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Carrie Snyder, Published April 12 2010

Portraits: Brad Nelson

Brad Nelson is a professional Magic man. But it’s not about illusions and trickery for this 23-year-old Fargoan, it’s about his skill at the game Magic: The Gathering – a complex collectible card game based on battles between powerful wizards who use magical spells and fantastic creatures to defeat opponents. Nelson has been playing Magic for the past seven years and recently became a professional player. “A friend of mine asked me to play after school, and I never looked back. I never quit,” he said. Nelson played casually for the first few years, but found his competitive drive took over and started working toward pro status. He has traveled to many places, including Florida, Hawaii and even Rome and typically brings home winnings from the different tournaments. “Tournaments I play in, 95 percent have value to them,” Nelson said. His winnings range from $350 to as much as $7,000 in one tournament. When he’s not making money playing in tournaments, he writes articles about the “Magic world” for channelfireball.com. “I’ve never really been the nine-to-fiver,” Nelson said. “I want to do something that makes me happy.”