By Colin Bevis
A few years ago I had a long conversation with a friend who stated, point-blank, “Two people can’t benefit from the same trade.”
He believed that someone had to come out ahead. Even if it was only a dollar it was something, and there was no way for both people to actually profit from a trade.
I challenged him that day saying I could find a way.
I tried to rationalize that both people were benefiting from bulk trading, but the truth is one person was benefiting while the other was just breaking even.
I was desperately trying to find an alternative to the whole trading system but I had come up with nothing. A year had passed and by all accounts he had “won the challenge.”
Even though I was a successful trader, I was looking for away to be more than just a floor vendor. I wanted to create a whole new way to trade. I wanted to find a way to be the opposite of a shark. I wanted to be the person at GPs people were excited to see, knowing they were going to benefit because I was there that weekend.
THE CREATION OF A NEW TRADING SYSTEM
I finally found the answer at GP Omaha in January of 2015. Just a few months prior, Wizards decided to create the new prize wall system so that side events were giving tickets instead of packs as prizes. Players can turn those tickets into packs or something else like a fat pack or commander set. To put it simply, it’s like the prize wall at a Chuck-e-Cheese’s.
When you were a kid, you alone could never get to 1,000 or 5,000 tickets for that giant item at Chuck-e-Cheese’s. Similarly, no regular side-event grinder could ever win enough tickets to save up to get a foil uncut sheet. In Omaha, vendors were allowed to buy prize tickets but that was quickly taken away and by GP Memphis no cash value was allowed to be placed on the tickets. Vendors couldn’t buy them, and you could only win them or trade for them.
Instantly a new trading system was created and I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.
The prize walls are different at every GP but for the most part there are always foil uncut sheets and the new giant printed cards. If you have been to a GP in the last year I’m sure you have seen the giant Griselbrand cards at the prize wall.
At GP Memphis I traded for the rare/mythic foil uncut sheet of Khans of Tarkir.
From that moment on I have done very little bulk-rare trading and have switched almost exclusively to prize ticket trading.
HOW IT WORKS
At most GPs, ten tickets can be traded in for one pack of the current Standard-legal sets. Stores sell packs for $3.50 or $4 cash, but it can be hard as an individual to sell packs—especially if they are not from a sealed box. So I offer to trade for ten tickets (one pack) for $3 of TCG market-price towards any card in my binder.
Example: I have a card like Wooded Foothills which is around $18 on TCG and I offer to trade it away for 60 tickets (what they could turn into six Standard packs). Any normal trade grinder will tell you that’s a solid trade, turning your prize packs into staples. By trading their packs up into a Wooded Foothills it is as close as they could get to actually selling their prize packs for $3 each.
This system allows players to use my binder like a prizewall with better margins than the cards at the actual prize wall. I’m not taking away anything from the prize wall because I’m giving them all the tickets at the end anyways, so the GP sponsor doesn’t mind that I do this as long as I don’t use cash, which I never do.
I take the tickets and save them until I get 1000-5000 and turn them all in for foil, uncut sheets, which I then sell to private collectors. I make my profit and both people in the trade make out ahead. Challenge won! The person trading away the tickets got a better margin and by all accounts “sold” their prize packs at $3 TCG Market Price. The person trading for the tickets makes something down the line by saving up the tickets and having the connection to sell those high-end foil sheets.
THE ONGOING CYCLE (with the addition of Prize Tickets)
- Buy collections and/or cards for 40-60 percent of what a store would sell them for
- Put those cards into your trade binder
- Trade those cards for prize tickets
- Take those prize tickets and save them up for a foil, uncut sheet
- Sell that foil uncut sheet to a collector
- Take that money and buy more collections
That is taking an extremely complex and nuanced experience and boiling it down to six steps, but that’s the bones of what I do.
TO THE FUTURE
You do not have to shark people to make a profit in trading. There are so many ways to do things above the table and still profit.
There are ways for two people to benefit from the same trade. It’s about learning what you can and can’t live with. It’s about what you want to do/not do and what kind of money you want to make. I’m sure there are ways to make more money but at what cost?
This was just a short glimpse into how I got to where I am now. There are many other details to be discussed. I quickly touched on some topics that we can go back to and look at in more depth. I’m also always experimenting and learning and each GP teaches me something new.
Future articles will focus on and go into depth on the specific nuances of trading. At times it may seem tedious that we spend an entire article on card binder placement, or when the correct moment to pull out your binder is, or how to organize a one binder system vs. two binder system, but those are the nuances that make that six-step process run smoothly and at the highest efficiency it can.
So now that we have gone through the four modes of the Trading Post and built a foundation, lets dig into some of the really fun stuff!
Colin Bevis started playing magic right after the release of Innistrad his freshman year of college. He moved to New York City this fall after traveling the country learning and surviving off of floor trading. He enjoys theatre and film, and now flies out to most U.S. GPs.