By now you have seen the words “Box Break” or “Hit Draft” somewhere on the internet. For many it’s been an introduction to collecting, for others it’s a new find. Either way, Breaker culture is a major aspect in the collecting world and can be either very enjoyable or very destructive if you don’t know what you’re getting into. Here we breakdown what a break is and what to look for to ensure you get the best value for your dollar.
Let’s dive right in!
WHAT IS A “BREAK”
A break is a very simple concept that has been around in the collecting industry for 20+ years. While the hype behind these may seem new, the truth is these were happening in local card shops well before social media and online platforms made them super easy to jump into. Today however these breaks have taken over as a staple of the collectible industry, especially the sports card world so knowing the most you can before buying in is imperative.
A break can be done several ways, but the general concept is simple. A number of people all pay money to buy “a share” of a box of cards. Sometimes that share is a specific team or teams, sometimes it’s a specific pack, and sometimes it’s just a spot to choose a card that comes out of the box. In all cases, regardless of format, you need to know that you are never guaranteed to get your money back in card value and it’s always a gamble (which is most of the fun!)
Here is where we want to be clear… BOX BREAKS SHOULD BE FOR ENTERTAINMENT VALUE.
It’s a gamble every time you buy in that something good will come your way. It’s very much like pulling the slot machine lever, except typically in a box break you walk away with something (it just may not be something good.) Just like a slot machine or buying a lottery ticket though, you have a chance to hit it big by getting in on expensive products and potentially hitting that massive card worth thousands of dollars!
Okay, now that you know WHAT a break is, let’s talk about the WHY and the WHO…
Why Buy Into A Break
As mentioned above, a break should be for entertainment value, not for an investment. They are tons of fun and can lead you down a crazy rabbit hole of buying and breaking looking for that next big hit, but it’s gambling at its core and should always be done responsibly and for the entertainment of connecting with a community and cheering everyone on as the cards get opened. Unlike at a casino where eighty-two year old Gertrude quickly moves her oxygen tank into place to steal your slot machine seat when you get up for a bathroom break (and hits that jackpot on the next spin) in a break there is plenty to go around and everyone can be excited for everyone else. This community aspect makes the whole experience more enjoyable.
Who Should You Trust To Break With
Now for the most important factor for a new “breaker.” Not all breaks were created equal. Some breakers are new and stumble a lot. Some breakers are like a wet noodle and just not very entertaining. Lastly, in some rare cases you get a few rotten apples that aren’t so trustworthy (although this is very rare.) To avoid getting the raw end of the deal, here is a quick list of things to look for on your first or future breaks:
- Camera Setup: The better the quality of camera and more views shown on screen, the more likely the person is to not only be legitimate but also be a more entertaining break. A solid and high quality view of the cards means you see and hear the opening of the packs in perfect detail on screen and make the most of the experience.
- The “Breaker: The breaker needs to be entertaining or at least interactive. If the breaker gets on and can’t interact with the participants or speaks in a low monotone voice the whole time, you probably won’t enjoy the experience nearly as much. Look for a breaker that can talk to people and move through the break in a timely manner so you don’t feel like you spent an hour getting nothing but a boring YouTuber in their parents basement making a quick buck off you.
- Positive Energy Required: This is very important… You need a breaker that is rooting for you and has your best interest in mind. They should want to pull you a big money card and be excited when they do! Positive vibes from the breaker attract positive community members and this makes the whole vibe just that much better!
- Moves Through In A Timely Manner: As briefly mentioned above, you want a breaker that gets through the break in a timely manner. You don’t need them to hang up on every card talking about it and you don’t want them to skip through not reading cards or just quickly flipping through. Look for a breaker that calls out every card and shows in clearly on camera but does so in a consistent pace. This is something everyone has their own preference on so find what’s comfortable for you.
- Careful With Your Cards: DO NOT BREAK WITH PEOPLE WHO AREN’T CAREFUL! How they handle your cards is so important. Do they put a thumb on your autograph? Do they squeeze or rub the edges? How careful do they sleeve and top-load the hits? These are all important things to note as if you hit a big card or you just want some gradable hot rookie cards, you need to know they are protecting your investment no matter big or small if a card is pulled.
Okay, now that we have established the What, Why, and Who, let’s get into the “Nut & Bolts” of the different types of breaks and how to buy in!
PICK YOUR TEAM (PYT)
In a PYT break, you are buying a specific team and then getting all cards opened for that team (as pictured on the card.)
This is just like a PYT break except that in this case you are getting a complete division of teams and will get all cards pulled from any of the teams in that division.
These Random Team breaks can be a lot of fun. Instead of your favorite team going for a high amount of money (potentially) everyone buys in at the same amount of money and then is randomly assigned a team just before the break starts. You could end up with a super hot team for cheap or a really cheap team for a more expensive cost… but again, the gamble is part of the fun!
RANDOM TEAMS (TIERED)
These breaks are a little more elaborate and typically more expensive, but it does seem to be a little more even. Everyone buys in at flat rate. Instead of just getting one team at random however, the entire sports league is divided into tiers (best to worst.) Each person in the break will be randomly assigned a “Tier 1” team. Then each person assigned a “Tier 2” team… This goes until all tiers are evenly distributed.
(Tiers are determined by the breaker and can change as players perform better during a season. It’s worth having a little knowledge of team values going into a break like this.
These are fun, everyone walks away with something and can be VERY rewarding. The downside is, there is a lot more “chance” in this type of break. Typically these are reserved for high-end products or products that have only a few cards/hits per box.
In a Hit Draft, the breaker will take all participants and put their name on a list. The breaker then opens the entire box of product and lays out each of the cards calling the hits out as they go. Once complete, the breaker randomizes the list of participants. Whoever is first on the list then gets to choose a card they want. Then second on the list goes. This continues until all participants have gone.
(Sometimes if there are a lot of cards they will “snake” the draft. This just means that if there are 6 people in the draft, cards would be picked like this:
EX: Pick 1, Pick 2, Pick 3, Pick 4, Pick 5, Pick 6, Pick 6, Pick 5, Pick 4, Pick 3….)
These are easy. Typically a customer buys a product from the breaker (such as a single pack or a box) and the breaker opens the entire item on camera and ship it all to the customer. These can be a lot of fun on a pack-by-pack basis and can be just like walking into your local shop and ripping open a pack (minus the you physically ripping open the pack part.)
Etiquette as a buyer in a break:
– Remember to stay positive for both you and the other participants. The cards in the pack aren’t going to change if you complain a lot so it’s best to cheer on everyone to get something and cross your fingers at least someone gets a bit hit!
– Try to refrain from cussing or using inappropriate language in chat. You never know who or how old the audience is and the same level of excitement can be conveyed in more family friendly ways.
– Never hurts to thank your breaker if you enjoyed the break. While breakers do make money, running a break isn’t as easy as it seems and on a professional level can take time and effort to make happen (especially if it has a ton of cards.) If you think you would break with them again, definitely “Like & Subscribe” to their channel(s) as it helps them out a lot!
– No Refunds… If the breaker held an appropriate and fair break (no matter if you enjoyed it or not) then you should not ask for a refund because you didn’t get a card(s). You buy in knowing it’s a gamble… you get what you get. If the breaker is boring or just not organized then consider your investment knowledge for who not to break with in the future and to research the breaker a little more prior.