Profiting in Yu-Gi-Oh!: Narratives of Negative Ned

What’s going on duelists! For those of you who don’t know who I am, I’m Ned Salkovitch or infamously known as “Negative Ned” in the Yu-Gi-Oh! community. As my name suggests, I am known to go “negative”, or lose money, when I would make investments in the Yu-Gi-Oh! world. Despite the fake title that has been placed on me; I do make a decent amount of money off of this game primarily off of speculation and investments, some of which have paid off nicely, and others that haven’t worked out so well. While us players cannot buy or sell cards inside a venue at Konami/ARG events, there are plenty of other ways to make money off of Yu-Gi-Oh! based on speculation, investments in cards, and off of simple information. Today I hope to share some of that information that can make Yu-Gi-Oh! a cheaper and not as much of a financial burden on the community.

Number106GiantHand-YCSW-EN-UR-LESo as we all know, Yu-Gi-Oh! can be a very expensive game to play. With the metagame constantly shifting and deck choices changing possibly every event, it can be a financial burden to have and maintain the card pool we need to play competitively. Most of us right now are either working part time jobs and are in school, or have graduated college and have a decent paying job; but right now competitive Yu-Gi-Oh! decks are hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars depending on how foiled out your deck is and the type of deck you are playing right now. If you are playing an Artifact variant deck or any rank 4 oriented deck and want to play a Giant Hand, that’s $700 dollars down the drain off of one card, but Giant Hand is an important card to have access to. Not only do you have to pay money for your deck, but if you plan on playing competitively and travel you will need to pay to do it. Trips can easily be $200 or more between gas/hotel/food, and if you are flying, tickets can cost anywhere from $200-400 on average depending on the airport. So now that we have an idea of what it costs to play, you maybe wondering how do some of the people who you see at all of the events have the money to go to these events and have the money to go?

There are a few answers to that question, the first one is that these players can have a sponsor, like Hotsauce, ARG, Get There Games, etc. that pays for these players to play at events, they have the money to go out to all of these events without any financial aid, or the players make money ahead of time to pay for their trip or make money at the events. Now I’m sure we all at one point or another have seen people at events go around the room and ask almost everyone the famous question, “Do you have any Yu-Gi-Oh! cards for trade?” For those who don’t know what that question means, if someone is walking around the room asking to trade you at an event that can obviously mean that someone is just trying to trade cards that they are looking for, but it usually means that the person asking the question is trying to trade others to make a profit for themselves. Usually when people are trading for a card they need for that event they do not mind taking a hit on the trade if they are giving up cards that do not matter to them. While this may come off in a bad light because one person is making money off the other, as long as both parties are happy with the deal and both parties understand what is being traded there shouldn’t be any issues. I used to trade all the time at events and would make hundreds of dollars in profit alone in one day at regionals just by trading with other people.

AlexandriteDragon-PHSW-SP-EN-UR-LENow the obvious question is going to be asked, “How do I know how much profit I made and how could I possibly make that much money off others with them being satisfied and off trading alone? Before I would go to an event, I would study buy lists that websites like would post and memorize hundreds of cards that they want and the prices that they would pay, but, I wouldn’t memorize cards that were expensive and were very playable like Exciton Knight, 101, PGLD Slifer and so on. I would memorize prices on lower end and unplayable Yu-Gi-Oh! cards that people wouldn’t care as much about trading such as Egyptian God cards, Sacred Beasts and cards like one of my favorite cards of all time Alexandrite Dragon. The reason I would learn those cards over the playable cards is because that is where I could make the most amount of profit and it was the easiest way to trade with people. Most players will know what an Exciton Knight is worth because they either had to buy one or so many people need it so the price is more or less common knowledge, so they will know the value or a rough estimate of its value. However, people will be less likely to know the value of these cheaper cards. For example, how much do you think a PGLD Slifer is worth right now? A couple of dollars, maybe $5 at most? Well Hotsauce offers $7.50 on the card right now. So using that as an example, knowing that they pay 7.50, I would go to an event valuing others Slifers at $5-6 dollars on the card. To most people they will be shocked that their “garbage” card is worth more then a few bucks and instantly trade that and other cards of that nature for something of value to them; like a 101. Now you get more in value for your 101 then you would off of eBay or off of other stores. Now this is a main example of why people call me “Negative Ned.” I could value others’ Slifers at $3-4 and double my money, but the lower you value a card, the less likely you will be able to pick it up off of someone else. It’s also nice to have a reputation of offering well on cards because more people will come and trade with you over someone else if you are known to offer well in your area.
The most insane example of a low-end card making money for me was Alexandrite Dragon. Back in the day when Photon Shockwave came out, one of my friends was trading for all of the Alexandrite Dragons in the sneak preview and was offering a dollar a piece. I was shocked he actually wanted the card and surely enough a lot of people were shocked as well and most of the store got rid of Alexandrite’s for the dollar apiece. I decided to pick up a few because I and a feeling something was up. So, after the event he told me that Alexandrite Dragons were consistently selling on eBay for 12.99 a playset. So after fees and shipping he would get $9.00 for the play set in the worst case scenario. I was mind blown that he basically made about $6 off of his $3 that he put in. For a decent period of time I would trade and resell the Alexandrines on eBay for the 12.99. Now with the massive amount of reprints Alexandrite Dragon cannot sell for what it once did, but as the numbers show during that time period, that investment was “not so negative.”

1052568While these profits may seem very small, they add up quickly and have a really strong snowball effect. Let’s say we were in the Photon Shockwave era and Hotsauce bought all Slifers for $7.50. If you were to pick up 21 Alexandrite Dragons for a dollar a piece and 10 Slifers for $5 a piece at an event you would make $67.00 (42 from Alexandrite Dragon sales and 25 from Slifer sales). Now imagine if you could do this with hundreds of cards, the profit that someone can make at an event can be endless. While trading can be very profitable at events the only problem is that you are limited by the amount of cards you can trade at an event. If your binder is worth $10, you will make way less then someone with a $2-3000 dollar binder. Like I said earlier though, repeating this process has a snowball effect and the more times you repeat the process the more money you can make and the easier your Yu-Gi-Oh! experience can be.

If you don’t think that the snowball effect is really then it’s story time about yours truly ladies and gentlemen. When I wanted to really play Yu-gi-oh competitively I only had $300 dollars to my name and wanted to play Tele-dad. Now that deck costs over $1000 between Crush Card, Dark Armed Dragon, etc., and I was only 15 at the time, so making about $800 in less then six months seemed very unrealistic. Now I ended up getting the deck in less then a day with my $300. This may not be a shocker to some people; but my non-yugioh friends were mind blown when they read this article. Now you all must be wondering how I was able to do this as a 15 year old.

If any of our readers are from the NY/NJ area and went to sneaks when they were not at local stores back in the day there was a vendor called “Whateverdot.” This vendor was very unique at sneaks because they would buy any super from the pack for $5, any ultra for $10 so on and so on. So at sneaks I would trade someone a card worth nothing in my binder for any super from the new set and sell the super to them for $5.00. At the time my binder was maybe worth $100 max so making $5 was off a random card was great. I kept selling them cards every sneak and my dad started talking to the owner of Whateverdot since he thought the whole vending process was interesting. So one event Whateverdot was shorthanded and needed extra help for the event, so they asked me to work for them for the day. One of the perks that I had was that I could buy cards for my deck if I came across them while buying since I explained my situation to the owner. At the time I didn’t realize it but I was living a dream: I could buy cards at events, I could get cards I needed for my deck and I could make some money at the same time. By the end of that event I bought cards for the store I learned about profit margins and how to make money. Not only that; but I ended up getting all of the stuff I was missing for Tele-Dad for around $500. With all of my hard work I came home broke but I got a deck that I thought was going to be completely unattainable for my starting $300. Then before the ban list was going to come out later that format I sold the whole Tele-Dad deck online for about $1200, and used that money to buy a Lightsworn deck that I needed to play the next format and had extra money to enter tournaments and fend for myself. That Tele-Dad deck was the starting point for me being able to fend for myself in the Yu-Gi-Oh! world.

While it does take hard work, it is possible for Yu-Gi-Oh! to be less of a financial burden then it actually is. Trading at events is one effective way to make money, but there are many other ways of making money at the game. I hope you guys learned some new things about the financial side of the game. This is my first article and I would love to hear feedback from you guys so please leave a comment below about the article and let me know if there was anything you would like to hear in my next article. Til next time!

-Negative Ned

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