How Do Sports Cards Breaks Work?

Sport card breaks are a way for collectors and investors to buy a small part of an entire box of cards (usually an entire team) at a smaller cost, as opposed to purchasing a full box and keeping all of the cards.

In this aritcle, you’ll learn

  • How do sport card breaks work?
  • What the different kinds of breaks are
  • Where to find card breaks and if they’re a good idea

How Do Sport Cards Breaks Work?

Sport card breaks, or “breaks” are when a single person (or business) buys an entire box of sports cards, then charges individual collectors for the opportunity to “buy in” and keep a selection of cards from the box.

Then, usually via live stream, the “breaker” (the person who bought the entire box) then opens the box and shows what cards are inside. After the box has been opened, the breaker will send the cards from the boxes to the investors.

For example, let’s say you buy in on an NBA box break and chooses the Minnesota Timberwolves as his team.

You and the 29 other people who have bought in (there is usually one for every team) watch the live steam where the breaker opens the box of cards. Lets say that in this pack of fifteen cards, there is:

  • 2 Minnesota Timberwolves Cards
  • 1 Golden State Card
  • 3 Chigago Bulls Cards
  • 1 LA Clippers Card
  • 4 New York Knicks Cards
  • 1 Atlanta Hawks Card
  • 2 Boston Celtics Cards
  • 1 LA Lakers Card

In this case, there were two Timberwolves cards – so you’d get to keep those.

The person who bought in for the Golden State Warriors would keep the Golden State cards, the person who bought the LA Clippers would keep the Clippers card, and so on.

Those who were on a team who didn’t have a card unfortunately get nothing.

What are the Different Kinds of Sports Card Breaks?

There are plenty of different types of breaks. Some will only open one pack, some will open entire hobby boxes. It’s really up to the breaker on how many cards are opened in a break.

As for the types of breaks, again, a lot is up to the breaker. However, these are the most common types:

  • Random team: Probably the most common type of break is a ‘random team’ break. You buy in at a set price and before the break starts, teams are allocated at random. You may get lucky and end up with the best team in the set, or get a team that you don’t want.
  • Choose your team: If you don’t want to take the chance on random selection, you can enter a “choose your team” break. In this setup, each team will have a different price point matching how desirable the team is and how expensive their cards are. For example, if you’re doing a soccer team break, Manchester City will be more expensive than a newly promoted team. However, here you run the risk of paying top dollar for a great team and no cards coming out (trust me, that’s happened to me before). Or, you can buy in on a team you think is undervalued and make a nice profit.
  • Divisional break: Similar to the team breaks, some breakers will allow less people and have divisional breaks – where you get cards from every player in your division. Obviously this is a lot more expensive as every division has multiple teams.
  • Team draft break: Similar to the random team break – a draft break is where you’re given a draft spot at random and then you get to draft the teams. For example, if you get pick one, you get to choose any team from the leage, if you get the last pick, you get whatever is left at the end. These aren’t as common becuase they can be time consuming and require everyone to be present at the same time to conduct the draft.
  • Random player break: Sometimes, if the cards on offer are high-end an incredibly expensive, you’ll be able to buy in for a random player as opposed to a team. Then, you’d keep every card of your player regardless of the team they’re on.

How Much do Sport Card Breaks Cost?

As you can see above, there are plenty of different types of breaks. These are the factors that’ll dictate the cost:

  • How many teams you get
  • How many cards/boxes are being opened
  • Is it a random selection, or if you get to choose your team
  • The quality/cost of the cards

What are Case Breaks?

If you’re new to breaking, you’ve probably seen the term ‘group breaks’ and ‘case breaks’ and wonderend what the difference is.

Case breaks are the when the host opens all of the packets and “breaks” the case. This is what’s shown on the live steam. 

Where Can I Find Sport Card Breaks?

The most common places to find card breaks are:

  • Facebook Groups: There are plenty of Facebook groups dedicated to group breaks and card breaking. If you’re in Facebook just seach “sport card breaks” or can search for breaks in your chosen sport so you can search “soccer card breaks” or “NBA card breaks”, and you’ll find plenty of options. Usually case breaks are in these Facebook groups as live streams.
  • YouTube Channels: The same thing goes for YouTube, if you search for card breakers, you’ll find plenty in your chosen sport (or just general breakers). Odds are these guys will have their own website where you buy-in for the breaks, but all of the case breaks will be streamed on YouTube.
  • Forums: If you’re a member of a sports card forum, check to see if there’s a forum on upcoming breaks. These will either be organized by the forum owners themselves, or it’ll be an opportunity for members to promote their upcoming breaks.
  • Card and Hobby Shops (Online and In-person): Odds are your favorite card or hobby shop will organize breaks on a regular basis. These will either be in person or conducted online.

What is a Case Hit in Box Breaks?

When you’re taking part in a break, every case will have it’s “hits”. This is the special memorabilia cards or autograph cards.

Sometimes, an entire hobby box will be limited to one extra special card. This card is known as the “Case Hit”.

Questions to Ask Before Taking Part in a Break

If you’re looking at taking part in your first box break, there are some things you need to consider. Odds are these will be listed on the host’s website somewhere.

  • Do you keep every card, or just the “hits”? (some breakers allow you to add a small extra fee to include all cards)
  • What is considered a hit? This is incredibly important – you might have a different idea compared to the breaker
  • What happens to players from team who no longer exist (like the Seattle Supersonics). Often this will be dependant on the league and team. Using the Seattle example, some breakers will give Seattle cards to the OKC Thunder owner.
  • Who pays shipping?
  • What type of shipping will the cards come in?
  • How is pricing determined?
  • What happens if you don’t get any cards in the break? Some breakers may offer discounts on future orders for breaks without a hit. However, that isn’t always the case, and those breaks are usually more expensive on the front-end.
  • Do you recieve inserts?

Are Sport Card Breaks Worth It?

When it comes to if card breaks are “worth it” or not, there’s a few things to consider.

For most entrants in box breaks, it’s a pretty inefficient way to buy cards. Now, don’t get me wrong, some breaks can be extremely profitable for you, I’ve been on breaks before where I’ve seen someone turn a $5 random team entrant into well over $1000 worth of cards.

Or, some breaks can be profitable for everyone (just check out this monstor).

Most of the time though, you’ll lose money on a box break – or at the very least it won’t be the best way to invest your money.

When you think about it, breaking is kinda like gambling on a random event. Sometimes you’ll hit big, but most of the time you won’t.  So with that in mind, it’s best to put about 20% of your investing budget into breaks – with the other 80% going into buying individual cards or wax packs you want to hold.

However, that doesn’t mean that you should avoid box breaks altogether. I love taking part in breaks and it’s a lot of fun. It’s also a cheaper way to experience opening a fresh pack now that card packs can be incredibly expensive.

If you’re looking as cards as a pure investment-play, then you may not find breaks to be worth it (you’ll be way better off choosing the cards you want to buy and going from there). On the other hand, if you enjoy collecting sport cards – you’ll enjoy box breaks.

Final Thoughts

Sports cards breaks can be a fun way to enter box-opening at a reasonable price and join a bit of a community (breaker groups are usually quite friendly). However, it shouldn’t be seen as the only way you purchase cards.

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  • Vince

    I'm a big time sports nerd, with soccer being my first true love. I've been collecting sports cards since I was a little kid, and now... well, not much has changed, but I write about it... and I have facial hair.

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