Monk's Corner
by
Ray Powers

*Level III Judge

*WOTC Tournament Organizer for Arizona & San Diego


 

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The Evils of Money Drafting

05.25.04 

 
I’m going to forewarn everyone right off the bat that today I’m going to be both preachy and have an unpopular opinion. In fact, I had to go buy a new horse to sit on for this article, because my old one wasn’t high enough. I was thinking of writing the article like a preacher giving a sermon, but I thought it would belittle my point and make light of the opinions I was trying to portray, so normal dry Ray style writing it is.

At Pro Tour San Diego this weekend, I was in charge of the side events. I had to run what I affectionately call “everything but,” from the Last Chance Qualifier down to the three am eight man draft. I hired a staff of ten people to cover the weekend, and overall the numbers seemed to work out about right from a staff perspective. Good Times.

Now, one of the rules announced early and often at the Pro Tour is that there are no cash transactions allowed in the event except with authorized dealers who have dealer tables, and with Wizards of the Coast. This includes buying and selling of cards, gambling or playing poker, and money drafting. Yet, throughout the weekend we caught group after group of people breaking these rules, especially the rules about money drafting.

My first complaint is really the simplest and most direct one: When did it become ok to ignore the rules set by someone on their own site? When did it become ok to go “Well, I’m going to this event because I want to, and they have this rule I do not like, so I will go and ignore their rule?” Are some Magic Players so socially inept that they do not understand the basic concepts of decorum and courtesy? When they go to someone’s house, do they put the feet on the couch, smoke in non-smoking areas, and track mud all over the carpet?

Someone explain this to me, because I do not understand it. If someone is holding an event, and has rules I do not wish to follow, I will first talk to them directly about why they have that rule and if its possible to get it changed. If they will not change it, I will either go and respect the rule even if I do not like it, or not go and explain that is why I am not going and how it is affecting their business. At no time will I go and deliberately ignore their rules. Its rude to the business owner, and it really just makes me look like a jerk. There is no martyrdom for this type of thing. There is just being a jerk, or not being a jerk.

Unfortunately, some of this issue may come from the two sided opinion Wizards has previous held towards money drafting, simultaneously condemning it and turning a blind eye to it occurring, or doing nothing to penalize people for doing it on site. I was horrified when I heard a story of a Wizards employee telling a money drafter who had been caught that this whole thing would be avoided if they just “wouldn’t exchange the money in the open.” This is not the correct answer! The correct answer is this whole thing would have been avoided if the player had just NOT BROKEN THE RULES. This kind of wink wink, nudge nudge attitude from Wizards is what makes players think its OK to break the rules. A much more hard-line tactic needs to be taken for this sort of thing.



For those of you that want to argue the validity of the rule against money drafting, I’ll be glad to do that.

1) It is gambling.

I am not saying it is criminal gambling, because it varies from state to state, country to country. There is a great web site called http://www.gambling-law-us.com that goes over some of the definitions of what is gambling and what is gaming, and what is social gambling. Some states have laws that allow what is considered “social gambling” or “gaming” to basically make sure that you can have a nickel dime poker game in your house at night and not get run in for criminal charges. I looked up my state, Arizona, for an example, and found that by its strictest terms, money drafting is considered ok, as long as all participants are 21. So, hey if you check ID, it’s still gambling, but it is legal.

I checked Nevada for fun to see what their laws said. It was much more “lawyerly written” and hard to decipher, so I may be wrong, but what I gathered out of Nevada was that any gambling at all was a violation of their gambling laws. Those government guys want their cut!

California Penal Code 337a, section 4, seems to specifically outlaw things like money drafting. The short version is it varies from state to state.

2) It is my business, not yours. This sounds a bit selfish, but I am serious. When I rent out a site, I pay the costs for the site. I arrange the table layouts and pay for the set up. I pay for all the ancillary items, from signage down to the paper that goes into the printer. I hire staff to run the event. I advertise. I get the necessary materials and offer the necessary prizes. In short, I pay all of the expenses. The event is there for me to make money, not you. If you want to make money, rent your own hall or room, do your own set up, and call yourself the Money Draft Open for all I care. Invite everyone you want to, advertise how you want to, and make your money that way. Do not come into my site and try to take money out of the player’s pockets. No offense, but that’s my job. I’m paying a lot of money and putting forth a lot of effort in the hopes that people find my events worthwhile and are willing to pay me for them. You are not, and do not get to share in my profits.

Feel free to replace “I” and “my” in that entire last paragraph with “Wizards” to make it apply to the Pro Tour.

3) Image. Image. Image!

Let us ignore for a moment that the gambling is likely against the laws in many states. Let us also ignore the fact that you are garnering profit where you don’t deserve to, and that you are ignoring the rules laid down by the event organizer in their site and being a jerk.

Money Drafting still looks bad to the rest of the world.

Magic is a game about playing cards to defeat your opponent. Magic is a game about summoning deadly creatures and playing fantastic spells. Magic is a game about developing a strategy or deck to out play and out wit your opponent. It’s a game about fun and energy and a touch of fantasy.

Magic is not a game about twenty dollar bills being passed across the table. Parents bringing their kids to a new event do not want to see gambling pits. They want to see people playing Magic and having fun. They want to see people smiling and joking, and reveling in the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat. They want to see a healthy environment where they can leave their kids for a few hours, and know that their kids are going to have fun, and not be taken advantage of.

Seeing someone walk across the room yelling “Money Draft!” or “Wanna play for $40?” does not create that environment. Instead it creates the feeling of a bunch of con artists and moneygrubbers who do not want to play their kid for fun, but instead want to fleece him for every penny he has.

This does not help expand our community. And for those of you that argue that gambling now is legitimized in the world, with the televised World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour, I would like to explain that you are not playing in those events, and if you were playing the Pro Tour for money, at that point you would be getting that respect. But only while you are doing it on the Pro Tour, a legitimized, official, money based tournament sanctioned by the gaming body that created the game.

What you are when you are trying to rustle up money drafts is the guy on the corner trying to get someone to play three card monte for $20. This guy does not get the level of respect the guy on the World Poker Tour gets when he is playing on the World Poker Tour, even if it’s the same guy. You still look like a hack trying to make a quick buck, and you reflect badly on the entire Magic community.

Believe it or not, I’m not against money drafting. I am against you breaking the site rules that say you cannot do this, and thinking you are within your rights to ignore these rules. Look, if you and a couple of your friends all get together and want to play a game of Magic, and want to put some money on the line for the added thrill, that’s one thing and I am perfectly ok with that. Go do it in your hotel room, or at your house, or over food at Denny’s, or basically anywhere off site. Go have fun.

But my players are not your prey, and they should never be your prey. If you need to money draft to get by, I strongly suggest you try to find a “real job.” I know those are two horrible words, but they’re better for you in the long run, trust me. If nothing else, at least have the decency to follow my first point, and respect the people that run these events for you. If they didn’t do so, you wouldn’t get to play at all, and then where would you be?

Have a great week…
 

 

E-mail me at rayp-at-primenet.com.

 

 

 

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