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With Wizards constantly changing things like set rotation, the way promotional cards work, and what type of products they release, there are plenty of opportunities to make money. Identifying these opportunities is a skill in and of itself, and much of the writing on Magic finance focuses on this dimension, for good reason.
Recently I've been thinking more about the other side of the coin, how to turn your cards back into cash. There are many ways you might acquire cards, whether through trading, purchasing to speculate, or buying a collection. However you ended up with them, the way you sell them is important.
Buylisting is the fastest and easiest way to cash out. Today I'll talk a little about my process, and some basic things I do to try to maximize the output.
The first thing I do is to categorize the cards I have to sell. These are the groups I usually sort everything into:
First up, we have the cards worth actual money. If you bought a collection, these are the obviously valuable cards you'll pull out on the first pass. Many speculation targets that you've decided to sell will fall in this category. There also might be trade targets or random cards from your own collection.
Next we have the cards that are above bulk but not very valuable. Many of your $2 and $3 cards will be pulled in the first pass, but some will also end up here as well. Usually when I'm sorting cards, I make a pile of cards that I need to look up. Most of the time, they fall into this category.
Commons & Uncommons
After I've sorted all the rares and mythics, I turn to the commons and uncommons. Depending on the collection you acquired, you might have done this already in the earlier stages.
There are lots of articles out there about which cards to look out for, but a general rule I like to follow is to pull any card that sees play in a competitive format. Those are the cards dealers will generally buy off of you. That is certainly not the only factor but it’s a good starting point.
After sorting out the categories above, you'll be left with bulk. These can be difficult to work with, but dealers will always buy your stack of bulk rares, and most will buy common and uncommon bulk by the thousands.
Generally, I like to amass lots of these types of cards and then move them all at once. I’m that guy bringing a dolly into a major event with all my bulk to move. Now that I have a store to work with I find this less necessary, but I still do it from time to time.
Choosing a Vendor
I’ve been writing a lot on this topic the past couple weeks, but let me summarize my thoughts. The first thing to do is determine which dealers will give you the best deal based on what you're selling. If you're moving high-profile Legacy staples, you probably want to go to someone different than if you were selling promo foils.
Learning which dealers are most interested in what comes from experience, but you can always talk to other players or just go to each dealer and check their prices.
If you want to save time and not deal with multiple vendors, then decide which one will give you the best prices overall. I’ve found that most vendors average out to a similar amount, but base your decision on what you're moving.
Don’t be afraid to deal with multiple vendors though. There haven't been many times I stopped my selling escapades after the first dealer. The best place to move cards is somewhere like a Grand Prix or the TCG Player Max Point Championship, where many dealers will be set up. Usually I hit up at least three different places.
By selling to multiple vendors, you are leveraging the cards you have available. Just because the first two vendors didn’t want to purchase something from you, that doesn’t mean those cards are worthless. All it means is that those two dealers didn’t need what you were offering. Also, your willingness to visit multiple booths will give you power to say no to offers that don't match your expectations.
I want to emphasize the final stage of my process described above, sorting commons and uncommons. Sorting these cards is commonly referred to as sorting bulk or picking bulk. This skill is not to be underestimated.
Plenty of nonrares are worth money at the dealer booths. Qasali Pridemage and Slippery Bogle are two great examples of cards I moved this past weekend, but there are tons more. Taking the time to do this will make you lots of money you'd otherwise miss out on.
The past weekend I moved some random foils and spec targets, but mostly cards I picked from bulk that I had left to the side and forgotten about. I made almost as much money on the sorted bulk as I did on my eleven Goblin Guides and my Tarmogoyf.
Speaking of Tarmogoyf, it’s trending down right now. Most buy prices are below $100 and many sell prices are around $140. Goblin Guide, for its part, is stable at its current price point around $25.
The main point of this article is to highlight the importance of all types of cards you can sell. Sometimes you need to move 60 Tron lands while other times you move more prominent staples. Don’t be afraid to let a dealer make quarter or fifty cent piles. Those cards add up.
TCG Player Max Point Championship
Formerly this event was called the Invitational and it was an amazing multi-format event. While I loved the old Standard-Modern split, the new incarnation is still the best value tournament of the season.
Here’s the breakdown. If you go 5-2, that puts you into Day 2 of the event and you win a minimum of $200. That means if you have lots of points for two byes, you only need a record of 3-2 to make the cut.
For a high-value tournament, that's not a terribly difficult feat to achieve unless you're running bad. Let me tell you a little about my losing streak. I promise to not be too negative and focus on things we can learn from my experience.
Just as a reminder, I played the 75 from my article last week. Check it out for more info on the B/W Aggro list, as well as some pointers.
Rounds 1 & 2 - Bye
Round 3 - Abzan Aggro (Draw)
Even though this was the first round I played on the day, it was likely the best match. Game one I came out the gates quickly and curved out. He had an awkward draw with too many three- and four-cost spells, as Abzan Aggro is prone to getting sometimes, and I beat him easily.
Game two was very close but I chose not to play around the Dromoka's Command I thought he was bluffing, and he turned out to have it. The line I took involved attacking with Drana, Liberator of Malakir and 1/1 thopter tokens, to put him on a two-turn clock. It ended in disaster when Drana was no longer in the picture.
Game three was amazing as well. We both battled each other with Sorin, Solemn Visitor, but since I drew mine after dealing with his I was ahead. When time was called I had four 1/1 thopters and he had no threats other than Shambling Vent.
Starting out my tournament with a draw was not how I envisioned it, especially since it looked like all I needed was another turn or two to close the game.
Round 4 - B/W Enchantment Control (Loss)
My luck lately has forced me up against direct counters to my list. In this case, I had to fight against Silkwrap, Stasis Snare, Languish and Planar Outburst, alongside Gideon, Ally of Zendikar.
Even though this is a tough matchup, it was largely determined by variance. Game one I mulliganed to four, and game two I couldn't find a third land, leading to swift defeat. It would have been interesting to see whether I could beat this matchup if I had drawn normal hands, but I’ll never know.
Round 5 - G/u Eldrazi Ramp (Win)
Sometimes you just need a confidence booster. After winning game one on turn four, my confidence was definitely boosted. I think even a slower draw would have led to victory because my opponent only drew one ramp spell and that wasn’t going to cut it against any type of aggressive pressure.
Game two wasn’t much better for him. I boarded up to four Duress to cut his hand down and with no ramping, it didn’t end any differently than the first game.
Round 6 - Jeskai Black (Win)
Having good matchups against both Abzan and Jeskai is a great place to be in the meta right now. That’s why despite not doing that well, I still love this deck.
One of the key features about this particular list was that he included Thunderbreak Regent and Draconic Roar. Those in combination with Soulfire Grand Master are a potent combination.
It was that assortment of cards that allowed my opponent to gain scads of life in game two and get far out of reach. Games one and three, however, I had an aggressive assault backed up by a couple removal spells and my opponent couldn’t thwart my onslaught.
Round 7 - Rally (Loss)
Ending your day against a professional Magic player like Jon Stern is no cake walk. Nevertheless, I was excited to meet and play against him. I didn’t think these newer versions of Rally were a bad matchup for me, but this match was an eye opener.
Game one was great and I felt in control for many turns. I kept a solid opener, a change of pace from most of the rest of the event, and put a lot of early pressure on him. The problem was that I didn’t draw any good follow-up plays, just a lot of lands.
Even so, I had him down to three life with lethal in the air the following turn. His Collected Company was his only hope and he found the tools he needed. With a Zulaport Cutthroat on board, all he needed was a Nantuko Husk to stabilize. He hit one and I couldn’t keep the pressure on with my plethora of lands.
Game two would have been perfect except for one minor miscalculation on my part. With an opening hand of two Hallowed Moonlight, I felt I should sculpt my game plan around defense rather than offense. Things were going according to plan, and even though I didn’t have removal for his Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, I felt good about the game.
When my Duress saw his hand and took the Collected Company, I felt even better. Unfortunately I didn’t consider how the discard would put the forth card in his graveyard, allowing him to flip Jace and flash back Company. This all hinged on him top-decking a land, but it’s still something that I should have considered.
Of course he draws the land and my play of Chief of the Edge ends up cutting me deeply as he flashes back CoCo and my double Hallowed Moonlights sit idly in my hand.
From there, I was very behind. I still had a chance if I ripped another white source to start casting the removal in my hand, but it wasn't to be.
Shaking It Off
This tournament was not for me to win. At every turn, I didn’t have the right amount of lands and was forced to mulligan my way out of some games. Not making the second day weighed on me for a bit, but I pushed through it. My deck was great and well positioned in the field. Some other players like Sam Black were playing different versions of the same deck I piloted and they did quite well.
Unlucky draws happen to everyone, that’s just part of the game. What happens after those tournaments determines whether the next tournament will follow suit. Keep your head up and keep battling. If you made mistakes (and you likely did), think through them and keep learning.
For me, the line I took in game two of the final round was wrong. It relied on me drawing white mana, which never happened. I needed to present the best game plan I could with the resources I was given instead of relying on possible resources in the future.
Sure, if I had drawn the necessary land, I would have been in a great position, but I needed to plan for that not happening as well. Playing to your outs is one thing. Sculpting your game plan the wrong way is a different thing altogether.
And remember, when your tournament doesn’t go as planned, use some Magic finance and make some money. Every trip is better when you come home with more money than when you left. So, play tight and don’t let your losses keep you from another type of victory.
Until next time,
Unleash the Force!
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