Mind-Boggling Technology – Long-Term Plans

Q: Do you think it is possible to be a successful Pro while also living a “normal life” (work, school, fun), or is the necessary dedication and all the traveling too much?

A: With school and university it’s certainly doable, although you really need to watch your priorities. It’s very easy to just fail classes when playing too much Magic. And once you get to the point where you skip exams for Magic tournament, it’s just a lost cause.

With a normal job with actual 8-to-5 office hours I don’t see it. There’s just too much traveling involved. Maybe if you do absolutely nothing else and burn your vacation for all events and your boss is an understanding guy you could pull it off. But that sounds way too stressful to me.

This is an excerpt from an article written by PV and he’s interviewing the legendary Kai Budde himself.

If you don’t want to listen to me, at least listen to Kai Budde.

I want to discuss how to balance Magic with real life because there must come a time where we all grow up. It’s not all misery from me this week since there are also many ways to squeeze a profit from this crazy game we play.

It’s good to have a goal for Magic and it differs with each individual. Do you want to be the best at your kitchen table? FNM? How about the Pro Tour? These are questions we all need to ask ourselves and if there’s an opportunity to go farther as you progress.

Kai said that it’s very difficult to balance time accordingly in order to be a successful pro and have a regular life. If he thinks it’s tough, how do the rest of us have a chance? He’s an incredibly talented player and the reason he became one of the all-time in my eyes is because he realized when it’s time to throw in the towel. Magic is a fun game and it’s awesome to make a name for yourself, but how long can it last? There are certainly exceptions to this rule because I think the current economic model for professional players will change soon, but that’s for a later discussion.

Imagine if you are on the gravy train going from tournament to tournament, what do you have to show for it five years from now? Is this constant grinding accomplishing your long term goal?

This goal could be to someday work for WOTC designing cards and having good credentials in the game is necessary in many cases. Mike Turian is a great example of this and there are plenty of others who have gone on to work for WOTC. His success in the game displayed his ability to be a great member of the R&D team.

I don’t want to say that it’s impossible to balance a real life with a full-time Magic career. The best examples of this are Matt Sperling and Paul Rietzl. They have found a way to balance the real world and Magic world and it seems to be going well for them. Paul managed to make the finals of two Pro Tours in the last seven months. Matt almost top 8ed Worlds while juggling a full-time job and girlfriend. I bring up Paul and Matt because there aren’t many players who do this. We are all just as capable, but it requires some finesse.

Magic won’t be around forever, but it’s done a good job at being the top dog for many years. I would be very surprised if it went under anytime in the future, but there must be something beyond it for us. The Pro Tour lifestyle is glamorized by the media, but many players have other means of income in order to lead a stable lifestyle. Do you really want to live you life based on recent tournament success?

We are a very unique breed, us Magicians. Our nature makes us want to use our minds to make money instead of working tedious jobs. Why is it that every pro/semi-pro seems to be writing articles now? Is there a strong correlation between being good at Magic and having a passion for writing? I would say no, but it’s a way to have more stable income. I enjoy what I do very much, but I’m obviously not a writing major. (UNLEASH THE TROLLS)

We can use our minds to turn a profit from a children’s card game, so why can’t we invent something that changes the way we live? “The Social Network” is a film that changed the way I view life. Mark Zuckerburg is a brilliant man who associated himself with other brilliant people in order to create Facebook. My colleagues from tournaments mirrored his associates very nicely and I got to thinking why I can’t do this as well.

Magic is a great starting point for building connections, and the possibilities are endless. The people who we associate with are incredibly brilliant and our combined brainpower can change the world for the better. In order to make something like Facebook work, you must eat, sleep, and breathe it. Don’t we do this with Magic when we are preparing for a big tournament? We are all smart enough to do something big, we just have to do it.

We can use what we have learned from tournaments and apply it to our real life. My tournament success has shown me that I can do whatever I want if there is enough time and effort put forth. The biggest reason that I know that school is lacking is because I have the capability to be the best, but my grades don’t reflect it. I can spend numerous hours testing decks and finding the correct decklist, but I’m rarely that critical of my schoolwork. There are people like that in this world and those are the ones who are competing with me. This is a signal that I need to step up my game in the real world.

Look at Dave Williams and Eric Froelich; didn’t they start from Magic? Fast forward to the present where they have taken poker just as seriously as Magic and are now just straight-up ballin’. Their talent in MTG translated to poker very well and hit it big time.

I’m not saying that everyone reading this should try to be a poker pro because it isn’t that easy. I feel that many people look at poker the same way that my relatives view Magic when I tell them that I won so much money at Pro Tour San Diego. They say things along the lines of “maybe I should just quit my job and go win thousands of dollars playing a card game!” There’s obviously countless hours of practice that may or may not pay off in the long run.

We see players around us doing big things and just assume that we are entitled to large sums of money as well. Each person who has hit it big took their own talents and used them appropriately. We all have unique gifts that can be of some value to the market, but it’s important to utilize them properly.

Our connections can also be used to help push new entrepreneurial ventures. Gerard Fabiano has used his connections in order to promote his website- 3thingstoknow.com. He used the fame that was achieved through MTG in order to find more people to support his site. Do you think there aren’t any MTG players that know a thing or two about programming?

It’s not like you need to be a professional Magic player for this either. Do you think mtgmom.com was created by a pro or Megan Holland? The answer is Megan Holland and I think she’s a great example of how being well-connected in the Magic community is beneficial for anyone regardless of skill. (Not that I’m saying she can’t sling a spell or two.)

Another example of this is my girlfriend Tatyana. She is a cartoonist and her work can be seen in some of my recent articles. She is currently looking for work and it’s a lot easier to find thanks to the Magic community (and because she is Osyp’s stepsister). Anyone is capable of producing a good or service that’s useful to someone and we know hundreds of people that can be potential clients or employers.

There are many Magic players that are nerds by today’s standards. Nerds are interesting creatures because they focus a majority of their leisure time on a small amount of subjects. There are even Fantasy Football nerds although it’s considered to be more of a jock subject. My point is that there are people we know that are very good at what they do. We can use their talents to help pursue our own goals.

What about those of us who don’t have our own business or website that are looking for a healthy balance of MTG? Personally, I go to school part time because I have aspirations of becoming a business consultant. A Bachelor’s Degree in Economics will be mine in one short year and it couldn’t come any sooner. Grinding on the Pro Tour is extremely fun and profitable for me, but it’s not what I want to do forever. I would consider myself a lost cause if I didn’t continue with school because there wouldn’t be much for me outside of Magic. It’s good to work toward a larger goal while playing the game competitively. This may be obvious to most of you, but I hope it can provide a wake-up call to at least one member of the audience.

I was inspired to write this because someone asked my how I have the time to go to school and play Magic full-time. Going to school is very profitable and gives you great opportunities along the road. I go to college, PV goes to college, your mom goes to college. This isn’t the plan for everyone, but it should be for most people. The only reason that I am only going to school part-time is because of travel conflicts for big tournaments. I am lucky enough to have the luxury of being able to wait a few extra semesters to graduate and I am more than aware that others don’t. I feel that I would regret it for the rest of my life if I miss out of going to all of these exotic locations for tournaments. There’s an opportunity cost of doing this because each year I don’t have a good job, I give up that salary.

Our long-term plans can be achieve through what we have learned at tournaments.
The confidence/cockiness (that’s up to you to decide) that I display in my articles and on the tournament scene can just as easily be displayed in a job interview. The goal is to establish yourself as an asset to the company and you must first convince yourself that you are worth it. I tend to take a strategic approach to anything I do since I have been playing tournaments for so long.

Magic players are very sure of themselves in the confines of a tournament center, but they can be picked out like sore thumbs in the real world. Why is this so true? Can’t we be confident people everywhere else, too? The stereotypical Magic player is hardly a player, right? We just need the right mindset in order to change that. I know there are many exceptions to this rule, but they are exceptions to the rule.

This game gives us the tools to be the most successful people the world has to offer, but it’s often not viewed as such. I’m learning how to be a confident young businessman and there are plenty of more successful people before me who have done the same with the help of the Magic community.

Thanks for reading, now go out there and achieve your goals!



30 thoughts on “Mind-Boggling Technology – Long-Term Plans”

  1. If it was even slightly important to you, you would make the necessary sacrifices to get where you wan in magic t.If you really cared about magic that much, you would quit school, focus completely on magic at the expense of everything else, stop whining, suck it up and buy 4 Jace the mind sculptors.

  2. This was about time commitment, not monetary commitment… Obviously if you try to play on a budget you’ll have trouble winning Pro Tours, but it’s much easier to give up $400 than your whole future (not going to college). Thanks for the article Kyle, I think this is an interesting perspective on how playing Magic competitively can be a step in life rather than a sidetrack (well, for those of you not hoping to work for WotC).

  3. I recently learned the hard way that college and PTQing aren’t easy to balance after failing out of my chemistry class due to too much time playtesting. It was a huge wakeup call, and this article is a good alert to anybody who is in the situation I was. Now my parents are pissed, and I’ll likely have to give up PTQing if I want them to keep paying for me to go to college. Make sure to keep priorities straight.

  4. Great article, but felt a little short.

    How about a follow up article where you go more in depth?
    Particularly, I would have liked to read about time management and setting your goals according to that. Or how a certain skill you acquired in Magic translated to the real world (like learning to reading the metagame and reading the stockmarket). Or which professions are best suited for magic nerds. Or interviewing Rietzl or Sperling directly and ask them how they do it.
    Stuff like that, the topic is pretty broad in my opinion.

    Hope you dig a little deeper in a future article.

  5. ‘“The Social Network” is a film that changed the way I view life. Mark Zuckerburg is a brilliant man who associated himself with other brilliant people in order to create Facebook.’
    ‘In order to make something like Facebook work, you must eat, sleep, and breathe it.’

    Is this really what you got from the film? Not that he created an association/dissociation machine to supplement his social failings. Facebook links people together based on superficial content. Yeah, it’s successful, but so are coke and cigarettes.

    If that wasn’t your only view of the film, then I apologise. I did stop reading shortly after those points.

  6. awesome article there dude, I was thinking about the same thing just a little while ago haha it’s really easy to get sucked into the allure of tournament success all the while forgetting about where you probably want to be 5-10 years from now. Sure, hitting the money at PTs is an amazing feeling but you have to keep things in perspective. Thanks for the article man

  7. thank you man. i didn’t know it, but i needed yor article more than you can imagine.

  8. Good article, and is pertinant for where I am in life. I recently got back into Magic and I am in the process of balancing finding time to play the game in between my career and my family.

    I think the part that I took out of the article that hopefully resonates with your audience is the setting your goal portion. What do you want out of Magic? It really doesn’t matter if its Magic or something else, business is the same way, as is school. You need to objectively look at your goal and find a path to achieve it. Time management plays a big role in this. Luckily since the time I originally played Magic in college till now, the landscape has changed drastically. Even if you don’t go to any major tournaments there are so many local ones offered now that should fill that craving. MTGO is another optionfor busy professionals or others who don’t have the time to travel.

    As long as you are honest with yourself about what your limitations are and where you want to be, I think its that much easier to put yourself on the right path. It sounds like you have already done that with school. Good luck, but it doesn’t get any easier. Sometimes the business world smacks you like a t4 Inferno Titan : )

  9. “Magic players are very sure of themselves in the confines of a tournament center, but they can be picked out like sore thumbs in the real world.”

    So much true.

  10. Sorry, but this felt like a classroom article. Got to get those 2,000 words in by the deadline. It even had the top quote to cut it to 1,900 words. Good luck in the future though.

  11. An enjoyable, mature article that, honestly, showed more humility than I’ve come to expect. Pleasantly surprised. Keep it up!

  12. You only mentioned your girlfriend once. How you expect to be the next Darwin Kastle that way?

    (Sorry, sorry, couldn’t help it!)

    To summarize, success both in Magic and as an offshoot of it are about realizing that people and relationships are more important than cards and playskill. An important message that can’t be overemphasized.

  13. Think I’m going to go shoot myself now…… that was depressing.

    obviously kidding, but the real world sucks for a lot of people and Magic is an escape. Take it seriously if that makes you happy but don’t lose sight of what your life is outside of Magic. Don’t WOW yourself into someone that never leaves their parent’s basement.

    Good article.

  14. Dude, you are with Osyp’s Stepsister? How are you not getting proper training from that guy?!?!?

  15. Kyle,

    Good stuff; I’ve been playing MtG for 15 years now, kind of a sub; 4 PT’s, loads of friends and many hours spend on this game. However, I am also a dad, working guy, etc. etc.
    Best thing in MtG is the friends I made, the game and intellectual challenge are just bonus 😉

    For sure its what you want to do thats important; AKA as long as your happy and confident with WHAT you are doing … keep it rolling that way.

  16. @kyle boggemes: Great article, really hit home with some my own observations about how magic relates to other aspects of life. Also, bravo on your handling of that first troll, really made me crack up.

    This game builds a lot of skills of far more importance then most people realize, anyone capable of passing the rules advisor exam is probably capable of being a professional programmer, the rules of magic have more then a little in common with most object oriented programming languages. All the in depth thinking that goes into playing this game well makes us players a uniquely smart group, and i think we could all try a little harder to connect what we learn in tournaments to what we do in life.

  17. If you want Magic to be a part of a full-time working life, DON’T BE A DCI SPIKE-DRONE!!

    Don’t spend all your money on Mythics and localize your meta-game. Don’t let DCI & WotC make the rules! They will ALWAYS come out ahead. The house always wins. That is why Magic can’t be a lifelong career.

    Have fun, build a cube, play pauper, f*** mythics and net-decking, and may your Magic-playing lives be long!

  18. Good article. Though one can always be a casual player while focusing on the outside world stuff. You’d still have time to go to nearer tournaments all while earing a living.

    But on a side note, I don’t think a lot of the people who read this are professional full-time magic players (myself included) and thus I’m sure we don’t fully understand everything you were trying to say.

    Despite that, good article.

  19. Good article, Dr. Boggs!
    Everyone at Porter house loved it and now they will make stars and cars out of themselves! Yes, thanks to you! Big boy!

  20. @ Natron and EnzB: I’m pretty sure this article was meant for those of us who ARE looking to pursue magic at a competitive level, while not everyone actually makes the pro tour, this article IS relevant to all of us who hope someday to be on the pro tour, there are plenty of people grinding their way through PTQ’s hoping to play this game at a professional level, and I think it is perfectly reasonable to direct an entire article at them. I personally plan to start attending PTQ’s in the next few years, and articles like this help me get an understanding of what I’m headed towards if I succeed.

    @ Natron: “The house always wins”???? I don’t think WotC has any intention of “beating” the professional players who bring legitimacy to the competitive aspect of the game and boost sales (If ppl didnt follow competitive magic and try to keep their decks up to date a lot less product would be sold). Magic cant be a career simply because the payout for being on the tour isn’t nearly consistent or large enough to support a person, much less a family.

  21. @YGK

    WotC takes in more money than they pay out. Same as poker tournaments. Not a difficult concept to grasp. The house always wins, unless you COMPETE at the kitchen table.

  22. @YGK

    I realize that. I plan to play professionally too eventually but only after I’ve established a comfort zone with my other priorities. My only point was that i’m sure one can be a semi-pro (attending nearer events and then going to the events at exotic locations on vacations) while being perfectly focused on the real-world stuff.

    Plus there are tools to get better at the game without putting all the available time for cardboard slinging. MtGO is one of those and the best imo.

  23. @Natron – You do realize the completely ludicrous mixing of terminology here, right? WotC makes no more off a Mythic than an ad card, it’s still just a card. It’s player demand which drives value. If you want a card for your Cube or Pauper deck, you’re still feeding WotC the same amount either way. Unless you proxy. Then you’re just not paying for your entertainment. The Napster guys would be proud.

    WotC is hardly “the house,” and they don’t “win.” They are a company selling a product, and they bank on there being a demand for it. The players are not competing against WotC. No one Lightning Bolts Jace and screams “take that, Wizards!”

    Well, at least, no one worth playing against.

    Anyway, assuming you are buying cards in some fashion, WotC is making the same money off of it, something like a dime net. It costs them the same to produce a card, regardless of its face (foils being an exception, they actually cost dramatically more to print, per card. Keep that in mind the next time you get a door prize FNM promo for free), and they make the same amount off of each card.

    The only thing making them more expensive is you.

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