Friday, August 30, 2013

Football is Back!

Okay, now that my obsession with Allen & Ginter is over, it's time to move my focus back to football.  With the football season starting up again, lots of football products will be hitting the shelves real soon (and have already hit the shelves).

I haven't given much effort to searching 2013 Topps Football.  I went out a few times to look for it.  One Target around me had it.  I didn't find anything there, and the place already looked searched.  Oh well.  No big loss.  The only thing I'm interested in finding are autographs and those coin/trophy cards.  Those are pretty rare so there might not have even been one to find in the store anyways.

I hardly touched 2013 Prestige Football which came out over a month ago.  While I do like the set, I was passing on it to save up for my Allen  & Ginter craze.

2013 Rookies and Stars should be hitting real soon.  I think this is a crap set but I'll probably end up searching it anyways.  It was pretty searchable last year from what I can remember so I'll give it another shot this year if I don't end up getting beat to the stores.

But the real gem that I'm looking for is 2013 Topps Chrome Football.  Last year's product was pretty hard to search.  I mean, finding the die cuts and tall boys was easy as pie.  Anyone can do that.  But finding the autos was tougher.  I didn't actually find a single one last year.  At the time I was still struggling with the basic autograph-finding technique, but now that almost a whole year has passed and I'm better at it, I think I can find the autographs hidden away in regular packs and rack packs.  I'm eager to give it a shot for real when 2013 Chrome Football comes out!

Nick Foles
2012 Panini Absolute Football
War Room Relic

Anyways, I leave you with this, an oldie that I never got around to scanning: a Nick Foles relic from 2012 Absolute Football (Retail). 

Nick Foles
2012 Panini Absolute Football
War Room Relic

Side note: shouldn't the Eagles be one of the most interesting teams to watch in the NFL this year with new head coach Chip Kelly?  Who will be their starting QB?  Vick?  Foles?  Barkley?  Assuming Chip Kelly tries to run a similar offense to the one he ran in college, then I'm guessing it will be Vick.  Foles is about as mobile as a tree.  I imagine that the Eagles' offense would be drastically different with Foles under center compared to Vick.  Perhaps the Eagles will trade Foles after this year?  And Barkley... it's not like he's the most mobile QB either.  I was puzzled when the Eagles drafted him. 

Anyways, here are a few of my card collecting pointers for the upcoming season:

Strong Buy: Tavon Austin (explosive playmaking potential); T.Y. Hilton (deep threat speedster poised for a breakout season); Luke Keuchly (crazy good and his rookie card prices are still reasonable)

Buy: Josh Gordon (all pro potential but character concerns)

Hold: Brandon Weedon (a tentative starter... for now, but he has shown some improvement)

Sell: Nick Foles (his days appear numbered in Philly)

Strong Sell: Geno Smith (Over-hyped and early performances haven't been good at all)

I'll update these as the season progresses.  Obviously, as the season plays out things will change, new players might be added, and existing players might be taken off the list. 

You guys have any opinion on any of these players and/or other players?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pack Searching 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter: Two More Blasters

My obsession with 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter is sick.  I'm not even a huge baseball fan!  But for some reason, something about this set gets me to spend far too much money on it.

On a recent trip to Target I just couldn't resist taking a shot on another two blaster boxes.  I ended up getting two more hits (not entirely surprising) which made me feel better about my purchase, but then again I also felt a bit sick of myself for spending another $40+ on this set.

I gotta stop buying Allen & Ginter.  Time to move on to something else.

Jay Bruce
2013 Topps Allen & Ginter
Framed Mini Relic

Got a Jay Bruce framed mini relic, and...

Bobby Bowden
2013 Topps Allen & Ginter
Framed Mini Relic

A Bobby Bowden framed mini relic.  Still searching for that elusive framed mini autograph.  Those are hard to find in blasters, and even harder to find in rack packs and loose packs when you're constantly getting beat to stores like I am.  Ugh.

On the bright side I did get stupid lucky and pulled a...

Manny Machado
2013 Topps Allen & Ginter
Rookie Card
Odds: SSP

Frickin' sweet Manny Machado rookie card which is super short print!  The funny thing about these SSP base rookie cards is that when you don't have one you get sort of pissed at card companies for making certain rookie cards more short print than others, but once you get one of those short print or super short print rookie cards you think it's cool since it's worth more than a regular (non-SP) rookie card.

Alright.  My obsession with Allen & Ginter stops now.  No more of it.  Moving back to football products now.  I hope.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: Numero Uno

The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: Pack Searching 2011 Allen & Ginter (Part I)
The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: It's Here! (Part II)
The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: Frustration & Elation (Part III)
The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: First Runner Up (Part IV)
The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: Searching Blasters (Part V)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter is coming to a close.  It's been a frustrating quest.  I've been beat to every single retail store around me.  It seems like all the other pack searchers around me came out of hibernation or something when Allen & Ginter hit the streets.  Competition has been tough.  And it's not like I have been slacking either.  I was hitting up some Targets twice a day checking for the product.  But the one day that I couldn't go out searching is when it seems that everything went out, and was promptly cleaned out by other pack searchers.  Damn.

One last Target near me still hadn't put out the product.  This Target is notoriously slow for putting out new products.  And on this Thursday evening, I decided to swing by it to check it one last time.  I was pretty much at the point where I was starting to not care about checking it any more.  But when I walked into the store, I was surprised to see a whole box of rack packs laying out on the shelf.

Of course, I expected it to be searched.  But I counted the rack packs inside of it and there were 16 of them.  (Or was it 18?  I can't even remember now.)  It was a full, untouched box.  And so I did what any self-respecting card collector would do in such a situation.  I went about looking for hits.

I went through the entire box, and was getting down to the final few rack packs at the bottom and still hadn't found a hit.  And it was literally the last rack pack in the bottom of the box which had the hit.  Finally. 

In a way, I wasn't even that happy for finding a hit.  I felt like this was a small and inadequate consolation for all the work, time, and effort I had spent trying to get to the other stores before my competition.  In a sense, I felt like I was entitled to this hit and many more, but this was -- disappointingly -- the only hit I was getting to show for it. 

Elvis Andrus
2013 Topps Allen & Ginter
Framed Mini Relic
Odds: 1:76

It was a framed mini relic.  I was hoping it was an autograph but as soon as you see that tan border you know it's not.  Oh well.  I suppose I can't complain.  You win some and you lose some.  This year I lost.  Kudos to all the other pack searchers around me (I actually think it was only one pack searcher who did most of the damage in my area).  You got me.  You beat me.  Touche.

... The End ...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

How is This Not Pack Searching?

You know, the funny thing about Blowout Cards people, is that they seem to have this very fine distinction between permissible pack searching and taboo pack searching.

What am I talking about?  I'm talking about this post

The original poster states he was cleaning up the card aisle and just so happened to notice that one of the 2013 Topps Football rack packs was SUPER THICK, and much thicker than the other rack packs.  Hmmm.  So, of course, he bought it.  He ended up getting one of those cool manufactured metal relic cards, and promptly put up a post on Blowout showing it off.

To my complete surprise, as of me writing this post, not a single person has stated that what he did was pack searching.  Let me be clear, what he did IS pack searching.  There is no if ands or buts about it.  But why haven't the super anti-packsearcher crowd at Blowout Cards not reamed the original poster for what he did?

Because they think there is some distinction between permissible pack searching and taboo pack searching.

They seem to think that if you're going through loose packs or rack packs, and you, oh, just so happen to notice that one pack is thicker than all the others, then you can buy it and you're not pack searching.   They're wrong.

I've been over this many times before in prior posts, but pack searching is using any means available to you to try and identify what cards are within a pack of sports cards without opening the wrapper.  Squeezing the packs counts.  Flexing the packs counts.  And looking at the packs to see which ones are thicker than the others counts too.  Basically, using any of your senses to find a hot pack is pack searching.

The fact that the original poster was cleaning up the card aisle when he discovered the super thick pack doesn't render him innocent in my mind either.  Whether you discover a thick pack because you're just rearranging things or purposefully going through the packs is all the same to me.  Remember, to 100% not pack search, you have to buy a pack of cards without using any sense (touch, smell, sight, sound, taste).  You basically just have to close your eyes, and randomly grab a pack real fast without feeling up all the other packs as your pick one.  But the original poster used his sense of sight.  That is pack searching, even if he didn't intend to do it in the first place.

What's also interesting is that one of the other commenters states:

"Nice card! Gotta love when things work out. Topps didn't even try to hide those huge cards." 

This comment is a little ambiguous, but it could be interpreted to mean that buying a thick rack pack is okay if card companies don't take an effort to hide the hit.  If this is what that commenter meant to say, then pack searching is okay because card companies rarely take any effort to hide hits in most of their products.  I can probably count on one hand how many products within the last year have had some sort of countermeasures to confuse pack searchers and hide hits. 

In conclusion, I have no problem with what the original poster did.  I would have done the same thing too.  But I just think it's very odd how nobody on the Blowout Cards forum (again, as of the time of me writing this) hasn't called this guy out for pack searching because it totally is. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: Searching Blasters

The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: Pack Searching 2011 Allen & Ginter (Part I)
The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: It's Here! (Part II)
The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: Frustration & Elation (Part III)
The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: First Runner Up (Part IV)

 Saturday, August 10, 2013

11:23 a.m. -- It's been a rough week.  I've been beat to all the retail stores around me.  I haven't found a single stash of 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter which hasn't been already searched.  Today I wake up and decide I'm going to make one last effort to find some unsearched Allen & Ginter.  There is another small town north of where I live.  There is a Target and Walmart there.  I rarely visit that town because I know there are a few other pack searchers in that town who have those two retail stores on lockdown.  But I have a free Saturday today and I'm desperate.  I get my ass out of bed to start my pack searching day.

12:34 p.m. -- I decide to first hit up the Walmart.  Walmarts around me haven't put out the product.  I have some small hopes that they might have just put it out today or yesterday and I'm the first person there.

12:37 p.m. -- I arrive in the card section.  Ginter is out!  I see a mini gravity feed, rack packs, and blasters.  It only takes a quick glance at the mini gravity feed to know it's already been hit.  I check the packs anyways.  Nope.  Nothing.

12:38 p.m. -- I check the rack packs.  Nothing either.  I glance at the blasters.  I know I shouldn't.  I definitely shouldn't.  But I can't help it.  I'm frustrated from getting beat left and right.  I want some Ginter.  I want some hits. 

12:39 p.m. -- I grab the four blasters sitting on the shelf.  The blaster boxes squeal in anguish as my grubby pack searching fingers grasp them.  I know that on average, there should be one hit sitting in one of these four blasters.  One of the boxes looks like it has a hit in it, and I buy it.

12:44: p.m. -- In my car I rip the blaster open and search the packs.  Yup.  I got a hot pack.

Desmond Jennings
2013 Topps Allen & Ginter
Framed Mini Relic
Odds: 1:76

And it's a Desmond Jennings framed mini relic!  Nice!  I've been doing fairly well on blasters.  Still haven't hit an autograph, but I am hitting hits in blasters at a rate greater than if I were just randomly buying blasters. 

12:48 p.m. -- I know that if the Walmart has been hit by other pack searchers, that the Target here has also been hit, but I decide I have to give it a look anyways.  I start my car and make the short drive to the Target.

12:55 p.m. -- Inside the Target I see that Ginter is out and it's been searched.  Gravity feed: searched.  Rack packs: searched.  But the blaster boxes... they're nowhere to be seen.  I glance around.  I see an opened box sitting on a cart nearby.  It looks like one of those boxes that Excel sends new cards in.  I look behind me to see if there are any Target employees watching.  They're all busy ringing up customers.  No Target Security guys around either.  I casually move over to the box and look inside.  It's chock full of 2013 Bowman Platinum blasters and six 2013 Allen & Ginter blasters.  I quickly reach in and pull out the six Ginter blasters.  I glance over my shoulder again to see if any Target employees are coming my way.  I've been at other Targets before where the employees are really strict about you taking things out of the boxes before they do.  Nobody has noticed here.

12:58 p.m. -- I search the blasters.  I think I find two of them with hits inside.  I know that statistically there should be two hits within these six blaster boxes.  I know I shouldn't... but I buy the two blasters. 

1:03 p.m. -- In my car I'm ripping open the blasters and searching the packs inside.  And it's base pack after base pack after base pack.  No hits at all between these two blaster boxes!  Dammit.  One blaster was a funky one with a packing error in it, the other was, well, just bad luck.  Searching blasters is tough.  There is always a much higher risk of striking out even though you're pretty sure you have a hit.  I just struck out twice on two of them.  $40 down the drain.  Ouch.  Painful.  Well, at lease the base cards are nice.

Overall, I still think I'm doing pretty good with blasters.  I've purchased a total of 11 blasters to date.  Two of them were "research" blasters.  Excluding those two "research" blasters, I've hit six hits out of those nine blasters.  That's a hit rate of 66%.  Statistically, on average, there should be one hit per three blaster boxes, that's a hit rate of 33%.  So I'm doing double what I should be if I were just randomly picking blasters.  Not bad.  Not bad at all. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Closet Pack Searcher?

I always wonder how many pack searchers there are in this hobby.  Is it just a dedicated 500 of us?  Are there perhaps a thousand or couple thousand dedicated pack searchers?  Maybe even ten thousand? 

I also wonder how many closet pack searchers there are.  Specifically, I wonder how many people on the Blowout Cards forums are pack searchers who pretend not to be.  Sometimes I'll see posts in the "box breaks" sections of the forums where people show off their hits, and they talk about getting tons of amazing hits from just a couple retail packs, rack packs, or blaster boxes, and it makes you go "hmmmm."  After all, we all know that hits can be hard to come by, even for a seasoned pack searcher.  So I think it's only natural that when you see a post by someone who shows off tons of hits they got from retail that you begin to wonder if they're a closet pack searcher.

One such post recently caught my attention. 

The guy shows off a whopping seven hits he got from a total of 4 blasters, 10 rack packs, and 20 regular loose retail packs.


The guy's story seems a little suspicious too.

First of all, the guy says that went to two different Targets and decided to buy 2 blasters, 5 rack packs, and 10 loose packs at each Target.  Okay, that in of itself seems a little suspicious to me.  Why does he need to go to two Targets?  If he was going to buy 4 blasters, 16 rack packs, and 20 loose packs, why not do that all at one Target?  Most Targets (at least by me) are getting either 4 or 6 blaster boxes, 12 rack packs, and a whole gravity feed of loose retail packs (approximately 40-50 packs in each).  Assuming somebody didn't already buy most of the product when the guy got to the Target, he could probably buy all of what he was planning on buying in that one trip.

Only a pack searcher would go to a second Target to look for more Allen & Ginter despite the fact that he already found it at the first Target.  Non pack searchers would just go to their nearest Target, look for the product, if the Target has it then great, the person will buy however much they want and go home.

And second of all, the guy frickin' beat the odds like crazy.  Like... too crazy.  I've already talked about 2013 Allen & Ginter odds in this post.  There is about one hit in every three blaster boxes, one hit in every 24 loose retail packs, and probably around one hit in every 12 rack packs.

This guy bought 4 blasters, 10 rack packs, and 20 loose packs.  Doing some math, we see that he should have hit about...

4 blasters / (1 hit per 3 blasters) = 1.333 hits

20 rack packs / (1 hit per12 rack packs) = 1.666 hits

40 retail packs / (1 hit per 24 retail packs) = 1.666 hits

Total:  4.666 hits

This guy got seven hits.  And not only that, he got five autographs!!!  Autographs are 1 per 18 blaster boxes, 1 per 70 rack packs, and 1 per 140 retail packs.

To hit five autographs he should have had to buy something like... 36 blasters (2 hits), 140 rack packs (2 hits) and 140 loose retail packs (1 hit).

Most Targets are getting either 4 or 6 blasters, 12 rack packs, and one gravity hopper which contains about 40-50 packs.  Let's just assume this guy was a pack searcher.  We all know how easy it is to pack search Ginter's loose packs and rack packs.  If he pack searched out both Targets' supply of rack packs and retail packs, he probably would have found six hits.  Each Target would have about one hit per rack pack inventory, and two hits per gravity feed box.  And then maybe he got that seventh hit from one of the blasters. 

This guy totally killed the odds.  He insanely killed it.  He killed it way too much to be pure accident, in my opinion.  Well, good for him.  (No sarcasm.)  The purpose of this post isn't to try and out the guy as a pack searcher -- he may be or may not be a pack searcher -- and I don't really care if he is or not.  But I just think that it's funny how if he is, that he is leading a double life on the Blowout Cards forums, which is notoriously anti-packsearcher, showing off hits pack searched hits to them, and they're eating it up like it was truly by pure accident and luck.

Is he a closet pack searcher?  Maybe.  I'm leaning towards an answer of "I think so."  But, that's just, like, my opinion, man. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: First Runner Up

The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: Pack Searching 2011 Allen & Ginter (Part I)
The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: It's Here! (Part II)
The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: Frustration & Elation (Part III)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

7:00 p.m. -- I'm in my car.  I'm driving to the last Target of the night.  A Target about 30 minutes away from where I live.  Not really that far away from me in the grand scheme of things, but far enough away to where I only visit this Target if I'm passing through the area.  It's my hopes that this Target hasn't been hit by the pack searcher who has beat me to all the previous Targets in my area.

7:05 p.m. -- When I park my car in the parking lot, I say a little prayer to the pack searching gods.  I ask them to be nice to me and just let me have one Target to myself as the first person to search it.

7:07 p.m. -- The pack searching gods did not listen to my prayer.  2013 Allen & Ginter is out on the shelves and it has been searched.  Rack packs have been searched.  Gravity feed has been searched.  I've been beat to every single Target in my area.  Shit.

7:09 p.m. -- I look over at the blasters.  I know I shouldn't, but I can't help myself.  I feel like a starving animal who needs something to eat.  I'd prefer the prime meats of tender loose retail packs or rack packs, but in desperation I'll turn to the tougher and less appetizing (more expensive) blaster boxes to get my fix.  Cards are such a drug...

Once again, I put the blaster boxes to my ear and listen for them to quietly whisper and reveal their contents to me.  One of the four blaster boxes sweetly tells me there is a hit inside.  What a nice little blaster box.  I buy it.

7:13 p.m. -- In my car I'm staring wide eyed at the blaster like a famished dog who has just been thrown a bone.  There better be something good inside.  I rip it open and find the hot pack inside.

Nana Meriwether
2013 Topps Allen & Ginter
Framed Mini Relic
Odds:  1:82

It's a framed mini relic of Nani Meriwether, Miss USA.  Eh.  I'm feeling a little deflated.  I began this pack searching trip with such high hopes and after all this driving and all this time, I only have four relics to show for it.

(Side note: I'm pretty sure Nana Meriwether was actually "First Runner Up" in the Miss USA pageant to Oliva Culpo.  But when Oliva Culpo won Miss Universe, she had to vacate her title as Miss USA thereby allowing Nana Meriwether to become Miss USA.  And also, I've just learned that the Miss USA pageant is actually a different and separate pageant than the Miss America pageant.  Who knew?!)

7:21 p.m. -- I start my car, and start the long trip home.  I'm feeling a little defeated.  If I only hadn't been busy on Wednesday, I might have been first to some of these Targets.  If the Targets had put the product out before release day when I was checking many of them every day (and even sometimes twice a day!) I bet I would have been the first person there to search them.  Damn.  Allen & Ginter is the one product that I truly go all out for to search.  All this effort.  All this time spent.  All the gas used, and only a total of five relics to show for it.  Frustrating.  Disappointing.

In a way, I like "First Runner Up" Nana Meriwether -- I came in second.  I wasn't the winner.  I wasn't the the first pack searcher to search the product.   I was the second person there.  I got second place.  Unfortunately, second isn't good enough for pack searching.  You have to be first. 

... To Be Continued ...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

2013 Ginter Code

One of my favorite aspects of the Allen & Ginter set is the Ginter Code.  I'm not one of those guys that will spend hours a day thinking about it and trying to crack it, but I do think it's fun to examine the cards and try and find clues.

I think I might have noted a few interesting things about some of the cards.  Whether these things are red herrings or actual clues, I don't know.  But I'll share what I think I might have found here for others to see.

First off, I think it might be interesting if the actual "code cards" also revolved around the code breakers cards.  I'm wondering if the Lattuga/Robert-Demolaize/McCabe card is possibly the "key" to part of the code.  It's worth noting that this card is the only base card with multiple colored backgrounds behind each person (blue/orange/blue).  All the other base cards in the set only have one color behind the player/person.  Now, I know that people might say that there are multiple colors behind the people on this card because there are three of them on the card.  But Topps could have just as easily put the same color splotch behind each of them instead of using three different colors.

Another interesting aspect of this card, is that its A&G back version has an "&" right above the card number -- which is where the usual player/person description goes.  All other A&G back cards do not have the "&" symbol there.  This cannot be by accident.  Whether it's a red herring or a real clue... I don't know.

And then one of the Pele cards is different from the rest of the base cards.  Everyone has already noticed this one, so I'm not breaking any news here.  But I do think it's interesting how the ink used on the back is greener than the normal base inks.  Perhaps this is some sort of "key" for the code?  Maybe. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: Leftovers

The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: Pack Searching 2011 Allen & Ginter (Part I)
The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: It's Here! (Part II)
The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: Frustration & Elation (Part III)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

6:30 p.m. -- The funny thing about this whole pack searching thing is how excited you can get over some pieces of... cardboard.  Hitting that Pele relic totally put some adrenaline in my blood.  I'm feeling pumped and riding the high.  I can't wait to get to Target #3 to search it. 

6:45 p.m. -- I'm at Target #3.  I keep telling myself to not get my hopes up about being the first one here.  I know other pack searchers like to hit this Target.  It's rare that I find anything here.  But despite all my attempts to temper my expectations, I'm getting my hopes up.

6:46 p.m. -- Ginter is on the shelves.  And by god it actually looks unsearched.  The majority of the packs within the gravity feed are all face up and facing the same direction, as if they just came from the factory.  I suppose another pack searcher could have put the packs back very neatly but I doubt that.  I always seem to have the messiest pack searchers in my area who just trash the card aisle once they've gone through it.  I grab all the loose packs and start feeling them up like fruit at the supermarket. 

6:48 p.m. -- My hopes are quickly dashed.  Despite the fact that most of the packs in the gravity feed were right side up and all facing the same way, they've been searched too!  The same damn pack searcher that had hit Target #4 had also been here.  Each pack bears their tell-tale calling card.  Dammit.

6:50 p.m. -- I grab the rack packs and give those a whirl.  Ding ding ding!  Hit!  Really?  Yeah... a hit.  I'm surprised.  The previous pack searcher searched the loose packs, and probably took the one or two hits in the gravity feed, but missed a hot pack in the rack packs???  Weird.  Oh well.  Their loss is my gain.  Or maybe they saw the hit in the rack pack and decided it wasn't worth buying.  Very possible.  But why not buy it and sell it?  I don't do that but a small profit can be made selling hot packs on eBay. 

6:52 p.m. -- Now I'm checking the blaster boxes.  This Target box six of them.  I hold every blaster and perform a Vulcan mind meld with each one.  One of them tells me it has a hit inside.  I buy it and the hot rack pack.

6:55 p.m. -- I'm in my car and ripping open the rack pack.

Andre Either
2013 Topps Allen & Ginter
Full Sized Relic
Odds: 1:106

Boom!  Nice! A full-sized relic of Andre Eithier!  Normally I'd prefer a framed mini relic, but this year I actually like the design and color of the full sized relics better than the framed mini relics.  Hey, it's not an autograph but for $6 I'll take it!  And I'm really digging the design of the full sized relics.  In fact, I think I like the full sized relics more than the mini relics. 

Now for the blaster box.  I tear that open and molest each pack inside real good just for practice.  Yuuuppp.  Another hot pack and hit!  I rip open the pack with gusto like a kid opening presents on Christmas day...

Yu Darvish
2013 Topps Allen & Ginter
Framed Mini Relic
Odds:  1:82

Booya!  It's a nice framed mini relic of Yu Darvish.  Nice!  Not a horrible hit at all.  I'm still riding my high.  Hit after hit after hit drugs me, and fuels me to keep pushing forward with my search.

I decide I must go further out.  Clearly, retail has hit around me and I've missed out.  But what if I go to one last Target further away from here.  It might still be untouched.  Maybe.  Just maybe.  I start my car and hit the road.

... To Be Continued ...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: Frustration & Elation

The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: Pack Searching 2011 Allen & Ginter (Part I)
The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: It's Here! (Part II)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

5:30 p.m. -- I'm off of work now, at home, and getting ready to go out pack searching.  2013 Allen & Ginter officially came out ... YESTERDAY.  Unfortunately, I was very busy on its release day and I wasn't able to go out searching.  I'm praying that most of the Targets around me didn't put the product out right on release day and are putting it out today.  And that I'll be the first one there.  I'm actually pretty hopeful that I still have a shot at being first to the cards.  Retail is notoriously slow to hit the stores around me.  I often don't see new releases in all the retail stores around me until three and as many as seven days after the release day.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  But I know that if the product got put out already, there are slim chances that I'll be the first one there.  It only takes one pack searcher to clean out a store's stock of Allen & Ginter... and you have to be that one pack searcher by being first.

5:40 p.m. -- I decide to venture further out of my town and hit a few Targets in the next towns over.  I rarely do this.  Even though these other Targets aren't that far from where I live, I just get too lazy to drive the extra 10-20 miles out to them.  I decide to hit up a Target (which I like to call "Target #3") which is about 10 miles south of me.  But traffic from an accident quickly puts me on a detour to another Target ("Target #4"). 

6:00 p.m. -- I arrive at Target #4.  This Target is sandwiched in a small town between where I live, and the next big town south of me.  I'm pretty skeptical about finding any Ginter here.  I did notice somebody in the big town south of me was selling hot packs on eBay.  While that person could have found those hot packs from Targets in their town, I'm also thinking they probably ventured to Target #4 to search too.  I know that if I were in their shoes that I would do the same.

6:03 p.m. -- I walk into Target #4.  In the card aisle I see 2013 Allen & Ginter.  There are rack packs, stacked face down on the boxes of other retail cards.  Shit.  Searched.  I see the gravity feed.  The packs within it look searched too.  I check everything just to be sure.  Yup.  All searched.  All searched by the same pack searcher whose calling card I've seen many times before in my territory.  All the loose packs bear the tell-tale sign of being searched.  I've been beat.  Dammit.  It's a little frustrating to drive out this far to only find that there isn't shit here.

6:10 p.m. -- I do notice there are four blaster boxes still on the shelves.  It seems like most Targets are only getting four blaster boxes.  I decide to give those a look.  I pick one up and put it to my ear, listening for it to whisper its contents to me.  It says it might have something good inside.  Might.  This blaster box is being a tease.  I put it down for a moment.  I'll decide its fate later.  I pick up another blaster box and gently caress it.  It speaks to me.  This one has a hit.  It's telling me it has a hit outright.  No teasing here.  I decide I'll get this one.  Out of frustration for getting beat I decide to get the other one too.  The third and fourth blaster boxes tell me they don't have anything good in them.  I leave those on the shelves.

6:14 p.m. -- I'm in my car now.  I rip open the first blaster box, the one that might have something good in it.  I take out the eight packs and molest them real good with my grubby pack searching fingers.  Fuck.  No hits.  I whiffed on this one.  I take a moment to evaluate why I missed on it, and I can't figure it out.  It was just one of those funky blasters which had all the signs and outward appearances of having a hit, but it didn't.  Sometimes that happens.  It's frustrating when it happens and confusing, but I've noticed it happens occasionally.

6:16 p.m. -- I rip open the second blaster box.  I search the packs within it and it only takes a moment to realize that I do have a hit.  Sweet.  No foolin' around with this box.  No foreplay.  We're getting right to the good stuff.  I don't even bother opening the other base packs; I rip the wrapper off of the hot pack.

2013 Topps Allen & Ginter
Framed Mini Relic
Odds:  1:82

BOOYA!  Pele relic!!!  Awesome!!!  I knew this blaster had something good in it!  The Pele relic is definitely one of the better relics to hit in 2013 Allen & Ginter and now I've got one!  The sting of not hitting anything in that first blaster box has diminished.  It sucks to pay $40 for a hit, but if you're going to do that, a Pele relic will sure make you feel better about it.

6:18 p.m. -- I stash my cards away in my car.  If Target #4 has Allen & Ginter out, I'm pretty sure Target #3 has it out too.  I decide that I need to hit up Target #3.  I'll take a different road to get there to avoid the traffic accident.  I'm praying that Target #3 hasn't been hit yet by a pack searcher...

... To Be Continued ...

Monday, August 12, 2013

2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Retail Odds

I've noticed that a lot of people find my blog looking for a product's odds.  Since I'm (sort of) a math guy, I like numbers, odds and probability, I always pay attention to that stuff when a new product comes out.  Below are the 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter retail odds from one of the wrappers.

2013 Topps Allen & Ginter Retail Odds

It's a little hard to see.  If you click on the picture, a larger version will pop up. 

Here are the odds for the main hits which most people are concerned about:

1:76 odds -- Framed Mini Relic Version B
1:82 odds -- Framed Mini Relic Version A
1:106 odds -- Full Sized Relic
1:141 odds -- Framed Mini Autograph

A lot of people also wonder what the odds of getting these hits are in a blaster box.  Well, let me do the math for you.  There are 8 packs in a blaster, so you simply divide 8 by the odds for each hit.  So...

Framed Mini Relic Version B  =  8/76  =  .10526

Framed Mini Relic Version A  =  8/82  =  .09756

Full Sized Relic  =  8/106  =  .07547

Framed Mini Autograph  =  8/141  =  .05674

Thus, the total odds of getting one of the above hits, is simply the sum of all those probabilities, which is...

.10526 + .09756 + .07547 + .05674 =  .33503

In other words, you can expect to find one-third of a hit per blaster box.  Or, in other words, you can expect to find one hit per three blaster boxes.  Since...

.33503 x 3 = 1.0 (approximately)

I've noticed most Targets are getting either four or six blaster boxes.  That means, statistically, if the Target has four blaster boxes then you can expect to find a hit in one of the four.  If the Target has six blaster boxes, then you can expect to find two hits in the six blaster boxes. 

What about autographs in particular?  There are about .05674 framed mini autograph cards per blaster.  Thus...

.05674X = 1.0

Where X = the number of blaster boxes

X = 17.6

Or, stated another way, there is one framed mini autograph card per 17.6 blaster boxes -- we'll just call it one framed mini autograph card per 18 blaster boxes.  

Now, how many hits are there per 24-count retail box?  Firstly, I should note that I haven't seen any 24-count retail boxes.  But I'm still going to use the number 24 since that is how many packs usually come in typical retail product, so it will provide a good apples to apples comparison for other products and last year's 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter.

Framed Mini Relic Version B  =  24/76  =  .31579

Framed Mini Relic Version A  =  24/82  =  .29268

Full Sized Relic  =  24/106  =  .22642

Framed Mini Autograph  =  24/141  =  .17021

 Adding all these together, you get...

.31579 + .29268 + .22642 + .17021 = 1.0051

Whoa!  What a coincidence!  They all add up to 1.  That means, for every 24 loose retail packs that you come across, there should be one hit in there! 

For comparison, the odds of hits in last year's Allen & Ginter was 1:27 for relics and 1:196.  Converting these odds to 24-count retail box probabilities we have...

Framed Mini Relic  =  24/27  =  .88889

Framed Mini Autograph  =  24/196  =  .12245

These numbers should already look meaningful, because...

.88889 + .12245 = 1.01134

What does this all mean???  It means the odds of getting a "hit" in 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter retail packs is just about the same as getting a hit in 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter.  I think a lot of people don't realize this.  Instead, they see the higher odds on the wrapper of 2013 Allen & Ginter (1:82 and 1:76 for framed mini relics, and 1:141 for full sized relics) and think that hits are much harder to come by.  But they're not.  While the odds for all the hits have gone up (becoming harder to hit), Topps has made for it by including more hits to hit.  Putting that last sentence into an equation, you have something like...

Probability of Getting Any Hit  =  Quantity of Different Hits  X  Probability of Each Different Hit

Topps reduced the "Probability of Each Hit" part of the equation.  But to keep the "Probability of Getting Any Hit" the same, they then increased the "Quantity of Different Hits" part of the equation.  Voila!

So, in conclusion:

  • You can expect to find one hit (framed mini relic, full sized relic, or framed mini autograph) per three blaster boxes on average.
  • You can expect to find one hit (framed mini relic, full sized relic, or framed mini autograph) per 24 loose retail packs on average.

Just some food for thought the next time you're out buying some 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: It's Here!

The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: Pack Searching 2011 Allen & Ginter (Part I)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

5:00 p.m. -- I'm off work and it's time; it's time to go pack searching.  Even though I had already searched the two nearest Targets and the nearest Walmart this morning and didn't find any 2013 Allen & Ginter, it's time to check them AGAIN.  I love Allen & Ginter so much it's one of those products where I'll actually check retail stores twice in a day just in case the store has been restocked while I'm at work.

5:05 p.m. -- I rush home, change, and take care of a few errands around the house before I leave.  The entire time though I can't help but think that with every passing minute, someone else could be at a Target pack searching out all the hits of the new product which got put on the shelves while I'm at work.  My mind is practically screaming at me to get out of the house like it's on fire.  I.  Must.  Go.  NOW!!!

5:30 p.m. -- I'm on the road headed to my closest Target.  I already was there this morning and hit a Miguel Cabrera framed mini relic from a discounted blaster of 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter.  Maybe, if I'm lucky, some 2013 Allen & Ginter will be out and I'll be the first one there.  I hope so. 

5:45 p.m. -- Dammit.  I'm at Target - the same one I was at this morning and still no 2013 Allen & Ginter is out.  Off to the other Target and Walmart!

6:05 p.m. -- I pull into the Walmart parking lot.  I sort of chuckle to myself as I reflect upon what I'm doing.  Regular 9-5 worker by day, pack searcher by night.  I was just at this same Walmart earlier today and didn't find any 2013 Allen & Ginter.  I go inside.  The card aisle looks exactly the same as it was this morning.  Not a thing has moved.  No 2013 Allen & Ginter present.  Damn.

6:07 p.m. -- I get into my car and drive just down the street to another Target.  Everyone on Blowout Cards is reporting that they're getting their retail from Targets and not Walmarts, so I'm not surprised that I haven't found any at Walmart.  I'm still holding onto a little hope that this Target will have put its Allen & Ginter out since I was last here this morning.

6:09 p.m. -- I walk into the Target like normal.  I have no expectations of seeing any 2013 Allen & Ginter.  I've already told myself that I'm not going to find any here today.  I'm disappointed.  I don't know if I can wait another day to get my hands on this product. 

6:10 p.m. -- And... HOLY SHIT IT'S HERE!  I see it!  I see rack packs hanging oh so beautifully in the card aisle.  And there is a whole gravity feed of loose packs out!  The gravity feed looks untouched.  What luck!  It wasn't out this morning and now it is!  My heart rate quickens and my mind starts racing.

6:11 p.m. -- There is so much to do and so many packs to search!  My mind starts racing.  Need a hand basket.  Get a hand basket.  Grab all the rack packs.  Grab all the loose packs. 

6:12 p.m. -- I count the rack packs.  There are 11 of them.  Hmm... that is a little concerning.  Shouldn't there be like 12 or 16 of them?  Has another pack searcher beat me to the goods?  I start searching the value packs.  These are CRAZY easy to search.  And I don't find any hits.  Well, it's not that surprising.  I know that retail hits are a little rarer this year.  Oh well.

6:15 p.m. -- I'm searching the loose packs now.  There must be about 40 loose packs.  They are neatly stacked within the gravity feed.  I'm pretty sure they're neatly stacked because it just came from the factory and not because another pack searcher has been here.

6:18 p.m. -- I'm done searching the loose retail packs and haven't found a single hit!  There should be one or two in here!  Dammit.  Did I get beat to the store?  Dammit dammit dammit.  Maybe someone else came on their lunch break or right after work and beat me here.  Shit.  What are the odds of me finding (what looks to be an untouched gravity feed box) and 11 rack packs and there isn't a single hit in all these packs?  I must have gotten beat.  Fuck.

6:19 p.m. -- I put the rack packs back and put the gravity feed box back on the shelves.  I carefully examine the rest of the card display for any more loose packs or a retail box.  Instead, I find a 2013 Allen & Ginter rack pack strewn on the top of other retail boxes half covered with other packs.  It looks like someone might have been hiding it.  I grab it and search it.  Nada.  Nothing.  Damn.  Now I'm pretty sure I got beat here.

6:20 p.m. -- I take a moment to think about what to do.  I'm dying to rip some of this product.  The need to rip it is so bad that I'm even considering buying some of these packs which I know don't have hits just to get some cards.  I'm jonesing that bad.  I barely am able to convince myself to not buy any of these loose packs.  

6:21 p.m. -- Behind me on one of the cash registers is a box.  It's unmarked and open.  I glance inside.  BLASTER BOXES!!!  I quickly glance around to see if there are any Target employees around.  I see the Card Nazi.  She's got a clipboard in her hand and is standing over by some other cash registers doing something.  She's stopped me before from going through boxes.  I dislike her.  A lot.  Screw her.  I'm raiding this box.  I shove my grubby pack searching hand into the box and shuffle things around.  I don't see any more loose packs of 2013 Allen & Ginter or rack packs but I pull out four blaster boxes.

6:22 p.m. -- I'm searching the blaster boxes.  I make notes about the four of them in my phone.  I choose two of them to buy.  I have no idea if they have hits in them but I think the chances of them having hits seems greater than the other two blaster boxes. 

6:25 p.m. -- I'm in my car now.  My heart is beating so fast.  Cards are like drugs.  I need them.  Need them so bad.  I'm seriously craving this.  I've waited so long for 2013 Allen & Ginter and now I finally have it....

6:27 p.m. -- I'm ripping open packs and shuffling through cards.  Dud after dud after dud.  Not a single hit in blaster box #1!

6:29 p.m. -- I'm ripping open blaster box #2 and its packs.  I'm shuffling through the cards quickly.  I'll take the time to look at them and enjoy them later on, but right now I just need to know whether I have any hits.  I need a hit.  I need my drug.

6:30 p.m. -- Nada.  NOTHING!  No hits in either blaster box.  Damn.  That was kind of disappointing.  I think back to those two other blaster boxes.  One of them did sort of raise a red flag when I was searching it.  It didn't scream out "hit" but I thought it might have one.  I do a little more "research" on the cards and packs from the two blasters which I did buy.  I also compare my notes on the cards from last year's set.  The cards and packs didn't change much from last year's set.  In fact, they didn't change at all.  And what few changes did occur actually made the packs this year EASIER to search than last year's packs.  Yeah... based on the information I've gathered from these two blaster boxes and comparing it with existing information I have from last year's set, I know there is a hit in one of the two blaster boxes I left behind.

6:32 p.m. -- I go back into the store and find the two blaster boxes I left behind.  I take a moment to distinguish the one with the hit in it and grab it.  Yeah... it's this one.

6:35 p.m. -- I'm back in my car again.  I rip open this third blaster box.  For practice, I search the eight packs inside of the blaster and... yup!  I got a hit!  I was right.  I totally knew this blaster had a hit in it.

I rip open my hit... my drug...

John Calipari
2013 Topps Allen & Ginter
Framed Mini Relic
Odds: 1:82

And I pull a John Calipari framed mini relic!  Nice!  I immediately feel the tenseness in my body relax as the drugs take effect.

I sit in my car for a moment to enjoy the moment and reflect on things.  Pack searching isn't just about finding hits.  It's about the search.  It's about the challenge of cracking each set's "code" so-to-speak.  It's about competing with other pack searchers; beating them to stores, finding hits before them, and finding hits they missed.  It's a competition.  It's a challenge.  And it's one that I strangely enjoy... and need. 

... To Be Continued? ...

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Quest for 2013 Allen & Ginter: Pack Searching 2011 Allen & Ginter

Tuesday, August 6, 2013 

6:00 a.m.-ish -- I awaken.  I open my eyes just enough to glance towards the window in my room.  I can barely see sunlight.  Judging from what little sunlight I can see, I can tell it's sometime around 6 a.m.-ish.  I'm so excited I woke up early.  Why am I excited?  Today is Tuesday, August 6, 2013.  It's the day before 2013 Topps Allen & Ginter officially streets.  Allen & Ginter is probably my favorite product of any sports cards that I collect.  I am absolutely stoked for the product and am dying to get my hands on some.  I decided last night that I was going to wake up early and hit up a local Walmart and Target in hopes of finding some of it.  Target doesn't open until 8 a.m. so I can go back to sleep...

6:05 a.m. -- I can't go back to sleep.  I'm too excited.  I grab my phone and check out the Blowout Cards forums.  I'm keeping tabs on where retail is starting to it.  Retail is hitting in a few select areas of the east cost and mid-west.  Nobody around me is reporting that retail is live but I know that I can't take any chances and rely on other people's word.  I have to go and check things out myself.   The competition is tough when it comes to pack searching Allen & Ginter.  It is a notoriously easy product to search.  Everyone searches it.  Everyone.  Everyone from little kids to your grandmother.  You have to be the first one to the store or else you're going to miss all the hits.  Yes, it's that easy to search.

6:10 a.m. -- I also check eBay.  Some retail is live 325 miles away from me.  Yeah.  There is about a 0.0001% chance I'm going to find any 2013 Allen & Ginter around me today... but you never know... what if I get luck and hit that 0.001% today? 

6:30 a.m. -- Okay.  I'm sleepy.  Back to sleep for a little bit.

7:15 a.m. -- My alarm goes off.  Time to get my butt into action.  I get dressed.  Time to head out to Walmart and give it a quick search before Target opens at 8 a.m.

8:00 a.m. -- I'm at a local Walmart.  I stroll into the card aisle.  The card aisle, and the store in general, is deserted.  Unfortunately, the cards that they have in stock are just as deserted as the store.  There is no 2013 Allen & Ginter or much of anything else.  Damn.  This place hasn't been restocked in weeks.  Time to go to Target just done the road.

8:05 a.m. -- This Target is the one with the card Nazi.  She's a tall, overweight employee who watches over the card aisle like a hawk.  Every time you loiter for too long in the aisle, she comes over and asks you if she can "help" you.  No, she's not actually offering to help you.  She's letting you know that she's watching your ass and if you try and steal anything she's going to sit on you.  She doesn't work mornings though, so I'm glad I'm here at this time.

8:06 a.m. -- The card aisle at this Target shows no signs of 2013 Allen & Ginter.  No rack packs, no blasters, no gravity feed box.  Damn.  There is one last Target that isn't too out of my way as I go to work, so I decide to stop there too.

8:30 a.m. -- I'm at the other Target now.  I roll into the card aisle and scope things out.  No 2013 Allen & Ginter.  I'm so preoccupied looking for 2013 Allen & Ginter I almost miss a new shipment of discounted blasters which have been put on the shelves.  It's mostly old stuff, like 2012 Leaf Football, 2012 Hit Football, a trio of 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter, and ... oh, one lone blaster of 2011 Topps Allen & Ginter.

8:31 a.m. -- I grab the 2011 Allen & Ginter blaster and the 2012 Allen & Ginter blaster.  Time to search 'em!

8:32 a.m. -- I can tell that the 2012 Allen & Ginter blasters likely don't have hits.  I check my notes on my phone.  Yeah.  They probably don't have any hits.

8:33 a.m. -- I search the 2011 Allen & Ginter blaster.  Ding ding ding!!  Very high likelihood of a hit!  In fact, I'm about as sure as can be that there is a hit in this blaster.  I buy the blaster.

8:37 a.m. -- In my car I rip the blaster open.  For practice, I search the packs inside of the blaster.  Yup, I got a hot pack!

Miguel Cabrera
2011 Topps Allen & Ginter
Framed Mini Relic
Odds: 1:27

I rip open the hot pack, and ... it's a Miguel Cabrera framed mini relic!  Sweet!  Nice hit!  I didn't start this day expecting to search some 2011 Allen & Ginter but I'll never turn down a Ginter hit even if it's just a relic from an older set -- especially when it's from a discounted blaster box.

8:57 a.m. -- I'm at work.  I quickly check Blowout Cards and eBay again before clocking in.  No new retail is showing up around me yet.  Looks like I'm going to have to wait another day... hopefully.  My area always seems to be one of the last areas in America to get new products.  Sometimes the stores around me don't even have new releases until a whole week after the supposed street date.  I'm hoping I don't have to wait that long to get my hands on some 2013 Allen & Ginter.  I don't think I can wait that long.  I might die from anticipation and Ginter-deprivation by then.

... To Be Continued ...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Myth: Hot Packs Are Usually Resealed Packs

One common belief I see floated around a lot on is that "hot packs" are resealed packs.  I don't actually think this is true.

Before I explain why I don't think this is true, let's talk about what exactly is a resealed pack.

A "resealed pack" is a pack of sports cards which the seller has opened up, taken out the good hit, replaced that good hit with a crappy relic card or a worthless autograph card, and then resealed the pack with glue.  The unscrupulous seller then puts the resealed "hot pack" on eBay to sell for money.  The seller gives the impression that the pack of cards is factory sealed and has not been tampered with when -- in fact -- it has.  It's basically a scam. 

The next obvious question is: why sell hot packs?

The simple answer is because often the fair market value of the hit within the hot pack is worth less than the fair market value of the hot pack itself.  For example, a lot of crap relic cards from most sports card sets will sell for $3 to $5.  But most hot packs (whether they be legitimate hot packs or resealed "hot packs") are worth $10 to $15.  If you're a seller, would you rather sell something for $15 or $5?  Most of us would rather sell an item for $15.  Duh.

If you go on eBay and do a search for hot packs you're bound to find plenty of people selling them.  Some of those hot packs are legitimate untampered with factory-sealed hot packs, and others are resealed "hot packs".  I'm willing to bet though, that most of them are actually legitimate hot packs rather than resealed "hot packs."


If you frequent the forums you'll pretty much always hear those people say that hot packs are most likely resealed.  I think most of them say that because they just don't know how to pack search, and they don't understand that pack searchers (the people who find hot packs) can actually figure out what's in a pack of cards without opening the pack at all.  In other words, they're saying that out of sheer ignorance.  That last sentence was not an insult, it's just a statement of fact.

I remember when I first started pack searching I was overwhelmed.  I was overwhelmed because I didn't know what I was doing, I didn't take the time or effort to carefully analyze the packs and how to identify certain cards within the packs.  It took a lot of thinking, time, patience, and practice to get good at pack searching.  If you never take that time, that thought, that patience, and that practice to pack search, you will always be befuddled by it.  It will remain a mystery to you, and you're more likely to accept explanations like "hot packs are just resealed packs" because it's a more logical explanation than admitting to yourself hat people can actually figure out what's in a pack of cards without opening it.

Ben Revere
2013 Topps Series 2
Gold Parallel

The truth is that it is very possible to figure out what is in a pack of cards without opening it.  Pack searchers have some pretty unique ways of figuring things out -- some of which are widely known to the general card collecting community and other techniques which are not.  Unless you're privy to a lot of those techniques, you just won't believe it's true that people can truly pack search without opening packs and you'll forever believe that all (or even most) hot packs are just resealed packs.

I am of the belief that most of the hot packs found on eBay are probably legitimate, factory-sealed, untampered with hot packs.  If I had to hazard a guess, I would probably say well over 80% are legitimate hot packs, and that would be a conservative estimate.  The real estimate may be towards 90%.

I actually think it would be a lot more work to reseal packs of cards than to just learn how to identify what was in the pack of cards without opening it.  I'll admit, I've never tried to reseal a pack of sports cards but I think it would have to be pretty hard.  The difficulty of resealing the packs would also probably depend on whether the pack was cellophane or an opaque foil pack.  And I think that even the best reseal job would still be fairly noticeable if you take the time to inspect the pack before opening it.

In conclusion, I think it's a myth that most hot packs on eBay are resealed packs.  I think the people who believe that are mostly ignorant card collectors who mainly purchase hobby boxes.  So, if you're really jonesing for a hit and you want to buy a hot pack off of eBay then go ahead.  I can't completely say that such a purchase is not without risk, but that can be said of any eBay transaction.  In fact, I myself have bought a hot pack off of eBay.  It was a 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter hot pack.  And I did get a hit as the seller advertised I would.  Was it some crazy hit?  No.  But most hits in retail packs aren't crazy hits anyways.  Was the hot pack a resealed pack?  No.  I carefully inspected the pack before opening it to see if it had been resealed.  I also know it wasn't resealed because now that I'm a veteran pack searcher I know how to find and identify hot packs in Allen & Ginter without opening the packs, and I know how easy it is to do.

Bottom line, pack searchers usually don't have to open up the pack of cards to figure out whether the hit inside is a good one or not. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pack Searching & The Scratcher Ticket Analogy

Well, it looks like I've been linked to on the Blowout Cards forums again.  "MarshallCutler6" linked to me.  I believe it's the second or third time he's done this.  He always seems very eager to show off that he knows about my blog, and eager to point my blog out to the other readers on the Blowout Cards forums.  Maybe he's a fan or a secret admirer or a closet pack searcher himself.  Who knows.  Don't really care.  At least when he links to me I get a good amount of traffic to help boost my ad revenue. 

There isn't much to see in that thread; it's mostly a pack searching bash-fest but one interesting topic which came up was the lottery scratcher ticket analogy

I've talked about the fruit analogy before but never the lottery scratcher ticket analogy.  I actually think the lottery scratcher ticket analogy is the strongest analogy to pack searching so I'll give my thoughts on the issue. 

Imagine for a moment that scratcher tickets were easily accessible in a store such that a person could access them by themselves.  And let's also imagine you're really smart, and somehow you've figured out which ones were winning tickets and which ones weren't.  Wouldn't you go around to stores and just buy the winning tickets?

I would. I'm pretty sure greater than 95% of people reading this right now would too.

If that lottery scratcher ticket analogy sounds too far-fetched to be true, think again.  In fact, just recently a statistician by the name of Mohan Srivastava actually figured out that in some scratcher games it was possible to determine with 90% accuracy which scratcher tickets were winners or not!  [WIRED]

Marco Scutaro
2013 Topps Series 2
Gold Parallel

Lottery scratcher tickets aren't very different from packs of sports cards.  You buy both hoping to hit something big.  Buying lottery scratcher tickets is gambling; buying sports cards is basically gambling too.  And it is the "spirit" of the lottery game that when you buy a scratcher ticket you never know whether you're going to win or not -- just like it is the "spirit" of the card collecting hobby that when you buy a pack of sports cards you never going to know what you're going to get.  The two are about as similar as you can get. 

So, going back to my question: if you figured out which scratcher tickets were winners or not, just like Mohan Srivastava did, would you go around "ticket searching" and only buying the winning tickets?  

If you would -- and I imagine greater than 95% of us would -- then I don't see how you could think pack searching is any different. 

Now, if you did figure out how to tell which scratcher tickets were winners or not and you actually did go around "ticket searching", is that unethical?

Surely, it is against the "spirit" of the lottery game.  That can't be denied.  But, should you have to refrain, and pretend to be ignorant of your knowledge of which tickets are winning tickets when you go buy a scratcher?  I wouldn't.  It's not my fault that the state lottery or whatever company they hired to make the scratcher tickets failed to adequately make the tickets "unsearchable".  I would use that knowledge to my advantage as much as possible and for as long as possible until the scratcher tickets were no longer searchable.

Currently, sports card companies do a pretty poor job making their products unsearchable.  Almost every product on the shelf can be searched for hits.  Some are harder than others, no doubt, but every product is searchable.  And until the packs become so hard to search that I find it either not worth the time or energy, then I'm going to search them.  I refuse to be ignorant of my knowledge, and just blindly pick packs to buy.  I'd rather know (or at least be pretty sure about what I'm going to get) in a pack of cards than buying them without any idea of whether I have a good one or not.  I do admit this is outside the "spirit" of the hobby, but can you blame me?  We all want hits right?  Just like when you play the lottery you want a winning ticket.  Can you really blame somebody for wanting a winning lottery ticket sports card hot pack? 

I can't.  And that's why I pack search.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pack Searching 2013 Bowman Platinum is Tough as Nails

Alright, 2013 Bowman Platinum is officially out and only a mere two days into its release, I think it's safe to say it's an extremely hard product to search. 

If you hop on eBay and look for "2013 Bowman Platinum hot packs" how many do you find?  None.  Absolutely... NONE.  There are some people selling die-cut "hot packs" (which don't count as true hot packs in my opinion since there is close to a 0% chance they have a hit) and ruby parallel "hot packs" (again, not true hot packs) but basically, in all of America, no pack searchers are having success searching this product. 


Because there aren't any 24 count retail boxes of the product, and the retail packs are either coming in blasters or bundled rack packs.  Thus, pack searchers have one of two options: (1) they are forced to try and fondle the three back-to-back retail packs in the bundled rack packs to find hits -- which is very hard to do; or (2) buy blaster boxes which, for this product, is a pure crapshoot.

Bottom line, pack searching is easiest when a pack searcher can get one individual pack of cards in their hands to search.  The more packs within the rack pack or blaster box, the more difficult it becomes to pack search.

Right now, after doing my preliminary search of the product, I don't see a very good way to search this product at all.  You can certainly improve your chances of getting a hit by doing some minor searching and only buying certain rack packs and/or blaster boxes, but you're still pretty much buying the product blind and without any idea of whether you're going to get a hit or not.

Last night I went out searching and found my local Target stocked with rack packs.  I gave those packs a fairly decent fondling, and couldn't determine with 100% accuracy at all whether any of the packs had hits in them.  I bought one rack pack which I knew had two packs which contained chrome cards.  At least by sticking to rack packs with as many chrome cards within it as possible I knew I would be improving my chances at getting a hit.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a hit.

Gavin Cecchini
2013 Bowman Platinum
Prospect Chrome
Odds:  1:4

 I got a Gavin Cecchini chrome prospect card.  These are nice looking cards in person.  They feel very nice too with the glossy front.  The other chrome card I got was one of those stupid chrome rookie card reprints which I don't care for.  That was a disappointment.

Miguel Cabrera
2013 Bowman Platinum
Veteran Ruby Parallel
Odds: 1:20

And the only other card worth mentioning was a ruby parallel of Miguel Cabrera. 

I thought 2012 Bowman Platinum Baseball was tough to search last year, I think it's pretty much safe to say that 2013 Bowman Platinum Baseball is even tougher.  Once again, Topps seems to be taking steps to curb pack searching in the Bowman Platinum brand.  Last year it was decoys in every retail pack, this year it's no retail packs at all and bundled rack packs.  I might buy a few more rack packs of this product just for kicks but I don't think I'm going to spend nearly as much money on it as I did last year.  2013 Allen & Ginter is right around the corner and I'm going to splurge on all those cards instead. 

Anyways, touche, Topps.  Congratulations on making (yet another) tough Bowman Platinum product to search.