An Introduction To Trading Magic: The Gathering Cards

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Is Goblin Guide a fair trade for two Hallowed Fountains? Does it matter if the fountains are from original Ravnica versus Return to Ravnica? What if the Goblin Guide is from Modern Masters 2017? Does that change the value any? Will a throw in of a foil Smash to Smithereens make this a better trade? In whose favor? Is it okay to trade if you’re on the losing end of a few cents of value?

This video will show the means to answer those questions and more. It will cover setting up and maintaining a trade folder, proper trade etiquette and theory including uptrading, downtrading, throw ins and of course pricing.

Please note: this video is designed as a guide to successfully navigate trades in good faith. It does not contain tips and tricks meant to maximize your trade experience by taking advantage of a trade partner’s ignorance and/or trust, I.e. “Sharking.”

In fact rule one for this video is that if a trade that is excessively in your favor begins to form, you should always be very clear and upfront with your trade partner about this imbalance. Never taking advantage of your trade partner, even a little, is the #1 directive. If you disagree, then this video is not for you. It is recommended you shut this video off, and reassess who and how you wish to be.


While there’s no absolute method by which to sort your cards within your trade folder, having some system is preferable to having none at all. Why? Because just having a disorganized trade folder might mean that your trade partner could pass over potential trades.

This is a headache, I’m looking for the tron lands and i only spot one of them even though this folder has all three. If these had been better organized, it would have been easier for me to identify that you had the cards I was looking for, and we might have been able to work out a trade for them.

Thus, organization, if only just a little, is key. There’s many orders you can organize your trade folder by, several of which I cover in my video How to Sort and organize your collection, but the simplest if of course just by color.


An ideal trade is one card or one selection of cards, exchange for another card or selection of cards of equal or near equal value. Typically, an imbalance of up to about fifty cents is acceptable for a fair trade.

However, there are many factors that should be considered when trading which can complicate this: Are you trading cards that may be rapidly going up in value for cards that may be rapidly going down in value? What about trading a large a selection of low value cards for one high value card?

Before we can cover that, let’s start with the basic concept of card pricing. Where and how do you get card prices from? How do you know what your cards are worth?


Sleepy John says:

In my 15 years of mtg I’ve never traded lol……i just buy the singles. Not messing with people

Samuel Hickey says:

For the more expensive cards, cardkingdom is inaccurate.

Tree the oak says:

Prof I just wanna say this has been one of if not the best tutorial on how to conduct a trade with any card game I have Watched! Honestly the tips from organizing to making sure your binder is not just filled with $30 staples to offering a healthy economy within your LGS to ensure both trades and store owners are happy with trades are fantastic peices of advice that I know people take for granted!

When I become employed again ill be sure to give you a a few dollars as a patreon.

S V says:

make a video telling us about how often you play magic and which formats!

Sota Steelwing says:

I miss trading as a kid. Back when trading cards were fun.

Denlo Caltis says:

Anybody got any trades? I got a pack-fresh Scapeshift i’ve been meaning to trade out.

SmugLookingBarrel says:

In your opinion, do reserved list cards command value above their price? For example, would you trade two copies of Liliana of the Veil ($110, modern and legacy staple but not on the reserved list) for a revised edition Tundra? ($220, and it is on the reserved list). Would you call that a fair trade?

st00ben says:

If you made a video like this for Pokemon, mentioning rotation, staples and both formats, it would be amazing for newcomers to watch.

SamuraiMotoko says:

Trading was the way to get rip off young kids, specially kids like me.

Tolarian Community College says:

Want to know what The Professor thinks are the top 3 BEST Binders and Portfolios for Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, and other Card Games? Check out my picks here:

dmany13 says:

Maybe traded,I place,upside down in my rrsde,binder

B Berry says:

Odd side note that might be helpful: in Japan trading cards in a store is not seen as acceptable in anyway and not allowed. (Baring very rare exceptions of course)

Humble Howard says:

When I came back to Magic during the RTR block, I pretty much retired from trading. It is easier to buy singles online. I find that LGSs in my area do not have a lot of singles and it is time consumming to trade.

Stat1stique says:

Every new player should watch this video.

Zach Porter says:

What a great video. Thank you for covering this topic. It’s not something you see on YouTube, but it is something every player can take something away from.

Marcos Rivera says:

I usually just point out what cards are either. Harder to trade or not for trade. I have my “better” cards in Dex protection binders, a land binder, 2 “unorganized random” binders and a personal collection binder.

(Totally forgot about the 3 inch binder with foils organized by color and set)

Ricardo A says:

Make a video on hygiene next.

Toa Matau says:

I’d argue that fair value isn’t even always a concern. I’ve recently been introducing a friend to the game and he was looking to trade off some booster pack cards he’d gotten. After pulling out one of the rares and a few uncommons, I expected him to grab at least a half dozen of the cards he was looking for (cheap red burn) but he only grabbed a number equal to the amount I wanted. I told him that the cards I had asked for were likely more valuable (by simple rarity, nothing super expensive) but he didn’t care. What mattered to him was getting cards in his colors, it didn’t matter how valuable the others were if he’d never use them.

Eatjumper HD says:

Hello guys! This has nothing to do with the video… I was searching around in my old pokemon cards and found a charizard (black, delta species) in good condition. I found out it could be worth a lot… So I am simply asking what you guys think/know about this card and how much it could be worth (I am not into pokemon cards) and know professor has some pokemon videos so I hope someone could help me.

Thank you guys!
Greets from Switzerlands 🙂

hizu mi says:

so…. its a card game ?

Jester King says:

So much of this I’ve been saying for years! Pricing, Up/Down trading, Organizing! It’s all important. My best friend and I both help craft the trading community around a few of our LGSs using almost everything said here. I had stopped playing for a few years and when I came back to the game, it seemed that no one new how to trade! It’s so refreshing to see The Professor reinforcing the pillars of Trade Etiquette. Thank you!

Daniel Martín Ontiveros Vizcarra says:

at my local store
-how much for this bunch of commons (10 cards)? -5 dollars -OMG!!
-I have those rares for sell, how much do you give me? -15c per card -OMG!!

Avery Rains says:

I don’t agree with your “no cash for cards in store” policy due to the fact that a lot of the time if I am buying a card in a store from another player it is either because 1. The store is out of stock of the card I need or 2. The store has completely overpriced a card compared to the price I can buy it from another player. As long as I support my store in other ways I shouldn’t feel obligated to not get the best deal for my cards any legal way I can.

MinerRockerz says:

When trading I keep a mental catalog of my card prices so that when someone asks about the card I can respond instantly. I will once settled on card, however, check my phone on two- three sites for prices and clarify them with the person I’m trading with. I’ve also started doing like the Professor said and include cheap stable cards in my binder. I think this video clarified most of my trade rules so thanks Prof.

GameBoy 51 says:

Once i was trading and we had a dollar difference so we agreed on me buying him a bottle of water from the store and we called it even

Miztickow says:

I think MTGGoldfish does the same thing with prices that Scryfall does, but also shows the price history.

Owen Masur says:

I managed to trade a scarab god for a vampiric tutor. I play commander, so scarab god isn’t as useful for me.

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