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Conjured Currency #7: Buying and Selling at Grands Prix

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Welcome back, podders and speculators and financiers all! My last two articles got much less response than normal, probably due to the fact that I strayed from what I consider myself skilled in. I’ll stick to teaching you guys how to make money, and not actually playing the game.

Now, let’s get right into a tournament report of GP Richmond! It won’t be the report of how I scrubbed out at 1-3. Instead, this is a report (or general list of tips and tricks) of my strategy for maximizing value while buying and selling with the vendors on site. I have learned that being on-site at a grand prix is one of the best opportunities to grab cards that recently spiked, finding deals on odd foils you’ve been patiently searching for, get the best deals for the cards you’re looking to sell or trade off, and much more!

Arrival

One of the most important factors to getting value out of your next grand prix is to arrive as early as possible. I cannot emphasize this enough. My travel companions and I headed out from northern New York at approximately 12:00 a.m. on Friday morning, and ended up getting to the convention center at approximately 10:00 a.m. We ended up being among the first 100 or so people in line, registered very quickly, and were inside the convention center before noon! There were very few other people inside at this point, so I essentially had first pick of all the dealers’ display cases. This might be obvious, but I want to restate it to demonstrate its’ importance: the early bird gets the worm! Try to leave as soon as possible, plan for inconveniences in your travels, and aim to be one of the first people in the event hall. It will pay off. While SCG was able to provide a playmat for all 4,300 people attending Richmond, Grand Prix Philadelphia will not be as kind. Only the first 700 people to register on-site (and those who purchase the $100 VIP package) will be allotted a Fated Infatuation playmat.

Buying Strategies

After arriving, a quick search of the interests page on MTGstocks.com revealed that Birthing Pod had just spiked a day or two ago, from its steady $10 to almost $20! Unlike the Runed Halo spike in a similar time frame, Pod has shown a consistent history of high-level play. This isn’t a flash in the pan or a frenzied hype buyout. With this information, I made inquiries for Pods at every single vendor. From16 different vendors, I found a lot of Pods ranging from $8 to $12, and grabbed every single one I found. By Sunday, some of the same vendors were paying $15 for Pods and were sold out at $25.

Bragging stories aside, the lesson here is to utilize some form of information on recent spikes (MTG Price and MTG Stocks are two of my favorites) to grab cards that vendors haven’t had the chance to update prices on. Vendors’ pre-event Wednesdays and Thursdays are usually filled with a lot of packing and driving, and many won’t see a card jump in price. Get there early, get that internet signal on your phone, iPad, or whatever, and go grab underpriced cards!

On a similar note, if you’ve run your singles budget dry for the weekend, promised yourself you wouldn’t spend anything on speculation, or have an ethical stance against getting one over on a vendor, don’t be afraid to tip off the dealers to price changes, buyouts, or hot cards. While they’re confined to a booth for the majority of the day, you’re free to roam around the convention center and collect information. If you don’t plan on using that information for personal gain, don’t let it go to waste! Creating a reputation and relationship with the vendors may also have its own benefit if you go to enough events.

Occasionally, you might see a gem that you’ve been hunting for a long time. In my case, it was a set of foil Ravnica Life from the Loams. If you’re confident enough that they’ll still be there after a couple of days, it might be better off to hold off on the temptation to instantly snatch them up. The longer you wait, the more flexible a dealer is likely to be with regards to negotiating the price of something that has been sitting there gathering dust. Since nobody else had picked up the set of Loams by late Saturday night, I was able to make an offer lower than the sticker price. The dealer was comfortable with it, so I got my cards. Although this won’t be the case every time, it’s worth trying if you see an odd foil/foreign piece for an EDH deck with a high price and low demand. This event will likely be the only opportunity the vendor has to unload these weird niche singles until the next GP.

Selling Strategies

Doing your homework before the event can help save you a ton of time while you sell to vendors. What I mean by this is to be aware of how much cash you expect to receive for each card, so you’re not wasting time looking up comparative buylists online while sitting at the table. If you have a ton of cards to sell, there is a process called “ogreing” that you can use to make every trip to each vendor fast and easy. Basically, you put all of the cards that you want to receive $.25 for in a pile, all of the $1.00 cards in another pile, etc. Walk up to a dealer, and tell them to pull out anything from the stacks that they want to pay that much for. It makes everyone’s lives easier, but don’t set your expectations too high. If your prices are out of range of what almost every dealer will pay, it’s not exactly worth it to have them look through your stack of 1,000 cards just to pull out one or two cards, then have every other vendor at the event do the same.

Many of the larger stores will come to a grand prix equipped with printed out buylists for anyone to grab. They only print out a limited number, so get one while you can, and scan over every inch of every buylist to make sure that you get the most cash for your cards. Grab a pen or sharpie, and circle all of the cards that even have a chance of being sold out of your collection. This narrows down your decision and makes it easier on your eyes to see only the relevant choices. Double-check your work to ensure that you didn’t miss any weird outliers. The first time I went through all of the Richmond buylists, I didn’t see that Strikezone was offering $30 on my foil Sorin Markov! Doing this process before you take your ogred boxes to the dealers can allow you to make even more separate piles for each vendor for quick cash. If you have a pile of cards at an agreed upon sale price, it will make the transaction much quicker.

Don’t be afraid to ask for more on cards that are hot or sold out at the tournament, but don’t go overboard. Trying to haggle for more on every single card will obviously discourage whoever you’re trying to sell to and make the whole process arduous. Sure, if every other vendor is sold out of Birthing Pod, then it’s probably fine to ask for an extra dollar or two per copy. Just mention that they’ll probably sell out within the night. What you don’t want to do is ask for $2.00 on Celestial Mantle if they offered $1.50, especially if they already agreed to previous requests to pay more. Although some dealers will be allowed to negotiate buy prices, others’ will be set firm throughout the weekend, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Don’t give the person you’re doing business with a hard time, they’re probably just following orders from a spreadsheet and their employer.

Any Thoughts or Questions?

I hope I was able to teach everyone at least one new thing about conducting financial business at a larger scale event such as a grand prix. One of the most difficult things about writing an educational piece is figuring out exactly what my readers know, don’t know, and want to know. I have trouble deciding if a certain nugget of information is simply common knowledge and wasting your reading time, or if I haven’t explained a concept well enough.

With that said, I’d like to ask the readers of this column to send me any questions, subjects, or really just anything that you’d like me to write about! Apparently my editor Danny and my boss Jason think that my writing is good enough to deserve a weekly column on the website, so I’ll need a lot of material. Feel free to Tweet me at @Rose0fthorns, message me on Reddit at the same name, or just comment below.

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Douglas Johnson

Douglas Johnson

@Rose0fthorns     -     Email     -     Articles
Douglas Johnson is a 20-year-old MTG player who goes to college courtesy of a scholarship from Gamers Helping Gamers. He is currently found writing a weekly finance column at MTGprice.com, and you can always feel free to contact him on Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit.
Douglas Johnson

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About the author

Douglas Johnson

@Rose0fthorns     -     Email     -     Articles
Douglas Johnson is a 20-year-old MTG player who goes to college courtesy of a scholarship from Gamers Helping Gamers. He is currently found writing a weekly finance column at MTGprice.com, and you can always feel free to contact him on Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit.

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