somewhat unsettling amount of garbage posts that you really couldn’t care less about? Yeah, definitely. Thankfully, you quickly learn who’s a frequent poster, who to “hide” posts from, and how to immediately recognize if a post is worth your time in the first few words. To get started, I recommend joining all of the groups that I listed in the first article. All of those groups are still active, and I’ve picked up (or sold) cards in every one. In the past several months since that article has gone live, I’ve found a couple of new groups that you can also find some value in:

MTG SICK deals (Magic: The Gathering)


Magic: The Gathering (Buy, Sell, & Trade)


The SICK deals page doesn’t have nearly as many “buylist”-esque posts, but I highly recommend joining it if you’re a player who still occasionally wants to buy cards for personal use. The prices are always cheaper than TCGplayer or eBay, and can be very close to buylist sometimes.

Although these are the most prominent groups that don’t correlate with a specific region, I still highly recommend networking with your local area and joining most of the region-specific groups on Facebook. Finance aside, they’re good ways to make friends, carpool for events, learn about new sales your LGS might be having, etc.

However, certain areas might have your juicy Facebook acquisitions on lockdown without you even knowing it:


Derek bought up an excellent point that I had never really run into (at least that I know of): some area Facebook groups may be moderated by the same people who buy and sell collections as a source of income. If the group settings require posts to be submitted to an admin before they’re accepted, then we may very well be missing out on a lot of the sweeter deals before they even go public. While there’s unfortunately nothing we can really do about that, you’ll probably notice eventually if there just don’t happen to be any good deals at all on your local Facebook group.

Fool Me Once…. Or Not At All

Any of you who were previously aware of the Facebook MTG market are probably familiar with horror stories of players being scammed out of cards, not being paid, or their trade partners blocking them and never getting the cards they were supposed to. It sucks and it’s definitely a risk that we take anytime we deal with someone who we don’t know personally through an unregulated, third-party channel like Facebook. I’m lucky enough to have never been ripped off throughout my experiences buying on FB, but I believe that’s partially because I’ve learned to be very cautious in the steps I take before a transaction.

Before I first send money to someone else over the internet, there are a couple of basic precautions I take:

  • I want them to name me at least four out-of-state references, who I will then message and confirm the legitimacy of the person I’m trading with. The reason I try to specify out-of-state references is because it’s not too terribly difficult for any old Scamming Sammy to be a fine and upstanding citizen at his LGS or be well-known as a great guy at his local PPTQ, but turn into a ruthless shark on the pseudo-anonymity of Facebook. Sammy can easily ask his Facebook friends from the LGS or PPTQ to be his references for his online trades, and they wouldn’t be the wiser to his cheating. I want references who have dealt with Sammy through the mail, preferably those who are unbiased and have never met him in person.
  • I want physical pictures of the cards themselves before and after packaging, a tracking number, and/or shipping label receipt before I send any money. It’s easy for someone to ask Sammy for a tracking number, and he types 5479678564156469896 (or something that actually looks similar to a legitimate Paypal/USPS tracking number), and have the number “not work” during the first day or so before it gets processed. Can they still technically get around my request by taking pictures of the cards, packaging up a bag of rocks and shipping them to me with no return address? Sure, but then you’re getting into mail fraud territory and I think the number of people who are willing to go through all of that trouble is a lot lower than you’d expect.
  • packagereceiptLastly, I really recommend paying through the PayPal Goods & Services option if the cards you’re buying get to be in the hundreds-of-dollars range. At that point, you’re always better off protecting yourself, even if it is an extra three percent out of your own pocket. If I’m paying $850 for a small pile of cardboard being sent through the mail by someone that I’ve never seen before in my life, I want the support and dispute resolution of PayPal on my side.


Now we’re getting to the part that you probably hoped I would start out with. Negotiating a price to buy other people’s cards at buylist prices from the comfort of your home or smartphone. Let’s look at my most recent Facebook acquisition, and how I broke the ice with my seller.

Unfortunately I didn’t save the initial post before I got the idea to write this article, but he provided a list and initially said that he was looking to get $1000 for the entire lot.




First and foremost, I always take everything to a private message discussion. I don’t want to start a bidding war in the comments section, and I don’t want to get a hundred notifications from other people commenting their offers. I comment with “PM sent” (or “PM me” if their privacy settings are too high) to ensure we can discuss everything between the two of us.


Thankfully this seller was very realistic about the options he had, and was very pleasant to deal with throughout the entire process. It’s not always this easy, and some sellers don’t take kindly to offers, either due to delusions of grandeur or refusing to accept the true cash price of their cards.  You don’t want to message someone who’s selling organized singles at 10-percent off of TCGplayer mid and try to offer buylist—you’ll just be wasting your time. You want to look for a post similar to this one;

FB example

Although this particular person ended up wanting way too much and was expecting an unrealistic price, you want to look for those types of key phrases. “Getting out of the game,” “need to sell soon,” “$XXX or best offer on the lot,” and “have to sell for X” all immediately set off green lights in my head.

When you’re negotiating and presenting your initial offer, you need to present yourself as an option, and make it clear that you’re not necessarily their only or their best option.

Let’s make up an imaginary scenario to demonstrate how I go through these situations. Jason has $500 TCGplayer mid worth of singles that he wants to move on Facebook as a lot and makes a post asking for $350 OBO. He gets a few comments on the thread asking for prices on certain singles, but Jason would really just rather avoid the hassle altogether and ship one package. That’s where we come in. Once we get confirmation on the important card conditions, potential foils, and other information that wasn’t visible in the initial picture, we present our offer.

“Thanks for helping to clarify with that information, Jason. $350 is a really good price and I’m sure someone else will probably pick it up at that number, but it’s just a little too high for me personally. I was going to offer $270 for the entire lot, and I can PayPal today if that makes a difference. If you end up changing your mind, you’re always welcome to message me. Good luck with the rest of your sale :)”

Instead of shoving a number down his throat, we gave him an option. A price of $350 isn’t too bad—someone might actually decide to buy at that number, and that’s okay. We didn’t want to bid against that person, anyway. However, it’s more likely that the seller won’t get another offer over the next couple of days, even if he does bump his post. We gave him the power to make a choice between taking our immediate offer, and holding out to try and get more from someone else, with no pressure or strings attached.

Sometimes, I’ll take it a step further and outline all of a seller’s other options to them as well, especially if I get the sense that they’re trying to maximize their value in selling off their collection. Explain to them that if they want to squeeze the most value out of their cards, they should probably list the higher-end singles on TCGplayer or eBay, or price the cards out individually to sell on Facebook at ten percent below the cheapest matching condition copy. Let them know about other buylists like Card Kingdom, ABU Games, or Strike Zone, and explain the process of buylisting to them if they’re foreign to the concept.

The key is to be blatantly transparent, and present them with as many options as possible. Most of these options involve getting paid more than you would pay them, but that’s fine. Fortunately, this transparency has two advantages for you in addition to giving your seller information to make their decision. The option you gave them is probably the only one that would pay them within the next day or two, and cash in hand is king. If they list their cards on eBay, they won’t reap the full benefits for multiple weeks, or even months. Buylists can take a while to process, but you’re a buylist with a very quick payment process.

The other benefit of this transparency is that it smooths the air between buyer and seller, and tension goes down. You’re no longer seen in their eyes as the “guy who’s trying to lowball me and rip me off,” because you’re the one who just told them about all of the other ways they could make more money instead of selling to you. You’re just one of their options, and you have a serious advantage on all of the seller’s other choices as long as you follow the steps to protect yourself as mentioned earlier.

I hope this helps. Happy hunting!

End result of the list earlier in the article :)
End result of the list earlier in the article. You can do this too!