You're getting ready to do a night of trading at FNM or catch a local tournament and pick up hot cards between rounds. It's best to go with information, and I'll show you how to get the best preparation for making deals.
The key is to have a good idea of the cards with the lowest spread and then trade for those.
That's right, trade away chase rares for unloved old Enchantments. Let me give you an example.
Snapcaster Mage is $63 at the time of writing. You can buylist them away for about $45, so the spread is 26%. Meanwhile, its friend Champion of the Parish is $2.65 and buylists for $2.60, or a staggeringly low 1% spread.
Would you trade your one Snapcaster Mage for 24 Champion of the Parish? Gutsy, but if you did, you would have increased the buylist value of your Snapcaster by a whole $18 - in what looks like a crazy trade that favors the guy getting Snapcaster.
It's often the case that low-spread cards are strange, unloved or unplayed.
"But I'm not going to buylist those cards, why should I trade into lower spreads!" you say, and that's a useful question to ask. The reason is that the spread is the most accurate indicator of desirability at the current price. Those Champions may be more desirable at $2.65 than Snapcaster is at $63. There's a sizeable chance that Champion goes to, say, $3.70 before Snapcaster hits $88 (both are a 40% rise). That's because dealers want Champion so badly that they're willing to pay close to retail for them.That means that the retail price will probably go up.
How to put this to use for FNM and Trading
You can search by blocks on Trader Tools - check out this video to find out how.
Pay attention to how I sorted by spread, too. You'll easily find the lowest-spread cards in a block. For Standard, that's easy to figure out because there are from 3-7 sets in Standard at once. That's not much to memorize, or you can just print out the best targets.
I guarantee that you'll feel weird trading that Snapcaster out for Champion. It's always strange to do that for the first few times. You'll start to see cards as abstract assets that happen to be awesome to play with and it'll be come more normal. You'll be able to move from trading like a player to trading like a speculator, and that's the key to paying less to play more Magic.