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He's using Magic to deal his way through college

Sunday News Correspondent

March 10. 2012 9:14PM
Cameron Jameson shows off his most valuable cards at the Relentless Dragon game shop in Nashua. Jameson plans to pay for part of his college expenses with Magic cards, which he buys, sells, and trades like stocks. (Simon Rios)

NASHUA - When Cameron Jameson first got into playing Magic: The Gathering, a role-playing game that revolves around trading cards, paying for his college education with those flimsy cuts of cardboard wasn't on his mind.

Three years later, the 20-year-old aspiring math teacher is set to wheel and deal his way to paying a chunk of his college costs with Magic cards. In fact, he buys, sells and trades them with the savvy of a Wall St. broker.

'The stock market usually takes a lot more dedication than Magic,' said Jameson in response to why he doesn't aim to enter that trade. 'It's more for fun, for leisure rather than my entire life.'

Jameson plays and works at the Relentless Dragon on Amherst Street, which specializes in Magic and other games. A host of people - from youngsters just getting into the game to crusty vets at it since the game's release in 1993 - swing through the store to play and buy packs or single cards.

But the Dragon is also a hub for traders. This is where Jameson increases his net worth. Even if a card he trades is only slightly more valuable than the one he traded, if he does it enough times the numbers start adding up.

There was also the time Jameson traded a 50-cent card called Jor Kadeem, the Prevailer in exchange for a foil version of Sensei's Divining Top, which sells for $38 online. Jameson said the trader knew the value of the cards, but preferred to assess cards on use value rather than price.

More than anything, Jameson is inspired by his love for the game, which gives him the drive to trade until he gets the necessary cards to make a deck.

A competitive 60-card deck can run anywhere between $150 in a current format to upwards of $10,000 for a vintage deck. The individual cards range between 5-cents for a Fugitive Wizard to as much as $4,000 for the Black Lotus, the rarest card in the game.

But as Jameson points out, Magic: The Gathering is just a game.

'I've realized that I like playing the game for the hunt of the cards, so I know that I've proven I can obtain cards for almost nothing. But I'm willing to sell it off for any money I can get towards my education.'

Last week, he sold several cards for about $2,000 - cards that originated with a $90 box of booster packs. He's going to use that money for his room and board and books at Keene State College, where he'll begin studying math in the fall. Magic card wizardry and part-time work will pay part of the tuition. Financial aid will hopefully cover the rest.

'To me, math is like a puzzle,' he said. 'It's a fun puzzle you keep trying to solve. Every problem is different and I've always liked challenging games.'

Jameson said he knew he wanted to be a math teacher when the kids in class approached him for help rather than the teacher. He's currently studying at Nashua Community College (across the street from the Relentless Dragon).

His highest goal is to teach math in the schools of Merrimack, his hometown. 'One day I would like to think of my former teachers as my colleagues.'

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