Welcome back, Traders!
This article's focus will be on preparing your trade binders, whether for regular FNM events or a large GP or PT. It is critical to know what you have and what its current value is. Just as important is how you present it.
Binder vs. Box
While it seems obvious, there are many differences between a binder and a box of trade stock. Binders are usually more organized and they display your stock in a much cleaner fashion. They allow you to keep stock of what you have easier and can also help keep track of what you're missing.
Trade boxes are fine for low-value stuff or bulk/near bulk cards you have tons of. It doesn't make sense to take up three pages of binder space with the same uncommon.
But when you want to trade with people, pulling out a box sends certain signals.
- This person isn't organized (i.e. they're new to trading).
- This person likely doesn't know all that they have.
- This person probably has mostly bulk or crap.
#1 will attract sharks who actually don't mind #3 as much because they believe you're likely to have a few hidden $5-10 cards they can trade other bulk for. #2 means you're unlikely to notice when something goes missing (which attracts thieves).
One way to avoid these issues is to keep a binder with pictures of the cards and a box to store them. I've seen this approach from a few stores, and I like it a lot. It prevents people from pulling stuff out of your binder which may or may not end back up in it, it doesn't stretch pages (which happens when people put multiple copies of a card in the page to consolidate space), and it gives a clean, professional look.
The downside is that this strategy doesn't let someone know how many copies of a card you have (which requires you to either keep a running tally in your head or constantly check) and doesn't present the condition of the card (many traders who sell online want NM only).
Choosing Your Binder
This seems like a pretty simple concept, but there are quite a lot of options out there. The table below will list the most common ones along with the pros and cons.
|Type of Binder||Pros||Cons|
|Standard 3-Ring (Round)||
|Standard 3-Ring (D-Ring)||
This covers the majority of your binders. You can always get the trapper keeper three-ring binders, which will prevent cards from falling out if flipped upside down, but my personal preference is for the Monster Binders. I put all my Standard and high-end Legacy/Modern in Monster binders with one card per pocket, in an older sleeve.
Building Your Binder
There are two camps of binder organization, each with its own merits.
- Allows browser to quickly determine if the desired card is available.
- Looks clean and professional.
- Allows players with color preferences to focus on certain areas.
- Allows owner to quickly find out which card he's out of.
- Forces trade partner to peruse whole binder, which may cause them to find previously unconsidered cards (similar to the candy placement at your local grocery store).
I fall squarely in the Organized category. I have all binders organized by color and separate binders by format. This allows me to focus on what my trade partner wants. When dealing with most FNM traders I only need to bring in the Standard binder (and leaving the more valuable Legacy binder in the car reduces risk of theft).
This also prevents me from "overwhelming" some newer players who will often fixate on something expensive which they can't afford and then they give up on stuff in their price range. It also prevents the annoying, "I have $60 worth of these random Standard cards...can I get your dual land for my EDH deck," as well as the typical fallout after the "No thanks" that ensues.
Work With What You Have
I understand that players come from all sorts of socioeconomic places. We have some with full time professional jobs who can and will dump $400+ dollars a month into the game all the way down to middle school kids who might get a pack a month after saving up extra lunch money (I was in this category as a kid).
It's easy to give up on your own binder when you see the guy with four of everything. Just keep in mind that the two easiest ways to build up a collection are time and money. Work with whichever you have.
I've seen plenty of younger players build up solid collections by being shrewd traders and keeping on top of price changes. If you're in middle school or high school you likely have more free time than a lot of the professionals. So when you see a card spiking or think one will try to get all the copies you can. From the professional's standpoint, don't be afraid to pull out your smartphone and teach those whippersnappers a lesson.
Tradeable vs. Not Tradeable
I have a few friends who go by the creed that "everything is for trade...at the right price." While this creed sounds like the one you want to follow, the problem is "the right price" is incredibly vague and highly unlikely to occur many times.
What they end up doing is putting all their stuff into one binder, except some cards really aren't for trade unless the offer is so astronomically in their favor that they can't justify refusing. As you'd guess this has yet to occur.
What it does do is upset their trade partner when they finally find something they really wanted only to find out it's not for trade.
This is even worse when people put cards with strong sentimental value in their trade binders (the first rare they ever got, their favorite card, the card they got signed by the artist they met that one time). Guess what, your trade partner doesn't share that sentimental value and they won't pay you for yours.
I personally have Not-for-Trade Binders (where I keep my personal play sets) which I don't bring to events. Everything in my trade binders is tradeable. I've seen plenty of trades collapse because a lynchpin to a trade was in that "not really tradeable" category. Keep it simple, if it's in your trade binder that you hand to someone, it's for trade. If you go into a trade with that mindset you're far more likely to actually complete a trade.
To Bling or Not to Bling
This is the strategy of putting all your valuable stuff in the front of your binder. Often this is meant to sort of show off as well as make it easy for the traders who are only looking for big ticket items. I see this in a lot of newer traders binders, with often the first page including the best of what they have, followed by a couple of pages of random Standard rares, followed by uncommons and commons.
The problem with this strategy is that it discourages people from really looking at your binder. If you organize this way, many traders will look at the front few pages and if they don't see anything they need on page one or two they just say, "sorry I don't see anything I need."
While this is helpful when your goal is to conduct large quantities of trades, when you have a smaller binder you don't need lots of trades; you need a few good ones to get what you want or need. This strategy also tends to be favored by those with the "disorganized" binder approach mentioned previously.
Know What's in Your Binder
This serves two purposes. First it helps conduct trades quickly when people desperately need cards before a tournament (maybe they haven't finished their deck yet or just discovered they forgot something at home). These trades can often be the most lucrative, especially if they're seeking something hard to find.
Two, it protects you from potential thieves. After all, who makes a better target: the person who knows what they have when they hand you their trade binder or the person who has no idea? Hopefully the answer is obvious...