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
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
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
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
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
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
Money Drafting still looks bad to the rest of the
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…