Did you make any profit on this card? I sure didn’t. My bets were on a variety of other potential role players that didn’t quite make the cut: Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and Inspiring Statuary were my primary targets, alongside a modest set of Metalwork Colossus. On the surface, it doesn't look like I did all that great.
However, even though I missed the biggest cards of the weekend, you may be surprised to find out that I about broke even and possibly even made a small bit of profit from this event. How, you may ask? It’s all about timing.
Step 1: Buying
First, you have to have your bets placed. I wrote about this a couple weeks ago. In order to capitalize most on Pro Tour price spikes it is absolutely critical to have cards on order in advance of the event. Ideally you have cards in hand already heading into Friday, but even a few strategic purchases the Wednesday or Thursday before can still be timely enough to help you sell near the peak.
For this step, I merely followed the Twitterverse. People were all over Inspiring Statuary last week. Early on in the week Saffron Olive tweeted that this was his pick for breaking out at the Pro Tour and that’s when I picked up my first set.
Then immediately afterwards I started monitoring sets on eBay to see if they were selling—they were. By Thursday, there was just one playset left under $7 and the rest were $8 and up. I purchased the one sub-$7 set left, making this my second playset. Finally, Thursday night I noticed sets hitting double digits, and I purchased three more sets from Card Shark—an oft-overlooked website—for about $6.40 a playset.
My other Pro Tour bets were smaller in size, and I had all the cards in my possession by the time the Pro Tour began. I made a promise to myself that I would wait and see how things unfolded during the Pro Tour before selling anything, no matter how the Star City Games Open unfolded the week prior. Thus my bets were placed.
Step 2: Monitoring Markets
As I mentioned above, once I decided to make a bet on Inspiring Statuary, I immediately began watching prices on eBay. I usually do this by “watching” the cheapest two or three playsets, checking my watch list frequently to see if things are selling and at what rate.
Also, here’s a neat little tip: try following the listings that belong to MTG Mint Card and Hobby4Sure. They both price their cards identically and they update their prices very frequently. As in, multiple times per day frequently. It’s clear they have someone watching the market closely, and they aren’t shy about trying to extract as much value as they possibly can.
You can see that as of this article’s writing (Saturday at 3:00PM Eastern Time) they were selling their playsets at $23.99. But if I look at their pricing history, I can see all their price changes over the past few days.
Just before the Pro Tour they were priced at $4.39. Then they upped to $7.99, $9.99, and $13.59 all on Thursday alone. This was precisely when I was watching, and it was what tipped me to pick up a few additional copies from Card Shark while they were still cheap.
On these latter two cards, not much changed price-wise over the weekend, since they didn’t get nearly the same amount of hype on social media. This is why Twitter is such a valuable tool in MTG Finance. The site helps you stay on top of what people are speculating on and when. I used it to my full advantage, and it very likely enabled me to stay profitable despite disappointing results from my picks.
Step 3: Selling
Guess how many Standard cards I have left in my inventory coming out of Pro Tour weekend (not counting a few foil Animation Module which I bought for a longer-term play). Answer: zero.
I own zero Standard cards.
Every single card I purchased in time to sell during Pro Tour weekend I made sure to sell during that same weekend. The reason should be fairly obvious: the best time to sell Pro Tour breakouts is almost always Pro Tour weekend. One look at the graph for Metalwork Colossus is all you need.
Just look at how the card spiked during Pro Tour Kaladesh and then again leading up to Pro Tour Aether Revolt. Then following the spikes, the card’s price drops off fairly rapidly as supply returns to the market. Smuggler's Copter did the exact same thing during Pro Tour Kaladesh. Even though the Vehicle remained dominant in Standard, it never returned to its Pro Tour peak price. The card just listlessly drifted downward up until its banning in Standard, never to return to its $18ish glory again.
The same thing will happen to all the cards that spiked during Pro Tour Aether Revolt. Therefore, I make it a priority to sell everything. It doesn’t matter if a card didn’t break out as planned, it still needs to be sold in order to maximize value. Even though I never really saw it on camera, I still sold my Glint-Sleeve Siphoners over the weekend. No Metalwork Colossus decks in the entire field? Doesn’t matter, I’m selling. Inspiring Statuary showing up at top tables? Sell! Oh, it fell a little short of Top 8? Still sell!
It doesn’t matter what happens, my goal during a Pro Tour is to sell all of my Standard bets. There’s a wise saying on Wall Street: “Never turn a trade into an investment.” I think that quote holds true for Magic as well.
If you plan on speculating on a card for Pro Tour hype, then make sure you follow through on your thesis and sell during the Pro Tour. Don’t convince yourself the card has EDH potential and could break out in Frontier. None of that matters. What matters during Pro Tour weekend is that there are only a set number of copies of a given card in stock over the weekend and it is critical your copies make it during this period of scarcity.
The result of this strategy? Well, I lost a little bit on the Siphoner and the Colossus since they didn’t break out. I think after fees, my net loss on those cards was probably a few bucks. But I guarantee these will become cheaper over the next couple months, so I’m happy to cut my losses when I could.
As for Inspiring Statuary, I’ll let the results do the talking for me. When I search, “4x Inspiring Statuary” on eBay, view Sold Listings, and sort “Price + Shipping: Highest First,” I can see what playsets sold for the most over the past month or so. My playsets sold for the fourth and sixth most out of the all sets sold on eBay over the weekend—and there were a ton sold! I had a set sell for $19 and a set sell for $15 Friday morning. I don’t have to be a fortune teller to predict that sets will be selling for far less by the time this article goes live on Monday.
This didn’t take any sort of particular skill. I had my copies at the ready, I saw the movement, and I listed my copies on eBay. I didn’t try to set an exorbitant price to manipulate the market. I knew my entry price was around $6.20, I knew I wanted to sell the copies that weekend, and I knew anything north of $10 would be a worthwhile sale price. I set a listing and watched it sell within ten minutes. I relisted another set and it sold right away.
The only thing that slowed me from listing my remaining copies was that I purchased them later in the previous week and I didn’t want to sell them so far in advance of their delivery. (These I may not do so well on).
Wrapping It Up
Could Inspiring Statuary have ended up being the breakout card of Pro Tour Aether Revolt? Sure. If that had happened, wouldn’t these have hit $10+ per copy? Probably. Did I still profit regardless? Absolutely.
When you’re dealing with a market that has a fixed supply over the weekend with a dramatic uptick in demand, you have to be ready to take advantage. This isn’t about timing the perfect top or selling the most expensive playset possible. It’s about being opportunistic, taking profits, and not worrying about the precise peak. If I had waited just a few hours to list those copies, they wouldn’t have sold for as much. The deck got zero coverage on camera over the weekend and it never really stood out among the Mardu Vehicles crowd. But still, I was able to profit based purely on the hype.
As for other cards that didn’t receive hype: certainly I didn’t do very well there. But I managed to cash out quickly enough to cut my losses. When you add everything up, I still eked out a small gain on my Aether Revolt bets. Had I sat on my losers even longer, they would have been doomed to drop towards bulk-rare status and I would have walked away with much larger losses. By selling while there was still speculation going on over the weekend, I managed to move copies without any issue.
This is the strategy I apply every Pro Tour, and I really had it down to a science this past weekend. Hopefully by going over this approach, you will find useful tips to apply during the next Pro Tour. Just remember, it’s about economics and not emotions. Don’t try to time tops, don’t buy into hype, and make sure you sell out over the weekend. Following this approach will help you make profits on your winners while minimizing losses on your losers. This is what “day trading” is all about!
- I know I’ve mentioned this one a few times now, but Tezzeret the Seeker has to move in price very soon. Star City Games has just two SP copies in stock from the Duel Deck. They have zero nonfoil English copies between Modern Masters 2015 and Shards of Alara. I noticed they recently upped their buy price from $7 to $8, and I think it can get a little higher. I’m hoping they hit $10 on their buy list, which is where I think it becomes reasonable to start taking profit. That said if you’re in for a longer timeframe, I see little reprint risk on the horizon as long as we can make it past Modern Masters 2017.
- Bloom Tender is a $30 card. Let that sink in for a moment. I don’t know if this card even sees any play in sixty-card formats! Yet here we are, with Star City Games having just three SP copies in stock at $26.99. I’m going to start nicknaming this card the Choice of Damnations Elf, since, like Choice of Damnations, it seems this card is just never reprinted.
- Here’s a sweet Old School one: Winter Orb. Star City Games is completely sold out of Alpha and Beta copies at $399.99 and $299.99 respectively. They do have some SP and MP Unlimited copies in stock, but these are $59.99 and $49.99. Talk about expensive! If you have any of these sitting around, please help them enter circulation so people can get them without sacrificing a kidney!