All posts by Travis Allen

Travis Allen has been playing Magic on and off since 1994, and got sucked into the financial side of the game after he started playing competitively during Zendikar. You can find his daily Magic chat on Twitter at @wizardbumpin. He currently resides in upstate NY, where he is a graduate student in applied ontology.

Numbers

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By: Travis Allen

The process of trading, buying, and selling Magic cards clearly revolves around one thing: prices. How much is that card worth in trade? How much would you sell it for? How much can I sell this for if I pick it up in trade? How much should I offer that guy on his collection? So on and so on. Today, I’ll show you some of the websites I use in my daily operations to equip myself with the best knowledge I can. And after all, Knowledge is power.

 

www.mtgprice.com

Starting with the obvious, MTGPrice provides a clear answer for finding the current price of cards. As a price aggregator and not a direct retailer, MTGPrice’s reported numbers will align with true market value far better than single retail sites. By looking across a variety of vendors, the site is able to smooth out occasional absurd prices from individual sites.

MTGPrice also has the unique function of providing price history information, which can be highly valuable at times. Sometimes when trading you are not quite as curious about the value of a card today, as much as you care about what it was and will be. There are times where you can’t remember if a card has been falling or rising recently, and you want to be sure you’re on the right side of that slope. I find this feature particularly useful when looking at considerably older cards whose prices I don’t have a perfect recollection of. Being able to look up something like Ancestral Visions will tell you which direction it’s heading, which makes a big difference when considering whether you should take it to balance out a trade deficit.

vision

 

http://magiccards.info

Built as what amounts to a minimalist-influenced GUI for the assaulting aesthetic of TCGPlayer, I’m a big fan. It is the fastest loading Magic card site I have found, you get a big crisp picture, easy-to-access alternate print history, and the raw volume of TCGPlayer prices without having to slog through their laborious interface.

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TCGPlayer’s data is useful, as they track nearly every major online retailer. The most interesting aspect of TCG data is that they recently added the ability for private sellers to function as storefronts. These are going to be your hardcore binder-grinder types that have a massive rotating collection, but don’t want to be bothered creating an actual web presence. With the addition of individual sellers, the prices are going to move much faster than a standard web store, find floors quicker, and occasionally be willing to operate on smaller margins.

The biggest pitfall of magiccards.info is the less-accessible data on foils, and often even more lacking, promo prices. Finding prices on foils is not too hard, although it’s not immediately visible. Here’s how I do it:

tcgfoil

From what I can tell, the reason promos are so hard to aggregate data on is because stores classify them differently. For example, promos such as Voidslime are sometimes listed as both “Near Mint Foil” – because its foil – and just “Near Mint;” since all copies are foil, they don’t bother being explicit. For many promos, you’ll have to venture elsewhere. 

 

voidslime

A note on identifying prices from TCGPlayer in general: You’ll notice that unlike something like MTGPrice or SCG, there is a long list of numbers when you check out the prices on TCGPlayer. Those numbers are boiled down into low, mid, and high. It’s common for some people to just jump straight to the mid price and use that as the trade value. While that isn’t an unreasonable approach, it does have the the flaw of being unlikely to adapt to rapid market changes as quickly as the low value does. If a banner mythic such as Purphoros drops $10 in the week after release, the low will move $10 because the invisible hand of the market will push the ambitious to race to the floor of the card. However the lazy and greedy may leave their price at pre-drop prices, resulting in a huge disparity. Check out the FTV Lotus Petal and you’ll see that the gap between the low and the high is pretty narrow, as the price has settled comfortably. The reported gap on Purphoros is $20 though – more than double the low price of the card!

My strategy when divining prices from TCGPlayer data is more heuristic-driven. If I’m ever unsure of a fair value, I’ll pull up the full list of prices and start looking for playsets. At the moment, there is a NM copy of Chandra, Pyromaster available for $24.50. The first price at which there are multiple sellers in a row with multiple copies available is $29.99 though, which I would treat as her fair trade price. (The mid is reported at $33 – buoyed by an absurd $48 high.) (Also keep in mind that while I may identify her fair trade price as $30, it does not necessarily mean that’s how much I plan on trading her away for.)

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www.starcitygames.com

I find myself wanting to call them the Amazon of Magic, but given that Amazon typically has great prices, I’m unwilling to make this comparison. SCG is undoubtedly the de facto standard as far as single-vendor pricing goes. It’s a very popular resource to use among those that are less dedicated in the financial arts. I personally dislike using SCG during trades for a few reasons:

  • They don’t update prices on out-of-stock items, which can potentially be disastrous for either member of the trade during price spikes (Master of Waves selling out at $7) or difficult to find cards (Foil Grim Monolith was at one point sold out at $69.99, when the card was actually ~$120.) nighthowler-gd

  • SCG weights Standard legality heavily when setting prices. While it’s a perfectly fine business model for them, as they know their customers will pay it, it can lead to some potentially lopsided trades. They currently have Chandra, Pyromaster listed at $40, while she is easily a $30 card everywhere else. However the MM printing of Cryptic Command is $25 on SCG and ~$24 on TCG. If you’re trading away non-Standard cards for Standard, you are going to get thrashed on SCG prices. Of course, if you’re going the other way, you can occasionally make a killing.

  • They’re only a single seller. SCG is not the entire market themselves, and it’s silly to treat them as such. Why rely on one data point that is notorious for being overpriced relative to the market when aggregator sites such as mtgprice.com are available?

Regardless, Starcity does have its uses. I find myself using them most often for promo cards, such as the recent Nighthowler Game Day promo. While you certainly need to take the prices with a grain of salt, at least they give you an idea of whether the card is $3 or $30. They’re also acceptable for finding prices on things like sealed product.

 

www.ebay.com

Ahh, eBay. Everyone’s least favorite way of selling cards. Between 10% fees from eBay, 3% fees from the nigh-unavoidable PayPal, and what seems like more buyers that are out to scam you than not, “minefield” is too kind a comparison. As miserable as eBay can be for selling though, it is at least a useful resource for pricing information. eBay is best suited for things such as very obscure cards like Foil Russian Tidespout Tyrants, promos you can’t find in stock elsewhere, and most importantly, cash values. 

The cash value part is important because eBay is unique in this function. Whenever I’m discussing purchasing cards directly from another player, eBay is my first stop. The “Completed listings” option will show you how much previous auctions have sold (and not sold) for, providing you with valuable information regarding a ceiling for your offer.

It is not uncommon for many cards to have wild discrepancies between trade and sale. Ghost dad sells on eBay for only $2-$3 less than he is on MTGPrice, whereas Horizon Canopy – $39 on MTGPrice – has plenty of completed listings for around $21 a copy. Whenever there is cash involved in a deal, make sure to stop by eBay to identify the card’s cash value.

Midweek cardwatch:

  • Hero’s Downfall is an astounding $15 right now. Off the top of my head, an in-print fall set rare removal spell has never been this expensive, especially with alongside plenty of other sweet spells. I’m dumping mine asap, and I recommend you do the same. The real price for this card is probably between $3-$7.

  • Wizards announced Jace vs Vraska, which will have a copy of Le Chiffre and an MSRP of $20. His price has dropped about $6 since the news, which should be short lived. People apparently didn’t notice that the release date is in May.

    jace

  • Pack Rat is, or will shortly be, $2.

Track your collection's value over time, see which cards moved the most, track wishlists, tradelists and more. Sign up at MTGPrice.com - it's free!

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Hindsight is 20/20: Pro Tour Theros Review

With Pro Tour Theros only a few days past, it is time to digest the results. We need to figure out what has changed, what to do about it, and what the future may hold.

The breakout of the tournament was clearly Mono-blue (MU) devotion. Before we delve into that though, let’s take a look at what I liked last week:

Advent of the Wurm: While Advent of the Wurm was certainly not a breakout, I would not completely say it is a “miss” either. Of the decks that scored more than 18 points in the Standard portion, There were 14 that were running Advent. Dublin appeared to be a bad town for GW though, so while Advent showed up, it did not gain much value this weekend. At least Chas Andres admitted to buying 20+ copies himself this Monday, so at least I know I’m in good company regarding my expectations of the card’s performance.

Boon Satyr: There were 27 decks in the Top Decks portion that ran some number of this card, so we can say it was more successful than Advent. The price has not moved much to reflect this though. Perhaps in the next few weeks. Prime Speaker Zegana

Prime Speaker Zegana: Not a single copy in a single deck that scored 18 points or more.

Underworld Cerberus: Same as Zegana. Still like the card. Moving on…

Loxodon Smiter: 19 decks running him, so not too bad. Still, no real price movement.

Bow of Nylea: Three copies in the top decks. At least I didn’t oversell it.

Heliod, God of the Sun: Nnnnnnnnnope.

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Ruric Thar & Sire of Insanity: While only one copy of Sire was floating around, Ruric had a decent amount of SB slots, but nowhere near enough to move his price.

Reid Duke: 34th place. I’d consider that an exemplary performance. Good job Reid!

All in all, I’d say my outlooks were pretty mediocre. This was mostly a miserable event for Selesnya in general. There were a fair bit of GW decks that made 18 points or better, but none that cracked the top eight. From what I have heard, most of them had a bad matchup against the MU decks, which if true would explain the mostly lackluster showing.

I really liked Advent of the Wurm, Boon Satyr, and Loxodon Smiter, which all showed up, but Zegana and Cerberus were nowhere to be found. I did not predict any MU deck pieces or Nykthos, although I’m not beating myself up for missing the blue cards. In my defense, I picked up roughly 20 Nightveil Specters at $.66 awhile back when we learned about devotion, so at least I made a reasonable call on that. Of course, I did not bother to tell any of you about that last week, so it was hardly of help unless you follow me on Twitter and read my tweet when I bought them.

So what were in fact the big gainers of the weekend?

Master of Waves: Master saw the largest jump, going from ~$4 a week or two ago to right around $20 as of Monday the 14th. Not only did MU put three copies into the top 8, which is good news for the cards to begin with, it also managed to win both first and second place. Those types of results will skyrocket a card’s value.

Master of Waves

Where do we go from here with Master? Well, let’s talk about the deck itself first. I suspect the MU deck may follow the path of the spirit deck Finkel played at PT Honolulu in early 2012.  While the deck performed well, putting 2 ½ copies into the top 8, that particular build mostly disappeared following the PT.

Highly synergistic decks such as Spirits or MU can be great in a single-event metagame, but tend to not be sufficiently resilient when the format is ready for them. Contrast Finkel’s spirit deck from that event with Kibler’s winning GR Kessig Wolf Run list, which was a pile of very powerful cards. Kessig Wolf Run decks continued to be a major contender in the Standard metagame for months afterwards. The takeaway here is that I don’t believe MU is capable of thriving through weeks of sustained, dedicated hate.

Having said that, Master of Waves is clearly a very powerful card. It is entirely possible we will see a significant transformation of the deck, which moves towards a more “good cards are good” build, a la typical Jund lists. If that is the case it is highly unlikely he will be capable of maintaining a $20 price tag, but $9-$13 seems like a reasonable place for him to settle. My advice is to sell Master of Waves at this time, and if he reaches ~$12, feel free to pick up a personal playset.

An important thing to remember here is that Master has proven he is the real deal. If MU disappears and Master once more drops below $6, it will be time to start snatching them in trades. We will likely never be too far from seeing him come crashing over the levee on any given weekend.

Thassa, God of the Sea: Thassa was another major winner on the weekend, jumping from ~$11 to a whopping $25 at one point. I was a big fan of her in my Theros review, calling her the best God in the set. I’m pleased to see that she is experiencing big-time success, although I wish she had gotten a little lower so I could have scooped up some copies first.

Unlike Master, I think her prevalence elsewhere in the metagame will end up being more pronounced. While Master has very specific needs (a bunch of U symbols), Thassa just wants you to be capable of producing blue mana by turn three. We already can tell she is solid in control lists, and this weekend has shown she’s viable in more aggressive builds as well.

The result of all of this is that while Thassa’s price is inflated, I doubt she will get as low as $11 anytime in the foreseeable future. I would guess that $15 is her floor for the medium term, with $20 possible if other mythics in the set keep dropping while she continues to see play. Right now her demand will be very high, as supply is still a bit constrained and she just spiked a PT. It is not likely many will be trading theirs away at FNM, so you should be able to capitalize on being one of the only guys in the room with any available. Unless you really need a personal set, ship now and reacquire when she is closer to $15. Nightveil Specter

Nightveil Specter: With what I’m pretty confident is the largest percentage increase, from about $.66 to a whopping $5, Nightveil Specter is easily the largest beneficiary of the weekend. Not much to say here; ship all of your copies now. Even with sustained play, I doubt these are more than $2 in a few weeks.

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx: Prior to this PT, I think a lot of people were in the same boat as I was on this card. I could tell the card obviously had potential, but I was unsure of whether it was going to be a legitimate role-player or if it would turn into another Crypt of Agadeem. The reason I believe others shared this view was that the price was hovering right around $5, which says to me “we do not think this is bulk/commander yet, but we are unsure if it is good enough to charge $10+.” Well, this weekend settled that.

Nykthos saw reasonable representation in the top 8 with 10 copies, but definitely proved its worth in Makihito’s deck when he was doing things like vomiting an unreal amount of permanents onto the board by turn four. By now we can see that it is obviously capable of doing some very busted things.

Nykthos spiked to $15 and is currently somewhere around the $13 mark. Before you run around buying in at $10 each, remember that Deathrite Shaman has seen significant, sustained, ban-discussion-inducing Modern and Legacy play yet is still only about $13-15. There’s a real ceiling to values of in-print rares. I would sell any additional copies, and consider $5 to be the floor for Nykthos.

Garruk, Caller of Beasts: Garruk only put four copies into the top 8, but Makihito’s GR deck took fourth, which is the highest place for a non-MU list. Garruk was easily the most remarkable card in the deck through the lens of MTG finance. Garruk has been rather quiet since M14, appearing only very occasionally, but is set to capitalize on the power of Nykthos. Garruk may be expensive at six mana, but Nykthos lets you get there quickly by unloading your hand and then he just completely refills for you.

There are still copies available under $15, and I like Garruk that cheap. He never managed to dip below $12, so $15 is not much above what appears to be his floor. I don’t see him reaching Domri levels of play, but $17-22 seems plausible. Garruk was a question mark beforehand, but now that Nykthos is real, Garruk is too. I’d start trading for him this week.

In addition to these cards, there were a lot of others that saw some amount of price movement based on the weekend or cemented themselves as legitimate parts of the metagame. Finally, congratulations to Judge’s Familiar for taking down back-to-back Pro Tour wins as a maindeck four-of.

1117_judgesfamiliar

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Pro Tour Theros Watch 2013

By: Travis Allen

The day this article goes up, Wednesday October 9th, will be one day before Pro Tour Theros begins our first earnest endeavor into the Mediterranean sun-soaked Standard format. I’m going to point out some cards I’ll be keeping a close watch on over the weekend, and I recommend you do the same.

 

Advent of the Wurm

Advent of the Wurm

This is one of the cards I most expect to see considerable price movement on in the wake of the Pro Tour. Advent of the Wurm was a 4x in the last winning PT deck, and just put 14 copies into the Top 8 at SCG Cleveland last weekend. The card was originally slated to be at Mythic rarity in its current form until late development changes forced them to push it to rare may or may not have been mythic at some point in design. Simply put, the card’s power level is superbly high and the current price of sub-$4 is way too low for what it is capable of. Advent of the Wurm is one of the top two Selesnya cards in Standard.

I will refrain from rambling about the various ways in which the card is excellent, but suffice to say I feel there’s a very good chance we’ll see it at the Pro Tour, and the price could easily triple from where it is at the moment. How confident am I? I picked up 26 copies myself just a few days ago.

 

Boon Satyr

While we’re on the green train, I’ll flash this guy in. He did not show up at the last Pro Tour like Advent of the Wurm did, but of course he was not legal then either. He did however have a great showing this past weekend at SCG Cleveland, as well as having been on the receiving end of a lot of praise from various PT-grade players. The lowest he has managed to dip so far was just under $2, but he is now firmly in the $4-$5 range as of Monday the 7th. If he is still in this range as of Wednesday, he could quite easily hit double digits with a strong showing over the weekend.

I will say that unlike Advent of the Wurm, if he does crest $10 that price will be comparatively a lot less stable. Advent of the Wurm is now out of print and supply is at the maximum, which means there won’t be much working to push the price lower if it does see a spike in demand. Boon Satyr, however, is at the start of his journey, and we have nearly a year worth of drafting, MTGO redeeming and box-cracking before his numbers settle. The result of all of this is that if Boon Satyr does indeed pop, I would sell any available copies into the hype quickly.

Boon

 

Prime Speaker Zegana

Prime Speaker Zegana is the guild leader that is seeing the least amount of play relative to power level. Zegana Bant was quite a thing for a stretch there, and she had the ability to run away with the game almost immediately if she resolved alongside any reasonable creature. She’s currently at an astounding $2.50, which means she has absolutely nowhere to go but up if anyone anywhere casts her at any point.

Zegana is strong enough to show up in controlish Bant or BUG lists, as well as act as the curve topper for a more aggressive Simic deck as a means to refill after dumping a slew of massive threats such as Kalonian Hydra. That she is good in various styles of decks is great news for her price potential. Furthermore, she falls on the right side of the new Legend rule. Before we move on, one last tantalizing thought: Corpsejack Menace + Zegana. Aw yiss.

 

Underworld Cerberus

Underworld Cerberus

Hopping to the other side of the color pie, Underworld Cerberus remains my pick for most likely breakout of the entire Theros set. Has this been cast against you yet? It is obscene. The card is essentially unblockable, which on a 6/6 for 5 in BR is no laughing matter. Should your opponent manage to kill him with something like Murderbore, you get to refill with all the obnoxious creatures your they already dealt with.

Like Zegana, Cerberus can fit into multiple strategies. Following up several turns of pain-in-the-ass creatures like Boros Reckoner with Cerberus means that life will be miserable should anyone remove him. Alternatively, use him in a B/R/x midrangey build alongside a plethora of spot removal to make sure they never actually have three creatures with which to block. I’m pretty close to buying in as it is, and if I see a single copy in a single decklist on Wednesday I’ll make the jump.

 

Loxodon Smiter

Like Advent of the Wurm, the full set of Smiters was main deck in Wescoe’s PT winning list. There were 12 copies in the Top 8 at Cleveland last weekend, and perhaps most intriguingly he has definitely made his presence felt in Modern. He was all over Standard before rotation, and there is no real reason for that to change. Acting as a giant wall against aggro decks and a huge uncounterable threat against UW/Esper, the righteous elephant puts in a hard day’s work against plenty of foes.The price on Smiter has been rather suppressed lately, but now that we’re properly on the right side of Theros, there is little holding him back. Mature-set Standard staples are typically better than $4, especially when they are multi-format capable.

 

Bow of Nylea

Bow of Nylea

Admittedly I was pretty gun shy at first about the bow, and to an extent, I still am. However I have heard tale that the card is better than I originally anticipated. It is no colorless 2-mana planeswalker, but every time I cast the card I find myself amazed at just how many abilities there really are. None of the modes are particularly spectacular – I do not think anyone will make that case – but just having access to so many gives you a lot of options in a single slot.

Cards with that many moving parts are frequently misunderstood at first, so it is entirely conceivable we have all overlooked it. I’m not convinced by any means, but I’ll be watching for it just the same. At the very least, if you can convince people to do these at $1 in trade at FNM, you won’t regret it.

 

Heliod, God of the Sun

I’m lumping Heliod in with Bow of Nylea. I’m not convinced about either, but Heliod did indeed show up both in both Worchester and Waco recently, and like the Bow, there’s a bit of chatter that Heliod is better than people are aware of. He is certainly capable of being played in multiple types of decks, so he does at least have that going for him. Keep watch this weekend to see if he’s peeking out from behind the clouds.

 

Ruric Thar & Sire of Insanity

When Sire of Insanity was spoiled by @LSV, people were flipping out. Sire hung around for a few weeks, but then quietly slipped into the shadows. Ruric Thar was similarly recognized for being exquisitely punishing to certain strategies, but did not accomplish much for long. I have not heard much chatter about them lately, but they still remain very threatening sixes that are able to hold their own even against the decks they were not built to prey upon. I am not suggesting these two end up $18 or anything, but both are currently available for under $.50 on TCG Player, so it would not take much to see a healthy ROI. Just something to keep in mind.

 

Reid Duke

Reid has been crushing it this year, and I see now why reason why he would stop now. What makes his banner year so thrilling for the rest of us is just how personable he truly is. Aside from his aversion to actually remembering my name, he’s been supremely pleasant and friendly every time I have spoken with him. My only disappointment is that he will likely win a Pro Tour long before I manage to make it there to congratulate him.

Reid Duke on the beach in Miami

Tune in next week when we review the results of the Pro Tour!

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The Importance of a Good Trade Binder

Today we’re going to talk about one of the best tools of the value seeker: the trade binder.

Trade Binder
My latest weapon of choice

Most people that read this article series – or any financial article series really – will have a trade binder. It’s the most common way for the event-attending mage to leverage their knowledge and tactics. Within the last 9 months I came to realize just how important actually having an available binder with decent cards is, and I want to share that experience with all of you.

For years now I’ve had a trade binder or two ready and available. I carried them with me to most Magic events, and did a great job of growing my collection with just incidental trading wherever I could.

This past March, three factors led to the near-total dissolution of my binders. The first was that I had acquired a few collections, and I had moved a major quantity of cards out of my trade binder and into a box that was exclusively for sale online. (If you’re curious about why I would do that, refer to the linked article.) This removal of many high value cards from my trade binder drastically reduced my potency at trade tables.

The second factor was that I had just signed onto a six-month job contract in March, and subsequently was flying out of state every Monday through Friday. The inability to attend any Magic event during the week – including FNM – meant that the number of opportunities I had to trade decreased significantly.

The third was my Return to Ravnica (RtR) holdings. Because I was going to be out of state so often, I would not get to play much Magic over the summer. I quickly traded all of my good Innistrad block cards such as Huntmasters, Bonfires, etc. into undervalued RtR cards such as Jace, Architect of Thought (who was under $10 at one point.) It did not take long before I had a big ol’ pile of RtR cards that I knew would go up after Theros, but in the short term I had little left that anyone actually wanted.

Huntmaster of the Fells

 

The culmination of these factors was that I had few cards worth trading, and fewer events still at which to trade them away.

What I found occurring was that when I did manage to land early enough Friday afternoon to make it to FNM or the odd Saturday afternoon draft, I would be regaled with great trades of fellow binder grinders such as the effervescent Joe Shea of the Slam Dunklers podcast, whom some of you in the Northeast may recognize from prior GP and SCG events by the late-nineties Dr. Seuss Cat-in-the-Hat.

I would invariably find myself slightly jealous that peers would stumble upon these great trades with people that valued their Force of Will at $30 or your Praetor’s Grasp at $3. I would bemoan my lack of bad luck and inability to find these soft trades that do wonders for increasing your Magic net worth. Months prior I had been able to profit similarly, but now I just could not get a good trade to save my life.

The truth of the matter was not that Joe or anyone else was particularly luckier than I was, or that I was necessarily a worse trader. Rather, it was more an effect of availability.

We never stray too far from the concept of opportunity cost when discussing Magic finance, and I think that’s really a central idea of what I’m discussing today. To use what I assume is a sports metaphor, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” The reason I was not finding great trades was not because I was asking the wrong people or that others had gotten there first. It was because I did not have anything to offer them that would allow for these interactions.

Rakdos's Return
Rakdos’s Return

Consider Rakdos’s Return. I currently have a playset or two sitting in a plastic sleeve at home, waiting for them to jump. I picked them up between $2-$4 each, and I’m holding out for $10, or $15 if I’m lucky. If they hit $8 or $9 by December, not unreasonable numbers, I will have “made” about $4 to $7 on each copy. That’s a pretty solid profit margin on an individual card.

There is a real cost to having that card socked away in a drawer for months however. A playset of that card at my house is $20 not in my binder. It’s $20 that I don’t have the opportunity to trade to someone. You never know what random player is going to have a miscut Daze in their binder and is dying for Rakdos’s Returns.

If there’s a guy with an Avacyn in his binder that he values at $10 (currently $16), and he gives you $6 on your Rakdos’s Returns (currently $5.75), then you can easily get his Avacyn for your two Rakdos’s Returns. At that point, you have essentially traded your Returns at $8 apiece – which is what you were waiting for them to be anyways, and you did it as early as months ahead of schedule. This may sound like a dream scenario, but if you trade with any regularity, you see trades like this all the time. I am constantly finding people with outdated price models, and it is easy to exploit that if you know your data and act quickly. (As in, offer trades before they whip out their smartphone.)

Remember – a card in your binder is not a card you have already traded away. It’s a card you might trade. This is an important distinction. Just because you like a card for short or medium-term gain, it does not mean you need to pull it aside and sit on it until you get there. By leaving it in your binder, you are increasing your number of potential trades and trade partners.

You may even find trade partners you would not have otherwise by virtue of having more cards available. Someone not in the mood may turn down your trade request. But if his buddy is looking through your binder and sees a card he knows his friend wants, there’s a good chance he’ll tell him. That’s a great way to be one of the only people to see that individual’s trade binder that day.

You do not need to put every copy of a card you have into your binder either. I have quite a few Deathrite Shamans, but I only put two into my binder. I was not keen on trading them at their retail price of ~$13, but you never know. Lo and behold, at a release event this Saturday, someone flipping through my binder saw them and asked “Are these for trade? They’re like $20, right?” That conversation worked out well for me.

Remember too that you are not required to slavishly adhere to any particular prices, regardless of what someone else’s phone says. If an individual wants to give you $5 on your Rakdos’s Returns, even if that number is fair, you are not obligated to accept it. Simply inform the other party that you understand that is the fair market price, but you are not ready to trade them away at that rate. 95% of people will accept that and move on. Those individuals that really want the card may be willing to give you more on them if they really need them, at which point you’re getting the value out of your cards that you wanted to in the first place.

Exquisite Blood
Exquisite Blood

Before you dump every card you own into sleeves, there are certainly some cards that are not worth putting in a trade binder. Back in July I would not have included my Jace, Architect of Thoughts for the sole reason that I would have gotten tired of telling people I didn’t want to ship them for $14 apiece. I also would not bother with Exquisite Blood, because there will be so few interested in that card as it is, you may as well save your back the extra weight and let them appreciate in dusty storage. Make sure you don’t overload your binder either. Nobody wants your Cho-Arrim Bruiser.

The next time you sit down at FNM and open your binder, imagine that 10% of your cards have an animated line tracing an arc to a random individual in the room. Those lines are potential trades that have a chance to be very profitable for you. The less cards in your binder (or if you don’t have one at all), the less of those lines will appear. The more of those connections you can see, the better you’ll do that day.

I missed a solid six months of good trading to learn this lesson. I hope all of you can learn something from it.

The latest hot news:

  • There are few copies of Chandra, Pyromaster under $30, and all foils are gone as of the evening of 9/30. I watched the price move drastically all day long.
  • Stormbreath Dragon is a solid $30 right now. I’ll be selling at least two of my three sets.
  • Jace, Architect of Thought is bare minimum of $22. I don’t think he’s quite done yet, but I’m moving most of my copies anyways.
  • Blood Baron is easily $14, up from ~$7-8, despite not having done all that much at the SCG event this weekend. Not entirely sure why it moved more than Obzedat, but there you have it.
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