When you play at the same tournaments week after week, you often win store credit. Most stores only allow you to use your prize money for store product, not for tournament re-entry. Most people will spend their winnings on packs for drafting, but if you do it right, you can turn your extra winnings into money!
I’ve used my winnings to get numerous draft sets for pick-up games. But if you sell these sets, it’s a great way to make some excess cash. Use your winnings to collect them, and sell the sets for $7-9 each to people who are in need, or even better, sell them on eBay. Of course, most card stores don’t want you to be selling things in their store, so you need to do it discretely, but it can be done rather easily. Another way to get these booster sets is by getting to know the owners of the store really well. If you make friends with them, you can occasionally talk them into selling you booster boxes at the rate the store pays for them, which means that you can get good deals even if it’s a slow month for winning tournaments.
It’s also a good thing to patrol your local card stores and see if they offer a tournament night or just a night when players get together to play and trade. If the store is relatively unknown, it’s possible to get some amazing deals from those players. Some are even willing to deal in cash for your cards, which of course is not going to be allowed by the store owners. Use discretion, and make sure that you’re always allowed to return to get more trades in.
If you want to make some more serious money, make sure that you expand your business to the kiddie games. While something the size of Pokemon is unlikely to come around again, that experience taught me that if you have knowledge of the game, you can make a killing. Ensure that you know how to value your cards, and kids and parents alike are willing to pay the price. Plus, you can play in tournaments, and use your experience in other games to help you get a huge advantage. One of the members of our Magic team learned how to play Pokemon, built a deck by trading the only the cards he’d gotten from four booster packs, and eventually parlayed that initial effort into a three day trip to Florida, where he finished third in the Pokemon national championship. Sure, he looked a little strange standing up next to the kids, but he also won multiple hundreds of dollars, sold his entire Pokemon collection for $560, and got a free trip out of the deal after it was all over. All this for an investment of $30? You better believe it.
How many awful rares do you accumulate over time? A ton. I’ve literally given away piles and piles of bad rares which I’ve gotten as throw aways in trades, from drafts and sealed deck tournaments, and random wins in 5-color games. I thought these rares were useless, and boy was I wrong. You know, there are some real collectors out there. These people want even the worst of rares, and are often willing to trade for them. And of course, it’s always possible to find new players who want to have a collection of every “Dragon” card they can find, regardless of it’s playability. It’s possible to get a good deal from these people, and both parties will usually get exactly what they want out of the deal.
As long as you keep up with trading and maintain a sizable collection because of drafts and sealed play, you’ll eventually build up a large number of cards you don’t need. As the season moves from Type II into Extended and Block constructed, sell off your old cards on eBay or trade them away. Make sure that your trade binder is always up to date and if you put enough work into your trade, this is an easy and fun way to make a living.
If you get into this very seriously, and want to make the most money, you’ll need to start getting into the business of making decks. If you’re a respected player in your area, often times you can offer deck advice and tutoring for scrubs for a nominal fee, or even sell them entire decks for a larger commission. Selling decks on eBay is also possible. Once you establish a more official operation, you can advertise and have people sell you their old cards, and trade them in for cash or your other products. A great option would be to rent out a table at one of the major events that you’re not going to play in. This makes you an “official” vendor, and allows you to start actually selling your products in someone else’s store for a nominal fee (it was $15 a day the last time I checked at our local venue).
If you’re in a pinch and need some easy products, become a judge and work some events, especially at Prereleases, when you’ll get a box of the new set and plenty of time to trade with people. It’s a really good learning experience, and at the end of the day, they give you a box of product, sometimes even foreign sets. It sounds like a lot of work, but because Wizards always wants to have a substantial number of judges at their major events, you won’t be doing much real work, and spending most of your day trading and talking with your friends.
If you’re an artist, buy some of those high-quality playmats and draw some of the cards on its surface. I’ve seen some pretty nice one’s going for $100 when drawn by the real Magic artists. If you make a replica, you can easily get $50 for it, and cool accessories are always in demand with players.
These are just a few suggestions which I’ve found to be helpful. While I never went into the business myself, three former team members quit their involvement in our team in order to turn themselves to this business full time. If you have the energy to put into the trading and acquiring of products, this can be a real source of income for you.