Friday, September 18, 2009

Pack Searchers Are One Thing...

Ever since the advent of jersey cards in products, people have been there to beat the system when opening packs to make money. These morally deceptive people have camped out at retailers across the country with their system, all with the goal of finding jersey and auto cards without ever opening the pack. These “pack searchers” have become some of the most hated people in the hobby, and have made buying loose retail packs for hits an unwinnable venture.

After obtaining these searched packs, they often sell them on eBay as “hot packs,” or packs of product for sale with guaranteed hits inside. Collectors often buy the packs expecting a chance at a nice card, but usually end up with nothing more than a plain jersey card. It’s unethical, damaging, and underhanded, despite the fact that manufacturers have used decoy cards to try and fend them off. As the companies have started to clearly label their retail packs, coupled with the decreasing value of plain jersey cards, pack searchers have diminished in numbers. It doesn’t stop people from trying their hand at it, but really, it’s not as much of a problem as it used to be.

There is one thing I saw recently that made me cringe, and that is the number of sellers out there who flat out cheat buyers who don’t know the logistics of the practice. Recently, an auction was posted, featuring the claim that the hot pack for sale contained a 1 of 1 superfractor out of 2009 Topps Chrome Football. Superfractors are extremely valuable for top tier rookies and players, and are some of the most sought after cards in the hobby. Every red flag I had in place started to go off in my head, rightfully so.

For those of you who have opened the packs of this product, its no surprise that this is a completely impossible claim to make. A superfractor is physically impossible to search out in an unopened pack, as the card features no discernable difference from the regular cards. They are not thicker, they don’t weigh more, and they are not a guaranteed hit in any box. Therefore, any claim that any unopened pack contains one, is 100% false.

Of course, because not everyone is familiar with these facts, there are bidders on the pack, which should end upwards of 100 dollars. I feel horrible for the winning bidder, because whoever buys the pack will end up with a superfractor that isn’t worth anything, out of a pack that has been opened and resealed. The seller has opened the pack, saw that the superfractor was probably a cheerleader card or lower tier player, glued the pack shut, and is selling it under the suspicion that the sale will get him more money.


The easiest way to punish any scam artist is to not buy into the scam, especially when there are very few avenues to take corrective action on this person. The seller’s pack will deliver what it says, but only because the person has advanced knowledge of what is going to come out of the pack. It’s completely unethical and unfair to the buyer, and I recommend never trusting anything you can’t verify with 100% certainty.

Personally, I would avoid hot packs all together, even if the sale seems legit. It encourages cheating, and provides funds for people who do not deserve them. You will NEVER make back your money, and the risk will never be worth the reward.


  1. when I first got into the hobby i didnt know the specifics of "hot packs" and actually bought them normally on ebay not knowing what I was actually getting. I also didnt know the difference between hobby and retail. But thanks to articals like this and from you in the past I am now a well educated collector and often when im at a walmart or target and I see a parent buying cards for there child I stop and ask them if they really know what they are getting, and explain to them about "pack searchers" "retail vs hobby" and point them towards a hobby shop that is only 10 min away from the big stores. They are always very happy to get the info and I feel good knowing I just may have helped my local shop out.

    *out of the 10-15 hotpack I bought I only got one worth wild hit which was a joe flacco rookie auto #/20. but with all the money I wasted on other bad packs I could have just saved up and bought a nice card. <-- which I do now. Just finished my Colston letter patch set from SPA! which now proudly hangs from my wall

  2. Gellman,

    You're misleading people here. There *are* ways to find superfractors without opening the packs. I know - I've found them and sold them as hot packs. You've got to be a REALLY good searcher to find them, but it can be done.

    ANYTHING companies make can be found. ANYTHING. Jerseys are easy. Autos are a little tougher. 1/1s are tougher still. But they can ALL be found.

    An easy rule of thumb - if the seller has really good feedback and his "as described" DSR is high, then he's a legit seller selling legit hot packs.

    If the seller has private feedback, or is selling dozens of these superfractor packs every week, he's resealing.

  3. Actually, looking through his completed listings, it looks like you are just outright libeling the guy. Last week, he sold a shit ton of inserts from 09 Topps Chrome. Occam's Razor indicates that the guy just busted a whole bunch of Topps Chrome, searched it for the plates/supers/parallel autos, set them aside to sell as hot packs, and opened the rest.

    There are some products where you can do really well doing this. 07-08 Finest Basketball was a product I made a killing on by selling the autos and redemptions as hot packs and opening the rest. This guy is just doing the same thing with Chrome.

    There's nothing unethical about it. If he would rather sell his hits as hot packs than open them, that's his business. Libeling someone for something you don't understand is the unethical thing here.

  4. Thomas, im sorry, but I refuse to believe that you can find a superfractor by searching. Its absolutely ridiculous. Email me and tell me how you think he did it.

  5. I got an email from the seller. Turns out he did exactly what I said he did. He busted over 10 cases of this product, set aside the supers, auto parallels and whatnot to sell as hot packs, and busted the rest (and sold it last week).

    There's nothing unethical or even shady about it. You have a good chance at pulling a good player out of his Superfractor pack. I know that when I have done this in the past, I had no way of knowing what player was going to be featured, but I would rather sell the pack for, say, $75 and be guaranteed the $75 than to bust the pack myself and MAYBE get a Favre or Sanchez, but more likely pull an Antonio Gates.

    I got the $75 (or whatever) and the buyer got to bust a factory-sealed case hit for about the price of a box. I always root for them to get the Favre, and sometimes they do.

  6. Thomas, you are so full of shit it's not even funny. There is NO WAY that you can tell if a pack contains a refractor, x-fractor, or super-fractor. There is no difference between normal chrome cards and refractor cards that could lead one to pick the refractor pack out of the normal packs. That's just bullshit. If you're so sure it can be done, then explain how, if not, STFU.

  7. Nice try, Max. Why would I teach you how to do it so you can go out to all the Targets and WalMarts in your area and pull all the refractor parallels?

    I emailed Gellman and told him how it's done. I'm sorry that you're too fucking stupid to have figured it out on your own.

  8. Actually, your explanation was still pretty far fetched. Its more likely that the pack is resealed.

  9. There was nothing far fetched about my explanation. Give it a shot yourself. Go buy a box of Chrome and do it how I said. It's really very easy. I can go through a box in two or three minutes once I know where in the pack the insert is. You should see the stacks and stacks of refractor parallels I have.

    Hell, I have 45 2008 Bowman Chrome parallel hot packs sitting next to me right now. Email me your address and I will send you one if you'll stop libeling honest eBay sellers and creating an ignorant false hysteria amongst your readers.

  10. I think you could find a refractor in a pack as well. They are serially numbered, and you can feel the indentation on the back of the card. This should be enough to make them findable in a pack for those who are extremely skilled. I think that if you sat at this for 40-60 hours a week, after a week or two, you would be able to find anything/everything.

  11. Mike, here's the deal bud. Refractors aren't placed behind the other three cards in every pack. They're usually mixed in between the other cards, so there would be NO WAY for you to "feel" for the serial numbers. Also, who has 40-60 hours a week to hone this "skill?" Homeless people? Give me a break.

  12. You wouldn't need to hone it 40-60 hours a week every week, you would need to do it once. Or, you could spread it out in your spare time as a hobby if you wanted.

    Why can't you move the cards around in the pack? I think there is enough space in packs to do this.

  13. Well, the seller is no longer a registered user, if that tells you anything.
    Looks like a hit and run.

  14. I just bought 2 guaranteed gold rescractor auto 2008 bowman chrome hobby packs at $27 each. Beckett says every Gold Auto is $50 at least but 80% of them are worth $150 and up. So let see what I get. I will post back and let you know the seller, my ebay name, and the cards I got out the deal. I am sceptical!