Insider: MTGO, The Mathematician and The Psycho

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The Mathematician and The Psycho

Hi everybody, there are new kids on the block! We will be writing articles on the Insider column. Since we work as a team, we first decided to introduce ourselves and talk a bit about how we each contribute to the team and how we both plan on contributing to the QS community by sharing our complementary view to what has already been said about the world of MTGO speculation.

Who are we?

Jean-François Goupil :

I’m a 30 year old father of two beautiful children. I first studied economics but eventually became a math teacher. I love sports (especially hockey and tennis) and all kinds of mind games. For everything I do, I must first read or learn about it before really investing into it. I have hundreds of books at home talking about chess, poker, backgammon and, of course, Magic: The Gathering! Whenever I get involved in a game, I go all the way and it tends to get close to becoming an addiction.

I started playing Magic at the age of 10, playing for almost four years. I then sold my entire collection and stopped playing for nearly 14 years. At the age of 16, I was already investing in the stock market. I made a few bucks there and at the age of 18 invested everything in a poker bankroll.

I played poker for a really long time, and it paid for my tuition, my wedding and my first car. Then Black Friday came and, like many others, I was done playing poker. I had to find another addiction... Two years ago, something I would have not expected happened: Magic: The Gathering came back into my life, online!

What do I bring to the team?
I’m the rational guy. My economic background, along with my experience in poker and knowledge of math, helps me see the market in a way that helps me make good decisions. I’ll try to show you what I've learned in other disciplines and how it should help you trade successfully on MTGO.

Sébastien Morin:

I'm 29 and the father of two young boys. I'm about to graduate as a Ph.D and I could therefore be referred to as 'the Psycho', since I studied to become a Psychologist. In the clinical field we are taught to be neutral, cool tempered, analytical, etc. This is quite ironic, because I have always been the hot-tempered and rather impulsive guy.

The other piece of irony is that my clinical specialization is towards treating addiction (drug, alcohol, gambling, compulsive gaming, etc.). Rest assured, Jeff doesn't need any treatment... or does he?

I'm sometimes risk-prone or risk-seeking, whereas my partner is more risk averse. I started playing MTG at the age of 9, and stopped playing after Ice Age's release. I got back into the game after a phone call from Jeff, telling me MTGO existed.

What do I bring to the team? I'm analysing the market trends on a daily basis. As you might have read on the forums, I'm routinely screening for market changes. I know a great deal about the bots' rules and mechanics. I know where to go first, how to avoid getting banned, how to buy or unload rapidly. I manage our MTGO account, I update the spreadsheets we use.

In the end, I play very little Magic nowadays, as Jeff is taking care of that part of the game. I'm also the one posting on the QS forums when we've identified a good spec. The goal is to share our ideas with others, because we've profited from others' ideas in the past.


In summary, our tempers and our backgrounds are quite different, so different in fact you might think we have very little in common. Generally, when Seb calls Jeff in excitement to talk about a new spec, Jeff's typical answer is "Wait, let's calculate the risk".

When it's the other way around and Jeff has found a blog or a forum mentioning a new answer to the dominant deck, he calls Seb and the answer typically looks something like "How many do we buy?" When we come to an agreement, it's like a Shower of Sparks!

We've realised over time that our differences were, in fact, a huge advantage. Jeff plays so much he knows everything about the metagame and the weekly shifts. Seb spends all his time trading, grinding, acquiring cards and managing the account. We share our thoughts regularly and we are both trusting each other's decisions, and advocate that you find trade partners to discuss your specs thoroughly. It will help you feel more confidant in what you are doing.

From Playing to Speculating: How it all started...

Two years ago we were playing (way too much!) Magic. Over time, we realised there were some predictable patterns with cards' prices. About a year ago, we finally decided to study the MTGO market and invest into it.

We put an even amount of money into a third account. The idea was to re-invest the profits into the account until we would decide to sell the extra tickets. We've never looked back since. Although we learned the hard way, we'd like to share with you what took us hundreds of hours to learn.

Our mission:

There are good specs out there, which are routinely discussed on the forums.

However, we want you to learn about the underlying theories that we've developed to support our decisions, and we hope to successfully put down, in words, our reasoning and the risk-related basic principles we follow. This way you can develop similar reflexes and follow your own path.

We're proposing a series of articles on how to trade on MTGO, with plans to refer to them when we will make our calls. There must be a rationale behind each and every decision!

We are perfectly aware that Matt Lewis is already doing a brilliant job with his coverage of MTGO, and we have learned a great deal from his work. We look forward to bringing you something either complementary or slightly different from what he is already doing. In the end, we want our readers to be better traders and we want our readers to make money! If there is something we both know, it's that when you surround yourself with the best, you just get better.

As a preview, we're looking forward to covering the following topics:

  • The Expected Value: How it Should Affect Your Trading Habits
  • Is MTGO More Liquid than Paper? Why Should You Give it A Try?
  • How to Carefully 'Attack' Bots
  • Where do I Begin? Or How Bankroll Management Theories from Poker Apply to MTGO?
  • Playing the Good Decks = Money. How to Build Up a Decent Collection)
  • Ski during Summer (Always Invest During the Off-Season, or Buy when Everyone is Selling)
  • Calculating Risk Ratio: How to Define Potential Downside and Upside)
  • The Economy-Derived Concept of Niche Market
  • The Potential of Investing in Legacy Staples on MTGO
  • MTGO is All About the Quick Flips: The Most Important Rule of All: Have Tickets Floating Around.
  • What Should You Do with Foils on MTGO?
  • When Should You Consider Running a Bot?

Sharing THE Spreadsheet: A Teaser

I mentioned in the forums that we were managing our account using spreadsheets. One of our spreadsheets is used to watch about 120 cards, all of them being potential targets, depending on seasonality and their historical value.

We would like to have a quick glance with you at a section of the spreadsheet, starting with the lands we're currently watching. We'll go ahead with a few tips based on the information we have collected so far. We also suggest you build your own spreadsheet to make sure you keep track of the many potential targets available out there.

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Breaking it Down

As you can see, we've selected lands that have seen play across Modern and Legacy and have shown significant price changes over the past year. We have provided the floor and ceiling prices for each of these cards, going back a year or so. We also included a very brief comment below each date to help us remember which events/seasons were influencing prices when we did the screening.

Red shows down trends. Some cards are actually reaching all-time highs, such as Wasteland,Underground Sea and Polluted Delta. Overall, Dual lands' prices are through the roof. It's time to stay away from these.

Other cards are leaning towards their all-time low: Savannah and Blinkmoth Nexus. So, we should buy these, right? Well, be aware that Savannah is 1) not the most played land in Legacy, and 2) an alternate art reprint has been given out to those who got 15 QPs. As of April 23rd, we feel a new floor has been reached and the card has stabilised at around 11 tix for the Promo Version and 12 tix for the regular one. It is probably a great time to grab some of those. Inkmoth Nexus is an ok pick at 2 tix.

Last but not least, we've included Mox Opal in the spreadsheet, although it's not really a land. We wanted to show you the impacts of redemption on rares and mythics from the SOM block. Mox Opal has reached an all-time high and it really portrays well how much pressure redeemers apply on the market right now. We should see a price drop around or after the cut-off date of November 4th.


We hope we caught your interest with this introduction. We would appreciate that you guys throw in a bunch of suggestions and topics you would like to see covered within the upcoming articles. We will gladly accommodation!

- Jeff and Seb

Avatar photo

Sebastien Morin

Jeff and Sebastien have known each other for close to 25 years now. They have played Magic as kids, and then played Online poker for a few years. They got back into the world of Magic through the Online client. About a year ago, they decided to invest more seriously into the MTGO market. They will share their experience, the good and bad moves they made, and their strategy to successfully manage a growing bankroll.

View More By Sebastien Morin

Posted in Free Insider, MTGOTagged , , , , , ,

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12 thoughts on “Insider: MTGO, The Mathematician and The Psycho

  1. Nice introduction guys. Will your article be weekly?

    Does Jean see any card in DGM that he thinks will be huge in Standard?

    I am particularly looking forward to:

    What Should You Do with Foils on MTGO?

    When I first jumped onto MTGO, I quickly picked up a large amount of Foils for what I thought were great prices. But then I noticed the disparity between non-foils and foils was just not the same as in paper. MTGO Foils often command very little over their counterparts, and there’s just not as big market for ‘pimp’ online.

    I’m still stuck with 40 Foil Shamans, which I know will be good and safe for a very longterm spec, but it tests my patience as I usually like to flip/reinvest within a few months. I also had some Foil Misty Rainforests, shifted a couple of singletons individually, but eventually ended up selling the rest for the same price as non-foil ones, as I just couldn’t find a sufficient market for them.

    The average Foil Bot buylist prices are seemingly pitiful. Often less than a single ticket more than the normal counterpart. Shifting them to humans, individually, takes a fair bit of manual work with days online, dormant with your human ads.

    This is in contrast to paper, where pimping is rife, any vaguely eternal staple that is in foil holds high desirability. Anyhow, I’ll come back to this when the article is actually released.

  2. Thanks for your comment. Your experience with Foils is quite similar to ours, and we feel newcomers should pay attention to what you have just described. For example, we got stuck for over 4 months with 3 copies of Foil ALA Elspeth, Knight-Errant, even though we were trying to sell them with a 3 tix discount, compared to most other bots.

    Some players even agree to trade 1:1 their Foil copies for your regular ones. This shows how illiquid Foils can be online, and we will cover in details when Foils are a good investment, and when to stay away from these (which is quite often!).

  3. Hi, thank you for your introduction. Can you elaborate a bit on what beginners should know when trading on MTGO? I am trading paper for a long time and tried it a bit on MTGO and to my opinion failed because it either takes ages until you get rid of your cards or the Bots scam the last tix out of you because they buylist all too low that one can make profit.

  4. Jeff talking here:

    To Lee Bosley:

    2 articles migth interest you: the one on foils for sure, but also the theory of niche market. Ill cover that part cause even if we don’t do it now, we migth be foil traders later…Some traders specialize in trading only foils and do lot of $. Thing is, you have to know the market…How many particulars are stuck with foils and give them for ridiculous price…There is something there that I feel we should investigate. Also, we always keep an open mind cause more ways to make money usually means more money…

    About the cards I see that could be huge in DGM, I always wait until all spoilers are revealed and we might also write something about it later, but we rarely do big speculation before I studied the meta change. Anyway, except for quick flips (1 tix or 0.5 tix profit) the prerelease is not the best place to make $.

    To Joaquim Neumann: We will write articles (one per week) that will show you how to trade on mtgo, but, a lot of concept will apply to paper world too. We traded both paper and on mtgo and we came to the conclusion it was far easier to trade on mtgo (if you know correctly how to do so). So, you should like our articles. But if you want already something to read, you could read Sébastien post in the forum (portfolio management:tips and caveats) that covers a good part of how we started with a low bankroll and managed it to 5000. This is a good start for beginners, but our articles will go into far more details. Our next goal is 10000 and as we are talking now,we are in the process of starting a bot. So we will for sure talk about this experience later and once again, we will learn the hard way so that our readers will have it easier than us!

    Hope you’ll enjoy! My first article will be on expected value and how you should take it into consideration when trading.

    until next wednesday wish you good trading!


    1. Thanks Jeff.

      I hope with the upcoming new MTGO interface that bots become much easier and cheaper to implement, and maintain. Although not TOO easy, else they’ll be thousands, all undercutting each other. Looking forward to it 🙂

  5. Read a couple of your posts a month ago or so and was really impressed, actually mistook you for Sigmund at first because you names both start with an S and you had incredibly solid posts in terms of professionalism and content.

    I’m glad to see that you are writing insider articles now, as I feel you definitely have knowledge that we could all benefit from.

  6. This. Is. Amazing.

    This is the kind of insight I love to see here. I’ve been toying around with MTGO and this is a great jumping off point.

    1. The floor and ceiling prices are historical prices for the past 12 months approximately. We generally considered two full cycles (or seasons) and we will expand a little more on the spreadsheet soon. One thing to keep in mind if you intend to buy cards from the list is the fact tha the floor prices tend to increase over time for some Modern specs, due to increased popularity. So buying at a little higher price will probably be correct in October (more on this later too). Legacy has shown some strength in Mtgo lately, so we will probably adjust the expected floor prices in the months to come, and ceiling should be higher as well , unless mtgo makes massive reprints. But there is no sign of them intending to do that

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