Insider: Keep Timmy, Johnny and Spike in Your Binder

Are you a Quiet Speculation member?

If not, now is a perfect time to join up! Our powerful tools, breaking-news analysis, and exclusive Discord channel will make sure you stay up to date and ahead of the curve.

Salesmanship has it's place in Friday Night Magic.Your ability to identify what kind of player is looking at your binder will go a long way in making sure you get maximum value from your trades.

I've previously described how to treat a binder like a retail space. Using simple concepts like maintaining full binders and spreading out value to encourage trade partners to stay in a binder will go along way in making trades more likely. Arranging your cards so they look good in your binder (color patterns, striping) and doing your best to break up trades into more transactions will make trading with you a more pleasurable experience.

But there is much more you can do with your binder that will result in easier, more profitable trades.

Identifying the kind of Magic player you are dealing with will make it easier for you to make offers. Instead of asking "Do you have anything in particular you are looking for?", you can make specific card recommendations. You can lean on your binder as a valuable source of player information simply by putting the right cards next to each other.

Before I describe this process in detail, on the off chance you don't know who Timmy, Johnny and Spike are, feel free to go to the source of these descriptors for reference.

The following is the 9 card layout from a page in my binder:

Spike wants my Abrupt Decay and Lotleth Troll. I suggest Slitherhead.

Timmy wants Ghoultree and Splinterfright. I suggest Revenge of the Hunted.

Johnny wants Jarad's Orders. I suggest Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord.

Now I will describe the page opposite the one above (so that both are displayed at the same time):

This two page layout maintains a "Magic order" as the cards are both the same colors and complimentary. Observing my trade partners gives me almost all I need to know about them to start trading. A quick psychology lesson: Spike wants suggestions that give them an edge, Timmy just wants something cool, while Johnny probably doesn't want you to suggest anything. That is why you let the layout guide them to their next idea.

Thankfully the suggestive layout of cards works on every kind of Magic player. This allows you the chance to try and move specific cards out of your binder by putting them in the right place.

See the following: A foil Talrand center page with a playset of foil Think Twice at the corners of the same page. I currently have foil Desperate Ravings in the spaces left over. Foil Think Twice is a cheap foil that can get great trade value, especially when someone decides it's a good fit in a Talrand deck.

If my trade partner is more interested in the Ravings they are probably more Johnny and maybe a Spike. So I can tell the difference, I have four Snapcaster Mage on the opposite page (right and left over and below Niv - Mizzet Johnny/Timmy identifier). The last four slots are filled with Izzet Charms.

I am careful to make each turn of the page a draw for the three archetypal Magic players. I also do my best to represent playable uncommons and commons on every turn.

If I want to trade out of a particular product, I make sure it sits next to more desirable cards.  To encourage spontaneous trades, I try and put cards that play well together near each other and make targeted recommendations  I make this seem normal by getting trades done quickly in small blocks. You can quickly build a great relationship with a variety of different players with trading frequency and on the mark assumptions about their card desires.

So, you think you've picked out your local Spikes, Johnnys and Timmys - now what?

You want to be Spike's go to guy for the latest tournament winning cards. Spike trades you value as cards leave their preferred area of competitive play. Spike also buys and sells to dollar cost ravage. They need cards at peak demand and sell when cards are out of favor regardless of that cards playability.

Timmy collects Dragons and Angels. Take a personal interest in their favorite "golden-beater" archetype. Timmy will trade value for pretty unplayable Demons. Timmy can turn a playset of Baleful Dragons into a playset of fastlands.

Johnny will take Commander cards. They love that Blood Clock and Umbilicus do the same thing. If they aren't interested in a particular competitive format, you can get a lot of value for random bulk buying into staples they aren't playing at the moment. If you need hot cards, Johnny is a good resource. He's the easiest guy to trade up with because he'll start moving away from cards as they get picked up by Spike.

If you feel adventurous, check out this research paper from the Graduate Business School of the University of Chicago. In it you'll see how retailers apply similar techniques to their shelf space as well as some interesting facts that likely apply to card trades, like how only 1/3 of purchases being planned.

Make your suggestions and trade frequently to make sure you get your piece of the remaining 2/3 this Friday.


10 thoughts on “Insider: Keep Timmy, Johnny and Spike in Your Binder

  1. I love articles like this. Practical and applicable. Great job!

    Seeing the psychology behind binder organization, and trades in general, is really helpful.

  2. While I like your approach in principle it sort of feels like your treating your trade binder like a little bonzai tree. Changing a little here and there just to get the perfect little tree binder. I’m sure that on a small scale this is doable, leads to more trading and profit, however moving around so many cards, making sure I have all the relevant cards to accomplish this and keeping track of all that’s popular to make sure you combine the right cards means this will get quite time consuming.

    I also reckon that over the course of a trading session your perfectly crafted binder will soon degrade when new cards enter so you only have the benefit early in the session but less so later on.

    Not to say I don’t see potential benefit, but it feels like too much effort to me. How long does this take you and how much time do you usually spend trading on a weekly basis?

    1. most of my trading happens on friday or at events. i maintain one binder, and keeping it working is not that difficult. as far as relevant cards… the only relevant cards are those that i am trying to acquire.

      the more cards you are moving, the easier it is to make good choices about what’s in your binder. also, during a trading day you really need only keep the binder full. maintaining 4 pages so that they give you insight into who’s in your binder isn’t hard if you start the day with a binder full of pages that accomplish that trick.

      if retail stores like wal-mart or your local supermarket chains apply these techniques you can also. the benefit is moving cards you want to get rid of, capturing 2/3 of the trades that might otherwise not occur when you just direct a trade partner to what they say they are looking for.

      more trading opportunities = more time for profit. this friday, with my single binder i sold 3000 bulk cards for 25$. they told me in the course of a smaller trade for a disciple of bolas and 3 abrupt decays that they needed a box to hold their growing collection. rather than spend money on an empty box i offered them one filled with bulk cards. the details of that trade:

      3 abrupt decay, 1 disciple of bolas 3000ct box of bulk commons and uncommons for their FNM evolving wilds, 2 parallel lives, green sun’s zenith, 2 valakut, the molten pinnacle prerelease, 3 foil coldsnap snow-covered island, 2 foil coldsnap snow-covered plains, foil jund charm, foil putrefy, foil grisly salvage, 3 m13 o-rings, 25$.

      1. As I said, I see the potential benefit. You glance over the time it takes, “not that difficult” for you could easily be “very time consuming” for me as we could have very different definitions of “not that difficult”. What’s keeping me from doing this is not a lack of believe in that it improves the deals you make, it’s a lack of believe in it being worth the time it takes.

        How do you make sure the binder does not degrade over the course of a trading session? How long do you usually spend organizing after a trading session? How do you apply your techniques when you have many more cards to consider, such as when trying to cater to an EDH crowd?

        I could never fit all I want to have up for trade in 1 small binder so for me I’d have to consider at least 3 of those binders. I don’t trade in person very often, maybe 4-6 trades a session (there just aren’t more people to trade with). I nearly always trade with casual players, mostly EDH. Restructuring my trade binders before each session seems like it would be as time consuming, if not more, as the trades themselves. I know better things to do with that time. I realise that if you do many more trades the will become more worthwhile, but the “upkeep cost” for keeping your binder nicely sorted will increase too.

        It feels like this would only be beneficial for a small binder in a situation where you can quickly trade just about anything.

        1. use one binder, multiple copies make irt easy to keep full. set up strong, fill in on color scheme. really worth the effort as hundreds of years of retail store efforts show. filling in blanks is as important as “fronting” product in a store. make sure your inventory always looks well stocked and is visible.

          doing those two things may get harder as you binder gets attention, but that is the result of success, isn’t it? easiest way to handle it is multiple copies under one space or a box of cards designed to fill in as needed (this could be your box of cheap stuff/ filler).

          using a single 9 sleeve binder is 360 card facings. that is a high enough number to gauge trade interests of a party. break out box to make specific recommendations. use that box and recommendations to fill in after trading with cards that trader would have been interested in. 1360 cards is probably too many cards to be working with UNLESS you are a store. then you should have more incentive, not less to build multiple binders of 360 that give insights about the person you are trading with and let you capture the unplanned transaction.

          you spend a paragraph telling me why this wouldn’t work for you. most of the reasons you give for not applying my techniques seem bad. you don’t need to restructure for every trader. you make your 3 binders so they can tell you more about the player you are trading with. build them assuming you are right that they are casual EDH players and set the binder up to tell you what kind of EDH cards they would be interested in.

          restructuring still only involves filling in wholes left, and if you trade that infrequently out of the binders than that makes it easier not harder to keep the binder full until you want to redesign the thing. you redesign it to increase trades/ move specific things. that time is hardly wasted when it works.

          i would have gotten back to you earlier about this, ’cause i feel pretty strongly about it (as you can tell) but the lack of notification on comments made me miss this.

          1. I think you may have missed my main problem with it as you don’t go into it. (Which is time versus reward). You sent me a private message on the forum, let’s continue the discussion there as indeed the lack of notification will hinder us here.

  3. Is this Standard Only? I was thinkin about how to apply this to my EDH binder and put different Generals and color slices onto their own page. Right now my EDH binder is 400 cards of disorganization. I used to have multiples running up or down, but as I traded it got time consuming to be so meticulous. Having a Doran page with Treefolk/foil Slaghorn Armor/the 1/6 land/ etc. I think would really help me move the random stuff. Also, if a card doesn’t have a home in the binder maybe it needs to be replaced. I also have a smaller binder that I could keep the higher priced staples in, cards that are good in any EDH.

    I noticed both of your examples are for standard. Is that because the turnover and player base is larger? Or because it is easier to identify the cards each type is likely to want? I also noticed that the add-ons are relatively inexpensive cards and I am guessing this is done on purpose? Like the items at the check out line, if the price is too big, the impulse is ignored. I’m not seeing any Overgrown Tombs on those pages, lol.

    Good article. Binder presentation is like flossing, I know I should, I just need to make myself do it. 🙂

    1. my examples are standard because i am trying to move standard to acquire modern cards right now. applying these tips to your commander binder will quickly make you the go to guy for EDH stuff locally imo. that’s a good thing. i do suggest maintaining a smaller collection of visible stock. i use a single ultra-pro side loading 9 page binder for example.

      this makes set up and maintenance through a trading session easier. you can still keep other cards at hand and use the techniques described in the article to suggest appropriate cards you aren’t representing to llikely buyers.

      1. I also noticed that the add-ons are relatively inexpensive cards and I am guessing this is done on purpose?

        yep. most people think “i can pick these up as well” on impulse. sometimes they get drawn in to bigger, more valuable cards but i always look to add more to the trade. each trade gives me another crack at increasing value. having cheap playsets available also leaves your trade partners with the impression that you’re the go to person for stuff. one stop shop.

Join the conversation

Want Prices?

Browse thousands of prices with the first and most comprehensive MTG Finance tool around.

Trader Tools lists both buylist and retail prices for every MTG card, going back a decade.

Quiet Speculation