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?
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.
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.
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.
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