Do You Want to Play a Game?

This is a game that was actually created a group of Yu-Gi-Oh! players. That were at a SJC (a very large Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament with well over 500 people) and they saw a Lucky Piped Piper lying on the ground (it was foil, but a worthless one; $3 maybe). They asked around the area to see if it belonged to anyone, but to no avail.

They were just going to discard it until they came up with the idea for this game. The idea was to see how much they could turn this card into simply by trading. I don’t remember exactly what they ended up with, but I remember that their haul was well over $300.

What You Need To Play

A junk holo: Technically you could do this with any Pokémon card, but a pointless holo is traditionally how this game is played.

A large tournament: This is a really hard game to play at anything other than Nationals or Worlds. Since you really need a large number of people to trade with, anything smaller just wouldn’t work as well.

You can play this game individually or with any number of people, just make sure you’re all starting with the same card. This is a great game to also help you improve your trading skills. Let me be clear when I say “improve your trading skills”: I’m not talking about ripping off little kids.

What I’m talking about is using trading strategies to get the cards you need. I’ll give a quick run through of some they used and some of my own.


Playability: The first trade the guy made was to try and find something playable. He traded it for a damaged card worth about the same (it would be in comparison to trading for a damaged Rare Candy). Did he get ahead value wise? No he didn’t, but he did get a card that more people would want even damaged. It would be easier to trade than a junk holo.

Diversify: Having 9 copies of a card can make your trade binder look cool, but unless it’s an incredibly playable card it doesn’t make trading any easier. I would much rather have 9 different $10 cards than 9 copies of a $10 card.

Quantity: I’m a big believer in quality over quantity, but in this little game you really need to get a lot of cards to make it easier to trade with you. I don’t remember exactly what the trade was but a very early trade he made was taking a semi playable $10 card and trading it for 3 semi playable $4 cards. He didn’t lose anything value or playability wise, but he really was able open up a lot more trade possibilities simply by having more cards to offer.

Being Polite: This sounds so obvious, but it’s true: if you’re rude, pushy or try to be intimidating, people are far less likely to want to trade with you. Being fun, friendly and personable will get you much farther in trading and the business world in general.


Trade! Trade! Trade!: You have to trade a lot. He made a ton of trades very quickly, and he wasn’t just sitting around hoping people would come to him. He was out looking at binders, etc. You can’t expect his results by only making a few trades. You should expect to make a few hundred trades.

Walk Away: If you just can’t get a deal worked out or the other person is trying to be a bully, don’t be afraid to just say “hey I don’t think we can work anything out” and walk off. There are plenty of other people to trade with.


One of the last things I want to cover is cheating. This game is incredibly easy to cheat at, but there really isn’t a point to it. I mean, of course you could pull cards out of your binder and say you traded for them, but that doesn’t really help make you a better trader and it supposed to be a fun game regardless.

The other thing I consider cheating is ripping people off. The guy who came up with this game actually wrote all of his trades down and had the trade partner sign off on it (another way to prevent cheating), but looking at his sheet he didn’t rip one person off. He just made a lot of smart trades, made a few dollars here and there and made a few hundred dollars over the course of a few hours.

If you can find a guy who will trade his $20 for your $10 card, I would call that being a good trader. If he knows the values, he simply needs the card bad enough that he doesn’t care (this is very common at Nationals at Worlds). I once saw a guy pay $20 cash for a LA Mesprit. The reason might have something to do with decklist for Worlds having to be turned in within the next 15 mins. Supply, Demand, and Necessity are the three main principles that govern trading. So to lay it out…

  • Making large trades with young kids who don’t know their values is not only despicable in my opinion but cheating in this game.
  • Lying about values: If you tell somebody what your card is worth or theirs, it better be the truth. Telling somebody their Pokémon Collector is worth a Quarter is kind of like saying you were in bounds when you know you were out of bounds in a friendly game of football.
  • Trying to intimidate people into trades does not only makes you a loser but its cheating as well.

So by now I’m sure many of you are asking yourself how did he possibly turn a $3 card into a few hundred dollars worth of cards without cheating people or being dishonest. The answer is quite simple: he didn’t care what he was trading for.

He wasn’t after any card or desperately trying to finish off a deck (which is often the case at Nationals or Worlds). He was simply trading to be trading.

He was also very friendly and personable which made people WANT to trade with him. Yes, it is possible to be a good trader without being a jerk, cheat, etc.

The last point I would like to make is there is a difference between driving a hard bargain and being an idiot. Offering me a $5 card for my $30 card makes you an idiot. However, if you ever watch two really good traders go at it each trying to get the upper hand, I would consider this driving a hard bargain.

It’s a game. Have fun. Don’t be idiot or else nobody will like trading with you. It’s also really easy to get a bad reputation, which can make trading a lot harder.

The Winner

The winner is person who got the better haul. This can be pretty debatable, so if its a big issue you might want to set up what pricing website you’re going to use or what “playablity” means ahead of time. But hopefully none of you that give this a try are so serious about it that you need to pull out a website to start pricing stuff.

The last thing I suggest doing, which is something he did was at the end: trade for the same card you started it with. So at the end of the day he walked out with over $300 worth of cards and 1 Lucky Pied Piper.

So, hopefully you enjoyed the article. It might be a fun game to play around Nationals or Worlds, especially if you enjoying trading.


Reader Interactions

16 replies

  1. Anonymous

    I remember hearing about this game (Dam, I lost The Game) back when I played Yu-Gi-Oh, but I’ve never been to any big tournament to try it out. Sounds like a great idea though.

  2. Anonymous

    This is a really fun game, and reminds me exactly of how the classic red paperclip story goes:

    Last year at nationals there was a joke that I couldn’t get to trade my honchkrow level X for anything playable, and I was able to walk away with a set of pokedrawer, a cyrus and a dual ball. I didn’t end up trading those to go any farther, but I’m gonna try it again next nats and see how far I can go!

  3. Chris Barrieau

    Reminds me of that story a few years ago… About this guy started off with a paperclip, and traded for a few months or a few years or something and actually made it to a house. Some pretty insane stuff. I tried it. I miserably failed. I made it to a can of soda then got thirsty and drank it. XD

  4. Anonymous

    A group of my friends played this game, but we started with a piece of Big Red gum. We ended up with a fairly nice sectional couch. Honest to goodness truth.

  5. Derek Coontz

    I remember doing this as a school project a few years ago based off the classic paper clip story. It was really fun and it was actually how I ended up finally getting a copy of Fire Red!

  6. Ed Mandy

    I really liked this article. I can’t put my finger on why, exactly, but it was just a fun read.

    At my girlfriend’s (now wife) birthday party many years ago, we played a game they called, “Bigger and Better.” Each team started with an item (I think we all started with the same item), and headed out. We went to houses around the neighborhood asking if they had anything bigger or better that they’d be willing to trade for the item we had. Repeat that several times, and you’ll end up with something fairly bigger or better than you started with. Eventually we all showed up back at the party to show off the crazy stuff we obtained.

    Yeah, it’s not really the same, but it reminded me of that. The “Bigger and Better” idea could be played anywhere with anything, and part of the fun is determining the ultimate winner. You might end up with one guy returning with a huge cardboard box and another with an old Gameboy. Which one’s bigger and better?

    The card trading challenge puts a lot more emphasis on the skill/knowledge of the player. They’re going to need a fair bit of expertise to do well.

    It’s too bad this didn’t get posted right before Regionals/Nats. I bet there would be a lot of groups trying it if it was fresh in people’s minds.

  7. Perry Going

    im going to try this and start with a spinda SV…. tough i say

  8. Josh

    Im gonna try this starting tonight at league. Im starting off with a RH Carnivine UL.

  9. Josh Anspach

    Im going to do this starting at my league tonight. The card I chose is a RH Carnivine from Unleased. $.33 cents on Troll and Toad. Wish me luck.

  10. Anonymous

    I am very disappointed the picture of Ema Stone got cut, I remember you having a picture of Jennifer Aniston in one of these. What no love for Brunettes Adam?

Leave a Reply

You are logged out. Register. Log in.