Ask Ken, 07/16/2004

What’s your biggest Magic tournament accomplishment?

Welcome back to the self-promoting funfest I like to call Ask Ken. I’m your host, Ken Krouner. So for a long time I hadn’t been trying with any kind of heart to get back on the Pro Tour. It was always in the back of my mind, but I didn’t much care. Seattle gave me new motivation to qualify again. I simply had an unreal amount of fun despite Tim Aten completely ignoring me, then coming home and complaining we didn’t hang out enough. Anyway, in the spirit of self-promotion, let’s dig into our Mailbag.

Today’s letter comes to us from Eric Brown. Eric Asks:

Hi what’s your best magic tournament accomplishment? Mine is making top 8 at Friday Night Magic twice so far.

From Eric Brown

twinage on modo

Well Eric I am glad you asked. As much as it clearly pains me to talk about myself, I feel it is my duty to let everyone know my credentials.

I wasn’t much of a pro back in the day. I played on a few PTs, but never really cashed. Then came the summer of 2002. I found myself qualified for my first U.S. Nationals. I started the tournament 3-3, but managed to 6-0 the draft day and finish a heartbreaking ninth.

I was downtrodden, since I figured I missed my one shot at playing on Sunday. The 6-0 did however qualify me for my first Worlds. I was very close to not going to Australia. My dad had promised me he would send me with his airline miles, only to realize he had spent them all on a trip for him and his wife to Hawaii. What a selfish jerk!

Then my savior came. I got a call at 3am two weeks before the event from Ed Fear informing me he would sponsor my trip. I manage to begin this tournament 0-3. Needless to say I was displeased with this start. I got a brief but powerful pep talk from Gary Wise, pumped myself up, looked at the pairings… and got a bye. I won my last two matches. Then I went on to 6-0 the draft day yet again. A quick 4-2 with the German Threshold deck put me in top 8. I lost there to Diego Ostrovich, but that remains my biggest accomplishment.

Later that year I went on to cash in six or seven straight events including a top 4 at GP:LA. That run of tournaments remains the highpoint of my career.

The source on all my success,


This closes off another week of Ask Ken. I’ll be back next week with not just an Ask Ken, not just an MD5 article, but also the beginning in a long series of Limited front page forums. G’night Everybody!

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Two things. Okay, three things.

1. I really enjoy the Ask Ken feature and think that it really wouldn’t be the same if anyone else did it. Well, maybe Osyp.

2. The top fifteen list was good. I liked it a lot. Especially number 14. I love Zoolander.

3. What happened to your typical intro that was something like, ‘XXXXXX… Or it’s time for a little reader mail!’? That was a good intro format. Maybe I’m the only one who liked it and everyone else sent you threatening mail telling you that it sucked. Just wondering.

I guess I’d better add a question just to be polite. Well, I guess point #3 could be construed as a question, but it’s not really the type of question that regularly gets answered on Ask Ken. So here goes:

I know that a lot of you pros who go to a lot events know each other and know each other well, but do you ever meet new people at events and end up becoming friends? That is to say, is your group of successful pros exclusive?

Thanks for your time,


Hey Cup,

Its guest host time and instead of some notable Magic pro or prolific writer, its me, Mouth! I guess I’m more of an infamous Magic player than anything, but I used to be a frequent writer years ago and am back to the task because Ken felt lazy today. Now it is time to get on to your questions.

I agree that Ken is a great choice; he is very knowledgeable, not too funny, and not too serious either. Ken also has a great many friends he can utilize for the guest columns as well. Osyp could be a great daily columnist but eventually he would run out of inside jokes and there are only so many Magic players to poke fun at. After a few weeks of Ask Osyp you might start getting repeat Latin Dance Champion or Chili Cookoff jokes.

The top 15 list was very funny, I’m a big fan of when old school player Mike Bregoli did a similar report for PT: Rome 98 found here. I can’t say that I’m a fan of Zoolander but I did enjoy Ben Stiller in the most recent season of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Well, I didn’t read your third question in time to really embellish you with that type of intro, but I am very happy with the current so you’ll have to make due. I don’t know the true answer, but I can make a few guesses. I think Ken may have thought it a bit corny to constantly have an introduction like that. Some other times it’s much more appropriate to write something expositional like”writing to you from PT: Seattle” or”Fresh of a PTQ weekend”. [It was possible that the Managing Editor of these here site here complained that reading the old into was getting more and more painful. – Knut, just guessing]

You certainly redeem your earlier half questions with this gem. Just about everyone meets someone new at each event. Whether or not a friendship blossoms is really case-by-case. I’ve met people I never spoke to again, people I talk to on occasion, and most of my best friends at events. One of the greatest (if not the greatest) parts of playing Magic for me is meeting new people and seeing my friends. Most of my best friends I have met playing Magic and am more than grateful for that. I have yet to meet a single friend from playing poker, but hopefully I’ll find a cocktail waitress wife.

Thanks for reading my guest writing,



We now return to our normal format here at Ask Ken. I’m your host, Ken Krouner. Let me know if you liked yesterday’s little diversion. I can do more of those if they please you. For now I am going to go to more serious matters: my little electronic mailbag.

Today’s letter comes to us from one of our brave servicemen, Sebastian J. Smith. Sebastian writes:

It seems to me that shuffling well before each game is extremely important, especially over a long tournament. It also seems as if there’s a direct correlation between the skill of a player and how thoroughly they shuffle. Do you have a preferred method for shuffling? Is there a commonly accepted method that the pros use?


Well Sebastian, at the risk of sounding trite, thank you very much for your hard work and devotion defending our country. I can’t say I agree with everything you are ordered to do, but I am glad you are here to protect us.

Most pros pile shuffle several times, but many, like Mike Pustilnik and myself, generally stick to riffling. I occasionally do pile shuffle and the one thing I keep in mind is to make piles that are not divisible into the number of cards in your deck. When a player does this, you should be suspicious. It is possible to stack your deck using piles like this.

One big reason I like to stick to riffling is that you only get a limited amount of time to shuffle and riffles actually randomize a deck just as well as piling if you riffle properly, carefully and thoroughly.

Whatever you do, don’t mana weave. Technically it is legal as long as you sufficiently randomize your deck afterwards, but it is a really bad habit to get into and it looks shadier than Trey Van Cleave sitting under a willow tree.

The source on sufficient randomization,


I can’t promise you a guest columnist for tomorrow. Recovery from the trip has been slow, but I will do my best. G’night Everybody!

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Today on a very special Ask Ken I am going to tell you some things I learned at Pro Tour: Seattle. I’m your host, Ken Krouner, and this was the best PT weekend of my life…

1. No matter how tragic the story, never ever ever ever believe Osyp Lebedowicz.

2. Sometimes individual records of 6-1, 6-1, 7-0 isn’t enough to win a teams LCQ.

3. Those carpet cleaners they rent at grocery stores really work.

4. No matter how hard you try to hang out with everyone, some people will always feel ignored.

5. Adam Chambers, Bill Stead, and Charlie Gindy will lead the charge of the U.S. comeback on the PT.

6. A fun team will always do better than a good team.

7. The Cheesecake Factory has amazing Pad Thai for a place called”The Cheesecake Factory.”

8. Aaron van der Beek is one of the true masters in this world. Not necessarily at Magic, but have a look at him sometime.

9. If you have never been on a four-man team with Mark Herberholz, Jordan Berkowitz, and Little”Paul Rietzl” Darwin, do it as soon as humanly possible.

10. Never attend an event without spending at least one night hanging out with both Josh”The Former Champ” Wagener and Mark Zadjner.

11. Some people you really need to hang out with to fully understand.

12. I drive a Dodge Stratus.

13. Krark is great.

14. That Hansel is so hot right now.

15. Never ever ever quit Magic: The Gathering!

That’s all I have for today kiddies. We’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.


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