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Flash of Hindsight – Flipping Out

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So, it’s Friday, the day before Grand Prix: Columbus, and we arrive around 5:10am. We pull up to two or three of the hotels on the Columbus Convention Center campus, no vacancy.

Courtyard Marriot, which I’m more than willing to give a plug here, has a vacancy for Friday and Saturday; but we’ve just been driving for six hours, it’s kinda hot outside, and we really, really need some sleep.
Enter Trey, the friendly and inviting front-desk man who offers us the following deal:

  • A room for Friday
  • A bigger room for Saturday
  • A pair of “nickelodeon your stay” bags featuring a cool wristband, a papercraft Spongebob sculpture, a coloring book, and a sweet Spongebob drawstring backpack.
  • A room for Friday – I know I already said that – where we can check-in now.

Now, if we were the type to plan stuff way in advance, we would’ve ended up  with probably  a little more confidence in having a “place to stay” but would’ve paid for an extra night (to ensure a place to crash in the morning) and wouldn’t have got the sweet Spongebob stuff. These nickelodeon “upgrades” are supposed to cost like $10 each, a small victory, but a victory nonetheless. Something to remember when traveling (which if you’re reading this, in all likelihood means “traveling on a budget”) is that people in the service industry have a lot of flexibility. A LOT of flexibility. A lot of it is just asking. We wanted some sweet bags, and we got them. Parents never ask for that sorta thing, but they pay for it. Dumb little extras and upgrades can be had on the cheap, because to the people at the desk it is completely immaterial, and often means a tip.

That’s not to say you have to shower these people in money. Being nice and a dollar or two is often enough. Just remember, classy folks pay a little extra for quality service, and that often ends up costing them a little less.
On to the meat and potatoes of today’s article. Friday, noonish. The dealers at Grand Prix Columbus are on a mezzanine level of the convention center, overlooking the action like so many spectators in the coliseum. Here’s where it gets interactive, folks. I’m going to show you a buylist. You’re going to tell me which cards on here scream “abuse the buy price”:
Dealer X:

Take some time. Here’s a hint: it’s Staff of Domination. Seriously? This type of scenario happens at almost every event where there are three or more dealers and a lot of backstock. Dealers only casually look at other dealers buylists, and don’t usually spend a lot of time moving cards dealer-to-dealer. Especially when there’s a non-national dealer at a national event, the big guys tend to glaze over him. The small dealers, however, are not only mistakenly not unloading all of their bulk to other dealers, they also aren’t buying for the environment – they’re buying for their customers at home.

Why is this card $7? It is a mystery!

This means if a card like Staff of Domination is huge at their store, they buy it for roughly $Mistake.99. A lot  of money. I was able to, for $20.00 pay for my tournament entry fee to the GP, and have money left over to spend on the weekend – how? Flipping the cards.

Staff of Domination was recently banned in EDH. This isn’t terribly important but it means that while before dealers had an excuse to display it, they now do not. I went up to another dealer and asked if he had Staves on hand. He did, but it was under some clutter and he didn’t want to look for it, because he was busy doing nothing. Not even joking. I went in search of the dominant staff and found a gentleman with about 10. After consulting with Dealer X, I found he only needed about 5 or 6. The gentleman with 10 wanted $5 each.
“If I buy 6 of them, will you give ‘em to me for like $20?” I ask.
“Yup,” he said.

I trot back to Dealer X and make some dollars.  It’s pretty insane. Everyone else is looking for cards they need for the weekend, and I’m able to play the sidelines by taking advantage of a card that almost no one gives a damn about on site. It’s important to know your audience. This also speaks to the benefit of being prepared when you get to a big tournament. This way, you can spend your downtime not scrabbling all over the place for your last Underground Sea, but instead, leisurely looking for quick turnarounds on buylists.
The quick and dirty way to do this is the following:

  • Look for a card on the list that is one that almost no one at the tournament is going to care about.
  • Buy them from the other dealers en masse
  • ???
  • PROFIT!!!

The “???” here are translated from Southparkese to “sell them to dealer x for even a couple bucks more than you bought them.”

If it seems too easy, it’s because enough people simply aren’t doing it.
I, admittedly, don’t have anything exciting for your portfolios on the pickup front right now. I do have a hard sell for you though. Unfortunately, our Mind Over Matters weren’t the breakout I was hoping for, I honestly don’t think anyone was playing a deck featuring the combo at GP Columbus. Remarkably, they haven’t really tanked too hard, and playsets on eBay are still $15-20. Ship ‘em off now, while you can, unless you’re really comfortable riding that train on until daybreak.

It's lonely at the top.

I’ll let any aspiring deckbuilders in on a little secret though: If you want to build the Temple Bell/ Mind Over Matter deck – the key card is probably Solitary Confinement. Just Sayin’.
As far as cards to pick up, the only really hot picks I have right now probably aren’t too secret anymore, but you can still Dusty Old Store them if you’re lucky. They are Survival of the Fittest, and Loyal Retainers. The latter is probably a little obscure, but if you can get one at $70, you’re in for a good flip. The Survivals however, can be picked up for $10-$20 and are selling right now for like $25-$28. A nice, quick little flip that can make you a couple bucks. Another pickup that’s probably fine, but not super-high-dollar is the Blue and Red Titans of M11.  Frost Titan and Inferno Titan are still pretty fairly low-dollar cards (for playable mythics) and have a pretty big upside. I wish I had something more for you this week, but this is the nature of the beast.
It will probably be til Scars of Mirrodin spoiler season before we see anything else in the “interesting” column for speculation, but again, that’s how the game goes. I do plan on being at the forefront of that season, so I’ll certainly keep you posted when I’m on to something.

Until next time, may your favorite color be green.

6 thoughts on “Flash of Hindsight – Flipping Out

  1. Nice article! It wasn't until I started reading some of pieces that I really knew much about buylists. I don't attend many big-level events, so I'm not quite as well-versed in this type of activity. But it's definitely something I'll be keeping an eye on the future.

  2. Any news on the vaults? I don't think any of them made it very far in the tournament but I've seen a few other writers talking them up in their legacy homebrews.

  3. I really enjoy these articles that you guys make. I have followed several of you guys since before doublingseason/newquietspeculation was created. The articles have definitely improved my trading skills and made me look at trading in a new light. Keep up the good work!

  4. Well at least I didn't over invest in MoMA. Its our own little stock market and sometimes your supposed big gainer ends up a little squeaker.

    Something I was wondering is if anyone has any decent spreadsheets or apps they use to keep track of their inventory, accquired prices, deltas and dates. I've started work on one but I'd like to see whats working for other people to see if its a road to continue going down.

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