Techniques for Rebuilding Your Binder

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Today I want to take a brief hiatus from writing about internet trading to discuss my States trading experience and give some ideas on rebuilding a binder after it has been cleaned out by a dealer. Connecticut States was a pretty good size, with a little over 150 people, so I figured there was going to be some good trading opportunities. In preparation I had picked up every Ratchet Bomb I could find from all the local people as well as the Scars duals. I started the day with 8 Ratchet Bombs and picked up a few as the day progressed but by the end they were all gone. I was also able to pick up some Frost Titans cheap and flip them pretty fast as people are realizing more and more how great a card it is. I have to admit I didn't really give it much thought at first but now I wouldn't even want to sleeve up a deck that didn't include them. If you can pick these up for $6-7 now grab them up since I honestly feel you will be able to move these at $10+ in the near future.

I also had the opportunity to trade up to a Tarmogoyf. I ended up giving about $45 in trade value for it which isn't terrible but not spectacular either. I don't remember the exact trade but it was a Molten-Tail Masticore and a bunch of smaller rares, including three of the new Scars duals. I figured that I would be able to get more for this if I listed it online anyway but as it turns out, future complications would end up having me sell this to a dealer so the trade up was great for that reason. I'm sure it is common knowledge by now but when you are going to move the cards to a dealer you want to have higher value cards. I ended up with $39.40 in trade credit for just that card but if I tried to sell the cards I traded for it I would have been lucky to get half of that.

Now I want to tell you a side story about the main event that ends up with me basically having to sell my binder to a dealer to replace some cards. My fiance wanted to play in the event as well so I sleeved up Mono-G Eldrazi for her. She started 4-1 before finishing 4-4 while I played U/G/R Destructive Force and got dreamcrushed in the penultimate round by triple Summoning Trap on turn 4. I finished 6-2 which is upsetting but not nearly as much as what happened next.
We get home and I start to put everything away but I notice that I'm missing the mono green deck. We search everywhere and she even goes back to the event site but it is nowhere to be found. We think what most likely happened is that she took it out of her purse before we left when she was searching for something else and forgot to put it back in. While it would have been nice if they had turned it in to the TO I knew better and realized it was gone before she left for the event site again.

Fortunately my trade binder was meaty enough that I could replace everything so I shipped the cards to a dealer for trade credit. I was able to get everything back plus some Scars product for drafting. Of course this left me with an abysmal binder but that gave me an opportunity to discuss the following with you. What are some ways to fill up a binder without spending cash?

It took me two days of trading to get the binder back to a respectable level, and just in time for FNM and a big win-a-case standard event this weekend. First let me list out what was left after sending the cards in:

1 Myrsmith (Foil)
1 Glint Hawk (Foil)
1 Umbra Mystic (Foil)
3 Vengeful Archon
1 World Queller
2 Morningtide
4 Armament Master (1 Foil)
1 Decree of Justice
1 Conqueror's Pledge
3 Oust
1 Nomads' Assembly
1 Balancing Act
1 Angelic Arbiter

2 Sphinx of Lost Truths
4 Trinket Mage (SoM...1 Foil)
1 Grand Architect (Foil)
1 Flash (German)
1 Counterspell (German)
1 Guile (JvC)
1 Clone
1 Arcum Dagsson
1 Dormant Gomazoa
2 Conundrum Sphinx
1 Redirect
1 Hive Mind
3 Stormtide Leviathan
3 Nix

3 Necrotic Plague
1 Graveborn Muse
1 Agadeem Occultist
1 Imp's Mischief
1 Death Wish
1 Enslave (GvL)
1 Halo Hunter
1 Infest (textless)
1 Nightmare

1 Molten Psyche
1 Magma Phoenix
1 Cyclops Gladiator
1 Wild Evocation (Foil)
1 World at War
2 Magmaw
1 Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
1 Ancient Hellkite
1 Goblin Ruinblaster
3 Rift Bolt (FNM)

4 Crop Rotation
1 Nantuko Cultivator

1 Void
1 Violent Ultimatum
1 Clarion Ultimatum
1 Chorus of the Conclave (Foil)
1 Realm Razer

1 Quicksilver Fountain
1 Grappling Hook
2 Hedron Matrix
2 Tormod's Crypt
1 Uba Mask
1 Angelheart Vial
1 Temple Bell
2 Voltaic Key
5 Steel Hellkite (Promo)

9 Snow-Covered Island (Ice Age)

There are a couple of decent cards left but overall this binder is full of fail. At school the next day I tried to make some trades but things weren't working out well so I had a “sale”. I announced that the junk rares I would trade away at a dime apiece. This allowed me to transform some of my junk rares into junk rares that actually see some occasional play. Those rares I could trade up to slightly better rares and so on. After making a few trades like this I moved the price up to a quarter per rare and started 'selling' my binder. Normally a binder sells itself as people are able to find cards they actually want. When the quality is this low you have to resort to other tactics. Talk to the people you are trading with and figure out what they like to play, what decks they are building, etc. Then sell them on cards they could possibly use for it. You will probably have to take a loss on some of these trades but I will gladly trade away ten bargain bin rares for a $3-4 rare in situations like this.

Of course you can always use this tactic when trading but in this situation you are almost certainly forced into it. At the end of the first day I had picked up:

+2 Knight Exemplar
+1 Brave the Elements (textless)
+1 Restore Balance
+2 Lenonin Arbiter
+1 Grand Architect
+1 Trapmaker's Snare (Foil)
+1 Archive Trap
+1 Consume the Meek
+1 Gigantomancer (Foil)
+1 Fauna Shaman
+1 Mimic Vat

Which certainly improved the quality of my binder quite a bit. By the way, I had just finished reading Flores's article about his Pyromancer Ascension deck with Archive Traps as well as some tweets between himself, Gerry Thompson and Patrick Sullivan so I picked a few traps up and traded them almost immediately to someone who I know likes to play Pyromancer decks.

The second day lead to a pretty interesting big trade. I was sitting around when I noticed someone was dumping a ton of magic cards onto a table so I went over and saw some gems staring up at me. I asked if they were for trade and he said they were but he didn't know what decks he was building yet. Fortunately I noticed he had a mono-black EDH deck sitting next to him so I asked if he was looking for cards for that. He was and I handed him my own mono-black deck. I picked up the following:

1 Serra Avenger
1 Brainstorm (Coldsnap reprint)
1 Wonder
1 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Coralhelm Commander
1 Redirect
1 Magus of the Future
1 Training Grounds
1 Kalastria Highborn
1 Burning Wish
1 Harabaz Druid
1 Terastodon
1 Momir Vig, Simic Visionary
1 Steel Overseer (Foil)
1 Raging Ravine
1 Seer's Sundial
1 Darkslick Shores
1 Razorverge Thicket
1 Blackcleave Cliffs

for my:

Sorin Markov
Liliana Vess
Nightmare Lash
Beacon of Unrest
Imp's Mischief

I know that this is cheating in a way but it was hard to pass up especially since I could replace all of the cards once I got home. Either way it is a good trade for me and gets my binder back to a decent state.

When that trade was over someone else at the table had mentioned that the person I just traded with was willing to trade his Elspeth Tirel towards a Sorin Markov if he had not just traded for mine. While this may seem like a shockingly poor trade to most of us we have to remember that in the mind of a casual player they often don't care about price as much as they care about getting specific cards they will actually use. So on the one hand it can be easy to get some cards off of them at a good price but on the other if you are trying to get a card they actually use it can seem impossible.
Anyway I went back to the guy and after talking we settled on his:

Elspeth Tirel

for my:

Journeyer's Kite
Solemn Simulacrum

Now I think Elspeth 2.0 is going to drop in price because I just don't see it being nearly as good as the old Elspeth. I could be wrong of course but I will happily trade it away at $40. The other person who was interested in the Elspeth got it for his:

1 Leonin Arbiter
2 Genesis Wave
1 Ezuri, Renegade Leader
1 Molten-Tail Masticore
2 Lodestone Golem
1 Argentum Armor
1 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Razorverge Thicket

Which works out perfect for me because it puts some more $2-3 rares in my binder but also a high value one in Molten-Tail Masticore.

One final thing I want to mention is the Seer's Sundial I traded for in the bigger trade. There is a casual player there who has fallen in love with the card ever since he read it the other day. Unfortunately he didn't have any trade stuff on him today otherwise it would have been gone. I will probably end up trading it to him for a $2 rare. By listening to what the people around you like and being supportive you can turn these throw-ins that people are dying to get out of their binder into a solid playable.

Join me again next week when I get back to talking about internet trading and especially how to use pricing sites to your advantage.

-Matt Sedlak

25 thoughts on “Techniques for Rebuilding Your Binder

  1. OK, so your answer to the question 'how do I rebuild my binder?' seems to be 'shark a couple of casual players into giving you 100% profit margins on a few EDH cards they need, and then trade the stuff you get to someone else at its actual value'. I don't want to go on too much about 'ripping people off' but this article isn't about trading strategy (except for maybe the first part about the dime sale), it's just gloat. There's no information about *how* you got these trades to work. I suspect this is because the way you got them to work was by concealing the true worth of the cards you wanted from them.

    'While this may seem like a shockingly poor trade to most of us we have to remember that in the mind of a casual player they often don’t care about price as much as they care about getting specific cards they will actually use.'

    This is a weak justification in my opinion. Every casual player cares about the value of their cards, in that they know they can get more stuff they need if they have tournament-playable cards that more serious folks need. It's just that they spend their time, well, playing and building decks, not checking prices. If I wanted a casual player's Elspeth and he offered me the deal he offered you, I'd make him go back to the binder and pick out a few more cards. I have no problem with coming out ahead on a trade (it's the best way for people on limited budgets, like me, to expand their collections), but if I saw someone trying to do these kinds of trades with a casual player I'd stay well away from them and advise others to do the same.

    1. I understand your reply on the Elspeth trade. But I don't see anything wrong with it. One the casual player got the black wrath of god *which is like crack to some of them* and he got an awful Elspeth in return. The new Elspeth has no deck list. and as far as I know *or remember seeing* it had no first place decklists in states. The card is on its way down and should be traded away as soon as you get it. I dont see it valued much more than what he traded it for

  2. First I want to note that I said, "While this may seem like a shockingly poor trade to most of us we have to remember that in the mind of a casual player they OFTEN don’t care about price as much as they care about getting specific cards they will actually use." This is different from saying that they ALWAYS don't care. Different casual players value their cards differentyly. In this case he clearly didn't since he straight out offered someone his Elspeth for a Sorin Markov. That was a deal he himself suggested. If I wanted to get the Elspeth for just my Damnation I likely could have but I talked him into taking the Kite and the Solemn Simulacrum, both of which are cards he was unaware of. If he had been interested in other cards he could have had them but he wasn't. Did I come out way ahead on this? Of course. There is indeed a fine line between straight ripping someone off and making a great trade and part of walking that line is making sure that the other person gets as much, or in this case more, as they wanted.

    This trade isn't even as lopsided as it seems if you use a technique pretty much every trader has used at one point, using different sites to price the cards in your favor. You can currently buy Elspeths at $28 outside of eBay. Starcity has Damnation at $15, Solemn Simulacrum at $5 and Journeyer's Kite at $1 which is only $7 in my favor. Had I decided to just do the trade for a Damnation or a Sorin I would have been taking advantage but by going out of my way to find some extra cards that he could use I was able to make a great trade without him feeling ripped off because he wasn't.

    Also I would like to point out that my comment about the trade being "shockingly poor" was directed towards his offer of an Elspeth for a Sorin and not as a justification for my trade. Since that was a trade they offered to someone, even to the point of stating that he knew there was a big price difference I think rather than being a weak justification it serves to illustrate what I was talking about.

    I appreciate the feedback though and I do make it a point to try and never make one of those trades where you see people getting over 100% of the value of the cards they are giving away. Once you have a reputation as being a trader who rips people off it becomes harder to get anyone to trade with you so while the short-term benefits of a severely one-sided trade might be great, in the long run you end up losing out. When you are starting out with essentially nothing though you are going to have to use pricing to gets things to work in your favor or else you will end up with what you started with, nothing.

  3. "Different casual players value their cards differentyly. In this case he clearly didn’t since he straight out offered someone his Elspeth for a Sorin Markov. That was a deal he himself suggested…

    …'"that was a trade they offered to someone, even to the point of stating that he knew there was a big price difference"

    Ah, my apologies. If someone is OK with trading away their stuff at a significant disadvantage and is aware of that disadvantage, you might as well supply the stuff they want since the trade makes both of you happy. I feel like you should have mentioned this in the article though, it would have better explained your actions and provided a good illustration of different value systems. (I get that this was what you were trying to do but it came across like you were trying to justify ripping the guy off by saying 'well, he's a casual player and he just trades for the cards he wants to play…'.)

    One other thing:

    "This trade isn’t even as lopsided as it seems if you use a technique pretty much every trader has used at one point, using different sites to price the cards in your favor. You can currently buy Elspeths at $28 outside of eBay. Starcity has Damnation at $15, Solemn Simulacrum at $5 and Journeyer’s Kite at $1 which is only $7 in my favor."

    This is what we want to see in your actual article, not in the comments section. Without it, it just seems like you go "HEY GUYS LOOK HOW I UNDERVALUED ELSPETH AND THEN TRADED HER ON 4 PROFIT$". Tell us how you got the first guy to accept $28 for 'Speth and the second guy to value her at $40. This makes for a more interesting and more valuable article.

  4. The whole time I was reading this I had Big Haus from Pawn Stars asking "what do you want to get for it"?

    I keep a $0.50 and a $0.25 section in the back of my binder. It's clearly marked, but I always tell people that is the real cash value of those cards so don't expect to trade me retail prices for my $0.25 cards. They are still going to clean up at 8+ to 1. Most of the stuff I have back there are playsets of marginable uncommons, played cards et.

  5. I'd like to know how exactly I got owned by a dealer. Unless you are saying that unloading cards to a dealer is always a bad thing. When I went to Grand Prix DC I was able to see cards to the dealers there to pay for my entry fee, share of the hotel room and food for the weekend so while I obviously took a loss compared to what I could get if I ebay the cards I basically got a free weekend out of my binder. In this case I was able to replace an entire Standard deck and get some sealed product to use for drafting. Explain to me how this is a bad thing? Pretty much every dealer I have ever sold cards to also offers you a 25% trade credit if you will take that instead of cash which I obviously did in this case.

    Looking at one example:

    I sold the Tarmogoyf to ABUgames for $32.80 and with the 25% trade credit I received $41.00 just for that card. Looking at a couple of different sites that list ebay prices we have apathyhouse listing Goyf at 44.28 and MOTL at 44.19. So how did I get ripped off?

    1. Right but since I am not a store if I was looking to sell my cards I would have to list them on eBay or elsewhere online and expect to get MOTL prices for it. Since I was looking to replace cards and I was able to get roughly the same price (more actually since I didn't have to pay any fees) it ends up working great for me.

  6. So basically, you pwn your local school playgroup trade-wise, only to let yourself in turn get owned by a dealer? Granted, these steps occured in reverse chronological order, but dude, talk about a leaky-bucket.

  7. What ABU sells Tarmogoyf at is irrelevant. Getting $41 for Tarmogoyf is a fine deal. If Matt were to sell that Goyf on eBay, he'd get $44 on average, minus listing fees. And that's assuming he's got an established account.

    That said, store credit isn't exactly cash, but in this case it essentially was. Ozymandius and Mr.C, what would you suggest as better ways to monetize the Goyf? I'm interested because I still don't have a good answer myself.

  8. Don't get discouraged by the haters, Matt. They show up to every trading article (ever). This is a good article and I enjoyed the exercise. The only thing you can do is work on writing articles to teach them your methods.

    1. Here is one betting guide for the game.Here is the recaemmndotion from another site:make the 4X pre-Flop wager with any two-card hand that has a pair of threes or higher, an ace, a king suited with any other card, a queen suited with six or higher, a jack suited with 8 or higher, an unsuited king with a five or higher, and an unsuited queen with an eight or higher.

  9. 41.00 "ABU" dollars can't even be close to 41.00 in US dollars, because of how pricey their singles are. Now you're not just taking a ding on the prices from selling to a dealer, but you're also getting clipped on using their imaginariy cash to buy their overpriced singles.

    Now, if you need to monetize the goyf, you have a few options. Obviously, e-baying takes time, but there are a bunch of other options you have available
    -Sell the 'goyf in person with a haircut on the cash (For instance, if you take 38 or something, a 15% haircut on the price of Goyf, and use that to buy some of the cards you are missing, you're still ahead, because in magic, the cash vs.theoretical value is a far greater percentage drop for lower-value rares than it is for higher-value rares. This, of course, requires someone to pay 38 cash for a goyf, which is an extremely reasonable price, but only people who need goyf will shell out for it.

    -Trade down on MOTL. People will definitely give you value there when you trade down, almost as a matter of course, and at this point you're coming out ahead on your 'goyf trade-down, rather than taking the double haircut we discussed.

    -Trade the goyf up for a higher-value rare without a significant loss in value, using those ripmaster skills you've demonstrated, and then you have a more costly rare which you can do the same thing for, or unload more easily through any of the other messages.

    Even if none of these work, you are better off taking cash from a dealer and using itsreal -moneyness to buy cardboard from other player (Obviously not in places where this is forbidden.) Double haircuts don't look very good.

  10. Actually 41 ABU dollars isn't really that far off. Lets compare the cards I purchased from them to what I would have gotten from Starcity and finally to how things would have worked out if I used ebay. We will be purchasing the following cards: 4x Summoning Trap, 2x All is Dust, 2x Eye of Ugin, 4x Eldrazi Temple, 1x Emrakul, 1x Kozilek, 1x Ulamog. The total to purchase all of that at ABU is $96 while the same purchase from Starcitygames would also be $96 even though the prices on some of the cards are different. ABU gave me $41 in trade credit for the Goyf while Starcitygames would only give me $31.25 so I end up with almost $10 extra in trade credit off that one card.

    Clearly you have to shop around and just because one site gives you a higher price doesn't mean that trading to them is going to be the best option because, as you pointed out, the price on the cards you receive could be inflated as well.

    Now obviously buying the cards off Ebay would have been cheaper (using MOTL the price comes out to 70.72). If we say that shipping would have come out to about $5, which may be low depending on what is available and how many sellers I need to buy from I would have saved about $20-25. The problem is that $70 is real cash while the $96 is virtual cash represented by the cards I traded in. Also, by keeping the transaction to a couple of online dealers I'm not forced to wait for auctions to end, I don't have to worry about any associated fees and I save myself a lot of work listing and shipping the cards. Doing it this way may have saved me money, but it would have been much more effort and taken much more time for only a little gain.

    To me it was worth it to lose out on the possibility of saving $20 to spend basically nothing and get everything back in a very short time frame. I'll be able to use that deck again this weekend which may not have been the case if I wanted to rely on trading for or eBaying the cards.

  11. Hi,
    good article although the discussion about how to turn your cards into money is likely more interesting.

    I would agree that the most "fair" way to make profit in a trade is to use different sources for card values. Of course you shouldn't value your trade partners cards at eBay prices and value your cards a the local dealer's. But if you know that there's some pricing difference for a given card between SCG, ABUgames, CF or whatever, it's a great way to make profit. Which again values keeping yourself updated on card prices.

    Mainly 3 different ways have been discussed to turn a card into cash: selling to a dealer, selling on eBay and selling to other players. I'm from Europe so I don't know the American market too well, but I haven't ever heard anyone talking about selling at CardShark, why is this? It seemed a pretty fine site to me, way easier to find the cards than on eBay, or am I mistaken?

  12. I haven't had any experience with CardShark but I just signed up for an account to test it out.

    Here's one tactic I employed recently, wonder what the thoughts are about what I could improve on. Got $70 in trade from a vendor, which I opted to take the +25% for store credit and took an M11 box for the ~$90 in store credit. I then sold the box on Craigslist for the original $90. It's a drawn out process, but I essentially undid some portion of the loss I inherently took by trading in to a store by actualizing the +25% (turning store credit into an equal amount of dollars).

  13. Hey Matt I'm looking forward to your next article. I have most of my stash of cards locked up on MTGO and have been trying like mad to get good value for my cards but am confused by the vast array of bots, price lists, etc. I never REALLY know if I'm getting a good deal, even if I check out other bots before pulling the trigger on a trade.

  14. @Matt: I'd rather have, say, $38 cash than $41 ABU credit, simply because I can get way more stuff with hard cash than store credit. I thought that was obvious, you know, better have cash in hand, etc.

    The only times I will deal with a store is if A, they are paying close to MOTL, but cash, or B, if they have something I want. I recently did a trade with a store here in Vancouver that I normally wouldn't, but I needed a ton of Portal cards for my collection. Added up to $40ish. I gave them sellable cards, but it was decent because I *wanted* their cards. Otherwise, I would have just straight up sold them, as cash is almost always preferable to credit.

  15. @Corbin: There is a difference between 'haters' and 'constructive criticism'. You're a writer, you know the difference. It's like people pointing out that the guy got owned in that Foil Primeval Titan trade in one of your other articles. That was constructive, as IIRC someone made a point that lower end cards were marked up way more in relation to buy prices than higher-end cards; therefore, had he traded using more accurate values, such as LOW (not Average, which more often than not is skewed by stores that overcharge) or MOTL, he may have had a better idea of actual value. I'm offering what I perceive to be constructive criticism. If you guys consider that 'hating', well…

  16. Mr. C: I definitely agree that in general I would rather have $38 in cash than $41 in store credit except in this specific case I was looking to replace an entire decks worth of cards. The $41 in store credit was perfect in that case. I already talked about this in my other comments as well. While it is cheaper to get cards generally over ebay when dealing with a multitude of cards it is often easier just to get them from a dealer. In this case the $41 is pretty much what I would have received if I sold the card anyway but saved me the time and money of doing so.

    As far as the haters comment: I enjoy constructive critisicm. In fact the first comment by Andrew lead to a brief discussion where it got pointed out that I left some very important information out of the article itself. That was good feedback. Someone trying to say that I got ripped off by a dealer without having any real information is hating, especially when I believe I have shown that I didn't, in fact, get myself ripped off.

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