Insider: Magic Finance – a Story, a Path, a Choice

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"One more into the fray,

Into the last good fight I'll ever know

Live and Die on this day....

Live and Die on this day...."

I don't know what it is about these philosophical messages, but damn do they ever hit me somewhere deep inside. It's a subtle reminder that even the small things are what build up into grandiose symphonies of sound and separate themselves from the cacophony of just clanging metal on metal.

Much like Magic: The Finance.

That poem from The Grey is epic in and of itself, but then add Liam Neeson with his gravelly bellow to the overall soundscape of a moment like that, and it just becomes iconic. "How bad do you want it?" it almost taunts. Insinuating that the person on the receiving end is not prepared to understand the depths of pain, weariness, and exertion that must be expelled from the body as one climbs to the top. Just remember--the top is a lonely place. Do not go there for comfort.

It highlights for me just another reason how this game of ours is exactly what you make of it. Know what you want as you go in, and you will be able to achieve feats unimaginable to most.

Are there riches beyond belief? Maybe. Often times, the visible examples of wealth in the Magic community are small--the massive collections sit behind safety and security. As a group, we are not very flashy. Instead we resort to playing decks that let us show off our bling. Not because it will get the most compliments, but when we sit down and shuffle the foil whatever and our opponents' eyes bulge a little, it's about the, "Yes, that's mine. I worked my ass off for that."

We really don't want anyone to know how much we have. And who can blame us? Recent issues with Magic have once again shed a rather large spotlight on the fact that this is a money game. Cards can turn into dollar bills at any moment. Again emphasizing the point that it's not about how much you get paid on a card.

It's all profit if you paid nothing for it.

There was a recent break-in that made headlines back where I call home. Some know, others don't--but the South East is where I cut my teeth. I made some mistakes. I made some excellent strides. The one thing I have learned though is that the South East looks out for each other. Word spreads far and wide about break-ins and thefts. It's something about the mentality in the South.

"It's ours. We worked hard for it. How dare you try to take it."

I'm sure this hits hard for you, too. Most players are just people, working your average 9-5. Getting paid twice a month, and occasionally wanting to buy the random booster box or foil for their Commander decks. There is a sense of pride in the Magic community, and the people who undermine that consistently think they can get away with it.

It's such an odd thought. How exactly do you plan to get away with it, when the Magic community is so small? Oh, it looks big but trust me. It's not. Word of the Alpharetta, GA break-in reached friends of mine in Michigan within about five hours via Facebook.

It was clear as day in my feed, and honestly--I wasn't surprised.

I bring this up for only one reason.

If you are a thief, a liar, a cheat, a swindler, a hoodwink, a burglar, a bandit, a pilferer, an opportunist, an embezzler, a pick pocket--any of these things--I have just one question for you: "Why?"

Why are you all of these things? Why must you take something else that someone worked so hard for, climbed so long for, and sweated through the throngs of trade binders for?

Why are you doing all of this, when all you have to do is the right things and players will flock to you?

A strange thing happened during my days in Atlanta. First, I remember walking into Neutral Ground Atlanta when it was owned by the Dousts, and I happened to walk in right as Jim Sorel was opening a booster case. My son, who is now 15, was still in a stroller. I think it was sometime around the Urza's Destiny release.  Jim had bought a case, and was selling the store singles they needed in order to subsidize his case.

"Wow! What a great idea!"  I thought. This event was the inspiration for myself getting involved in Magic finance. The thought process of cost vs. yield was exciting and affordably building a large amount of inventory when hype and demand was high was amazingly intoxicating. Years later, Jim would not only open Super Games and become a force to be reckoned with, but during a conversation he would give me this gem:

"This is a business that rewards you for doing the right things. 1) Charge a fair price 2) Give fair values. That's it. People will come to you in droves if you just do those things."

Now that Modern season is upon us, remember this--in life, love & the pursuit--it all comes down to one thing: It's not always the results you get--there are many destinations to choose from.  It's about how you got there. Choose wisely.

Magic: The Finance offers many avenues to explore. There are numerous ways to climb the rungs and make something out of nothing. I have found Modern and casual Magic to be one of the best. Competitive Magic singles are always going to be the easiest to flip and flip quickly, but sometimes the road less traveled will offer the better vistas, prices, and conversations. Knowing your community, remembering the whys and hows of it, will keep your vision clear and your steps going in the right direction.

You don't have to have the lowest prices, beg, cheat, or steal in order to make this a success-filled venture. You won't need to cut the throat of another binder grinder, card store, or competitor to achieve what you have to accomplish.

What you do need is to have a sense of where you are, where you have come from, and the people you surround yourself with. Forgetting what the average player needs or wants is the greatest of all death sentences. Putting yourself first, before the players you deal with is the greatest of all suicide pacts.

All of these are lessons that will make the time, energy, sweat and tears you put into climbing to the top worthwhile. Enjoy the camaraderie. Enjoy making money. Just remember this game is already set up in your favor. It's the work you put into it that gets the added benefits. The results you get are all determined by how you work. How you dive once more into that fray. Back into the one good fight you'll ever know. Live and die by your choices. Live and die by your choices.

-Till Next Week

(Note: The events that took place this week are real and serious. Next week, I will dive into "Event Horizon II - Sideboard Cards for Your Radar" as the lead-up to Modern season is almost fully upon us.)

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Dylan Beckham

Dylan has been involved in Magic: The Gathering since the heyday of The Dark. Continually invested in the community, he's been a Pro Tour Player, Trader, Judge, Tournament Organizer, Volunteer, and Vendor. Currently involved with the day to day operations of selling online, Dylan has brought his experience to Quiet Speculation to make you a better investor. Hailing from the Atlanta area, and now part of the Dallas scene - he's often at big events sourcing cards or discussing Life, the Universe, and Everything. Have a question? Feel free to comment, message, or email anytime.

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Posted in Finance, Free Insider

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4 thoughts on “Insider: Magic Finance – a Story, a Path, a Choice

  1. I’m with Corbin on this one (especially since I live in the South East (or really just the South)). I’m amazed at how many players come to me requesting cards and tell me stories about how one shop/person screwed them over and that they enjoy dealing with me because I won’t do that. There’s a reason all the writers on this site have repeated the mantra that Jim told you and why we can all agree it’s a successful strategy.

  2. Funny thing is I take the same idea and apply it to myself. I’ll never rip anyone (as I’ve been ripped before), I always give fair value and give them the reasoning why. Thats why my turnover for my binder is amazing. Gotta love the magic community

  3. Thanks, folks, for the wonderful comments.

    As the news broke in the Atlanta Magic Facebook group, I felt the need to really talk about this. Yes, there’s short cuts that can get you a rung or two up the ladder, faster than you would have – but at what cost? We all know each other so well, and ostracization/boycotting can happen for very inconsequential reasons even. Why give such a universal reason for no one to ever do business with you? Even non singles related, the impact can go far and wide. As I understand things – there was even an adjustment to SCG’s standings of season point leaders in the wake of this event. So, wouldn’t that tell you the cost is just too damn high?

    This is one of the few places that just doing the right thing is so easy to do. Thanks for echoing that sentiment with me. I love knowing that I’m not alone in how I feel about things.

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