Jonathan Moore here today with the pretty controversial topic within the community. “Trades? Trades? Trades?”. Ahhh, the call of the average dealer at a yu-gi-oh event. People make fun of this, but honestly without it, the community would flat line. Almost nobody would be playing the deck they wanted, or at least not how they wanted. Both vendors and dealers (see the difference in my previous article; “Yu-gi-oh Debates: What Constitutes as a Vendor?”) help pump lifeblood and allow players to get their decks the way they want, how they want. Wanting to get in on this for yourself? Whatever the reason is, such as trying to make this a part time job, or getting to play your favorite hobby for free, pay attention. It’s probably not how you think it is.
Vendors and many dealers are not the blood suckers that many portray them to be. A Yu-Gi-Oh! dealer, much like a dealer in any occupation, is just trying to make a quick buck. Some go for the knees, and just as you might expect, the worst of the bunch become the face of the crowd because they crow the loudest. This brings many to have an unfair and sour taste towards anyone under the term “vendor”, assuming that they just want to make as much money as possible off of you. This isn’t true for most though. Most dealers and vendors are happy with small marginal gains over and over with you. Many small pluses conquer the big one time deal, as you don’t want to kill the chicken who lays the golden egg. This is also worth it to your customer, because they’re able to spend marginal cash/trade equity in their binder compared to what they perhaps expected to before. If you’re upping this to the level of vendor, this means EVERY card in your customer’s binder is now worth something to you, not just the quick flip cards, and this makes your customer happy because they can now trade cards they have no attachment to for cards they want, and not just their power-trade cards. Customer relations are just as important to many of them as making the money, because the relation becomes their livelihood.
So you want to step up from just the person who plays the game into a dealer. You’ve seen and experienced how dealing works first hand, as you’ve had to work with them before to get cards you wanted for your decks. First, you have some very large steps to conquer.
1) Learning EVERY price and using it to start trading up
Every single card in your customer’s binder is worth some kind of money. The question is, how much? Sure, you could go just for the hot cards like Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss or Evilswarm Exciton Knight, but then you’d be passing up a lot of opportunities along the way. You have to learn the current market value of smaller, not so relevant cards to the format, and also to trade into them. For example (and as you’re reading keep in mind the steps to this, as it IS an example. Pay more attention to the steps than the actual prices), let us say that you have in your possession a Shaddoll Fusion. There are multiple listings on ebay at just around fifteen dollars. Now, that means the seller, after fees and shipping, would get around twelve dollars. Trading, you want full value for your card. Now, you could try to trade directly up into a card worth more, such as the Stellarnova Alpha in your customer’s trade binder. The thing is, this is a bigger than average card, and your customer may not be so willing to let it go. Keep flipping the page, and you come across and old abandoned E-Hero deck in the back. Cards like Miracle Fusion, the secret rare Legendary Collection E-Heros, and many such cards as seen on the television show are all still good money, but the attachment and trade equity are lower since not many people look for them and they’re abundant. They’ll still sell on ebay and to sites such as the one you’re reading this article on right now that have buylists though, and trading for a little under the value of what you can sell it for, you could both have a happier customer and more $$$ value than if you got the Stellarnova Alpha. For you to be in control of these examples, you need to regularly monitor buylists (and know their strengths, such as Hotsauce having AMAZING trade in equity) and ebay’s lowest buy it now prices.
2) Learning Trade Equity
Trade equity is a tricky thing. Basically, it’s learning to wedge opportunity costs V.S supply V.S. demand. For instance, if you have nine copies of the card Shaddoll Fusion, you have more of an incentive to trade a set of for smaller gains. The thing is though, if they start trading like hot cakes and the demand is high at the event, you might want to demand just a little bit more for them because they’re going to be easy to make a little more off of because their trade equity has gone up during the event. This is the same concept as “I can get over full value for my card before the event”. You often see Dealers and Vendors have higher prices before round one, and then slowly dropping prices as the day goes on. This is because many players will be looking for cards that they need to complete their decks. While it’s smart business, I personally don’t like the tactic. It’s one thing if a card is legitimately gaining ground at the event and winning over popularity, but it’s another thing to take advantage of a situation (even if it IS the player’s fault for being unprepared). I always trade the same way and demand the same value from start to end of an event unless there has been a price flux in my cards, and my customers appreciate that from me. They know they can get their cards at a decent value, and that I’ll usually have them, and only take a marginal loss like they would when they want a different deck at the end of the day if they find out they didn’t like their deck during the event. The two smaller pluses become equal to the bigger plus, but my customer is happy.
3) Covering the Spread
With the set of DUEA, for the first time we saw a new set completely dominate the format upon release. Even with the advent of Phantom of Darkness, Dark Armed Dragon decks were only thirteen of the top sixteen of the Shonen Jump Championship after its release. With the release of DUEA, the Canadian YCS was all DUEA influenced decks between Burning Abyss, SatellarKnights, and Shaddolls. Never in the history of Yu-Gi-Oh! has a set been so dominate. Now at regionals, we are starting to see adaptations of Mermail variants that can fight back, but they’ll have to prove their worth through more rounds to make the top sixteen of a YCS. What’s my point in all this? To have what the players want, you need to cover all three of these decks and more in your trade binder. Who knows what someone might be looking to build, competitive or casual? Chances are most people are looking for the three main decks from DUEA, but someone else might need some Abyss-Spheres in order to finish their Mermail deck. Heck, someone might need some of the new Batteryman or Skull Servant support to finish out their decks. While you can’t carry EVERY deck in Yu-Gi-Oh!, you can cover the spread the best you can with your resources to try to please as many customers as you can. You can use social media like facebook to also keep up with people in your local area, and find out what cards they’re looking to trade for so that you can have them on hand for the next local, and get them to your client!
4) Predicting Reprints and Bailing Out VS Holding On
This could basically be a category on card equity. Part of the yu-gi-oh market that stops the game from crashing like a stock market are reprints. Without reprints, prices would climb and inflate and become just stupid high, then eventually everything would come crashing down with only the collectors cards being worth anything still. Reprints are good for the game. They give Vendors and Dealers many more tools with which to make small margins with. It’s pretty hilarious to hear people think that the 2014 MegaTins would have hurt any Dealer or Vendor, because anyone who knows what they’re doing will make far more money off of this reprint set than what they could have lost. There’s an abundance of investment calls such as cheap cards now only worth $1-2.5, that were previously worth $10 plus that you can snatch up such as Downered Magician, Meliae of Trees, Imperial Tombs of Necrovalley, and Mistake. Well, history says these will all go up, and history is a pretty great teacher. Gravekeeper’s are still able to be relevant and counter the format, so price point VS potential calls it a good investment. Meliae goes up if there becomes more plant support. Downered is an amazing tool in one of the top decks, Burning Abyss.
5) Flipping VS Investing
Continuing my train of through from earlier, the problem is, to be able to invest in such cards as the mega tin reprints, you either need to trade up enough to be able to set aside cards out of your cards that you let flip to make you extra value, or you need to have other resources that allow you to do so. You can’t tie too much up into investment calls, because these can either fall through, or they can take a while. A good example is the set Premium Gold. While initial prices on a lot of cards have almost doubled, it took this long to do so. In addition, a few cards like Forbidden Lance and Effect Veiler from that set have declined from what they once were. I got rid of all my copies of those and kept copies of the more collectible cards such as Slifer and Dark Armed Dragon. Both are a mix between collectible and playable, so I called them to go up and was lucky enough to be right.
Here’s another real world example. Let’s say you have a $5 card such as the LVAL Imperial Tombs. You flip this card into a $7 card, that card into a $10 card, and that card into a $12 card, then that card into a $18 card. This process takes let’s say two to three local events and of course you’re making other trades, but this is just the string of one card’s trade life. Now, in all that time, let’s say you had that $5 invested into two $2.5 (current market value) Imperial Tombs of Necrovalley. Over the course of three months, they finally become five a pop, or let’s even say $7 to $8 and you get 2x to 3x the value. The thing is, that $5 could have been traded up and up during those months into many more cards if you had been active in trading them. This is why investing is only worth it over flipping if you’ve got the extra resources to dedicate to it. While the satisfaction of “I told you so!” and “I knew it!” is fun, I find a higher valued trade binder to be more enjoyable.
These are a few of the ways I see trading. There’s many more approaches to how you can trade up. It’s similar to a stock game. You can invest in falling “stocks” (cards), hoping for them to rise again, you can invest in rising cards that you hope to rise more, or you can just trade and flip. Questions, Comments, and concerns are all welcome as always, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter