About the Author
@CalebGothberg     -     Email     -     Articles Caleb studied at The University of Lessons Learned the Hard Way. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a doctorate in Failed Finance. He's out to share some knowledge so you can avoid the mistakes he made. Visit his website at

Getting LUCKy: Mulligans

If I had to guess why most games are won and lost in Magic,  the first stop on the blame train would be mulligans. A good number of players have a hard time knowing what is keepable and what would be better as a random six.  An even larger number of players don’t know when to go down to five. While a chunk of this is based on metagame, matchup, format, decks being played, and other variables that I can’t address without 8,000 different 10-page articles, there are some common rules to live by. Mulliganing shouldn’t be based on feelings and intuition—instead, a purely information-based outlook should be used to make decisions. If what you “feel” always works out, then you don’t have to change a thing. But if seven-land starting hands just repetitively do poorly for you, let’s bring in my favorite guest star: math.

Mulligans the Right Way

For today’s exercise, we are going to use Limited, the most “LUCK”-based format  that exists. Take a normal 40-card deck with 17 lands, 16 creatures, and 7 spells. The CMC breakdown looks like this:

1CMC = 1

2CMC= 4

3CMC = 7

4CMC= 6

5+CMC= 4

Lets draw a few hands with this deck.  First on the list is the five-land hand. It contains a three-drop and a five-drop. The three-drop is a  creature  and the five-drop is a kill spell (welcome to Theros block Limited). The question is: do I mulligan to six?  Our first thought might be, “There are only 12 lands left, so odds are that I don’t flood here.”

Let’s let our friend math take over from here. You are on the draw. On turn one, you have a 36.4-percent chance of drawing a first land and a 12.5-percent chance of drawing a second land. That means that more than 10 percent of games you start with five lands, you will get flooded out.  Yes, 63.6 percent of the time, we will draw either a land or something costing four or more. For your second draw, you are looking at 39.75 percent of the time where you will not have drawn anything relevant to play in your first three turns.

If our opponent is playing a two-drop on turn two, a three-drop on turn three, a four-drop on turn four, and either a five or a combination of two- and three-drops on turn five, it will feel as though we got flooded. If that turn two is [card]Vanguard of Brimaz[/card] and they bestow onto it turn three or four, or if their turn three is a [card]Wingsteed Rider[/card]  into a turn-four strive card, you can’t play around it almost 40 percent of the time.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to keep a hand that only has a 60-percent chance at having a shot at winning. If I mulligan to a six-card hand with three lands and three spells, my chances of flooding go down drastically. I only have a 42.4-percent chance of drawing a land turn one and a 17-percent chance of getting two land draws in a row. This means on turn two I will have five lands and three spells, which is still better than the over-60-percent chance that I will draw into six lands plus three spells or seven lands plus two spells by keeping a hand of five lands. I like 73 percent way better than 40 percent for my ability to play a game of Magic. I’m not saying that there are not exceptions to the rule, but in general, five land are too many for me.

How about the one land hand?  Your odds of not drawing a land in your first two turns are 25 percent. That means that by the time you draw a land, 25 percent of the time it will be too late. At this point, it is not appropriate for you to tell me that you got mana screwed.

I think that it is safe to say that any one-land hands or five-or-more-land hands are almost an automatic mulligan in a Limited environment. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get there with them, but the odds of getting there are against you. At that point, Magic is only based on skill in 75 percent of games. If you are equally matched to the field, that means that you will win  fewer than 40 percent of your games. I’m not a Magic pro, but I would much rather play a game based on skill than luck. The rest of the time is a bit less clear.

Some Questions to Ask Yourself

When deciding whether to mulligan or not, there are a few questions that we need to ask ourselves.

Can this hand get me through the first five turns of the game? If the answer to that is no, then we really need to look at taking a mulligan. In most formats, I need to be present in a game within the first five turns. If we are  playing Legacy, we need to determine if we can survive if our opponent is running a combo deck. Do I have a way to deal with a turn-three [card]Batterskull[/card]?A turn-two [card]Heritage Druid[/card]? A turn-two [card]Show and Tell[/card]? Do I stand a chance against most of the field with this hand? If the answer is no, then you are probably ready for a mulligan. By the way, if you can combo off before they get a Batterskull, that is most likely an okay hand.

Can I survive a mana flood or mana screw? In Magic the true test of a player isn’t if she can play her deck when it’s working optimally. The true test is whether she can power through the bad hands as well. That’s the difference between the folks that get a top eight once at an SCG Open and Raymond Perez, Jr. I would bet if you asked any pro, they could tell you a story about how they were getting mana flooded or mana screwed and still won that game.

We should also define what a mana flood or a mana screw is. There have been plenty of situations where I have had an opponent complain about mana flooding with eight lands and twelve non-land cards. Just because you didn’t draw all spells doesn’t mean you’re getting flooded. Similarly, I’ve seen someone start with one land in their opening hand and get stuck on three until turn seven or eight. Statistically, this is supposed to happen in both cases. Neither are what I would call a severe mana flood or a severe mana screw. Just because your plays weren’t as good as your opponent’s, or the last thing you drew before you died was a land, doesn’t mean that you got screwed or flooded.

It all begins with your starting hand.  If my current hand cannot survive a few lands or a few non-land cards off the top, is it really worth keeping? Take into account the cards in your hand. If you have four lands, a six-drop creature, [card]Divination[card], and  [card]Wrath of God[/card], you are going to be fine most of the time. If you draw five lands off the top, you will live. If you draw five non-land cards off the top, you’ll be good. If you have four lands and three one-drops, it’s time to Mulligan.

Would an random hand of six (or five) look better than this? If the average six-card hand is better than your current hand, consider taking a mulligan. If the average five is better than your current seven, ship that hand as fast as you can. If your current hand of seven isn’t great, but it’s better than any five card hand you could get, it might not be worth the risk. But think intellectually about it—don’t make decisions based on that one time when you kept a one-land hand and ripped everything you needed off the top of your deck.

The only way to know what the average hand of five or six looks like is to look at them. It is much easier to make the decision to mulligan if you know what you are getting into. The scariest part of mulliganing is not knowing what you are going to get. The fear of the mulligan goes away once you know that you can take a hand of six cards and still win.

There’s an app for that! With technology where it is, we now have apps for our phones that can figure out odds and statistics. They make these for Magic: The Gathering if you look hard enough, or you can download a statistics app on your phone and start plugging in numbers yourself. When I’m playtesting, I love being able to see what my odds of drawing lands, creatures, spells, etc. are. Once you play with it enough, you start to intuitively know what the probability of any given play is at any given moment. It probably won’t be as accurate as a calculator, but if your brain says 40 percent and it’s actually 41, it shouldn’t change your decision.

Take the blame.  I don’t discount games where I got flooded or screwed like some do. It may or may not be my fault, but if I don’t take responsibility for it, I can’t fix it. Get some practice taking mulligans and you will get better. There are times when you should be playtesting hands of six against someone with seven.  If you know what to expect out of a six or five card hand, mulligans aren’t nearly as scary. Put the labor in to get the correct knowledge so that you can start getting LUCKy.

Getting LUCKy: Slowing Your Roll

Newton’s First Law of Motion states, “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion.” 

At two separate parts in my financing “career,” I have slowed buying cards in order to catch up on other things. The second time this happened, I had a lot of unexpected expenses come up and had just aquired a few collections. I took my time with grinding—slowed my roll a bit. The slower my roll became, the less I was making. As the weeks rolled by, I started trying to blame everything but myself.

“This place was slow at paying me.”

“I can’t pick up more cards until I figure out what to do with these.”

“My whole collection will go up in a few months.”

As those few weeks turned into a month, then two months, I began to realize that something had to give. I can only control me. My results are based on me—no one else has control over what I’m doing. I took the little money I did have left and bought $100 worth of cards and set to a full day of grinding. It was painstaking, pulling more nickels and dimes out of those boxes than ever before, but as the piles began to build, I started to remember why I started this in the first place. Then with the money I earned, I started looking (and I mean looking) for more to buy. The truth of the matter is that I’m still not fully recovered. I am yet to be dropping a few grand a month on cards, but the ball is in motion. Once it starts, it is much easier to keep going.

Taking Blame for What is Happening is Always the First Step Toward Getting LUCKy

You can only fix you. David Neagle says “It’s your fault that you are dying: you were born.” That is the only outlook that will breed results. Once the blame game starts, that means I am justifying. One of my favorite sayings is, “Justifiably wrong is still wrong.” If you have to justify it, it’s probably wrong. As soon as it is someone else’s fault, you can’t do anything about it. The only way that I have found is to just take the blame for everything, because then you can fix it.

Start with a Fearless Inventory of Yourself

If you don’t know what the problem is, how can you fix it? What keeps you from accomplishing what you want to accomplish with Magic? I don’t care if it’s playing or financing—put these on paper. Here are some of my examples:


I let my playing get in the way of my income.
I don’t keep current enough on prices.
I let price memory guide my buying instead of solid information.
I get too attached to certain cards.
I use my income from Magic to purchase other things (food, soda, sleeves, etc.).
I rush through things instead of making sure I do them right.
I try to give more money than I should so people will like me (this isn’t always bad, but I take it too far).
I am completely unorganized when it comes to Magic.
I don’t write things down.


I don’t RTFC (read the fantastic card) before making decisions.
I hurry when shuffling so I don’t make my opponent wait.
I play completely reactively.
I don’t believe that certain players can beat me, so I quit playing good Magic.
I forget triggers.
I don’t study the meta enough (this affects my financing too).
When I think I have won the game, I ease up.
I don’t playtest enough before big tournaments.

I could go on and list them all. I have about forty in each category, but I think by now you should get the point. Make a thorough list of all of your downfalls, pitfalls, and whatever separates you from where you want to be.

Find Someone Who Plays or Finances Like You Want To

It’s not enough to make a list if you don’t figure out how to solve the problem. For financing, this is a little harder, but the good news is that it’s a business. Though there are differences between Magic and other ventures, you would be surprised at the many similarities. Find someone with some good business sense and buy them a cup of coffee or a burger at McDonald’s. Sit down and let them know you are trying to succeed in business and would like some help. You would be surprised at how good that five-dollar investment really is. Even outside of Magic, you can learn plenty that applies. One thing I have learned is that you can divide your bank account down the middle, almost like a room divider, and have one section for Magic and the other for personal finances (most banks will let you have a dozen little dividers in your account). Just that can help tremendously when you are looking at financing in the Magic realm.

Write It Down

I know I say it all the time, but the best information in the world can’t help you if you can’t remember it. This is one of my biggest downfalls. Had I kept an spreadsheet of my purchases and revenue, I would have realized from times before that when my spending fell under $1,000 a month, my profit fell even more drastically. For some reason, I can’t keep the ball rolling uphill—it just keeps coming back at me. It also lets me see if I have been declining, growing, or stagnating. I learned all of this from someone who doesn’t know why there are different colors on the cards.

Keep Moving Forward

I don’t know anything that you win at by standing still. You can’t make money in Magic if you aren’t buying; you can’t win games that you aren’t playing. We are right back to the Newton’s Law of Motion. I’ve talked in past articles about places to find buying oportunities, but it won’t help if you don’t do it. Something I learned from a non-Magic player was that money is active. Even in the bank or under the bed, it is doing something. If you let it, it can be even more active. It works best when you have it flowing, even if it’s only in one hand and out the other.

I sat down with my collection the other day and did some figuring. I haven’t gained much monetarily from Magic finance, but what I do have is an investment that keeps growing. I started out with $300 worth of cards and without outside money going into it, it has turned into a $4,500 collection. Before I stagnated, it was getting closer to $10,000, but I already covered that. For some people that might not seem like much: only $4500? But the way I see it is that this represents a 1500-percent increase in two years. Where else can I go and get that kind of return? To be fair, I’ve made up for not putting extra money in with lots of time. If you start from where you are, with a bit of effort, you will be amazed where you can get.

Getting LUCKy: Acting Too Quickly

Blue and Black, duh

Blue and Black, duh

It’s round four at SCG Detroit. Across from me is Joe, who is playing Mono-Black Devotion. He swings in with a [card]Nightveil Specter[/card] to deal two, but what do I care? I’m playing Gruul Aggro with [card]Skylasher[/card], [card]Titan’s Strength[/card], and [card]Armed // Dangerous[/card] in hand. He plays a second [card]Nightveil Specter[/card] and I panic. I still play my [card]Skylasher[/card] end of turn and pray for a [card]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/card]. Top-deck is…[card]Temple of Abandon[/card]. He’s only at 12. If I could just trample over it I’d be fine. Next turn he plays a [card]Desecration Demon[/card] and proceeds to pummel me.

After losing games two and three to Joe, Brainstorm Brewery’s very own Ryan Archer, who was playing next to me (who is now 3-1 to my 2-2) asked, “Why didn’t you block with [card]Skylasher[/card] that turn, you know he’s pro-blue?” My first thought was “And?” before it dawned on me that [card]Nightveil Specter[/card] is blue. I had game two won on turn four and didn’t slow down long enough to realize it. RTFC Caleb! How many times has this happened before? I knew this when I didn’t side them out game two but didn’t slow down enough to take advantage of it. All of this thanks to my ready, fire, aim mentality.

But Caleb, I know [card]Nightveil Specter[/card] is blue. I mean, half the card is colored blue. I know that all my readers out there know this and would have been 3-1 rather than 2-2. But how many times have we been hasty in other areas? How many sideboards have been made fifteen minutes previous to the tournament? How many cards have been sold only to peak a month or two later? When we aren’t “smelling the roses,” our decision making process has been crippled. There are decisions that we have made that we all wish we could go back and fix (*cough [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card]). But how do we make ourselves slow down?

Smell the Roses

Smell the Roses

Take a deep breath before every play. It sounds so cliche it’s not funny, but it’s cliche because it works. If we consciously take a breath before we move to attack step, we then realize [card]Arbor Colossus[/card] has reach. Probably not a good time to swing with [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card], but awesome for our [card]Boros Reckoner[/card]. Maybe we were going to cast [card]Goryo’s Vengeance[/card] end of turn. Making a habit of breathing makes us reflect for just one second, makes us take a look at the whole picture. Most of the time our problems only need a single second to be discovered. I can’t count the number of times I have forgotten to play [card]Lightning Bolt[/card], only to remember during my untap step.

How does this help with finance, Caleb? Well, most of the time one breath won’t do. But my breath isn’t a breath at all. My breath is a tweet to #mtgfinance, a post to the QS forums, or even just an episode of Brainstorm Brewery. If the move I’m making lines up with what the Brew Crew is saying, we are probably on the right track. Without the “breath,” we tend to make decisions based on emotions, which can be wrong. There is plenty of sound financial support if we reach out. A second opinion is almost always relevant when money is involved.

Look at all your options. When playing, look at your entire hand and think of everything that could be in theirs. Is there a better play, or line of play that I could make? Should I be playing the safest line, or the fastest? What do I gain by going with one line over the other? These are all things we should look at before we make our plays. The better we get, the better our plays, but we must be careful not to let this keep us from thinking.

When we are dealing with finance we should also look to all options. Is it better to buylist this, or sell it on TCGplayer? Do I know someone local looking for this card? Could I trade up for something that helps me more? Is it worth taking a chance on this collection or would my money be better placed into speculations? Try to look at everything that could be done with cards/money before moving in on something. Jumping on the first thing you see is like keeping a hand when you’ve only seen one card in your hand.

Be conscious of your opponent’s pace. One of my favorite ways to throw an opponent off is to play faster that they are used to, or slower than they are used to. I know that if I can get them off their game, they will make mistakes. That is one of the reasons I picked Gruul Aggro. I have much experience with this kind of deck and it allows me to make opponents play at a pace that causes them to make mistakes. With an aggro deck, I’m able to capitalize on those mistakes very quickly. If your opponent is setting a pace that you aren’t comfortable with, slow it down. For one, you will make fewer mistakes. And two, you will cause opponents to make mistakes because they aren’t at their own comfortable paces anymore.

Buying, selling, and trading is the same way. One of the ways a shark will get you in a trade is by making you rush. When you are rushing, he will always win. Not that he shouldn’t win, but you should too. When buying, take your time, look at everything that you are buying. When you slow down, it will already put you at an advantage. Look closely at card condition, pause on certain cards. This will cause the seller to really think of what they have and reevaluate the value of his cards.  This is one of my favorite ways to keep sellers from having an inflated sense of where their cards’ real cash value is before I make an offer. If someone is moving too fast for me, I maintain my walk-away power. You don’t need to be swindled into overpaying or overtrading.

SGC Detroit did get a little better for me. I lost one more after that placing me at a 2-3 record. I decided since it was a $40 entry I may as well at least get my $40 worth out of the day. The next five games went without a serious hitch and I was able to finish with a 7-3 record for 60th place and a fifty-dollar bill, taking “The Price of Magic” down. I also beat Deshaun Baylock, which is always a goal for me, especially when he’s playing control (dude’s a beast with control, seriously). [card]Armed[/card] was the card of the day for me. I felt like I still got LUCKy, just not quite as LUCKy as I would have liked. And just like everyone else, if I want to start Getting LUCKy, I need to slow down.

What is your [card]Nightveil Specter[/card]? When should you have taken a “breath” before making a play/ buy/ sell/ trade?

Getting L.U.C.K.y: Trading Up

This always feels like a tender topic. The idea of profiting in a trade is enough to make many people steer clear of trading altogether. Just so nobody misconstrues this, I am not talking about taking advantage of someone or “trade-rape” (which seems to be a popular term for it at the LGS). What I am attempting to cover is ways to make trading fair and advantageous for both parties involved. My goal when trading is to make sure that the person I’m trading with is happier with the results than I am.

There are times in a financier’s career where it can be hard to buy cards. Whether this is because of a cash shortage, seller shortage, or just getting beat to the draw by someone else, it happens to everyone. Even if there is something holding you back from buying, every Friday night, there is still a chance at profit. Trading can be very profitable for everyone involved if it’s done intentionally. You don’t do this by being “That Guy” though.

Don’t Be That Guy

Everyone knows “That Guy.” “That Guy” is the one that is always out to screw someone out of his hard-earned cardboard. “That Guy” will swindle a new player out of her [card]Mutavault[/card] for a [card]Fabled Hero[/card]. “That Guy” constantly values his cards higher than they are and yours lower. “That Guy” should be avoided like the plague. I know some store owners that won’t even let “That Guy” trade in their stores. “That Guy” gives everyone who makes a profit trading Magic cards a bad name.

How do I make a profit by keeping things fair? How can I benefit in a trade without screwing my trade partner? The same way that you’ve done it on video games for years. The same way that professional merchants have been doing it for centuries. If tea in China is higher than tea in England, what does a professional do? Is it unfair to the tea owners of England when you buy from them and sell to China? We actually have that situation in the Magic community. We call the parties involved Star City Games and TCGplayer. vs

There is a lot of controversy over which of these sites is best to use when trading. There are pros and cons to both. Much has already been written on this subject, but I still want to add a bit. We all know that there are differences in price, but how does that help? Let’s say card A is $12 on TCGplayer and card B is $15. Both of them are going for $15 on SCG. Targeting certain cards with specific price differences is a great way to gain selling value while not screwing anyone over.

Let’s continue on this path. Now you have card B, worth $15 on both sites. It’s time to “trade up” to card C. Card C is worth $15 on TCGplayer and $20 on SCG. Then you may want to turn card C into card D, which is worth $20 on both SCG and TCGplayer. You see how you can turn $12 into $20 by trading?

It’s very important while doing this not to screw anyone. I want to take advantage of my knowledge and efforts, not take advantage of someone else. To make sure that you aren’t ripping anyone off, you need to follow a few rules:

  1. Use the pricing system that your trade partner is comfortable with. By asking which he prefers, you are operating in his comfort zone. This saves anyone from having hurt feelings after the trade.
  2. Make sure to clarify before trading. The last thing that you want to do is look at a binder, then decide you are using TCGplayer because of what you see. Again, we are taking advantage of knowledge, not people. Deciding after seeing a fellow trader’s wares starts us in the direction of being “That Guy.”
  3. Be honest on values, especially when you don’t know. If the last time I saw a price on [card]Misty Rainforest[/card] was last month, I will tell my trade partner that. Most everyone that I end up with either has a smart phone or has an annoying buddy watching every trade that has a smart phone. If you don’t know, ask.

Trade Up on the Buylist Spread

This is most of what I try to do. I use the same principles that I used for TCG versus SGC when trading up on buylist values. If I have a $10 card that buylists for $4 and I can get an $8 card that buylists for $7, I have just made someone else happy as well as myself. Again, I am taking advantage of knowledge and not people. They are happy to gain $2 in card value and I am happy to gain $3 in cash value. This is the kind of trade I look for every time.

Write It Down

This is a ton of information that you have to keep in your head in order to win at trading, right? No, not right. Yes, there is a ton of information involved in all of this. No, it doesn’t have to all be stored in your head. This is what we have paper for.

You should have a list with you anytime that you trade. What kind of list should you have, though? For some, a wants list is good enough. I almost always have one of these on me. When you are able to hand this to the guy before you start trading, it makes everything run smoother. It will also help to speed up trades as well. Every night that I go to an FNM, I have a goal of making at least twenty trades. If all of my trades take half an hour, this is virtually impossible. Anything that I can do to speed it up is helpful.

I carry three separate want lists with me most of the time. I carry one for SCG wants, one for TCGplayer wants, and one for buylist wants. My SCG list has trades that are even or close to even as possible. My TCGplayer list has cards that have a large spread between TCG and SCG. My buylist list has cards that are less than 20% spread on a buylist. Depending on what the person I’m trading with is using for a price line, I will reference one sheet or another. It is also good to have prices written on each of these as well.

Be Cool, Man

One last thing before I’m out: be a gracious trader. Let the guy across from you know that he is helping you out. Let him know that you appreciate him or her. When there is a discrepancy, make sure the other guy always come out on top. You don’t get anywhere in life robbing twelve-year-olds of their [card]Mutavault[/card]s. It may make you $30 now, but I had a boss tell me one time, “You can’t retire off of one sale.” You can’t live off one trade, either. Better to shear a sheep than skin it. Having character will help you at getting L.U.C.K.y far better than anything else.

Have comments? Please share below!

Getting L.U.C.K.y: Playtesting

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
-Thomas A. Edison

I’m going to take a bit of a break this week and shift into getting L.U.C.K.y while playing the game. In a game such as Magic, where there are sixty randomized cards built from thousands of options facing an opponent that could be playing any different combination of those thousands of cards, how can you get consistently good results? Is it all just luck? Are we wasting our time? How do we start getting L.U.C.K.y?

Playtesting is the Key to Success

Any great athlete ( I’m not talking about the local star, but a professional athlete) spends more time practicing everyday than we spend at work. I think it’s safe to assume that this holds true for professional Magic players as well. You can’t get better at anything if you don’t spend time at it.


“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”

-Vince Lombardi

Just as important as how much you playtest is who you playtest with. Find people who are better than you. The only way you ever get better is by raising the level of competition. These should be people you can take advice from, even if it is critical. Surround yourself with players who are at where you want to be: that’s how you get there. Good things to look at when finding members for a playtesting group are time they spend playing, tournament experience, tournament results, attitude, and most importantly, willingness to teach.

The people you playtest with might not be your best buddies. You may hurt a few feelings by not inviting friends to your playtesting groups, but that’s okay. Don’t start ignoring them. You can still play with them, you just need to be doing your hardcore playtesting with hardcore players. I’m not saying that your friends aren’t good either. If you have a group of competitive friends, then by all means, use them. If your friends aren’t where you want to be, though, don’t defriend them. You just need to know they aren’t going to give you the best results by playtesting with them.

Proxy Up Decks for a Gauntlet

You need to know how your deck stacks up against the field. Look at the top eight to twelve decks in the appropriate format and print them off. I personally use MTG Top 8 and MTG Goldfish, but you can use whatever works best for you. If you have a good printer, the easiest way is just to print proxies off. If not, I take a slightly less than card sized piece of paper and write my proxy on that. Use relevant info that will help you remember what the card does exactly (name, mana cost, type of spell, effects, power, toughness, etc.)

From that point I like to do what I call “running the gauntlet.” You need solid playtesting (20+ games) against at least all the tier-one decks in the format. Figure out where your matchups are, how they feel, and ultimately how you feel about your deck. One of my favorite things to do is to operate the gauntlet while a friend runs my deck. There have been times that it completely changed things when I saw someone else running the deck.

Once you run the gauntlet a few times, try out some deck tweaks if you have them. If not, use some variations of other decks and get some additional testing. It may also behoove you to try some rogue decks out. It is good to know what kind of weird stuff you can expect.

Schedule a Time

The worst thing that you can do is to prepare everything and then hope you get around to it. Playtesting needs to be scheduled or it won’t happen. If you just hope to casually meet up, you will just keep casually playing and casually losing. Make sure that you get a time when everyone can meet up and follow through with it. If there are scheduling conflicts, schedule two sessions.

If your group can’t meet all at once, there is nothing wrong with having a playtesting meeting on both Monday and Wednesday.  Some players will go to both while others will only be able to make one. I think sometimes we forget that others have a life outside of Magic. If you have a group that can, schedule them more than a couple times in a week. Personally, I try to hit up three to four sessions every week with different groups.

Set Goals

Do you want to perfect your mainboard? Trying to figure out what to sideboard? Set a goal before you start. When playtesting is focused, way more gets accomplished. Figure out what it is you want to focus on and focus on it. It’s okay to just need experience playing. At some point, though, you are going to need to hone down a playtest to more specific goals.

I like idenifying small goals that you can accomplish while also looking at a large one. How far can I extend against control? What should I be countering in the aggro matchup? What hands are acceptable keeps against a midrange deck? How far can I safely mulligan down and still win? Should I be playing [card]Dissolve[/card] or [card]Syncopate[/card]? What is the biggest threat and how do I deal with it? These are all questions that can and should be turned into playtesting goals.

Sometimes this also looks like designating. If Bobby is focusing on what sideboard options look like while Jeremy is testing out a different sideboard option, you accomplish twice as much. Maybe Kyle is better at figuring out what to cut while Andrew is a stone-cold killer when it comes to mulligans. Figure out where everyone’s strengths are and use them.

Write It Down

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt I had a bad matchup when I didn’t because I didn’t know the actual numbers. Or the times when I figured out what to side out and totally forgot what it was when at a tournament. When you keep track of results, sideboard options, how to play against “x” deck, and matchup results, it makes you that much more consistent later.

When you put it down in writing, it also makes it easier to remember later. Studies show that just by writing things down, we increase our odds of remembering even without a later review of our notes. By writing and reviewing, we tremendously increase our retention of information. Why would we not want to do this?

Most of taking “L.U.C.K.” out of Magic has to do with consistency. If you aren’t writing things down, it feels more and more like a chance-based game, which is the last thing that I want when I play. So start playtesting and start “Getting L.U.C.K.y.” Have questions or comments? Let me know below!

Getting L.U.C.K.y: Leaving Money On The Table

Recently I was conversing with a friend of mine on Standard. My opinion on Standard used to be: absolutely not. I couldn’t imagine spending $500 on something that was going to rotate out in a year. My argument was that Standard changes too much to try to keep up. On the other hand, Legacy seemed like a way better investment. Sure it was $2,000 or $3,000, but it only required one initial investment. Over a period of time, though, I’ve discovered that through smart trading, I can almost make Standard pay for itself.

My friend was telling me that he didn’t have the money to do it. I started to ask about his bulk and it turns out there’s quite a bit of it. If there is one thing that I can do, it’s grind value out of some bulk. He knows that I do this and quickly put in that he wasn’t about to spend hours finding five and ten cent cards just to pay for his Standard deck. Like many of us, he had the means, he just didn’t want to work hard enough.

I know it’s been said before that five cent cards aren’t worth pulling out, they are just a time and money waster. It costs way too much to ship them. I agree with this. Who says we have to ship them though? Why not just unload them at an event or to a local store? I do this through a process that I have been told is called “ogreing.” Ryan Bushard wrote a great article about it, so check it out. This saves both time and money.

How do I do it efficiently? Personally I use Trader Tools. It costs money, but for me, it more than pays for itself. Most people look up each card individually, which is a time waster. Don’t most of the collections that we get, including our own, stem from only a few blocks? The reason I love Trader Tools so much is I can pull up the set of Lorwyn, for example, as a whole and see what commons and uncommons are worth pulling.

Now all I have to do is to figure out which sets I have and ta-da, I know what to pull from each. If I have a ton of Eventide and Lorwyn, all I do is write down or print off the names of the cards I need to pull and I can quickly and efficiently ogre out my collection. If it is more than a couple of blocks, this isn’t nearly as efficient, but most of the time, it’s just fine.

What if I’m not going to an event in the near future? Number one, go to an event. Just do it. If that isn’t an option, though, find a local dealer. You can ask Carter Hatfield how many Tuesdays I have brought him 1,000 count boxes stuffed with low dollar stuff for him to look through. These guys are around just about every populace. If you don’t know any, look on Craigslist for MTG and someone will have a post that reads, “Looking to buy all Magic: The Gathering Cards” or “Paying top dollar for Magic cards.” Hit them up.

Talk to your LGS (Local Game Store). I talk to a few in the area that don’t even have a buylist. Some of the time they look through and want nothing unless they are paying bulk. That’s okay, just hold the small stuff until your next event. You’d be surprised at how often they have just taken the whole box off of me, though. It doesn’t cost anything to ask the owner and you’re going to be there anyway.

Be willing to put in the work. For some people, dealing with larger quantities of ten-cent cards might not be worth it. For some of us, though, they are. I will say that it takes a lot of work to get “L.U.C.K.y,” but unless you happen to have fifty grand just laying around waiting to be invested into the cardboard industry, it’s going to take some work.

Sure you may have put five hours in only to make twenty bucks, but you can turn that twenty into forty, forty into eighty, and slowly, painfully, get there. But you can get there. What were you doing with that time anyway? Some people spend it with family and it robs that time, I know. But many are just watching whatever is on TV, or trolling on Facebook, or something else irrelevant. When you are reading memes, you are making exactly zero dollarswhy not make five bucks instead? Is Peter Dinklage any less witty when you have cards in your hand?

I realize that we all need down time. I’m not saying don’t spend time with the family. I’m not saying we can all be sorting machines anytime we aren’t at work. What I am saying is that money’s there for anyone willing to grind. If you are willing to grind, you too can get “L.U.C.K.y.”

Question: How little value is too low for you to grind? At what point do you just consider it a waste of time?

Getting L.U.C.K.y: Buying Into Hype

The time around the release of a new set is one of the best to be involved with our favorite trading card game. New product being opened, new decks breaking the format, and best of all, money to be had. The question is, what do I buy? What will be good in the upcoming meta? Hopefully I’ll be able to shed some light on that today.

In the past, I have found myself buying into hype every time a new set comes out. Whenever a pro player posts on Twitter that they are excited about a card or deck, or just when Woo is brewing, I tend to pay attention. Many times, I fall into the trap of letting it affect the financial side of my life. The truth is that we really have no idea what is going to happen to the meta.

Odds are, you’re not a professional magic player, so don’t pretend to be. Pro players will be working hard to come up with new decks or add tech to old ones. Let them figure it out. Most of the time, cards that are obvious tend to be inflated. Let them do the hard work and don’t try to beat them to it. Odds are that you won’t.

Alarm Clock

Look for sleepers

Look for sleepers. Usually your best bet for turning a profit is in the bulk or nearly-bulk section. [card]Desecration Demon[/card], for instance, was a complete sleeper. Remember that at one point it dropped from $2.50 to $2.00 before it ever shot up to $10.00. [card]Nightveil Specter[/card], [card]Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx[/card], [card]Voice of Resurgence[/card], and [card]Mutavault[/card] all dropped at least a little before getting to where they are now. Sure, you could have the next [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card], but you’re more likely to have [card]Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius[/card]. Go for the guarantee.

Listen to the podcast. Corbin, Jason, Marcel, and Ryan know what they are talking about. Two of them supplement their income with Magic—for the other two, it is their income. They have a ton of collective experience, so for me, their word is worth ten times that of random people from Reddit. (Not to say that people on Reddit have no idea what they’re talking about, or never catch onto to something, just not nearly as often as the Brew Crew does.)

Pay to get on the Quiet Speculation forums. This is one of the single most valuable resources I have in my toolbox. Having to pay for access guarantees that most of the people on the site make more than $12 a month from Magic. The people you end up talking to have a clue. They aren’t just some random player with $3,000 invested into Magic and only one Standard deck to show for it. They didn’t just stumble on the site and want the world to know their opinion. They actually have invested something into the financial end of the game. Listen and participate—you will be surprised what you learn.

Chalkboard with formulas

The more you know, the more opportunity you have to profit

Knowledge = Power and Money. The more that you know about the game, or the financial aspects of it, the better off you are. Knowing more can’t hurt profits, it can only grow them. Look everywhere you can for knowledge (and be wary of where it comes from). Even social sites like Reddit and Twitter can offer you something. The worst thing that you can do is close your ears and eyes to the world around you and try to figure it out on your own.

Diversify your portfolio. Where most people (myself included) seem to get screwed up is when we are all-in on something. Risk management says to invest in multiple things so one bad call doesn’t screw you. If you went all-in on [card]Aluren[/card], then you are now stuck with three-fifths of what you had (because buylisting is about the only way now). Conversly, if you went partial into [card]Aluren[/card], [card]Phyrexian Obliterator[/card], [card]Goryo’s Vengeance[/card], and [card]Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius[/card], you would be fine right now.

In the end you will end up getting far more L.U.C.K.y by staying smart about your speculations rather than buying into hype. It’s up to you to get L.U.C.K.y.

Question: What are you speculating on from Born of the Gods? What about cards from previous sets that will be affected by Born of the Gods?

Getting L.U.C.K.Y: Mixing Personal and Magic Finances

What do you do for a living that pays your bills?

The answer to that is probably not Magic finance. If it is, great job, dude. For the rest of us out here, we have to work at something else to pay our bills. So make sure that you do that.

One of the biggest keys I have found to staying on top of my Magic finance is keeping money separated strictly for Magic purchases. I have X in my Magic account, which is only to be used for Magic and nothing else. I also have Y coming in every month from my real job. That money pays bills and buys fun stuff. By keeping my two revenue streams separate, I maintain a ton of walk-away power when it comes to Magic. I don’t need any of my Magic money for anything but Magic.

Before you make a decision to pull money from one category and throw it at the other, think long and hard. I find that things become way more clear when it’s laid out on paper in front of my face.

Write things down!

Putting things on paper is an often neglected tool that can help you tremendously in every aspect of life, but especially in Magic. It makes you commit to things more than just thinking them would. Before you go and just take money from your PayPal account and throw it at something, write down specifics. It will usually clarify everything and give you a little better perspective on whatever it is that you are doing.

If you borrow money from yourself, you will almost never pay yourself back.

There is something about not having that responsibility to someone else. Even if you do “pay yourself back,” you still don’t.

For example, let’s say that you have $1,000 for Magic. By making solid investments and speculations, you are able to make $100 every two months, or 10%. That means that after a year, you would have $1771.56. If you decided after two months to borrow $300 and didn’t pay it back, at the end of that same year you would only have $1288.41. That’s almost a $500 difference. Even if you pay yourself back in four months, that still only gives you $1687.71. That’s a $100 difference! That might not seem like much to you, but think of if you had put that money into [card]Nightveil Specter[/card]. That could be $900!

Before you were into MTG finance, you paid your bills, right?

So just keep doing it the same way that you did. You figured it out before, just keep doing it until you get to the point where you can pull money from your finance money without affecting your card flow.

Most of us just can’t do that. I look at my money made by and for Magic as totally separate from the rest of my money. If you are unsure if you can mix them, a good rule of thumb says you shouldn’t. I know that there are exceptions to everything, I get that. But I have met the guy who was the exception, which means that the rest of us aren’t. The rest of us have to grind out on the daily to get where we need to be.

So how do you figure it out?

For me personally, never. I can always find more buying opportunities so I never have stagnate capital in Magic. I’ve heard the number for most people is between $20-30,000 in inventory before one can make a wage for oneself. But I always think, “Okay, I could get a nicer car… or I could put the money back in and make even more.” I will always be a numbers guy, so I will always pick option B.

Most people can justify spending some money outside of Magic, but at what point are you comfortable doing that? Each person has their number, where is yours at? This will depend on a few different things, but it mostly has to do with your goals.

Make goals!

There is a tremendous amount of research that all says the same thing about goals: make them! Without goals, you will consistently find yourself in spots you don’t want to be. I plan on doing a whole article specifically on goals, but in the meantime just make some. If nothing else, it will make you aware of where you are and what direction you should be going. Without them, you won’t find yourself Getting L.U.C.K.Y very often. So eliminate the luck and try making some goals this week.

This week’s questions: How do you keep your “Magic budget” intact? What goals do you have as a financier? Please share in the comments!

Caleb Gothberg – Getting L.U.C.K.Y: Money Management, Part 1

The first item on my fearless personal inventory (discussed in my last article) is bad money management. If you are into the financial end of Magic in any way, shape, or form, bad money management should be at the top of your list as well. For most people, myself included, it is something that you learn the hard way. Unfortunately, money management mistakes will always cost you, but unlike play mistakes, these ones hits your wallet. After losing almost my entire collection to bad buying and selling, I think I’m pretty qualified to offer warnings in this department.  I hope that some of you can learn from my mistakes. Let’s get right down to it.

I won’t be able to cover every issue and would be more than happy to answer any individual issues that you may have. Today, we are just going to start with five. There are many more that could be covered, but these are my biggest five that have hindered my personal growth in MTG finance. If there is something you would like covered you can always comment with it or tweet it to me @CalebGothberg



It is very easy to buy too much, too fast. Starting out, I sold most of my collection and used that money to start buying. I bought every card that someone would sell me. The first time that someone tried to sell me a collection it almost ruined me. My friend, let’s call him Richard, messaged me to let me know that he was looking to liquidate everything that he owned except his decks. Richard had other priorities in his life that he felt (and justifiably so) were more important than having a Magic collection. I was in deep enough that I had to visit a local dealer to turn cardboard to cash. Most of the things that had to be sold were on the way up. Because I needed the money so fast I had absolutely zero walk-away power.  I made about $300 on the collection but probably lost that much in selling what I had. If I wasn’t buying every card someone would sell me, I wouldn’t have had a problem buying that collection.




It is also very possible to underspend. The only way you can make money in Magic is by keeping everything on both ends moving. Finding buying opportunities can be hit and miss. I hit one of those patches very recently. I had a month where I only bought about $200 worth of cards. Guess how much profit I made in that month? Absolutely none. Finally, I had enough and started scouring Craigslist for collections being sold. Just about every single one of those collections were listed for way too much to make enough any profit. I finally found some old posts that hadn’t been removed yet. After meeting with a few of them and trying to make it fair for both sides, a good opportunity finally popped up. He had been trying to sell his collection for quite some time and understood that he wasn’t going to get full price on his cards. The negotiations didn’t go quite as well as I would normally like, but we came to a reasonable point where we could both get what we needed. I had to grind more than I usually like to with a collection, but turned a decent enough profit to justify buying. In the end it was better than not making anything for the month.

There are many ways to go about buying Magic cards. My personal favorite is just working with people I have met through personal networking. They know what I do and understand that we can find something that will accomplish what we are both looking for. When I am in a bind, I will look to places like Craigslist or local trade groups. eBay is another good option that some people use as their primary source of card flow.

Buying High

One of the worst things to a speculator can do is buy a card that has already spiked. Whether it is by misinformation or emotional attachment, it can happen to anyone. For me, this card was [card]Wolfir Silverheart[/card]. I went too far into this card too late. I started buying in at around five dollars. I was into the hype enough at the time that I didn’t realize that it was on a permanent downturn. I held onto all 55 of my copies until rotation hit. I was sure it would see more play despite what the community thought of it. I ended up buylisting them for around fifty eight cents a piece for a net loss of $243.10. Had I not gotten emotionally wrapped up with the card I could have saved myself a couple hundred dollars.

The easiest way to avoid this type of situation is to be involved in the MTG finance community and pay attention to the appropriate forums. Other people with lots of experience are online all the time and are happy to help you out. When doing this, you need to keep in mind who the information is coming from. If the advice is from someone unknown that replied to your Reddit post and it contradicts what @JasonEAlt is saying on his Twitter account, it’s best to side with Jason’s experience. Twitter is a huge resource that I believe is incredibly underutilized. I am not always as active on posting as I should be, but I look at #mtgfinance all the time, as well as Trusted tweets from experienced financiers. If nothing else, you can always just listen to a certain financial podcast that will help you out when it comes to speculating. No matter how you slice it, research is almost always the key.

Selling Low

Have you ever been sitting on a card so long that it almost demands selling? It hasn’t moved from where you bought it so you aren’t losing anything anyway and you would like to have the money for other things. I find myself in this boat way more often than I would like to. Part of this is due to the fact that I have more buying opportunities than I have cash. The other part is I have severe ADD and have a hard time sitting on cards for any period of time. Recently it was [card]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/card]. I bought into this card in late July and decided to dump them in September. It didn’t appear to have much upward movement being generated and I was starting to get a little skittish about it. I got back what I put into them but then a month later, it finally spiked as I had anticipated. I needed something a little more exciting and lost the chance of doubling my money on this card. It was a solid bet that everyone in the community seemed to be behind. But how do you know when something like this is going to happen?

You can never have 100% certainty in life, but you can get close. Research is usually your key in these situations as well. There will be some cards that will always be a safe bet and all you need is to pay attention to what trusted people are saying. Usually the Brainstorm Brewery podcast provides some pretty sound knowledge on the subject. If you pay attention to the podcast you can already have a leg up on figuring out what’s low and what’s high. There are also sites out there, both free and subscription-based, that have a wealth of information to share with you. In the age of the internet, there are plenty of places to look for this information.

Mixing Personal and Magic Finances

One of the biggest struggles that I have is how much money to put into Magic and how much to take out. For myself, I feel like the less that these two mix, the better. My next article will be on this subject. For now, if you can keep your personal finances separate, you will find yourself  much happier. You never want to put yourself in a situation where your hobby starts to affect your day to day living. That is all that I will say on the subject for now.

Stay tuned to Brainstorm Brewery for other articles that can help you avoid pitfalls that I haven’t covered yet. As always, welcome to the grind.

How do you keep Magic and personal finances straight and what advice would you give to a novice brewist?

Caleb Gothberg – Getting L.U.C.K.Y: Luck- Labor Under Correct Knowledge

I got my start with Magic: The Gathering back in Worldwake. Many readers have probably been playing way longer than I have. I had a friend that was pretty cool and he had a group of nerd friends that would come over and play Magic for hours at a time. Finally, I got curious enough to give it a try. I lost for like three weeks straight. Those nerds started to seem like gods to me after losing to them every day for 21 days. Suddenly it went from a stupid card game to a battle for the multiverse. I locked myself in my room for three days and the Spike in me read every article on deck building that I could get my hands on. Since then I have been an avid lover of Magic.

About six months ago, I discovered the world of MTG finance. I was looking to get into Legacy and needed some dual lands. I had recently acquired a few collections of cards that I bindered up and was trying to trade up. Some guy came over to me and asked to see my trade binder. I started looking through his binder when I spotted a few pages of duals. I looked over at him with desperation in my eyes and said, “I know I probably don’t have anything that you need, but I really need these duals for my reanimator deck.” He said that I had some things that he could use but he would have to undervalue my stuff to get there. I was the happiest Magic player in the world at that point in time. He must have taken half of my binder and put it into piles from ten cents to five dollars till it added up to the two [card]Underground Sea[/card]s that I needed. When this happens, some people feel like they are getting ripped off, but I felt lucky to get access to cards I had only dreamed of owning. I wanted to figure out how he was able to do that and still have it be beneficial to him. I discovered buylists and online stores and immediately took my Spike nature into Magic finance. Since then, I have been trying to make my hobby pay for itself and even make profit from it. With help from friends and the community, I have not only made my money back in Magic, but have been able to enjoy the game like never before.


A subject that I am hugely passionate about in life in general, and especially in Magic, is luck. We are playing a game where you take 60 cards, draw them at random, and try to use those random cards to beat an opponent. The whole intent of everything I write is to try to take as much of that randomness out as I possibly can. Whether it relates to the financial end of that scale or the competitive end , the less random we can make things, the more success we can enjoy. The thing that I enjoy most about Magic is winning. It doesn’t matter whether it is in my speculations, my game play, or just winning at having fun, I like to win. The biggest thing that separates me from winning is luck. And by luck, I mean me. I figured out a long time ago that if I don’t take responsibility for my failures, I will keep on failing. Failing isn’t comfortable in any way, shape, or form, nor should it be. My goal is to lay out a plan to not prevent failure, but to learn from it in a way that will grow you not just as a brewist, but as a human being as well.

One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from a motivational video: “Luck is the last dying wish of those who want to believe that winning can happen by accident.” Every time I bring up my beliefs on luck, I always offend someone. The thing is, I don’t believe in luck. Whether it is not making it into a top eight, having bad draft results, losing out on a speculation, or not having the career that you want, luck has little to do with it. In fact, I cringe when anything like the above is blamed on luck. But if it’s not luck, what is it?

Taking Ownership

The first thing that you need to do is to be a man/woman and take the blame. If you keep blaming things on luck you will keep having bad luck. Until you figure out what you need to change, you will keep experiencing bad luck. If you are speculating on a card and it either never goes up or ends up going down, don’t play the blame game. Look at why that card went down. See what went up and why. I hear all the time that hindsight is 20/20, and it is. If you can’t learn from your mistakes you will never get any better at what you are doing. This comes from experience and whatever resources you have. It is about having the correct knowledge and using it.

Recently, a friend told me about a final round at a local FNM in which he was competing. He was playing GW and his opponent was running Esper. In game 3, he had a 5/5 wurm token in play. Neither he nor his opponent had cards in hand and his opponent was at two life with eight lands on the battlefield. He passed the turn and his opponent topdecked a [card]Hero’s Downfall[/card] and completely turned the game around by following up with a [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] into [card]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/card]. Can you guess what he blamed it on? I went home and figured things out mathematically. If he was on turn nine he is drawing into his 17th card without a mulligan. So he has 44 cards left that he could draw. Out of those, if no [card]Hero’s Downfall[/card] has been played yet we are looking at two out of 44, or 4.5%. That statistic makes it look like luck, doesn’t it? But, oh wait, what about [card]Doom Blade[/card] and [card]Ultimate Price[/card]? Don’t those kill it? So that is five out of 44 or 11.4%. Still luck you say? Doesn’t Elspeth have a minus ability that kills the wurm? And what about [card]Detention Sphere[/card], doesn’t that take care of the problem? [card]Azorious Charm[/card]? [card]Devour Flesh[/card]? And how about gaining enough life off of [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] to survive, but also drawing an answer? What about [card]Jace, Architecht of Thought[/card] finding an answer? [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] will also knock the socks off of that wurm. I looked at the Standard daily list on MTGO and there were 29 answers to the situation at hand without sideboard. Let’s say he played all of them in the first eight turns that he could. That leaves us at 21 out of 44 or almost 50%. But without playtesting or knowing what the opponent is running, it all looks like luck, doesn’t it? At the end of the day, the game was probably lost on turn six when my friend overextended on the board and got a [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] to the face.

When we actually take time and put in the work that it takes for this stuff, the “luckier” we’ll get. Before we go blaming everything on luck of the draw, let’s try to do some playtesting. My local group gets together every Monday evening and does serious playtesting with some of the best players in the area. The group gets online, looks at the top eight lists, puts them together (proxies for cards they don’t own), and play the crap out of Magic till the wee hours. A few of these guys have amazing tournament results and still play the same matchups over and over again. One in particular just recently placed top eight at states with RDW. He has been playing RDW for as long as I can remember. Guess where he is on Monday nights? Down at the local shop grinding out a deck he probably has the binary code for memorized. You know the last time I heard him complain about luck? It wasn’t when he drew in a final round with an opponent to be .5% out of a PTQ top eight. He took complete ownership of that mistake . That’s what the winners in life do.

Winners take ownership over all of their losses. They look at where they failed and how they can keep from doing it in the future. One of the best ideas I have ever heard I read in a book that Patrick Chapin wrote on Magic. He suggested that readers do a fearless Magic inventory. This is where you broadcast your faults in Magic to a large community, like Facebook or Twitter. It works because if you know that everyone knows what you are doing wrong, you have to fix it. For instance, I tend to play way too fast and not think about what I’m doing. I got it out to my community that I have to slow down, and when I don’t, I have people that remind me. This causes me to be a better Magic player and not get so “unlucky.” I would suggest that all of the readers do this via Facebook or Twitter and make sure as many people see it as possible. Just by making a list and posting it, you have already become a better Magic player than you were yesterday.

Similarly, if you are failing at Magic finance or speculations, make it public. This I would be less inclined to share via Facebook. But I know that Reddit has a Magic finance section as well as the forums that are on Quiet Speculation. Quiet Speculation does charge a subscription fee, but I always make it back and more just by using the site. If you reach out to the community of Magic finance, they are always more than happy to help out. Jason Alt, one of the hosts of Brainstorm Brewery (who I had the pleasure of meeting in person before I had heard of the show), has been a tremendous help to me. Follow him and people like him on Twitter. Not only is he glad to help, but you will feed into his rock star egotistical mentality, making him feel like more a Magic finance god than he already does (sorry Altthous, god of #mtgfinance). Information is one of your biggest friends when it comes to anything, especially Magic. There are tons of articles available every day on a variety of sites providing just the information you need.

Research is probably going to be your biggest help in all of this. Whether it is reading articles, listening to podcasts, or just playtesting with friends, the more correct knowledge you have, the better your “luck” will be. When you think of luck as an acronym for Labor Under Correct Knowledge, you will start to realize that the person in control of luck is, in fact, you. Use the resources that you have to make sure that you get the results that you want to get. I encourage everyone to take a fearless Magic inventory of themselves. Find all the faults you can in your game play and speculations and post them in a public place. Use Facebook, Twitter, or your local LSG to make it public knowledge and watch how much better you get.

Fearless Magical Inventory

One of the biggest things that you can do to eliminate the luck is a fearless Magical inventory. What is a fearless Magical inventory? We all have faults when it comes to the game of Magic. A fearless Magical inventory is where you put all these faults out there for everyone to see. It makes you completely accountable for all of Magic faults and responsible for fixing them. When you put it out there you can’t hide behind luck anymore. Over the next couple months, I will be breaking down financial and game play faults that I have struggled with in the past and how to avoid or get through them. So take some time out of this week and get “lucky.” Then next time you are at your local FNM and someone tells you “you got lucky,” you can just smile and say “I know.” And remember: “Luck is the last dying wish of those who want to believe that winning can happen by accident. Sweat is for those who know it’s a choice.” Welcome to the grind.