After writing my last article, I have been discussing the topic with my Psychology teacher and she was very interested in the subject. I have picked her brain on it and I appreciate the time she is glad to spend discussing topics like these.
PTQs And The Live Trading Floor
I have been trading a lot during the PTQ's and GPT's here in Ireland which connects me with many players from far away since the PTQ was at the other side of the country. I finished 14th (4-2) getting my losses early in the PTQ. In the mean time, I hit the trading floor as well. I managed to sell my Time Spiral Boosters, obtained from a Gift Box I bought in Estonia, for a decent margin.
Recently I have been noticing that shock duals are still a fast moving item among traders here, and their price memory is way above the real value. I also noticed that the use of smartphones is at an all time low here, making it possible for me to utilize my price knowledge edge, especially when wanting to trade away RtR cards for Modern and Commander cards.
For instance, the blue Zendikar fetchlands have recently doubled in price across all European markets. Even MagicCardMarket raised their prices to 19/20 respectively for an English, NM Scalding Tarn or Misty Rainforest. Some months ago when it was off-season I hope everyone picked these up for 50-60% of their current prices.
I made a trade with a fellow EDH player who is an exchange student here in Ireland. He spices up the EDH games a lot as several decks in our small group keep each other in check. He got his binders from his parents and he wanted to initiate a trade with me after the Commander games. After pulling some cards we were using price memories more than pinpoint ratings. We agreed on rating his Tamiyo at 15. He picked some EDH cards from my binder and we tried to work out the prices. In the end we made the trade, both expecting it was more or less equal value. Now, I always evaluate my trades later on to double-check if the ratings I cited with my trading partner were accurate.
So in this case Tamiyo is now $27 on TCGplayer Mid average index. BlackLotusProject is currently down for me while writing this article so I have no information from there.
I have to note that I agreed on a rating of 15 for a single Tamiyo copy because I simply saw them priced this way before Return to Ravnica made them popular among Standard players. I wound up around $20 up in the end by doing this trade, but knowing he offered the trade, I made sure he was satisfied with it as I was seeking no profit from him, just exchanging cards that move relatively more easily than the cards he picked.
Some days later he sent me a private message on Facebook saying the following: ‘’Just noticed Tamiyo is actually like $27. Wanna cut me a deal next time we trade?’’. In 1957, Leon Festinger wrote the theory of cognitive dissonance in which he states that ‘a powerful motive to maintain cognitive consistency can give rise to irrational and sometimes maladaptive behavior’. Furthermore he argues that as soon as we experience an unpleasant dissonance, we are extremely motivated to reduce or eliminate it. Relating back to the trade, my trading partner found out that certain cards were actually higher than he thought, evoking a sense of dissatisfaction that led him to messaging me on Facebook. We as traders mostly rely on repeat trade partners when at a local game store. We do not have infinite people to trade with. We can trade by post, having access to the international market but it comes with lag, a shipping cost burden and so on. You also tend to play against the same players in the local game store, you interact with them and with some you also playtest.
It is vital to have a healthy environment to trade in. I feel like a salesperson where I have to keep my trading partners satisfied that the cards they traded for from me are in good condition (near mint), are useful for them (not only trading for its own sake, or only trading for value), and also give them a feeling that they did not get sharked out. One way people try to guard themselves is by using smartphones when trading. This is far from ideal and I could devote a whole article to this particular topic. I am sure that other authors already have expressed their views on this phenomenon.
The reason I am writing about Cognitive Dissonance in relationship with Magic is that we as speculators can fill both roles. We are both the demand and the supply. We trade or sell cards for profit to other Magic players. We want them to be satisfied with the purchase as much as possible to prevent ourselves from hurting long-term profits as a result of dissatisfaction. This can be a full refund or simply an exchange of cards (additional shipping cost). We are also buying cards mainly from stores in relatively big quantities to acquire underappreciated cards. So we can experience something that creates dissonance. For example, in a big order I made with one of the smaller (and cheaper) UK stores, certain cards were stamped or not in near mint condition. I emailed the owner, citing the state of those cards and my reason for dissatisfaction. I did not even have to send the cards back to get a full refund, but one can see where I am going in terms of unnecessarily losing profits.
I am sure we are on the other side as well where, for example, I forgot to include a card in a relatively big trade. Aside from slightly damaging my reputation, I also had to pay extra for the shipping cost and devote time to make sure my trading partner didn't feel ripped off despite my many references.
I am not going to write about the possible solutions one can employ to deal with this kind of situation. I feel there is no "best way" as Frederick Winslow Taylor put it back in the days when he wanted to optimize industrial efficiency. I think that there are several best ways and through interaction we can be better aware of the situation. I am quite interested to hear your opinion, as this article is just one view on the matter.
Thanks for reading and as always, if there is anything you would like to discuss, please reply!