The Do’s and Don’t of Group Breaking

Chances are you’ve experienced a progression of events that has led to you reading this very article. You’re interested in sports cards as a hobby. You’re aware of group breaks and probably watch them from time to time. Maybe you’ve even bought into a group break at some point. Now you’re thinking about hosting them, being the person behind the camera who gets to show people the big hits they’ve pulled.

That’s great! Group breaks are one of the most exciting parts of the hobby, a new-age stand-in for gathering around at the local card shop and watching someone rip through a box. It’s a community, and it’s very cool that you want to step up as one of the faces of the community.

There are, however, some things you should keep in mind when leading a group break. There are certain expectations and standards that need to be adhered to so everyone knows it was a fair break. Here are some do’s and don’ts of group breaking.

(Also, if you’re unfamiliar with group breaks, here’s a primer we wrote that serves as an excellent introduction.)

Do: Establish who is getting what

Setting some ground rules is the easiest way to eliminate confusion when breaking. Let people know up front what they’re getting from the pulls. Are you sending them every card they got? Or are you just sending the hits? A lot of breakers won’t even bother sending base cards.

Or, what if you’re leading a break where people buy certain teams but a card has multiple players for different teams? For example, if you hit a dual autograph relic that has Ichiro on the Mariners and Mike Trout on the Angels, who gets that? Some breakers give it to whichever player is on the top left of the card. Others will hold a drawing through between the two people who can lay claim to it. Regardless of whatever you prefer, it’s a dilemma you have to get out in front of. You don’t want to look like you’re making it up as you go along.

Don’t: Take the product off the screen

This might be the single most important piece of advice when it comes to group breaks. Never take the product off the screen once the box is out of the shrink wrap.

People are naturally wary of getting ripped off in an environment where they aren’t physically present. That’s why it’s important to leave the shrink wrap on the box until you can cut it in front of the camera, and to leave all packs in plain view of the camera. If you move them out of sight, people might think you’re replacing them with worse cards or packs that are guaranteed duds. This is a hobby where people use scales to pick out heavier packs because they will have a higher chance of containing parallels and autographs. They aren’t being paranoid for wanting to be able to see everything at all times.

In fact, former Major League Baseball pitcher and big-time card collector Phil Hughes was accused of rigging a high-end break earlier this year. There was a jump-cut in one of his videos and some people assumed the worst. It was enough for Hughes to swear off group breaking for good. That just goes to show it can happen to anyone and it’s always on someone’s mind.

Do: Figure out your rhythm

This one is between you and your audience. What do they want to see and how quickly do they want to see it? How long do you want to take showing cards that you might not be all that interested in?

There are a lot of ways to do this. Some people zoom right through all the base cards and only stop to point out inserts, parallels, relics, and autographs. Others name off every player and move at a more cautious speed. It’s all about finding a middle ground that keeps it interesting and doesn’t feel like it’s dragging on.

The exception, of course, is if you’re breaking a high-end box. If it’s something expensive, you should probably show off every card. People will want to see it. It won’t be much of an inconvenience because, chances are, you’ll want to see it too.

Don’t: Be boring

Man, this feels so obvious that it shouldn’t even need to be said. But, it’s key to being successful so it’s worth mentioning.

Anyone can simply open cards on camera. However, people are going to be attracted to charisma and entertainment. They’re here to see the cards, but they’re coming back because of everything you bring to the table. It’s no different than becoming a popular Twitch streamer or YouTube creator.

That’s not to say you’re going to nail it. Actually, you probably won’t — at least not right away. You’re new to hosting group breaks and you’re still just getting your feet wet. That’s fine! But, keep in mind that it’s important to find your voice and style, refining it along the way as you become more experienced. That’s what will keep them coming back.

It’s far from definitive, but these tips should be a good jumping off point for anyone who’s looking to try their hand at group breaking. Just remember that it’s important to be authentic and up-front with your audience. Stick to that mindset and everyone should have a great time watching hit after hit get pulled.

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