What Are Bitcoins?

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In addition to the cryptocurrency of choice of Silk Road and other doers of illegal deeds and maligned by world governments and investors alike for its defiance of conventional currency rules, Bitcoins are darn useful. You can buy them and sell them for cash, or set aside part of your PC to perform operations in exchange for fractions of a Bitcoin per operation to "mine" them. Spiking to nearly $1,000 per "coin" in early 2014, the exchange rate is still hovering around $1,000 for 3 bitcoins - not bad. Well, unless you're the guy who bought two Papa Johns Pizzas for 10,000 bitcoins like one of the currency's early adopters did. At over $3,000,000 in today's money, those pizzas can't have been worth it. It was Papa Johns for crap's sake.

Still, Bitcoin and Magic: the Gathering will be forever intertwined thanks to the "Mtgox" story.

"Mtgox" was the "Magic: the Gathering online exchange" which was originally set up as a Tokyo-based MODO trading platform. However, the developer, Jed McCaleb, soon grew bored of MODO shenanigans and moved on to bitcoins, a sexy new currency that tech-savvy people were talking about. By 2010, Mtgox was handling 70% of all bitcoin transactions. However, it was set up like a Ponzi scheme and in 2014, the site closed down and $450,000,000 in investor's money was... missing. Some of the coins were later "found" but a ton of them went missing and it's unclear how or why. The wiki page is a good read.

How famous is this story? This famous.

This was Jeopardy a few nights ago. Magic keeps making the news, just never in the way we want.

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Jason Alt

Jason Alt is a value trader and writer. He is Quiet Speculation's self-appointed web content archivist and co-captain of the interdepartmental dodgeball team. He enjoys craft microbrews and doing things ironically. You may have seen him at magic events; he wears black t-shirts and has a beard and a backpack so he's pretty easy to spot. You can hear him as co-host on the Brainstorm Brewery podcast or catch his articles on He is also the Community Manager at and writes the odd article there, too. Follow him on Twitter @JasonEAlt unless you don't like having your mind blown.

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