Welcome QS readers for one of the very last articles in my Nine Months of Portfolio Management series. This article is dedicated to Quick Flips, a specific category of my portfolio during this experience.
I wrote in my very first article here on QS that, to me, there are only three ways to speculate on MTGO.
- Cyclical investments: Mostly Modern positions, and under some circumstances boosters. Returns are usually moderate for a fairly low risk.
- Speculative investments: With no previous history and for any kind of reason you bet that a given card is going to be valuable in the future. Returns are variable and can be very high for a moderate to high risk.
- Quick Flips/Very Short Term investments: These type of opportunities happen every time an event suddenly boost the price of a card and the goal is to ride the wave. Returns are usually low but, if executed well, this type of investment is risk free.
In my Primary Portfolio, about 5%, or 256.28 Tix, of my initial capital were set aside from the beginning for potential Quick Flips. Even if I never used all of this 256 Tix in a single bet, this Quick Flip category could be seen as the biggest position of my portfolio.
At the end of April, the Quick Flips section of my Primary Portfolio had increased by 134% for a profit of 349.66 Tix. Let's talk a little bit more in details about how to take advantage of these Quick Flips and what they did for me during these nine months.
Quick Flip Opportunities
Unlike most of your regular specs, Quick Flips require you to pay particularly attention to MTG news. Being there at the right moment is the most important criteria for this kind of spec. Actually, Quick Flips are not really a spec per say. The goal here is to start riding the trend and to get out early enough--Free tix and zero risk.
Quick Flip opportunities happen thanks to several type of events, maybe more often than you think. Any time a card or a set of cards are put forward, people may be incline to buy that card and generate a hype, whether it is justified or not.
From Daily Events on MTGO to Pro Tour top 8 deck lists, through GPs, SCG tournaments or Travis Woo brews, any specific exposure can cause a spike. Remember Nightveil Specter and Master of Waves after the Pro Tour Theros, or Fist of Suns during the GP Prague?
B&R list announcements also set a very fertile ground for strong hype-based speculations. For example, the B&R announcement last February suddenly put certain cards under the spotlight due to the ban of Deathrite Shaman and the unban of both Bitterblossom and Wild Nacatl, such as Scion of Oona, Mistbind Clique, Knight of the Reliquary and Vengevine
New set spoilers season also does the trick pretty well. Last year during the spoilers season of the three Theros blocks, cards with several colored mana symbols in their mana cost experienced an increase in demand because of the Devotion mechanism, especially Boros Reckoner, which actually spiked twice, during Theros spoilers season and during Journey into Nyx spoilers season because of Iroas, God of Victory. Ral Zarek also briefly spiked when the Inspired mechanism was spoiled.
This hype may only last a dozen of hours, such as with Amulet of Vigor during the PT Born of the Gods, or several months, like with Disrupting Shoal when Travis Woo's Ninja Bear deck took off. Most likely the pressure on prices will apply for several days only, and you usually don't want to hold your Quick Flip specs for more than a day or two.
Two days is actually the time frame I give my Quick Flips when the hype come from tournament results--after two days, prices can really get unstable and may have already come back to their pre-hype prices or you won't find anymore buyer at the newly inflated prices.
Quick Flip vs. Very Short Term Specs
Quick Flips are positions that you hold anywhere from a couple hours to several days, and the goal of these Quick Flips are purely to surf on the hype--I aim to be one of the first to jump on the train and I intend to get off the train at full speed, or at least before it slows down.
The final destination of that train doesn't matter and doesn't interest me at all. Pro Tour coverage and what recently happened with the P9 prices are great examples when you'd want to perform Quick Flips, holding for one or two days, generate some Tix and exit.
On the other hand, very short term specs are positions I'm going to hold for a slightly longer period of time, maybe two or three weeks. When the exposure of a card is more subtle or when I think we won't see a big spike but a slower and sustained increase, I'm inclined to hold the position slightly longer.
For instance, this occurs when old cards incorporate or are anticipated to incorporate with new decks after Standard rotation, thus without the big splash of a Pro Tour or GP coverage.
A good example is last year with Jace, Architect of Thought after M14 release and before the Pro Tour Theros when he was anticipated to be the Planeswalker of choice for control decks. Theros could have made Jace unplayable but, until then, you could have ridden the wave for a very short term spec.
Changes in prize pay out may also induce very short term specs on boosters.
Benefits of Quick Flips
I would definitely recommend to use and abuse of Quick Flips, especially if your bankroll is rather small. Smaller bankrolls can benefit the most from these types of speculations. Some other benefits include:
- Time. Quick Flips are usually the opportunity to grind 20 to 30% profit in no time. If you don't like to have your Tix tied for several weeks or for longer periods of time, this is the type of spec you may want to consider the most.
- Risk free. If you get in fast enough and don't hold your position for too long you are virtually immunized to losses. My advice here is hold your Quick Flip specs for a couple of hours to one or two days, no more. Keeping your position for more than two days can result in greater benefit but also expose you to potential losses. If you are selling too late, you may have a hard time to find a buyer at a decent price.
- Potentially high returns. With Quick Flips, you are usually aiming for moderate returns, but sometimes the hype is simply too strong--you can double or triple you initial bet in less than 48h.
- Growing your bankroll quickly. This is true only if you have a relatively small bankroll. Good returns in a short period of time and with virtually no risk is the type of investment that can make to spur your bankroll to grow real quick. Quick Flips are seemingly unpredictable, but, over the course of a year, you should be able to benefit from many of them.
Limits of Quick Flips
Quick Flips seem to be the perfect investment: no need to hold your positions for long period of time, risk free and with good returns in perspective. However, there're some limits to these Quick Flips and you won't be able to grow a 10,000 Tix bankroll solely based on them.
- Limited Tix investment. Because you are going to chase a card that everybody else wants too, you will find yourself quickly limited in the number of copies you can acquire at a decent price. The lower the price of the card, the lower the total amount of Tix you can invest. Even for a card with a high price tag, it won't be easy to buy for more than 200 Tix of the given card. This is the reason why Quick Flips become less and less interesting as your bankroll grows.
- Not well suited for a big bankroll. If your bankroll is several thousands of Tix big, you may find Quick Flips not very interesting for you and not worth your time. Think that you may have to search for the best bots or humans on the Classified for the best price, that these bots may not have the cards at the expected price or only have one copy instead of the playset advertised, etc... All of this to gain 20 Tix when your bankroll is 10,000 Tix large? Some Quick Flip opportunities may concern expensive cards, such P9 pieces and what we experienced with VMA the past weeks. Besides those, most of the Quick Flip opportunities concern cards with a much lower value.
- Timing. Since it is a matter of hype, often from the release of specific info, you have to be able to get on MTGO when it happens. Sometimes even four hours later it is too late. When the VMA full list was spoiled and revealed not to contain Wasteland, if you were like me and not online at midnight, only getting the news the next morning, it was already too late. No more Wastelands available. Also, if we know what kind of event may trigger a sudden spike of prices, nothing is guaranteed and you may sometimes have to wait for nothing. Not all the B&R list announcements or Pro Tours will allow you to spec on three different cards.
Nine Months of Quick Flips
As I stated in the intro of this article, the Quick Flips section of my Primary Portfolio yielded a nice 134% profit. I didn't keep a detailed track record of all the cards I speculated on, here is a summary from memory.
Boros Reckoner was one of my first target when the Devotion mechanism got spoiled in Theros. I kept the minotaur until the Pro Tour Theros and sold it quickly after it was clear that Mono Red Devotion was not the most popular Devotion choice.
In the fall, many of my Quick Flips included GP and PT winners such as Jace, Architect of Thought, Blood Baron of Vizkopa, Pack Rat and Desecration Demon. Even after the Mono Black Devotion was known to be a thing, cards from the winning deck at GP Dallas bumped up for 48 hours.
Theros and M14 boosters were also part of my Quick Flips, but more short term specs than Quick Flips.
The B&R list changes in February brought some very nice Quick Flip opportunities. I was only able to spec on few copies Scion of Oona and Mistbind Clique. I was already holding some Vengevine, Knight of the Reliquary and Gifts Ungiven that I sold while prices were high.
If you think about it, this Quick Flips category worked as a mini portfolio that started with 256 Tix and more than doubled after only nine months, with no real investment or speculation--only Quick Flips.
Finally, I said that Quick Flips are virtually risk free, and they are if you maintain a strong discipline. During my experience, two Quick Flip positions made me lose money. Why? Because I wanted to wait a little bit too long with cards that spiked only due to hype and not real trend.
During the Born of the Gods spoiler season, when Karametra, God of Harvests and Mogis, God of Slaughter were revealed, Trostani, Selesnya's Voice and Rakdos, Lord of Riots spiked briefly. They were good opportunities to gain a few Tix in a day or two. I effectively bought these two Return to Ravnica legends, but failed to sell them soon enough. I kept them longer thinking they could sustain they hyped price and even see play. I was wrong and because I didn't stick to the basic Quick Flip strategy, I lost some Tix.
In conclusion, it is certainly always profitable to keep some Tix available in your account. With a well targeted spec, you will surely be able to generate a substantial amount of Tix without committing your Tix for too long.
Especially for smaller bankrolls, I definitely recommend keeping a significant part of it as free Tix. It might as well be the safest and best way to grow your bankroll, thus avoiding frustrations of long and sometimes detrimental speculations.
With two Standard Pro Tours and Khans of Tarkir spoilers lining up for the next two months, opportunities for Quick Flips will be around. Keep an eye open for new deck techs and new cards/mechanisms from Khans of Tarkir. Multi colored mana symbols in the casting cost of Khans of Tarkir cards would immediately set on fire prices of cards with Devotion such as the Gods or Master of Waves, for instance.
Thank you for reading,