In the Dec ’14/Jan ’15 issue of Non-Sport Update, I looked what trading card group breaks are. If you’re ready to look a little closer and maybe participate in one, here are a few pointers on what to look for in a good group break.
Reputable group breaks are usually done live and streamed on sites like Ustream, Breakers TV or on the personal breaker’s own site. No matter the platform, you should be looking for those who do it live and catch everything on film — even if you’re watching it after the fact.
Live broadcasts are all about transparency. They’re also a way to screen potential breakers before spending your money with them.
It’s easy for shenanigans with group breaks. That’s why doing everything live and in full view are so important. There’s nothing to hide. I look for all the unopened product to be on-screen from the time the break starts until it’s opened. This way you can feel good about cases and boxes not being switched out.
You can also see a lot about a breaker simply by watching ten minutes or so of a live or archived break. I’ve turned in to some where the breakers are ripping packs then tossing the cards aside — literally tossing them. Are you surprised I never gave them any of my business.
In other instances I’ve come across rooms where the host is constantly swearing or talking in a way I wouldn’t want my kids to hear. This is more a personal thing than a reflection on the breaker’s skills, but if I’m spending money, I like things to be kept professional. That doesn’t mean a breaker can’t be loose and enjoy themselves, but there is a line.
There are enough breakers out there that you can look around before buying. Don’t rush into it. Find the one that you feel completely comfortable with.
Know the Particular Group Break Terms
Different breaks have different terms. It’s your responsibility to know them before buying in. Are base cards included in the break or only the autographs, memorabilia cards and other premium hits? For sports card group breaks, a lot of times the base cards aren’t included. Before gasping, remember that having large stacks of base cards means higher shipping costs. It’s not fair to expect the breaker to absorb that cost, so it’s passed on to you.
The break might be a draft or it might be a designation break. A draft would be where the case or boxes are opened and pooled together. Participants are assigned a spot, usually at random. The first spot would get first pick of all the cards. Then it would down the list. A slot break usually means that slot one gets the first autograph or memorabilia card. Slot two gets the second and so forth.
Some group breakers get creative and do things different. It’s up to you to know what kind of a break it is. If it’s not clear, ask. And if you can’t find any contact info, you might want to look for another breaker.
Group Breaks Aren’t Allowed on eBay
If you look on eBay, you can find group breaks. However, they’re actually not allowed on the auction site due to the fact that all are different and they don’t offer any guarantees. For the safety of you own money, I’d avoid eBay breaks all together. While I’m sure there are some very reputable breakers using the site to sell spots, I also see lots who come up with words and phrases to get around eBay’s algorithms. If a business is being sneaky like using “Break1″ in a title instead of “Break,” they know what they’re doing is against the rules. For me, it goes back to professionalism.
Does the Group Break Offer Skunk Protection
It’s not uncommon to participate in a group break and get skunked — have nothing pulled for you. That’s part of the risk. Some breakers offer skunk protection to help reduce the sting. This might be bonus items, additional cards or unopened packs.
Skunk protection is a major selling point for a lot of breakers, however not all use it. When considering a possible break, check for this.
The most important thing about group breaks is to have fun. It’s a thrill to be in on one and watch the packs fly. Even if you don’t get anything great, a good breaker makes it fun either with their on-camera chatter or an active chat room. This is an x-factor that I personally look for when I enter in on a break.
If you want to learn more about group breaks and don’t have the current Dec ’14/Jan ’15 issue of Non-Sport Update magazine, head down to your local hobby shop or order a copy here.