*EDIT – My apologies if you’re just seeing this Friday morning. I did my best to get this out by Thursday AM, but commitments caused delay. - Tarkan
Hello QS readers! We have an exciting weekend coming up with Pro Tour SOI, and I hope to offer what insight I can to increase your odds of financial success. Be sure to tune into the QS Pro Tour coverage, and groups such as the MTGFinance Central Facebook page, as that will help you be one step ahead of surging demand and potential price hikes.
At this point, you should have all of your speculative buys in hand. There are plenty of writers here (such as Adam Yurchick) and elsewhere that have laid out the cards and decks they believe will benefit from the PT, should you decide to make some last minute buys. I’m not a metagame expert, rather I want to outline financial strategies to help you (hopefully) reap rewards. I do have a couple of ideas for cards I think are prime for movement which I’ll touch on later, but the focus will be primarily finance strategy. I’m not reinventing the wheel, here. Much of this you may already know, but hopefully there are a couple of insights that help you this weekend. With that, let’s begin with step 1:
Sell, Sell, Sell!
If there’s one point that I want to drive home the hardest, it’s that you need to sell into your gains this weekend! The PT creates a fever pitch of buyer activity, and during this PT hype, it’s a sellers market. The data certainly backs this up. Here are a few sample spike trends from previous pro tours.
PT Battle For Zendikar
PT Dragon’s of Tarkir
You can see the inflection points during the Pro Tours, followed by a gradual price correction. Rest assured, there will be spikes. Take advantage of this opportunity, particularly with buylists.
The most interesting data point to notice, though, is that while common sense says you need to respond to spikes as soon as possible in order to take advantage of the best prices…the charts do suggest a slightly different story. If you are not able to catch a spike during the event weekend on vendor platforms such as TCGPlayer or eBay, you may still have a small window to move cards to buylists, which will sometimes tick up even higher after the event. This is due to large vendors being bought out and needing to restock, and also because new card demand will sometimes require a market saturation period for players to really dive into the hot decks.
Make no mistake, though - you should not be leisurely about selling this weekend. Take advantage of the hype and lock in your profits ASAP. Buylists provide you with a baseline guaranteed buyer. If you don’t catch a price spike immediately, and notice a ‘race to the bottom’ with sellers attempting to undercut each other on platforms such as TCGPlayer, then calculate your net income after fees. If that number falls within 10% of buylist, I recommend selling to the buylist. Consider that 10% a premium for a guaranteed sale. If you’re confident you can catch the buying wave, then by all means take advantage of it. Just remember that there can be an opportunity cost associated with attempting to engage in the undercutting game.
Begin Early and Stay Informed
QS will be hard at work bringing you constant up-to-date coverage from the floor of the PT. If possible, you should be listening. Being ready at 6am PST/9am EST Friday morning and listening throughout the day will give you an educated edge in knowing what vendor activity is occurring. Understandably, not everyone will be able to do this. But if you can, you should! At the very least, stay as informed as possible, keeping your eyes and ears on coverage. The individuals with the knowledge ahead of the pack will have the greatest opportunity for success.
Take advantage of OPM
In my last article, I introduced you to the concept of Other People’s Money. That is, 3rd party resources that you can leverage for your bottom-line. For the heavy speculators out there, you may not hit high on all your buys- but that doesn’t mean you have to lose. Cards that are played but aren’t the spotlight of the event still can have an opportunity to see even the slightest gains. You should take advantage of this.
For example, take a look at Utter End -
In the weeks leading up to the PT, buylists were flat at 0.75. However, after showing up as a 1-of in the T8 of early iterations of Dark Jeskai at PT BFZ, End inconspicuously saw a small buylist bump to 0.90 the days following. While that spec may seemingly not have panned out quite so well, taking advantage of vendor OPM credit bumps would have actually turned a little profit if you bought at the floor. At the very least, you could've been at break even. Be sure to look at every card that performs well at the event…even the smallest gains can be leveraged to your advantage.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, you should have your specs in your binders already. If you don’t, and you want to jump in on cards that begin to move, you must be prepared to act quickly. One strategy that can help with this is having cards you believe will perform already placed in your online shopping carts. This can help you move quickly and avoid delays that may be the difference between you completing a purchase, and a card being bought from under you.
I want to stress however, that you should NOT buy into spiking cards – especially if your intentions are purely financial. You have nothing to gain by purchasing cards as their price is inflating. Part of being prepared is accepting that you likely will not catch some spikes, and you should leave them for the next impulsive buyer.
Even if you need cards for play, I recommend simply demonstrating patience, and purchasing at the lower, post-hype price. Take a look at the data. More often than not, cards will slide back to - or near - their pre-spike price. It's very easy to caught up in the frenzy so don't let that happen. If you firmly believe you can catch a card fast enough, by all means, shop away. Not all vendors play nice, however, and some will cancel your orders due to the card spike. You must be prepared for this possibility, should you decide to buy.
Finally, being prepared also means knowing what you want to buy. It’s important that you create a list of the cards that you want to look out for. This way, if any do spike, you’ll be ready. Be sure you look at the winning SCG Invitational lists. The past two SCG events have provided a picture of what is in store for Standard. You should research the cards in those winning decks, to discern what from them may break out. You should also consider what cards could be metagamed against those decks, and which may break out. Also note rarity – mythics tend to have a higher spike ceiling than rares.
For myself, there are a few cards in particular that I will be keeping my eye on:
(*Disclosure: I own multiple playsets of these)
I’m quite the advocate for Advocate. He’s done considerable work in the Bant Company lists that have had multiple top finishes. He’s also demonstrated strong organic demand with his price history:
This is my top pick for the event. It's possible Advocate is the next Den Protector, and pricing could follow as such.
Another pick that I believe could see a great percentage bump is this little Slayer:
Hidden Dragonslayer has seen a resurgence, thanks to its part in Bant Company lists. it also has the added benefit of being a Human, a very strong tribe at the moment. Its price trend is exactly what we want to see – organic growing demand based on a potent deck.
If you have this one sitting in your binder or deck, I would pull them out and be prepared to sell.
This is a nice little bulk rare from Todd Anderson’s UR Control deck that has been in the T8 at both events. While I certainly don’t expect a massive price explosion, if the deck holds its own at the Tour, a bump to $0.80 or more would be nice growth. Bulk rares that are seeing play are fantastic penny stocks. When they pop, they offer a nice hedge against any stagnant positions you may be holding (don't forget about that buylist credit!)
With this article, I’ve tried to present a strategy for you to maximize profits during the PT. There will be spikes, have no doubt. You should have your assets in hand, and ready to sell into surging prices. If you miss a spike, don’t fret. Even your “losing” specs could actually be winners if you take advantage of credit bump bonuses. Data also suggests that you have a small window of opportunity post-PT, when buylists are catching up and demand spreads. If you’re deciding to buy during the event, start early, stack your shopping cart ahead of time, and remain sharply informed and on top of coverage. Pro Tours are always exciting and some of the best opportunities to prosper. Good luck with the event and sell, sell, sell!
What are you watching for the PT? Any cards you're convinced will pop? Let's discuss in the comments.