Sports Cards Mania

Ale Xander

Hamilton
SoSH Member
Oct 31, 2013
71,635
I got a graded Helton Topps Traded RC I got cheap a long time ago been meaning to sell/trade it in forever. Sell it ASAP or wait a month or until July?
 

Fishercat

Svelte and sexy!
SoSH Member
May 18, 2007
8,182
Manchester, N.H.
Forum favorite Stadium Club is finally out today. Grabbed a box, the autos were nothing special (there’s a lot of $3 sigs in Stadium Club), but the photography was on point as usual. Great Red Sox photos this year. Definitely worth grabbing a few cards you like from it

edit: to be clear, unless you’re stupid lucky, you’re getting two nonsense autos. I watched a case break of this where there were, like, 3 decent autos of 34 or so
 
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LogansDad

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 15, 2006
28,705
Alamogordo
Forum favorite Stadium Club is finally out today. Grabbed a box, the autos were nothing special (there’s a lot of $3 sigs in Stadium Club), but the photography was on point as usual. Great Red Sox photos this year. Definitely worth grabbing a few cards you like from it

edit: to be clear, unless you’re stupid lucky, you’re getting two nonsense autos. I watched a case break of this where there were, like, 3 decent autos of 34 or so
Ha. I have bought two boxes (21 and 22, I think) and gotten a Juan Soto /#25 auto and a Juan Soto #/10 auto. Obviously it's my favorite set.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 13, 2021
11,717
The price doesn't bother me if he doesn't sign a lot of shit. Does anyone know how often he signs?
Not often. These are the highest prices I’ve ever seen for anyone who signs at all- guys like MJ and LBJ would command even more, but they don’t sign at all. I’ve read that those in the business think MJ could get $10-$20k per auto if he ever did one.

I guess the concern would be that he could do more in the future and lower the value, but i would guess that anyone buying here isn’t doing it for future resale value.
 

Fishercat

Svelte and sexy!
SoSH Member
May 18, 2007
8,182
Manchester, N.H.
Topps S1 is out this week and man...they're printing a TON of this stuff again. Someone posted an early box break on Reddit that didn't have a single numbered parallel, which for Topps flagship is almost unheard of -and Jumbos were absolutely nuked compared to last year. I'm not buying wax this year for this and I think I'll do one Red Sox break to just fish for okay stuff and call it. Retail seems like the better buy.
 

Fishercat

Svelte and sexy!
SoSH Member
May 18, 2007
8,182
Manchester, N.H.
After listening to a bunch of cases get opened as background noise and doing my requisite Sox break (got a Ceddanne gold foil and two relics, so I did ok), some thoughts

* Topps does deserve credit for improving their overall designs. As much as I don't like the 2024 base design, the parallels are substantially better (Independence Day, Camo, Team Logo, all look really cool) and works well with foils. Home Field Advantage is a much better insert this year, and there's some really cool Easter eggs in there (the Kevin Hart Philadelphia cards are super funny). The inserts on the whole still aren't at Panini level and grow boring really quickly but for flagship it's a step up off of past years
* Like I suspected, a massive print run this year. Hitting numbered parallels are stupidly difficult. We've seen hobby boxes with no parallels, jumbos with mostly "normal insert, rainbow/gold foil, retro design" and nothing else. Even the foil packs seem to be hitting a lot less often (over 13 cases I had on, three autos in the 156 silver packs). Jumbo in particular seems like a really rough format for the money. I think there were only two Home Field Advantages over the 13 cases, one Heavy Lumber, one camo parallel, two /50 parallels, just really tough. My gut says usually one numbered base parallel per hobby box and two per jumbo
* Autos seem a little less junky. Definitely saw fewer of the sticker auto type (Baseball Stars) and more recognizable names. The high end names are still really tough to hit but it does seem more likely to pull a hit of a guy you know. Also seems to be more game worn relic cards, but player worn still exists. I also only saw two redemptions (Cal Ripken and Ken Griffey) so that's good given how long Topps can take to get those in.
* Fewer manufactured patches and this year they seem all numbered and cool looking at least, so if that's your hit it's not the worst thing ever (Home Sweet Home Medallions)
* Jumbos are very hard to recommend. Of the around 100 boxes I saw yesterday it's hard to imagine more than 5 or so returned what they would have cost to open and those were largely centered on one massive hit (Ohtani /25 Auto, Henry Davis RC Auto /5, Jasson Dominguez black auto), and too many of them were just complete busts - the 350 player checklist is diluted with a bunch of bad players and group cards as Topps held back a bunch of names for Series 2 and Update (for instance you won't find Casas or Bello in Series 1,but you will find Joe Jacques and Alex Verdugo for Boston). Your biggest chase rookies are very tough to get your hands on beyond a base card.
 

Bergs

funky and cold
SoSH Member
Jul 22, 2005
21,516
After listening to a bunch of cases get opened as background noise and doing my requisite Sox break (got a Ceddanne gold foil and two relics, so I did ok), some thoughts

* Topps does deserve credit for improving their overall designs. As much as I don't like the 2024 base design, the parallels are substantially better (Independence Day, Camo, Team Logo, all look really cool) and works well with foils. Home Field Advantage is a much better insert this year, and there's some really cool Easter eggs in there (the Kevin Hart Philadelphia cards are super funny). The inserts on the whole still aren't at Panini level and grow boring really quickly but for flagship it's a step up off of past years
* Like I suspected, a massive print run this year. Hitting numbered parallels are stupidly difficult. We've seen hobby boxes with no parallels, jumbos with mostly "normal insert, rainbow/gold foil, retro design" and nothing else. Even the foil packs seem to be hitting a lot less often (over 13 cases I had on, three autos in the 156 silver packs). Jumbo in particular seems like a really rough format for the money. I think there were only two Home Field Advantages over the 13 cases, one Heavy Lumber, one camo parallel, two /50 parallels, just really tough. My gut says usually one numbered base parallel per hobby box and two per jumbo
* Autos seem a little less junky. Definitely saw fewer of the sticker auto type (Baseball Stars) and more recognizable names. The high end names are still really tough to hit but it does seem more likely to pull a hit of a guy you know. Also seems to be more game worn relic cards, but player worn still exists. I also only saw two redemptions (Cal Ripken and Ken Griffey) so that's good given how long Topps can take to get those in.
* Fewer manufactured patches and this year they seem all numbered and cool looking at least, so if that's your hit it's not the worst thing ever (Home Sweet Home Medallions)
* Jumbos are very hard to recommend. Of the around 100 boxes I saw yesterday it's hard to imagine more than 5 or so returned what they would have cost to open and those were largely centered on one massive hit (Ohtani /25 Auto, Henry Davis RC Auto /5, Jasson Dominguez black auto), and too many of them were just complete busts - the 350 player checklist is diluted with a bunch of bad players and group cards as Topps held back a bunch of names for Series 2 and Update (for instance you won't find Casas or Bello in Series 1,but you will find Joe Jacques and Alex Verdugo for Boston). Your biggest chase rookies are very tough to get your hands on beyond a base card.
I'm probably gonna do a 1/3 case Sox break at some point soon. I'll know who to hit up if I somehow miss the team set by a card!
 

Bergs

funky and cold
SoSH Member
Jul 22, 2005
21,516
I have to imagine I got at least a base Sox set or two out of that break, just let me know!
I just closed on a 4 hobby box team break for tomorrow. Hopefully I'll nab the team set out of that, but it's no certainty.

Edit: actually, that's 960 cards of a 350 card set. I'd BETTER get a freaking team set out of it!

Edit #2: I've got a lot of extra Sox base cards, and in some cases team sets depending on the size of the breaks I get in, mostly starting with 2022
issues. If anyone needs a card (or has a worthy target recipient for base team sets), let me know.

Post-break edit: in 4 hobby boxes, I got the team set, a Jaques foil, and a Devers retro. Meh.
 
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staz

Intangible
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Dec 2, 2004
20,590
The cradle of the game.
One of the better customers at my local LCS was spending (conservatively) $1,500 a month since the pandemic started ripping MLB/NFL/NHL/NBA base and chrome boxes from Bowman/Topps/Panini. He'd rip the packs, toss the commons, put the autos and best hits into toploaders and the rest (lesser hits, parallels and RCs) right back into the box.

The customer has apparently fallen on hard financial times and sold his entire collection back to the LCS a few weeks ago for $1500. In (sheepishly) sharing this whole story, the LCS owner added that he sold the toploader group to another customer for $1500 earlier in the day - making himself whole.

Thinking he'd be willing to sell the rest at a steep discount, I offered to take a look at what remained. He took me into a back room with (3) 8-foot tables stacked with scores of opened boxes, maybe (4) 3000 count to 5000 count boxes. Way too much to digest on the spot. I decided to make what I thought was a lowball offer on what I know best, baseball. He took it without negotiation. I walked out with about 5000 Topps/Bowman/Panini baseball lesser hits for $150 and have been spending the past few weeks sorting, researching, pricing, selling. I'll probably net $300 which isn't what I hoped for, but whatevs.

But my goodness, this rapid and STEEP drop in market value continues to astound me. Let's say the guy who bought the lot of toploaders also doubles his money: That means over 3 years, $50K+ now has a market value of $3,300. I understand you have to figure in entertainment value (and maybe he kept a few very highly valued cards, who knows) but still. I got back into the hobby in 2022, bought 5 or 6 boxes and just instinctually recognized I was getting totally ripped off. It seemed so obvious.

Otherwise, as a returning vintage collector, I hadn't much exposure to ripping. So to those who buy boxes, if you understand the economics, what's the attraction? What am I missing? I just can't get past the part where you plunk down $100 to open a box that likely contains a $5 and two $1s. How do you get past that fact?

And that dude could have bought and paid for a pretty nice boat for 50 Gs, or you know, not gotten into financial trouble.
 
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NJ_Sox_Fan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 2, 2006
10,642
NJ
Ripping wax = gambling. Pure and simple. The thrill of spending $100 and pulling a card you can sell for $10,000+ even though you know you’re far more likely to pull $32 worth of cards from that $100 box.
 

Fishercat

Svelte and sexy!
SoSH Member
May 18, 2007
8,182
Manchester, N.H.
One of the better customers at my local LCS was spending (conservatively) $1,500 a month since the pandemic started ripping MLB/NFL/NHL/NBA base and chrome boxes from Bowman/Topps/Panini. He'd rip the packs, toss the commons, put the autos and best hits into toploaders and the rest (lesser hits, parallels and RCs) right back into the box.

The customer has apparently fallen on hard financial times and sold his entire collection back to the LCS a few weeks ago for $1500. In (sheepishly) sharing this whole story, the LCS owner added that he sold the toploader group to another customer for $1500 earlier in the day - making himself whole.

Thinking he'd be willing to sell the rest at a steep discount, I offered to take a look at what remained. He took me into a back room with (3) 8-foot tables stacked with scores of opened boxes, maybe (4) 3000 count to 5000 count boxes. Way too much to digest on the spot. I decided to make what I thought was a lowball offer on what I know best, baseball. He took it without negotiation. I walked out with about 5000 Topps/Bowman/Panini baseball lesser hits for $150 and have been spending the past few weeks sorting, researching, pricing, selling. I'll probably net $300 which isn't what I hoped for, but whatevs.

But my goodness, this rapid and STEEP drop in market value continues to astound me. Let's say the guy who bought the lot of toploaders also doubles his money: That means over 3 years, $50K+ now has a market value of $3,300. I understand you have to figure in entertainment value (and maybe he kept a few very highly valued cards, who knows) but still. I got back into the hobby in 2022, bought 5 or 6 boxes and just instinctually recognized I was getting totally ripped off. It seemed so obvious.

Otherwise, as a returning vintage collector, I hadn't much exposure to ripping. So to those who buy boxes, if you understand the economics, what's the attraction? What am I missing? I just can't get past the part where you plunk down $100 to open a box that likely contains a $5 and two $1s. How do you get past that fact?

And that dude could have bought and paid for a pretty nice boat for 50 Gs, or you know, not gotten into financial trouble.
You're really not missing anything, wax is just an extremely well designed gambling mechanism with poor odds. There's a whirlwind of factors here that delude people, myself included though I'm backing off of this hard,, to ripping wax as one might say. I am going to try and lay out what I think goes through people's minds"

  • The Grails: There are some, nigh impossible, outcomes that are just not otherwise obtainable without long term saving and focus or even at all. I recently bought into a break of Donruss Basketball with the Grizzlies (I like GG and was fishing for a nice rookie card to pass some time), and the 1/1 Ja Morant Net Marvels is in there. The Nikola Jokic of that card sold for $2175, the Kyrie is posted now, but like, there was literally no other way to get that card and I got it for $35. That doesn't account for the myriad of other breaks where money was turned into not money, but that "chase" consumes some people. I am going to guess there is a Grizzles or Ja Morant or Net Marvels super-collector out there joining Grizzlies breaks or ripping wax to search for just that card. Now...it's probably a mid three figures card in reality if I were to auction it (Morant isn't Jokic) but that leads to...
  • Missing information: Panini doesn't post odds. Topps posts odds but doesn't differentiate when players do or do not have a card or to what volume. So I have absolutely no idea how hard it was to pull that Morant. We know it's real darn tough - I would assume that if my break had 120 packs or so, it was still soemthing like a 1 in numerous thousands chance, if not worse. But when you don't have the numbers, suddenly you try to imagine what it is and I think most people imagine it to be rosier than it is.A lot of people spent hundreds of dollars on the Gunnar Henderson spot in Bowman Best breaks to realize after the fact that Gunnar didn't sign any base autos...or high serial number autos, everything was to 50 or less. So a case of Best may have 1-2 rookie autos and that wasn't likely to be Gunnar. You see an auto list of 100 people but the odds of getting a $5 guy is FAR higher than getting a Gunnar, more than even normal math approximates. In short, you very rarely get the full suite of info needed to appropriately vette out a product. There's a couple internet channels (Sports Card Analysis on Youtube is one I like a ton) that do try to suss this out but they can only use the info given.
  • Compounding Odds: Even with the information, people often have a lot of trouble accurately pruning through the layers to get to that point. Topps 2024 came out this week, let's say what I really wanted was a numbered base Elly De La Cruz - any of them. How many Hobby Boxes do I need to buy to get to that point? Let's say a hobby box is $80 and you average one numbered parallel per box (some have 0, some have 2+, I'm averaging to 1). The odds of hitting the Elly are 1:350 BOXES - so $80 for a 1:350 chance of the card you want. You're just as likely to hit any player, but most products have a smattering of good rookies people really pay out the nose for and a smattering of stars, and the rest range from good to bad players with no market. Further with so many different kinds of cards, people probably see all the options and assume "oh, I can hit something good over 24 packs" and nope.
  • People Overrate How Valuable Their Cards Are, and Thus Underrate How Good They Have To Do Opening Packs: There has been a massive drop from the pandemic which is what you're seeing here but card producers are charging, and people are, paying, like hits from these products are being paid for like it was then. The most recent super high end baseball card product to come out for Topps was Diamond Icons - basically 9 low-numbered, high end name (for the most part) autos and 1 mem/patch/cut auto for $3100. So that's $310 a card. People were getting psyched over cards they were hitting in breaks (including myself...I bought in and I got fortunate in a teams break to get the Braves and hit an Acuna which likely paid for the slot, barely - this is why I am going cold turkey on breaks and wax FWIW). I'm going to list a handful of cards below any collector would love to have and the most recent eBay sold price - your "payback" card (so you get back what you paid in) was an Adley Rutschman Auto /5 which sold for $309...if you take fees into account, the payback card is more like this sick Adley Rutschman Patch Auto /10. The only clear winners were Ohtani autos, 1/1s, difficult to get cuts, and some of the more obscenely cool patches.
    • Ichiro 1/10 Auto: $232
    • Pedro Martinez /25 auto: $93
    • Buster Posey Patch Auto /25: $153
    • Mike Trout/10 Auto: $293 (seriously, you could hit a MIKE TROUT AUTOGRAPH TO TEN AND LOSE MONEY WTF IS GOING ON HERE)
    • Vladimir Guerrero Jr. GU Jumbo Patch Auto (it's from his clear with Jordan 23 on it) - $400
    • Fernando Tatis Jr. 1/1 auto: $345
    • Ken Griffey Jr /5 auto - $510
    • Riley Greene RC Auto /15 - $96
  • Keeping Up With The Fake Joneses - 2024 Topps just released and if you go on Reddit, all you see are people who were pulling incredible cards - same with Facebook Groups, LCS people telling stories, all of this. No one ever really goes into how much they had to pay or open to get it. Like, I bought a LOT of A&G last year (I love the set, genuinely). If I posted my best Allen and Ginter cards to Reddit, people would be impressed - I hit a red auto /10, a black framed auto, I have a Stroud auto, a ton of the auto set, Wemby black border mini, etc. several great rip cards that are unripped. However I had to have bought, between boxes and breaks and singles, something like a case's worth of A&G. Absolute garbage investment, frankly poor spending, but hey, I got some cards I genuinely love out of it and some stuff I can really brag about, which to some folks matters a ton. If I liquidated all of my A&G now I'd probably make back like, MAYBE, 40% of what I put into it and that's me maximizing the bigger cards I bought or pulled. Better than box odds (I was relatively fortunate in my pulls) but far worse than if I just...like...bought the cards I had my highest priority on. But that's less fun and you don't get to share war stories with folks, or get a community of people who do this with out to chat with, and in the post pandemic world that's far rarer than it was. I'm in a discord with folks I broke with and it's fun to shoot the shit, kind of like we do here, but the entry fee is very steep, you just don't quite realize the watering hole now costs $40 a slot to play in.
  • The False Floor - Most gambling has a floor of zero. If I buy a scratch ticket for $5, my outcomes start at $0 and work their way up. If I play blackjack at $20 a hand, most likely that hand ends at $0 or $40 (barring other bets). If I bet the money line at +300 odds, my outcome is either $0 or 3x my bet unless I hedge or parlay. Sports Cards are one of the few forms where you are guaranteed, in your mind, to walk away with something. People just dramatically overrate how those somethings turn out. That the something is 200 worthless pieces of cardboard, 40 pieces of cardboard you could consign and sell for $.50 maybe, and then 3-4 pieces of cardboard that you dream will bring you back 5x or 10x your cost but realistically are more like 10% of your cost. But it's a lot easier to drop $200 on something if you know that it's not all gone - as silly as that is. People will convince themselves that even if I don't get what I want, I got this instead which is nice, but like...you could just buy what you want.

Frankly, it just doesn't make sense - I think a lot of it is masking that for some people they just can't afford what the true, S-Tier monster cards are worth and want that tiny chance at getting it. For others it's the "community" around their cards and wanting to keep up and show off. In most cases it's just that dopamine hit of having that brief time where you think you might win it all and paying for that pleasure. I took a much longer arc than you did to realizing that this was really a fool's errand and 99% of what I was jealous of other people getting I could buy for less than my overall "cost of entry". Just yesterday, someone in my breaking group hit a Wayne Gretzky auto - I wasn't in this break as I stopped but I saw their IG post. I got this tinge of jealousy, but, first I wasn't buying the Kings so that'd never be my card. Second, it's probably a $500 card. Great profit for that guy, but I think the spots in that break probably added up to around 2k...so even then the case didn't pay. In a high end hockey break of the The Cup (it was random teams and I wasn't in that one), one guy hit a Bobby Orr auto I was obscenely jealous off...he may get back 2x his slot value for that. Like, there's just a ton of factors here, it's complicated and unhealthy and worrisome, but your instinct is right. After a while of doing this, I have a lot of cards I really love to have but ripping that much wax virtually or in person was almost always a losing game - and the wins were not big enough to offset the losses I'll say that. Several of my current favorite cards were bought for less than a team slot cost to break it or less than a pack or a few packs of the cards would have been.
 

Bergs

funky and cold
SoSH Member
Jul 22, 2005
21,516
You're really not missing anything, wax is just an extremely well designed gambling mechanism with poor odds. There's a whirlwind of factors here that delude people, myself included though I'm backing off of this hard,, to ripping wax as one might say. I am going to try and lay out what I think goes through people's minds"

  • The Grails: There are some, nigh impossible, outcomes that are just not otherwise obtainable without long term saving and focus or even at all. I recently bought into a break of Donruss Basketball with the Grizzlies (I like GG and was fishing for a nice rookie card to pass some time), and the 1/1 Ja Morant Net Marvels is in there. The Nikola Jokic of that card sold for $2175, the Kyrie is posted now, but like, there was literally no other way to get that card and I got it for $35. That doesn't account for the myriad of other breaks where money was turned into not money, but that "chase" consumes some people. I am going to guess there is a Grizzles or Ja Morant or Net Marvels super-collector out there joining Grizzlies breaks or ripping wax to search for just that card. Now...it's probably a mid three figures card in reality if I were to auction it (Morant isn't Jokic) but that leads to...
  • Missing information: Panini doesn't post odds. Topps posts odds but doesn't differentiate when players do or do not have a card or to what volume. So I have absolutely no idea how hard it was to pull that Morant. We know it's real darn tough - I would assume that if my break had 120 packs or so, it was still soemthing like a 1 in numerous thousands chance, if not worse. But when you don't have the numbers, suddenly you try to imagine what it is and I think most people imagine it to be rosier than it is.A lot of people spent hundreds of dollars on the Gunnar Henderson spot in Bowman Best breaks to realize after the fact that Gunnar didn't sign any base autos...or high serial number autos, everything was to 50 or less. So a case of Best may have 1-2 rookie autos and that wasn't likely to be Gunnar. You see an auto list of 100 people but the odds of getting a $5 guy is FAR higher than getting a Gunnar, more than even normal math approximates. In short, you very rarely get the full suite of info needed to appropriately vette out a product. There's a couple internet channels (Sports Card Analysis on Youtube is one I like a ton) that do try to suss this out but they can only use the info given.
  • Compounding Odds: Even with the information, people often have a lot of trouble accurately pruning through the layers to get to that point. Topps 2024 came out this week, let's say what I really wanted was a numbered base Elly De La Cruz - any of them. How many Hobby Boxes do I need to buy to get to that point? Let's say a hobby box is $80 and you average one numbered parallel per box (some have 0, some have 2+, I'm averaging to 1). The odds of hitting the Elly are 1:350 BOXES - so $80 for a 1:350 chance of the card you want. You're just as likely to hit any player, but most products have a smattering of good rookies people really pay out the nose for and a smattering of stars, and the rest range from good to bad players with no market. Further with so many different kinds of cards, people probably see all the options and assume "oh, I can hit something good over 24 packs" and nope.
  • People Overrate How Valuable Their Cards Are, and Thus Underrate How Good They Have To Do Opening Packs: There has been a massive drop from the pandemic which is what you're seeing here but card producers are charging, and people are, paying, like hits from these products are being paid for like it was then. The most recent super high end baseball card product to come out for Topps was Diamond Icons - basically 9 low-numbered, high end name (for the most part) autos and 1 mem/patch/cut auto for $3100. So that's $310 a card. People were getting psyched over cards they were hitting in breaks (including myself...I bought in and I got fortunate in a teams break to get the Braves and hit an Acuna which likely paid for the slot, barely - this is why I am going cold turkey on breaks and wax FWIW). I'm going to list a handful of cards below any collector would love to have and the most recent eBay sold price - your "payback" card (so you get back what you paid in) was an Adley Rutschman Auto /5 which sold for $309...if you take fees into account, the payback card is more like this sick Adley Rutschman Patch Auto /10. The only clear winners were Ohtani autos, 1/1s, difficult to get cuts, and some of the more obscenely cool patches.
    • Ichiro 1/10 Auto: $232
    • Pedro Martinez /25 auto: $93
    • Buster Posey Patch Auto /25: $153
    • Mike Trout/10 Auto: $293 (seriously, you could hit a MIKE TROUT AUTOGRAPH TO TEN AND LOSE MONEY WTF IS GOING ON HERE)
    • Vladimir Guerrero Jr. GU Jumbo Patch Auto (it's from his clear with Jordan 23 on it) - $400
    • Fernando Tatis Jr. 1/1 auto: $345
    • Ken Griffey Jr /5 auto - $510
    • Riley Greene RC Auto /15 - $96
  • Keeping Up With The Fake Joneses - 2024 Topps just released and if you go on Reddit, all you see are people who were pulling incredible cards - same with Facebook Groups, LCS people telling stories, all of this. No one ever really goes into how much they had to pay or open to get it. Like, I bought a LOT of A&G last year (I love the set, genuinely). If I posted my best Allen and Ginter cards to Reddit, people would be impressed - I hit a red auto /10, a black framed auto, I have a Stroud auto, a ton of the auto set, Wemby black border mini, etc. several great rip cards that are unripped. However I had to have bought, between boxes and breaks and singles, something like a case's worth of A&G. Absolute garbage investment, frankly poor spending, but hey, I got some cards I genuinely love out of it and some stuff I can really brag about, which to some folks matters a ton. If I liquidated all of my A&G now I'd probably make back like, MAYBE, 40% of what I put into it and that's me maximizing the bigger cards I bought or pulled. Better than box odds (I was relatively fortunate in my pulls) but far worse than if I just...like...bought the cards I had my highest priority on. But that's less fun and you don't get to share war stories with folks, or get a community of people who do this with out to chat with, and in the post pandemic world that's far rarer than it was. I'm in a discord with folks I broke with and it's fun to shoot the shit, kind of like we do here, but the entry fee is very steep, you just don't quite realize the watering hole now costs $40 a slot to play in.
  • The False Floor - Most gambling has a floor of zero. If I buy a scratch ticket for $5, my outcomes start at $0 and work their way up. If I play blackjack at $20 a hand, most likely that hand ends at $0 or $40 (barring other bets). If I bet the money line at +300 odds, my outcome is either $0 or 3x my bet unless I hedge or parlay. Sports Cards are one of the few forms where you are guaranteed, in your mind, to walk away with something. People just dramatically overrate how those somethings turn out. That the something is 200 worthless pieces of cardboard, 40 pieces of cardboard you could consign and sell for $.50 maybe, and then 3-4 pieces of cardboard that you dream will bring you back 5x or 10x your cost but realistically are more like 10% of your cost. But it's a lot easier to drop $200 on something if you know that it's not all gone - as silly as that is. People will convince themselves that even if I don't get what I want, I got this instead which is nice, but like...you could just buy what you want.

Frankly, it just doesn't make sense - I think a lot of it is masking that for some people they just can't afford what the true, S-Tier monster cards are worth and want that tiny chance at getting it. For others it's the "community" around their cards and wanting to keep up and show off. In most cases it's just that dopamine hit of having that brief time where you think you might win it all and paying for that pleasure. I took a much longer arc than you did to realizing that this was really a fool's errand and 99% of what I was jealous of other people getting I could buy for less than my overall "cost of entry". Just yesterday, someone in my breaking group hit a Wayne Gretzky auto - I wasn't in this break as I stopped but I saw their IG post. I got this tinge of jealousy, but, first I wasn't buying the Kings so that'd never be my card. Second, it's probably a $500 card. Great profit for that guy, but I think the spots in that break probably added up to around 2k...so even then the case didn't pay. In a high end hockey break of the The Cup (it was random teams and I wasn't in that one), one guy hit a Bobby Orr auto I was obscenely jealous off...he may get back 2x his slot value for that. Like, there's just a ton of factors here, it's complicated and unhealthy and worrisome, but your instinct is right. After a while of doing this, I have a lot of cards I really love to have but ripping that much wax virtually or in person was almost always a losing game - and the wins were not big enough to offset the losses I'll say that. Several of my current favorite cards were bought for less than a team slot cost to break it or less than a pack or a few packs of the cards would have been.
Great post. I purged a bunch of my non-Sox hits last month just to get rid of it all, and am planning on going to almost no ripping at all. Team breaks on ebay when new products come out will be about the extent of it.
 

Fishercat

Svelte and sexy!
SoSH Member
May 18, 2007
8,182
Manchester, N.H.
Great post. I purged a bunch of my non-Sox hits last month just to get rid of it all, and am planning on going to almost no ripping at all. Team breaks on ebay when new products come out will be about the extent of it.
Yep, and one other thing I guess I forgot now that you mention liquidation of hits, is that a lot of these hits really don't have a market because there's "layers" to hits and hits need to hit a bunch of layers to really produce value.


I recently bought a Sox card I wanted - a Heritage Brayan Bello RC Refractor. Paid $6 or so for the card shipped to my door. Undeniably a hit - these are one every four or so boxes, one of the longer standing "appealing" parallels (Heritage doesn't do a lot of parallels, more variations) for collectors of guys...so why was this card $6 shipped (which took up like $5 of those dollars...) out of an $80 box? Well, Bello isn't a TOP rookie, just a really good rookie, and pitchers don't sell as well as hitters so that's one. Second, /574 isn't considered a low print, so people will have a slew of /100, /250, /50 choices. Third, the product is now nearly a year old, so Heritage isn't on top of mind for folks, and markets often fall 20, 40, 60%+ from a market's peak value to what it is a year down the line. Fourth, Heritage isn't Flagship or Chrome, it's a secondary brand, so prices get depressed.


This is up and down the chain too. On the higher end, a CJ Stroud Rookie could have the same name, rarity, color way, and be 20% as valuable when it comes out of Rookies and Stars vs. Prizm. People see CJ Stroud parallels go for thousands in Prizm and think their Rookies and Stars hit might do that to see those buyers are gone.


And honestly, people tend to imagine none of this is true when buying a box. So if you buy a Heritage box at release, you imagine getting the top rookie and/or a super hard to hit parallel (the black refractor, a real one red auto, etc.) and/or doing it on product release when the product is most expensive, and it's just not true. Really, the card needs to be EVERYTHING or the card price drops to where the economics of opening the pack to find it loses all sense.
 

bradcote

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 27, 2005
3,143
Keepin' it real in Maine
You're really not missing anything, wax is just an extremely well designed gambling mechanism with poor odds. There's a whirlwind of factors here that delude people, myself included though I'm backing off of this hard,, to ripping wax as one might say. I am going to try and lay out what I think goes through people's minds"

  • The Grails: There are some, nigh impossible, outcomes that are just not otherwise obtainable without long term saving and focus or even at all. I recently bought into a break of Donruss Basketball with the Grizzlies (I like GG and was fishing for a nice rookie card to pass some time), and the 1/1 Ja Morant Net Marvels is in there. The Nikola Jokic of that card sold for $2175, the Kyrie is posted now, but like, there was literally no other way to get that card and I got it for $35. That doesn't account for the myriad of other breaks where money was turned into not money, but that "chase" consumes some people. I am going to guess there is a Grizzles or Ja Morant or Net Marvels super-collector out there joining Grizzlies breaks or ripping wax to search for just that card. Now...it's probably a mid three figures card in reality if I were to auction it (Morant isn't Jokic) but that leads to...
  • Missing information: Panini doesn't post odds. Topps posts odds but doesn't differentiate when players do or do not have a card or to what volume. So I have absolutely no idea how hard it was to pull that Morant. We know it's real darn tough - I would assume that if my break had 120 packs or so, it was still soemthing like a 1 in numerous thousands chance, if not worse. But when you don't have the numbers, suddenly you try to imagine what it is and I think most people imagine it to be rosier than it is.A lot of people spent hundreds of dollars on the Gunnar Henderson spot in Bowman Best breaks to realize after the fact that Gunnar didn't sign any base autos...or high serial number autos, everything was to 50 or less. So a case of Best may have 1-2 rookie autos and that wasn't likely to be Gunnar. You see an auto list of 100 people but the odds of getting a $5 guy is FAR higher than getting a Gunnar, more than even normal math approximates. In short, you very rarely get the full suite of info needed to appropriately vette out a product. There's a couple internet channels (Sports Card Analysis on Youtube is one I like a ton) that do try to suss this out but they can only use the info given.
  • Compounding Odds: Even with the information, people often have a lot of trouble accurately pruning through the layers to get to that point. Topps 2024 came out this week, let's say what I really wanted was a numbered base Elly De La Cruz - any of them. How many Hobby Boxes do I need to buy to get to that point? Let's say a hobby box is $80 and you average one numbered parallel per box (some have 0, some have 2+, I'm averaging to 1). The odds of hitting the Elly are 1:350 BOXES - so $80 for a 1:350 chance of the card you want. You're just as likely to hit any player, but most products have a smattering of good rookies people really pay out the nose for and a smattering of stars, and the rest range from good to bad players with no market. Further with so many different kinds of cards, people probably see all the options and assume "oh, I can hit something good over 24 packs" and nope.
  • People Overrate How Valuable Their Cards Are, and Thus Underrate How Good They Have To Do Opening Packs: There has been a massive drop from the pandemic which is what you're seeing here but card producers are charging, and people are, paying, like hits from these products are being paid for like it was then. The most recent super high end baseball card product to come out for Topps was Diamond Icons - basically 9 low-numbered, high end name (for the most part) autos and 1 mem/patch/cut auto for $3100. So that's $310 a card. People were getting psyched over cards they were hitting in breaks (including myself...I bought in and I got fortunate in a teams break to get the Braves and hit an Acuna which likely paid for the slot, barely - this is why I am going cold turkey on breaks and wax FWIW). I'm going to list a handful of cards below any collector would love to have and the most recent eBay sold price - your "payback" card (so you get back what you paid in) was an Adley Rutschman Auto /5 which sold for $309...if you take fees into account, the payback card is more like this sick Adley Rutschman Patch Auto /10. The only clear winners were Ohtani autos, 1/1s, difficult to get cuts, and some of the more obscenely cool patches.
    • Ichiro 1/10 Auto: $232
    • Pedro Martinez /25 auto: $93
    • Buster Posey Patch Auto /25: $153
    • Mike Trout/10 Auto: $293 (seriously, you could hit a MIKE TROUT AUTOGRAPH TO TEN AND LOSE MONEY WTF IS GOING ON HERE)
    • Vladimir Guerrero Jr. GU Jumbo Patch Auto (it's from his clear with Jordan 23 on it) - $400
    • Fernando Tatis Jr. 1/1 auto: $345
    • Ken Griffey Jr /5 auto - $510
    • Riley Greene RC Auto /15 - $96
  • Keeping Up With The Fake Joneses - 2024 Topps just released and if you go on Reddit, all you see are people who were pulling incredible cards - same with Facebook Groups, LCS people telling stories, all of this. No one ever really goes into how much they had to pay or open to get it. Like, I bought a LOT of A&G last year (I love the set, genuinely). If I posted my best Allen and Ginter cards to Reddit, people would be impressed - I hit a red auto /10, a black framed auto, I have a Stroud auto, a ton of the auto set, Wemby black border mini, etc. several great rip cards that are unripped. However I had to have bought, between boxes and breaks and singles, something like a case's worth of A&G. Absolute garbage investment, frankly poor spending, but hey, I got some cards I genuinely love out of it and some stuff I can really brag about, which to some folks matters a ton. If I liquidated all of my A&G now I'd probably make back like, MAYBE, 40% of what I put into it and that's me maximizing the bigger cards I bought or pulled. Better than box odds (I was relatively fortunate in my pulls) but far worse than if I just...like...bought the cards I had my highest priority on. But that's less fun and you don't get to share war stories with folks, or get a community of people who do this with out to chat with, and in the post pandemic world that's far rarer than it was. I'm in a discord with folks I broke with and it's fun to shoot the shit, kind of like we do here, but the entry fee is very steep, you just don't quite realize the watering hole now costs $40 a slot to play in.
  • The False Floor - Most gambling has a floor of zero. If I buy a scratch ticket for $5, my outcomes start at $0 and work their way up. If I play blackjack at $20 a hand, most likely that hand ends at $0 or $40 (barring other bets). If I bet the money line at +300 odds, my outcome is either $0 or 3x my bet unless I hedge or parlay. Sports Cards are one of the few forms where you are guaranteed, in your mind, to walk away with something. People just dramatically overrate how those somethings turn out. That the something is 200 worthless pieces of cardboard, 40 pieces of cardboard you could consign and sell for $.50 maybe, and then 3-4 pieces of cardboard that you dream will bring you back 5x or 10x your cost but realistically are more like 10% of your cost. But it's a lot easier to drop $200 on something if you know that it's not all gone - as silly as that is. People will convince themselves that even if I don't get what I want, I got this instead which is nice, but like...you could just buy what you want.

Frankly, it just doesn't make sense - I think a lot of it is masking that for some people they just can't afford what the true, S-Tier monster cards are worth and want that tiny chance at getting it. For others it's the "community" around their cards and wanting to keep up and show off. In most cases it's just that dopamine hit of having that brief time where you think you might win it all and paying for that pleasure. I took a much longer arc than you did to realizing that this was really a fool's errand and 99% of what I was jealous of other people getting I could buy for less than my overall "cost of entry". Just yesterday, someone in my breaking group hit a Wayne Gretzky auto - I wasn't in this break as I stopped but I saw their IG post. I got this tinge of jealousy, but, first I wasn't buying the Kings so that'd never be my card. Second, it's probably a $500 card. Great profit for that guy, but I think the spots in that break probably added up to around 2k...so even then the case didn't pay. In a high end hockey break of the The Cup (it was random teams and I wasn't in that one), one guy hit a Bobby Orr auto I was obscenely jealous off...he may get back 2x his slot value for that. Like, there's just a ton of factors here, it's complicated and unhealthy and worrisome, but your instinct is right. After a while of doing this, I have a lot of cards I really love to have but ripping that much wax virtually or in person was almost always a losing game - and the wins were not big enough to offset the losses I'll say that. Several of my current favorite cards were bought for less than a team slot cost to break it or less than a pack or a few packs of the cards would have been.
This post is fantastic. What I do now is get the occasional blaster box/hanger pack to scratch the itch of opening a pack of cards, but mostly buy singles. I took some of my money and used it to make a Larry Bird shelf (one card of Larry Bird from every year he was in the league) instead. I also don't purchase any cards to flip...anything I purchase now is for my own personal collection.
 

Ale Xander

Hamilton
SoSH Member
Oct 31, 2013
71,635
You're really not missing anything, wax is just an extremely well designed gambling mechanism with poor odds. There's a whirlwind of factors here that delude people, myself included though I'm backing off of this hard,, to ripping wax as one might say. I am going to try and lay out what I think goes through people's minds"

  • The Grails: There are some, nigh impossible, outcomes that are just not otherwise obtainable without long term saving and focus or even at all. I recently bought into a break of Donruss Basketball with the Grizzlies (I like GG and was fishing for a nice rookie card to pass some time), and the 1/1 Ja Morant Net Marvels is in there. The Nikola Jokic of that card sold for $2175, the Kyrie is posted now, but like, there was literally no other way to get that card and I got it for $35. That doesn't account for the myriad of other breaks where money was turned into not money, but that "chase" consumes some people. I am going to guess there is a Grizzles or Ja Morant or Net Marvels super-collector out there joining Grizzlies breaks or ripping wax to search for just that card. Now...it's probably a mid three figures card in reality if I were to auction it (Morant isn't Jokic) but that leads to...
  • Missing information: Panini doesn't post odds. Topps posts odds but doesn't differentiate when players do or do not have a card or to what volume. So I have absolutely no idea how hard it was to pull that Morant. We know it's real darn tough - I would assume that if my break had 120 packs or so, it was still soemthing like a 1 in numerous thousands chance, if not worse. But when you don't have the numbers, suddenly you try to imagine what it is and I think most people imagine it to be rosier than it is.A lot of people spent hundreds of dollars on the Gunnar Henderson spot in Bowman Best breaks to realize after the fact that Gunnar didn't sign any base autos...or high serial number autos, everything was to 50 or less. So a case of Best may have 1-2 rookie autos and that wasn't likely to be Gunnar. You see an auto list of 100 people but the odds of getting a $5 guy is FAR higher than getting a Gunnar, more than even normal math approximates. In short, you very rarely get the full suite of info needed to appropriately vette out a product. There's a couple internet channels (Sports Card Analysis on Youtube is one I like a ton) that do try to suss this out but they can only use the info given.
  • Compounding Odds: Even with the information, people often have a lot of trouble accurately pruning through the layers to get to that point. Topps 2024 came out this week, let's say what I really wanted was a numbered base Elly De La Cruz - any of them. How many Hobby Boxes do I need to buy to get to that point? Let's say a hobby box is $80 and you average one numbered parallel per box (some have 0, some have 2+, I'm averaging to 1). The odds of hitting the Elly are 1:350 BOXES - so $80 for a 1:350 chance of the card you want. You're just as likely to hit any player, but most products have a smattering of good rookies people really pay out the nose for and a smattering of stars, and the rest range from good to bad players with no market. Further with so many different kinds of cards, people probably see all the options and assume "oh, I can hit something good over 24 packs" and nope.
  • People Overrate How Valuable Their Cards Are, and Thus Underrate How Good They Have To Do Opening Packs: There has been a massive drop from the pandemic which is what you're seeing here but card producers are charging, and people are, paying, like hits from these products are being paid for like it was then. The most recent super high end baseball card product to come out for Topps was Diamond Icons - basically 9 low-numbered, high end name (for the most part) autos and 1 mem/patch/cut auto for $3100. So that's $310 a card. People were getting psyched over cards they were hitting in breaks (including myself...I bought in and I got fortunate in a teams break to get the Braves and hit an Acuna which likely paid for the slot, barely - this is why I am going cold turkey on breaks and wax FWIW). I'm going to list a handful of cards below any collector would love to have and the most recent eBay sold price - your "payback" card (so you get back what you paid in) was an Adley Rutschman Auto /5 which sold for $309...if you take fees into account, the payback card is more like this sick Adley Rutschman Patch Auto /10. The only clear winners were Ohtani autos, 1/1s, difficult to get cuts, and some of the more obscenely cool patches.
    • Ichiro 1/10 Auto: $232
    • Pedro Martinez /25 auto: $93
    • Buster Posey Patch Auto /25: $153
    • Mike Trout/10 Auto: $293 (seriously, you could hit a MIKE TROUT AUTOGRAPH TO TEN AND LOSE MONEY WTF IS GOING ON HERE)
    • Vladimir Guerrero Jr. GU Jumbo Patch Auto (it's from his clear with Jordan 23 on it) - $400
    • Fernando Tatis Jr. 1/1 auto: $345
    • Ken Griffey Jr /5 auto - $510
    • Riley Greene RC Auto /15 - $96
  • Keeping Up With The Fake Joneses - 2024 Topps just released and if you go on Reddit, all you see are people who were pulling incredible cards - same with Facebook Groups, LCS people telling stories, all of this. No one ever really goes into how much they had to pay or open to get it. Like, I bought a LOT of A&G last year (I love the set, genuinely). If I posted my best Allen and Ginter cards to Reddit, people would be impressed - I hit a red auto /10, a black framed auto, I have a Stroud auto, a ton of the auto set, Wemby black border mini, etc. several great rip cards that are unripped. However I had to have bought, between boxes and breaks and singles, something like a case's worth of A&G. Absolute garbage investment, frankly poor spending, but hey, I got some cards I genuinely love out of it and some stuff I can really brag about, which to some folks matters a ton. If I liquidated all of my A&G now I'd probably make back like, MAYBE, 40% of what I put into it and that's me maximizing the bigger cards I bought or pulled. Better than box odds (I was relatively fortunate in my pulls) but far worse than if I just...like...bought the cards I had my highest priority on. But that's less fun and you don't get to share war stories with folks, or get a community of people who do this with out to chat with, and in the post pandemic world that's far rarer than it was. I'm in a discord with folks I broke with and it's fun to shoot the shit, kind of like we do here, but the entry fee is very steep, you just don't quite realize the watering hole now costs $40 a slot to play in.
  • The False Floor - Most gambling has a floor of zero. If I buy a scratch ticket for $5, my outcomes start at $0 and work their way up. If I play blackjack at $20 a hand, most likely that hand ends at $0 or $40 (barring other bets). If I bet the money line at +300 odds, my outcome is either $0 or 3x my bet unless I hedge or parlay. Sports Cards are one of the few forms where you are guaranteed, in your mind, to walk away with something. People just dramatically overrate how those somethings turn out. That the something is 200 worthless pieces of cardboard, 40 pieces of cardboard you could consign and sell for $.50 maybe, and then 3-4 pieces of cardboard that you dream will bring you back 5x or 10x your cost but realistically are more like 10% of your cost. But it's a lot easier to drop $200 on something if you know that it's not all gone - as silly as that is. People will convince themselves that even if I don't get what I want, I got this instead which is nice, but like...you could just buy what you want.

Frankly, it just doesn't make sense - I think a lot of it is masking that for some people they just can't afford what the true, S-Tier monster cards are worth and want that tiny chance at getting it. For others it's the "community" around their cards and wanting to keep up and show off. In most cases it's just that dopamine hit of having that brief time where you think you might win it all and paying for that pleasure. I took a much longer arc than you did to realizing that this was really a fool's errand and 99% of what I was jealous of other people getting I could buy for less than my overall "cost of entry". Just yesterday, someone in my breaking group hit a Wayne Gretzky auto - I wasn't in this break as I stopped but I saw their IG post. I got this tinge of jealousy, but, first I wasn't buying the Kings so that'd never be my card. Second, it's probably a $500 card. Great profit for that guy, but I think the spots in that break probably added up to around 2k...so even then the case didn't pay. In a high end hockey break of the The Cup (it was random teams and I wasn't in that one), one guy hit a Bobby Orr auto I was obscenely jealous off...he may get back 2x his slot value for that. Like, there's just a ton of factors here, it's complicated and unhealthy and worrisome, but your instinct is right. After a while of doing this, I have a lot of cards I really love to have but ripping that much wax virtually or in person was almost always a losing game - and the wins were not big enough to offset the losses I'll say that. Several of my current favorite cards were bought for less than a team slot cost to break it or less than a pack or a few packs of the cards would have been.
Can you please send this to every breakee and most of all every breaker who thinks they found a permanent way to make a living
 

Bergs

funky and cold
SoSH Member
Jul 22, 2005
21,516
Can you please send this to every breakee and most of all every breaker who thinks they found a permanent way to make a living
This misses the target on a couple of fronts, imo.
1) Breakers are absolutely making money as long as breaking is a thing. They buy at wholesale and sell slots at a profit. Money made. Done.
2) Breakees (most of them at least) are 100% going in knowing they're gambling, and understand more than most they won't "generally" make money. However, it can be fun to watch a break you have a stake in, and as Fishercat mentions above, everybody walks away with *something*.

And you CAN make money back. But as Fishercat alludes to, you have to be knowlegable, quick, lucky, and (big one here) willing to hustle your ass off. That ain't for me.
 

NJ_Sox_Fan

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 2, 2006
10,642
NJ
Luck is the biggest factor as a breakee.

But yeah, making money as a breaker is simple.

Time consuming for larger breaks and what not, but some of these larger breakers make an absolute killing.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

posts way less than 18% useful shit
SoSH Member
Nov 17, 2010
14,271
This misses the target on a couple of fronts, imo.
1) Breakers are absolutely making money as long as breaking is a thing. They buy at wholesale and sell slots at a profit. Money made. Done.
2) Breakees (most of them at least) are 100% going in knowing they're gambling, and understand more than most they won't "generally" make money. However, it can be fun to watch a break you have a stake in, and as Fishercat mentions above, everybody walks away with *something*.

And you CAN make money back. But as Fishercat alludes to, you have to be knowlegable, quick, lucky, and (big one here) willing to hustle your ass off. That ain't for me.
The only way it's possible to make your money back is by getting hobby boxes or better. If you're buying boxes off the shelf at Walmart, there is 100% chance you'll be underwater in a year.
 

Fishercat

Svelte and sexy!
SoSH Member
May 18, 2007
8,182
Manchester, N.H.
I have some concerns on the breaker model. So, the structure of it is entirely sound to the points people make - buy boxes at wholesale/low end values or even distributor value, add in your profit margin, break and ship - being able to break up the product in a manner beyond "pack" or "box" or "case" to things like team, player, and division diversifies the entry point. What I have been noticing though is that Topps/Fanatics, Panini, and Upper Deck are aggressively eating up the profit gap, which then forces breakers to increase their price. We also saw at least with Topps that if they sell a product that the market deems as a mispricing, the next year they will price up to that gap. Topps Gilded Collection was a $350 box at release, secondary market leaped it up to $700, and it was over $700 this year for the exact same format. Topps Cosmic Chrome was a relatively cheap box in 2022, people liked it and secondary values leaped, and in 2023 it was one of the worst $350-$400 products I've ever seen. At some point that has to topple, especially as people see that the secondary market for singles is not following the wax prices.


The breaker I used is having an absolute helluva time trying to fill any basketball or football breaks as Panini has stretched the pricing to both player demand AND breaker values year over year. A two box random of Rookies and Stars, at $32 a slot, had to be incentivized with a randomized Joe Burrow rookie card to fill. The sharks are still buying those really high value team slots (Spurs for Wemby, Texans for Stroud) but it's notable to how much slower some of these breaks are going and how breakers are trying to find different formats - especially for high end products. Some of the Fanatics Live breakers are selling fractional spots in things like Diamond Icons - so if the Derek Jeter slot in Diamond Icons would be $150, they start selling serial numbered fractional spots - and if spots don't sell they take the rest of the spots and sell any hits they get on eBay following it. There's more leg work and administration for sure. I do think at some point that the big three are going to price enough of their products to where breakers being able to price additional profit in will get more difficult. I don't think this will affect the Laytons or Filthbombs or Backyards of the world who have a ton of whales, but newer people trying to get into breaking and smaller breakers I suspect will get more difficult.



This might just be too much hope - like Five Star is out today which (for my money) is the worst kind of Topps Product - the 1-2 hit for $225 boxes filled with bad rookies, mid vets, and a smattering of legends - and almost every breaker has their break priced $150 above the retail cost of the case, most of which are at $250+ profit (pre-shipping but at most a case break results in 16 shipments, so chop out about $80 in shipping and supplies). And people will fill it of course, but I do wonder long term as card producers build sets directed at breakers that breakers can't divide in a way that people want or are willing to spend to make it worth while, what will happen. Looking at Prizm, Breakcomp only has nine breakers it could price for the product. That's compared to sixteen breakers for Five Star and thirty six breakers for Topps S1. The pricier this stuff gets, and the higher required allocation to purchase to get these products, the fewer parties are going to be able to break and fewer people are going to be willing or able to drop the money needed for their team or a team they like.


This is all to say that I don't think Ale is wrong. Breakers as middlemen have a nice gig now, but the barrier to get in is just getting more difficult, resources for buyers are getting better as market demand for singles lessens, and it's not a business I'd want to hard pursue at this point in time. Certainly, compared to what others do for work it's a pretty sweet deal but it's all dependent on other uncontrollable factors more than many other enterprises.
 

Bergs

funky and cold
SoSH Member
Jul 22, 2005
21,516
I have some concerns on the breaker model. So, the structure of it is entirely sound to the points people make - buy boxes at wholesale/low end values or even distributor value, add in your profit margin, break and ship - being able to break up the product in a manner beyond "pack" or "box" or "case" to things like team, player, and division diversifies the entry point. What I have been noticing though is that Topps/Fanatics, Panini, and Upper Deck are aggressively eating up the profit gap, which then forces breakers to increase their price. We also saw at least with Topps that if they sell a product that the market deems as a mispricing, the next year they will price up to that gap. Topps Gilded Collection was a $350 box at release, secondary market leaped it up to $700, and it was over $700 this year for the exact same format. Topps Cosmic Chrome was a relatively cheap box in 2022, people liked it and secondary values leaped, and in 2023 it was one of the worst $350-$400 products I've ever seen. At some point that has to topple, especially as people see that the secondary market for singles is not following the wax prices.


The breaker I used is having an absolute helluva time trying to fill any basketball or football breaks as Panini has stretched the pricing to both player demand AND breaker values year over year. A two box random of Rookies and Stars, at $32 a slot, had to be incentivized with a randomized Joe Burrow rookie card to fill. The sharks are still buying those really high value team slots (Spurs for Wemby, Texans for Stroud) but it's notable to how much slower some of these breaks are going and how breakers are trying to find different formats - especially for high end products. Some of the Fanatics Live breakers are selling fractional spots in things like Diamond Icons - so if the Derek Jeter slot in Diamond Icons would be $150, they start selling serial numbered fractional spots - and if spots don't sell they take the rest of the spots and sell any hits they get on eBay following it. There's more leg work and administration for sure. I do think at some point that the big three are going to price enough of their products to where breakers being able to price additional profit in will get more difficult. I don't think this will affect the Laytons or Filthbombs or Backyards of the world who have a ton of whales, but newer people trying to get into breaking and smaller breakers I suspect will get more difficult.



This might just be too much hope - like Five Star is out today which (for my money) is the worst kind of Topps Product - the 1-2 hit for $225 boxes filled with bad rookies, mid vets, and a smattering of legends - and almost every breaker has their break priced $150 above the retail cost of the case, most of which are at $250+ profit (pre-shipping but at most a case break results in 16 shipments, so chop out about $80 in shipping and supplies). And people will fill it of course, but I do wonder long term as card producers build sets directed at breakers that breakers can't divide in a way that people want or are willing to spend to make it worth while, what will happen. Looking at Prizm, Breakcomp only has nine breakers it could price for the product. That's compared to sixteen breakers for Five Star and thirty six breakers for Topps S1. The pricier this stuff gets, and the higher required allocation to purchase to get these products, the fewer parties are going to be able to break and fewer people are going to be willing or able to drop the money needed for their team or a team they like.


This is all to say that I don't think Ale is wrong. Breakers as middlemen have a nice gig now, but the barrier to get in is just getting more difficult, resources for buyers are getting better as market demand for singles lessens, and it's not a business I'd want to hard pursue at this point in time. Certainly, compared to what others do for work it's a pretty sweet deal but it's all dependent on other uncontrollable factors more than many other enterprises.
Man, this is great stuff. Thanks!
 

Fishercat

Svelte and sexy!
SoSH Member
May 18, 2007
8,182
Manchester, N.H.
And you CAN make money back. But as Fishercat alludes to, you have to be knowlegable, quick, lucky, and (big one here) willing to hustle your ass off. That ain't for me.
I also agree with this - like luck matters, but I think over time luck eventually settles and these other factors of product/sport knowledge, speed to market, lack of sentimentality, and willingness to work to exploit every angle separates out those who lose a lot of money and those who might not lose as much money or who can even squeak out some cash from this. There's one guy in our breaks who has a prospect or two he goes after in Bowman releases and he has a shockingly high hit rate. That dude can make money off of this. But honestly to your point you need the instincts - but you also need to willingness to do a lot of work to maximize that out and sell on what you don't believe in or don't love to get there - and you need to resist those products less likely to make you money that may be fun.

With all of this being said...the easier and more lucrative pathway is almost certainly to either just sell the sealed boxes, open them for people, or buy them and keep them sealed to sell years later if you're good at product choices.
 

YTF

Member
SoSH Member
Just an observation from afar. I pretty much gave up on cards as a hobby during the junk box era. The overproduction of cards coupled with the introduction of a new grading system soured me on the hobby. Sure I get that the there always was and will be some sort of value assigned to collectibles and I certainly can't deny that I would profit from turning duplicates into other cards that I wanted to add to my collection. While getting any card fresh from the pack that you desired for any reason was always a gamble, the reason I'm writing this is to say that what I've been reading here lately leads me to ask the experts here if you think the card hobby/business is on the cusp of another junk period? Slightly different I think because if they skew the more desirable cards towards lower production while overproducing the filler, the hits should retain some value, but if the "hits" aren't there as they once were and the price of breaking becomes more and more cost prohibitive for a good portion of enthusiasts it seems there are going be a shit ton of of cards in a flooded market which no one is going to give a rat's ass about.
 

Ale Xander

Hamilton
SoSH Member
Oct 31, 2013
71,635
, the reason I'm writing this is to say that what I've been reading here lately leads me to ask the experts here if you think the card hobby/business is on the cusp of another junk period? Slightly different I think because if they skew the more desirable cards towards lower production while overproducing the filler, the hits should retain some value, but if the "hits" aren't there as they once were and the price of breaking becomes more and more cost prohibitive for a good portion of enthusiasts it seems there are going be a shit ton of of cards in a flooded market which no one is going to give a rat's ass about.
I am by no means an expert, but what I've heard from box sellers, who have been in the business 30 years, at shows is that there are ridiculous contracts now to buy cases, because of the breakers and because of the oligopoly turning into a monopoly/duopoly at the production level.

Panini and Fanatics have incentive now to produce more.
 

YTF

Member
SoSH Member
I am by no means an expert, but what I've heard from box sellers, who have been in the business 30 years, at shows is that there are ridiculous contracts now to buy cases, because of the breakers and because of the oligopoly turning into a monopoly/duopoly at the production level.

Panini and Fanatics have incentive now to produce more.
I always wondered what affect Fanatics would have on the market as they now have to satisfy the investment they made in Topps while looking to maintain whatever profit level they deem as necessary. Production and cost are usually what drive these decisions.
 

Mugsy's Jock

Eli apologist
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Dec 28, 2000
15,045
UWS, NYC
So my long Mike Trout redemption journey looks like it's going to have a happy ending. Buckle up -- I need your advice with something.

Back in November 2022, I got the card pictured below -- a redemption of a /25 Mike Trout Major League Materials Autograph card. Only problem is Topps couldn't fulfill it. They told me that I could wait and see if they'd get it fulfilled, or I could select a substitute at their option which they promised would be of equal value. I wasn't willing to risk that (Oh, a Gerrit Cole autograph? Thanks a lot.) So I waited. Every few months I checked in by email or phone and got the same answer -- "don't have it now, might get it later, but we can give you a substitute of our choice." No thanks.

Finally, yesterday, I got a customer service rep on the phone who was incredibly sympathetic and helpful. After confirming "my" Trout was still not in stock, and acknowledging that was a valuable hit, he offered to help me pick the substitute. Said I could give him a favorite player or two and he'd go through the Topps inventory to find a card of comparable or greater value. Then ask me if I'd be satisfied with it before sending. And this guy, I believe.

[As a guide, one of the Trout cards I was supposed to receive is currently up on eBay for $399.]

He threw out "You want Mookie Betts? I'll look for Mookie Betts. You want Aaron Judge? I'll look for Aaron Judge." So that got my mind turning... and I said I'd get back to him in a day or two. So help me pick! Here are some choices/theories:

CARL YASTRZEMSKI: My all-time favorite player, but I don't know how excited I'd really be for some 2020 Allen & Ginter (or something) Yaz autograph card. Don't even know if he even has a $400 card. Not that I'd sell/trade it, but it's not going up in value. I don't think so.

PEDRO MARTINEZ: My next all-time favorite player. An autographed 2022 Topps Heritage (or whatever) doesn't feel as weird as the recent Yaz would. Solid contender.

RICH GARCES or KOJI UEHARA: My third and fourth all-time favorite players. Yeah, probably not.

CURRENT ROOKIES: I'm guessing the top tier Jackson Holliday/Jackson Chourio/Junior Caminero are all right at the peak of their value right now and wouldn't be a great investment for a player I'm not personally invested in. You could talk me into Marcelo Mayer, but I fear I'd be jinxing his career. Jasson Dominguez could be intriguing except, well, you know... I could take one of these and sell it to reinvest in other cards though. I suppose Yoshinobu Yamamoto could be interesting -- is there even a card for him yet?

YOUNG STUDS: Julio Rodriguez, Elly de la Cruz, Corbin Carroll, Rutschman or Gunnar, even put Ronald Acuna here... eh, I'm not emotionally attached, but might be a good take it-and-sell it candidate. I love Triston Casas, but again, don't know that I want to jinx him by taking him.

CURRENT SUPERSTARS: Mookie, Judge, Bryce Harper, Vladdy Jr., etc. Even Mike Trout again. Good bet to hold value.

SHOHEI OHTANI: Okay, this has me intrigued. He has totally captured my imagination and is clearly a contender for GOAT status. Having a rare Ohtani could be great and I'll bet it holds value... but a $400 Ohtani will always be outshone by $4000 and $40,000 Ohtani's that are probably out there too.

So... help me out here? [I'll keep this forum updated on what Topps offers me after I give them a couple names...]

PS. If I were to reinvest a theoretical $400 in other cards, I'd probably just get 20-ish ungraded cards from the 60s/70s that would just fill holes in my collection, which focuses on Topps flagship cards of HOF players. A 1970 Tom Seaver, a 1967 Henry Aaron, 1965-70 Luis Tiants, the full suite of 1968 AL HR/RBI/BA leaders to capture Yaz's triple crown, etc etc.

Thanks!

 
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Bigdogx

New Member
Jul 21, 2020
121
So are baseball cards basically experiencing a second junk wax era of sorts? It sounds like they're just flat out producing as much as they can possibly sell.
Difference being junk wax packs cost .75 cents per back in that era.

Last night i watched a breaker on youtube, Jabs i think is his name. Opened 2 boxes with 10 cards in each box and said the 2 boxes cost him 8,000 dollars for both!

If he got back 15% of the value with the trash cards he received i would be amazed. No rare metals or gems on the cards, nope just the thick cut style cards that are a dime a dozen and really the design on them was pretty plain too. I can't believe how Topps has been able to literally bamboozle imo consumers into buying these ultra so called rare card sets. Topps seem to release about 57756845756847638438 different so called rare sets every year, so yeah not so rare imo...
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

posts way less than 18% useful shit
SoSH Member
Nov 17, 2010
14,271
The issue with "making money" off this is that - outside of the top 1% of people - you have to be extremely active and make it a side job. And it's not going to make much as a side job, either, barring a really lucky hit.

You have to research product release dates, buy heavy on first few days, hope you get some decent mid/upper hits, organize and photograph the low tier hits that people are looking to fill out their collection/think may go up in value (they wont), post them online for sale, and then ship them out individually - at least a few dozen times per set - for a few bucks profit per sale.

This all needs to be done in the first 1-2 weeks of release, because everyday increases the population of the cards on the market, which reduces the value. You'll see low tier cards selling for $5-7 bucks day 2, and .30 cents on day 10. And God forbid the set isn't popular and tanks, because then there's no way you make your money back.

If you do THIS you can end up in the green, but frankly, is the time and effort worth the few hundred bucks?
 

Fishercat

Svelte and sexy!
SoSH Member
May 18, 2007
8,182
Manchester, N.H.
Just an observation from afar. I pretty much gave up on cards as a hobby during the junk box era. The overproduction of cards coupled with the introduction of a new grading system soured me on the hobby. Sure I get that the there always was and will be some sort of value assigned to collectibles and I certainly can't deny that I would profit from turning duplicates into other cards that I wanted to add to my collection. While getting any card fresh from the pack that you desired for any reason was always a gamble, the reason I'm writing this is to say that what I've been reading here lately leads me to ask the experts here if you think the card hobby/business is on the cusp of another junk period? Slightly different I think because if they skew the more desirable cards towards lower production while overproducing the filler, the hits should retain some value, but if the "hits" aren't there as they once were and the price of breaking becomes more and more cost prohibitive for a good portion of enthusiasts it seems there are going be a shit ton of of cards in a flooded market which no one is going to give a rat's ass about.
So are baseball cards basically experiencing a second junk wax era of sorts? It sounds like they're just flat out producing as much as they can possibly sell.
I think we're in the middle of a different kind of junk era. The junk box era was just a massive, pure volume issue. There were millions of cards in a print run but there were only usually 3-5 different products. Topps/Topps Traded, Fleer / Update, Donruss, etc. We're nowhere near the volume of cards that were being produced then - like I think even current day flagship is only being produced at a fraction of what 1987 Topps was. The junk era we're in is what I would term as the "Junk Parallel" era - so instead of being in a very deep but narrow card pool, we're in a somewhat deep but very wide card pool, which then reduces the value of every other card like it UNLESS the card holds a unique stature in the hobby or design element that enough people like.

Just for example, let's take Brayan Bello. Red Sox Rookie pitcher, their third most prominent rookie in the hobby this year so he was excluded from numerous small sets (like Yoshida and Casas were the usual representatives in higher end products). According to TCDB, he has 403 unique cards and/or parallels in 2023 sets - that includes 21 Bowman parallels between color changes and plates, 20 in Topps Finest, about 20 in SC, etc. I think Griffey had something like 8-10 licensed, real rookie card types in '89 (a ton of unlicensed stuff). So like if you wanted a Griffey rookie, everyone probably got a Rated Rookie, whereas now everyone who wants a Bello auto may have fewer in volume to choose from but a much broader choice of cards. If you just want a Brayan Bello, choose your design. If you want a numbered Bello, there's thousands probably out there most of which are dirt cheap. If you want an autographed Brayan Bello, he was in several different products with different looks.

Their productions runs could be a LOT higher but the consumer appetite isn't there for that - in the junk era it was a lot of people who were interested with diehards who saw their retirement plan in '90 Topps Rookies. Now it's a smaller base of people who want a lot of variety and want something with perceived rarity, and most of that rarity isn't valued by others.

It's messy. :)
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

posts way less than 18% useful shit
SoSH Member
Nov 17, 2010
14,271
Just an observation from afar. I pretty much gave up on cards as a hobby during the junk box era. The overproduction of cards coupled with the introduction of a new grading system soured me on the hobby. Sure I get that the there always was and will be some sort of value assigned to collectibles and I certainly can't deny that I would profit from turning duplicates into other cards that I wanted to add to my collection. While getting any card fresh from the pack that you desired for any reason was always a gamble, the reason I'm writing this is to say that what I've been reading here lately leads me to ask the experts here if you think the card hobby/business is on the cusp of another junk period? Slightly different I think because if they skew the more desirable cards towards lower production while overproducing the filler, the hits should retain some value, but if the "hits" aren't there as they once were and the price of breaking becomes more and more cost prohibitive for a good portion of enthusiasts it seems there are going be a shit ton of of cards in a flooded market which no one is going to give a rat's ass about.
It's already in a junk period, at least as far as an investment goes. Up until 2018-2020, you could get hobby boxes of Bowman draft, Prizm, etc for $55-60. Now you're spending 10x ($550ish) for less value. If you want the comparable value, it would be something like the "first off the line" lines of those sets, which go for 20x the price ($900-$1200+).

When the baseline price jumps 20x, so does the sale price. Only the market is SO saturated that you'd be an idiot to buy in on 99% of the cards listed.

"OMG! I got a 1/1 Steph Curry!!"

Cool. He's had HUNDREDS of 1/1 cards. If it isn't a rookie, you're better off selling now because that $1500 card ends up as a $250 card in 2 years.

Edit - lol, Fischer and I are in agreement.
 

Fishercat

Svelte and sexy!
SoSH Member
May 18, 2007
8,182
Manchester, N.H.
So my long Mike Trout redemption journey looks like it's going to have a happy ending. Buckle up -- I need your advice with something.

Back in November 2022, I got the card pictured below -- a redemption of a /25 Mike Trout Major League Materials Autograph card. Only problem is Topps couldn't fulfill it. They told me that I could wait and see if they'd get it fulfilled, or I could select a substitute at their option which they promised would be of equal value. I wasn't willing to risk that (Oh, a Gerrit Cole autograph? Thanks a lot.) So I waited. Every few months I checked in by email or phone and got the same answer -- "don't have it now, might get it later, but we can give you a substitute of our choice." No thanks.

Finally, yesterday, I got a customer service rep on the phone who was incredibly sympathetic and helpful. After confirming "my" Trout was still not in stock, and acknowledging that was a valuable hit, he offered to help me pick the substitute. Said I could give him a favorite player or two and he'd go through the Topps inventory to find a card of comparable or greater value. Then ask me if I'd be satisfied with it before sending. And this guy, I believe.

[As a guide, one of the Trout cards I was supposed to receive is currently up on eBay for $399.]

He threw out "You want Mookie Betts? I'll look for Mookie Betts. You want Aaron Judge? I'll look for Aaron Judge." So that got my mind turning... and I said I'd get back to him in a day or two. So help me pick! Here are some choices/theories:

CARL YASTRZEMSKI: My all-time favorite player, but I don't know how excited I'd really be for some 2020 Allen & Ginter (or something) Yaz autograph card. Don't even know if he even has a $400 card. Not that I'd sell/trade it, but it's not going up in value. I don't think so.

PEDRO MARTINEZ: My next all-time favorite player. An autographed 2022 Topps Heritage (or whatever) doesn't feel as weird as the recent Yaz would. Solid contender.

RICH GARCES or KOJI UEHARA: My third and fourth all-time favorite players. Yeah, probably not.

CURRENT ROOKIES: I'm guessing the top tier Jackson Holliday/Jackson Chourio/Junior Caminero are all right at the peak of their value right now and wouldn't be a great investment for a player I'm not personally invested in. You could talk me into Marcelo Mayer, but I fear I'd be jinxing his career. Jasson Dominguez could be intriguing except, well, you know... I could take one of these and sell it to reinvest in other cards though. I suppose Yoshinobu Yamamoto could be interesting -- is there even a card for him yet?

YOUNG STUDS: Julio Rodriguez, Elly de la Cruz, Corbin Carroll, Rutschman or Gunnar, even put Ronald Acuna here... eh, I'm not emotionally attached, but might be a good take it-and-sell it candidate. I love Triston Casas, but again, don't know that I want to jinx him by taking him.

CURRENT SUPERSTARS: Mookie, Judge, Bryce Harper, Vladdy Jr., etc. Even Mike Trout again. Good bet to hold value.

SHOHEI OHTANI: Okay, this has me intrigued. He has totally captured my imagination and is clearly a contender for GOAT status. Having a rare Ohtani could be great and I'll bet it holds value... but a $400 Ohtani will always be outshone by $4000 and $40,000 Ohtani's that are probably out there too.

So... help me out here? [I'll keep this forum updated on what Topps offers me after I give them a couple names...]

PS. If I were to reinvest a theoretical $400 in other cards, I'd probably just get 20-ish ungraded cards from the 60s/70s that would just fill holes in my collection, which focuses on Topps flagship cards of HOF players. A 1970 Tom Seaver, a 1967 Henry Aaron, 1965-70 Luis Tiants, the full suite of 1968 AL HR/RBI/BA leaders to capture Yaz's triple crown, etc etc.

Thanks!
Personally, I'd keep it simple - you got a current S-tier star auto they can't fulfill, I'd want an equivalent, stable S-tier star or, at worst, 2 A-tier stars whose value is reliable. I'd ask for Ohtani first as there probably isn't a licensed Ohtani auto in their warehouse worth less than the Trout is - they'll likely say no based on market value. Betts has signed a licensed card in nearly a decade at this point - if they somehow have a signed Mookie Betts sitting around I'd do that in a second. Outside of those two, I think the next choice is Aaron Judge, just as safe as safe gets current market wise.

If those three aren't there, it gets iffier. For current guys, I think Acuna is the next one, but he signs a lot more and while he is still quite desirable (I got my first Acuna recently and it's one I want to keep), his auto is not great so it'd be much more card dependent. Soto has a similar issue - amazing player, signs a ton. J-Rod is also up there, but he does sign regularly too and all of those guys you can get good autos for less than what a Trout auto will cost you.

If you're going retired, I don't think there's a retired guy Topps gets to sign I'd take in a one for one right now, like I'd want a good Pedro AND a good Yaz for instance, and then it depends on the card. $400 Yaz autos exist - the recent Retrofractor Autos, dual or triple Red Sox autos (which might be your coolest personal bet), maybe a Heritage Red Auto (not sure on pricing on that). Once you get to this point it's SO dependent on the card itself

Otherwise, prioritize rookie cards, prioritize good brands if you get an offer - like a Carroll or Rutschman or Gunnar are all justifiable but you're gambling a bit more there and all three signed enough in their rookie year that they are likely to continue,.

If I were in your spot, I'd say any other Trouts, Ohtani, or Betts (and Judge if you're willing) and see what they come back with. Maybe throw out if there's any GREAT Yaz or Pedro options to give choices if you're feeling charitable.
 

Fishercat

Svelte and sexy!
SoSH Member
May 18, 2007
8,182
Manchester, N.H.
Difference being junk wax packs cost .75 cents per back in that era.

Last night i watched a breaker on youtube, Jabs i think is his name. Opened 2 boxes with 10 cards in each box and said the 2 boxes cost him 8,000 dollars for both!

If he got back 15% of the value with the trash cards he received i would be amazed. No rare metals or gems on the cards, nope just the thick cut style cards that are a dime a dozen and really the design on them was pretty plain too. I can't believe how Topps has been able to literally bamboozle imo consumers into buying these ultra so called rare card sets. Topps seem to release about 57756845756847638438 different so called rare sets every year, so yeah not so rare imo...
I thought you might be joking about 15% but I watched the video and, if he paid 4k for that box (retail was 3100 but still), recouping $800 after eBay fees might be about right. That was a bad first box and not a much better second one. And you're right in that it's a lot of what's wrong - the odds of you getting a mix of cards that make it worth it, or even close to worth it, is really low. It's the same subjects over and over again so you get diminishing returns. Even in a product that high end you still have Starling Marte and Joe Musgrove cards. While I think the cards are nice, they're not doing anything truly "wow" worthy outside of a small handful of insane relics (I got outgunned on an absurd cleat card) and maybe the diamond cards. This feels like a product that should be about $150-$200 per card in a rip, not $310-$400 - as not many cards really get into that range and not usually more than 2-3 of them per box of 10.

Funny enough, if you actually like the cards (and I do), it's a great opportunity to acquire a high quality, on-card auto of major stars at a decent price because breakers, Ohtani hunters, and big game hunters are trying to offset their losses by selling it all off at the same time as Topps Series 1 is out. I'm building my own "budget" box of this and trying to fill in some gaps of key players I don't have a card for that I want, and like...an on-card Juan Soto on a really sleek looking card for $100? A Paul Goldschmidt multi color patch auto for $50? Randy Johnson for $80? Rod Carew for $25? You're not paying a premium on these cards vs. cards from lower quality sets - and that simultaneously is great for singles hunters but disastrous for people opening cards. And that goes back to the point of...if there's only 2-3 guys in a product, and then a smattering of cards beyond them that deliver a ton of excess value, you should think long and hard about why you're opening packs in the first place.

Five Star is starting today, the Red Sox cost between $75-$100 or so for a case break. Simulations suggest you'll get a Red Sox in about 65% or so - so what Red Sox do you want? If it's Ortiz, you can get a great auto of his in that price range. Pedro Martinez? Same and you can likely take some cash with you. Pedroia is cheap. Fred Lynn is cheap. Carlton Fisk is cheap, Casas won't cost more than $75, etc. Like, you are going into that needing multiple cards or to win the artificial scarcity lottery.
 
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