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Top Traders Talk: Doug Montalvo

Tedditor's Note

In our new series, we have our Top Traders Talk about how they use Cardsphere. We're kicking things off with Doug Montalvo, who you can usually find at the top of both of our leaderboards. If you'd like to be featured in a future Top Traders Talk, please send your thoughts to ted@cardsphere.com.

Hi, I'm Doug Montalvo, sometimes known as "rich Doug" on Discord. I was asked to share a little bit about my experiences on Cardsphere.com (hereafter CS). First and foremost, CS is perfect for my situation. That being said, what's my situation? I am getting out, or so I tell myself.

It took me a little over 23 yrs to get into magic and do it right. I'm thinking it should take close to 2 yrs to maximize my exit.

As with many other CS users, I started out on another similar platform. I think I am still something like twelfth place all-time, but I haven't checked for a while and personally don’t care! I only moved what I considered to be expendable cards there. I joined CS less than a month after launch and within a few short weeks, after loading all my good cards, I was the number one sender by dollar amount and have never fallen. My friend Woadworks, another Texas boy, was able to help me get my inventory from other systems imported. A month after I was number one in quantity as well...again, never looking back!

How did I get all these cards?

Well, I was a Vendor on the Grand Prix circuit, averaging 2 to 3 bigger events a year. Then I started including nationals, prereleases and 10 to 12 Ptqs, cash events, states, and all this even before they went to stores with PPTQs. I was a level II judge for 15 years judging worlds, nationals, regionals and probably 20 to 35 GP's.... if you're curious about my activity just google me and you will find a stupid amount of judge stuff. I started playing EDH with John Carter (lvl 4 at the time) and Sheldon Menery (Lvl 5 Judge) the creators of EDH (aka Commander) at GPs as judges.

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So my foil collection got stupid with judge foils, vending (I'd buy one for me and two to send), and trading on other platforms where that was about all I got...so, needless to say, that is where my addiction comes from.

My current situation as of this writing: $62,000.00 value in 39,000 cards available on CS. And I still have about 15,000 cards to add without even talking about the 100+ of unopened boxes.

I started with about $75,00000 value in 25,000 cards, uploading my database putting around 10,000 cards by hand. This is an important factor when starting out: Add what you deem worthy value wise, but remember people also want things you don't! When trying to get rid of cards always go for quantity over quality! Just in case you're curious I have already cashed out $20,000 in US dollars, am working on more, and probably have also received around $3,000.00 in foils. I'm going to make some assumptions here. You have a little experience, a year or two in the hobby and you have already made the mistakes of most newbies. Now your goal is to always trade quantity for quality and mostly trade up.

How does someone arrange 40,000 cards?

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Money is time. I personally think you should determine what your time is worth, and how much time is reasonable to spend sorting your cards. My stock is in 5,000 card boxes, 14 to be exact. I divide them with top loaders and an excel spreadsheet template for the whole alphabet that fits the top-loader. After alphabetical, I have them divided by color into sleeved (>$.50 and condition written on the sleeve) and unsleeved. Sleeved cards make a natural separators by color. Unsleeved cards are also subdivided by new border, old border, white border, and then cards >20 in quantity. For example, usually people have around 10 Diabolic Tutors... I have significantly more (100+) and never want to look through more cards than necessary. Because time is money.

Mistakes I've made in this arena: You are only as good as your inventory. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't add cards less than $.15. In other words I want to be able to pull at least $10 worth of cards in an hour. That's profit, and many smaller cards aren't worth anything to me because I've had them so long. Right now I can go to a box and find any specific card within a couple hundred cards just because of how I have it arranged. I also wouldn’t add more than 20 of any card. Of course, if you have all the time in the world this advice doesn't apply.

I also am emotionally detached from any and all cards that are on CS! I never add a card that I don’t 100% want to get rid of. The key is patience. For example, I started with over 40 INN Snapcaster Mages and I have only four or five left. But I have never moved one for LESS than 90%! I also have deep, deep stock of most cards and the only time I am ever sad to see a card go is my last one. I take moving my last card to mean I didn’t ask enough. High-demand cards mean you should be fulfilling only the best offers!

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I usually don’t go below 80% as a self-imposed standard, but every now and again I'll go "slumming" and drop it to 70% to send out a lot of cards that don’t seem to move otherwise. I had my minimum packages set at $5.00, but recently moved down to $3.00.

I sold real estate in Florida in the early 2000s, and consumables for printer and computers before that. The best-case scenario is having a willing buyer and willing seller, always! Me, Twieg, MES, Doran are willing buyers ALWAYS! If you are at the right % I will buy them all day long, especially in bulk! This is normally 70% to 75% on staples, less for non-staples, and these other guys are right behind me.

My rules of thumb for sending are:

  • Slow movers: <80% in bigger packages or when I have deep stock
  • Most cards: 80% or higher
  • Playables: 85-90%
  • Modern staples: 90-95%
  • SEND NOW: 95%+

Of course, everything in this article is how I do things, you can and should do what's best for you!

What would happen if we all demanded more? As an economist, high school math teacher, and being most of the way through an MBA... numbers rule! The law of supply and demand is real. Don't be in a hurry to give your cards away. That can actually hurt all of us because people will think "Well, the last one went for X" when it was actually a fluke.

If you WANT a card, offer more! If you don’t need it immediately, offer less. Maybe someone will send it, or maybe not.

How do I package my sends? I pick up my plain white envelopes (PWEs) at Wal-Mart. I put up to three cards max in the small ones, and in the large ones up to nine cards on one stamp or eighteen cards on two stamps. Anything greater than that I send via a padded envelope. I buy those in cases from Uriline in boxes of 250. I recycle top-loaders, but I use far more than I receive...so I buy from BCW. Two cases of fifty packs of twenty five each. Buying two cases gets me free shipping. I definitely take advantage of quantity breaks. I also have a set amount where I use a padded envelope with tracking, which gets adjusted for people I frequently send card to. Again, this is the kind of decision you have to make, no one can tell you.

Ultimately, my goal's to send cards I don't want for CS cash I do want. I try to send out quantity over quality, I'm stingy and demand higher % for certain cards, and I get it.

I get more because I hold out for more. My send page is absolutely full of cards that are too low for me to send out... I am excited for more premium features to come. I continue to make suggestions to the founders, even though I've been reminded that because I'm an atypical user (in that my wants are low), I may have to wait for some features users like me want.

All the same, the site is a stellar tool for me, so I will make it work. Good luck, if you have any playable foils hit me up, I'm usually on discord (which by the way helps!)

Ted Rodney

Ted Rodney

Cardsphere Founder. Opened first booster of Revised in '94 and returned to the game during Scars block. Pauper, EDH, Modern, Standard Limited. Always happy to talk to the community.

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