First off, I would like to define what I’m referring to when I say “loose pack”. It’s basically any unopened pack of sports/trading cards that does not have another type of factory-sealed container around it, such as a gravity-feed box. Once a box is opened and packs can be pulled out by customers, all packs inside are considered loose packs now. Same with a hobby box, or retail box, etc. No factory seal around the packs = Loose packs.
Why Shouldn’t I Buy Loose Packs?
The main reason that I cannot stress enough why you should never, ever, buy loose packs on the internet is because the majority of them have been searched. Meaning, the dude that sold them to you either has a general idea or knows exactly what cards are in those packs.
There is an extremely high chance of receiving nothing but duds. People have been doing this to get a leg up on the hobby more and more, especially with the sudden influx of new collectors and resellers in the “COVID era”. A lot of fresh meat has entered into the hobby and unfortunately, it can be cut-throat at times. Especially with the lack of consequences for less-than-honest sellers and the rampant scamming taking place every day.
How Does Someone “Search” Packs?
I will be transparent about this – I know how to search just about every pack that’s out there, and to do it without opening it up or breaching the wrapper at all. I can tell you what cards are in a pack, in order, and give it back to you with the seals untouched.
See, I taught myself how to do this after buying a “Hot Pack” from a seller on eBay. **You will not see me selling loose packs, or dealing with them in any way because of this skill I learned. It’s a moral and conscience thing for me.**
What is a Hot Pack?
If you don’t know what a hot pack is, it’s a factory-sealed pack of cards, can be from any product, but the person selling it guarantees there will be a specific card inside that pack. Also, I am not talking about the thicker packs you would find in a hobby box and instantly know there’s a relic card of some sort in there. They can say something like “Guaranteed to contain a Refractor RC /299, Refractor Auto /299, or a Refractor Auto RC /299. They know exactly what card is in there, but broaden the possibilities (falsely) a little bit to make people think they have options. How do they know what exact cards are in the packs? I’m not telling you, so don’t even ask, please. But if you don’t believe me and feel like sending me a factory-sealed pack of whatever to test me, go ahead. You’ll get your pack back, along with a list I wrote of every card in the pack. Sealed. “You weigh them!!!” …..Nope, I say. That is unreliable.
Watch Out For Scammy Terminology…
One phrase I hate in this hobby is “from a sealed case/hobby box”. Everything came from a sealed case at one point in time. You’re not special, and you’re not busting a case open for every customer to pull one box out of it. The hits are located, along with cards of moderate value, and either ripped and resold as singles or used in higher-priced sales posts. Remember, the cheaper the packs or hot packs are, the lower the value of the card being guaranteed is. Remember, they know exactly what’s in there. They Won’t let it sell for less than they can get for the “hit” in the pack. Bottom line: DO NOT buy “Hot Packs”. It’s seriously rigged.
The same attitude goes towards loose gravity-feed packs, retail packs, hobby packs, fat packs of all kinds, and people selling loose blaster packs. There is no reason to open up and resell blaster packs other than to search them first. I’ve learned the hard way and have received searched packs quite a few times. Cello packs, such as Prizm products, have sealed packs within another factory sealed pack. I would say these are generally ok, and you shouldn’t have to worry too much. It is possible to search them, just tedious work to do so.
Searching packs usually will leave some sort of evidence that it was tampered with but will look completely normal to the untrained eye. Your best bet is to stay away altogether and only buy into reputable breaks or sealed products like Hobby boxes, blaster boxes, Mega boxes, and cello/multi-packs. Also, if you feel like you have to pick up some loose packs for whatever reason, check out what the seller is selling besides that. If it’s hot packs of the same product, RUN. If it’s hits from the same product, RUN. You are shrinking the chance to pull anything of value. The longer you think about it the more it will make sense.
I would like to say that this post definitely does not claim every seller of loose packs as a pack searcher or scammer. There are good, reputable stores and sellers. This post applies to a lot, but not all. Use your best judgment and intuition out there.
If you would like to message me for info going a little deeper into what to look for, or if you suspect you bought searched packs, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck, and happy collecting! Let me know in the comments anything you’d like to add about this topic, or if you have a story you’d like to share about it. I have a few that I’ll share once there’s a couple of comments on it.
Yankees fan that grew up in Brooklyn. Currently in the mountains of Colorado. Ripping wax since 1987 Topps was the new, hot product. Decent guitarist of many a genre, usually the ones that contain the word “metal”. Horrible comedian. OK tattoo artist. Father, bullfighter, astronaut. Ok, 2 of those aren’t true.