PSA grading.

Hi guys. I’m new here but been a collector for few years now. I first focused on collecting all the vintage sets for nostalgic reasons since I’m 28 and grew up with base set etc. I started collecting psa cards for about 2 years now. I sent a some cards to get graded for the first time a few months ago. Bought the platinum package with 15 free vouchers. Chose my best 15 Holo vintage cards that I thought had shot at 9 or 10. I read up lots on grading and watched videos. So I made sure to look over all the cards with bright flashlight. I was a bit disappointed when my cards came back as 9’s and 8’s. Not one 10 (eight 9’s and seven 8’s). So now I’m confused about their grading process. I’m looking to buy a raw crystal lugia but if it comes back an 8 I’d be very disappointed and have trouble even breaking even after purchasing card. Having it shipped and graded (I’m in Canada). A 9 would be good. Anyways enough of me rambling. I’ve attached pictures of a few of the 8’s (front and back of each card) and also attached a reverse holo crystal celebi 10. To be honest I think the 8’s I got were in better condition than the 10. Front were perfect. The celebi has more whitening (spots?) in corners and edge. Can you guys give me your opinions? Thanks!

Hello and welcome! The more cards you grade, the better your judgment will get. Before you submit, write down what you think the grades will be. When the cards come back you can compare your guess to the actual grades and help determine what you missed. With the Lugia you’re interested in, depending on the price I would probably buy this card already graded unless you are very confident on condition. I hope this helps, I’m no expert but I’m sure a few will chime in :blush:

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These do look like harsh grades, but I also have similar 8s.

Can you give the holos a close look? My guess is they have tiny scratches or print lines.

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Welcome to the site!

There are a lot of factors that go into condition. Grading 101 is immediately checking the back for whitening. However Neo cards tend to have more front damage (holo scratches and silvering), even straight from packs.

Ultimately it is very difficult-impossible to accurately assess condition through photos. Sure at a glance some of those look strong and potentially could upgrade. But we don’t have all the angles, lightening, etc.


The Pichu has a horizontal scratch or factory line in the holo towards the upper left area. The border has a black spec (above the B in Basic). Can also see a few white dots on the back of that card.

The Flareon seems to have some surface wear throughout, especially in the holo.

Can’t really see any major flaws in the Tyranitar.

If you are disappointed by getting 8’s and 9’s - prepared to be disappointed with future submissions. It’s part of the game and is what drives the premium for 10’s. On 3 recent occasions I have pulled pack fresh unlimited holos and had all 3 come back as 9’s.

A lot of times, it’s going to be better to buy the card you want, already graded. For instance, you can get that Flareon for about $25 bucks as a 10.

As for the Crystal Lugia - don’t expect to get a 10 when buying RAW. It happens sometimes for sure, but more often than not - it doesn’t.
Keep in mind that “Near Mint” is the equivalent to a PSA 7. If it were as easy as buying a raw card for a couple hundred, grading it getting a 10 and the value of the card is now over $1000, everyone would do it.


not easy to spot every flaw from a photo, on a sleeved and cased card but:
the pichu has a factory line, is slightly offcentered
the tyranitar as some whitening on the edges

I also agree that the celebi is a generous PSA 10

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Thanks for all the replies guys! I mostly sent in the rarest cards of my first edition Neo genesis set and few other cards like the a 1st edition Neo Discovery umbreon, espeon, Neo Destiny shining celebi. I don’t expect to get a 10. I’m happy with 9’s. The 1st ed lugia and umbreon and celebi came back as 9’s and those are the ones I actually thought could come back as 8’s. I did notice as I was preparing them that most were slightly off center (not sure if it’s a Neo genesis common issue?) so that’s why I didn’t expect 10’s but I did hope one would squeak by. They are all sleeved and some specks of dust got in between the sleeve and case. I’m just confused by the inconsistency. 8’s 9’s and 10’s can all look pretty similar. I’ve seen some really bad 8’s on eBay. 6 and 7’s I don’t even bother with. Also the flareon I didn’t plan on sending in but I had one spot left and figured I’d throw him in.

Neo cards can be tough to grade. Lugia, typhlosion specifically can get hit for print lines. I have a PSA 8 1st ed lugia that would otherwise be Mint, but it has 3 parallel print lines. Perfect back, but those lines can really hurt.


Just to add, sometimes it’s best to simply buy the cards that are hard to grade. Search for a nice deal and jump when the opportunity arrises. Scott has mentioned in some of his videos that this is a good idea with certain cards, so it might benefit you.

Case and point, those masaki cards. I have a few that are ungraded mint, except for this common issue of the indent line on the back. It pays to simply buy it graded because you can’t see those flaws clearly on an ungraded card.

Sometimes buying ungraded cards can be cheaper and work out really well, but with the cards that tend to have issues, it usually can be a losing battle.

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Ya one of my typhlosions came back as an 8 and other as a 9. Lugia I’m happy came back as a 9. I haven’t bought any RAW cards specifically for grading but with my submission results I’m weary of going that route. I usually just save searches of cards I’m looking for on eBay and watch the daily emails for good deals then pounce. I got a great deal couple years ago for complete 1st ed Neo genesis set that ended up being nm/mint which was a nice surprise so after collecting more cards/sets over the next couple years I finally decided on getting the platinum membership. Graded 8 genesis cards and 7 more of my fave cards that I wanted psa versions of anyways. The crystal lugia seemed like a good deal but it’s a big jump from 8 to 9 price wise. I doubt that card has any chance of a 10. Most likely a 9 but still could be an 8 based on my submission results. I’ve been looking at the crystals for few months and the prices of psa and RAW are all over the place.

There’s nothing inconsistent with your grades…only your expectations.
The more you pregrade and compare, the more consistent your guesses will be.

Welcome @snownsurf2020 , from a fellow surfnsnow enthusiast!



Thank you for the welcome!