Why even bother with PSA 10s?

The vast majority of graded English cards I have are PSA 9s but occasionally I dabble in 10s when I think the price is warranted. Recently I bought 4 PSA 10 reverse rare EX Fire Red Leaf Green cards. I paid about $20 each (so I guess I get what I pay for). 3/4 of the cards have multiple, noticeable scratches on the holo. Here is an example:

SPOILER: Click to show

The scratches on this Kingler are particularly deep. I realize grading is a subjective process and 10s are not “perfect” cards but then why bother with 10s at all then? I’ve seen so many people burned with buying an undeserved 10, paying 2-10x the value of a PSA 9.

I’m kinda stuck with these cards too. I don’t think it’s proper to return them to the seller (and I think it’s too late since I bought them via middleman). I can send them for review at PSA, but at best I’d get back $5 per card and shipping internationally is not worth it. I don’t really want to put them into my collection either.

I’ve got so many 9s that look much better than these cards. Makes me want to never buy an English card in PSA 10 again since the consistency in grading just isn’t there to warrant the premium over the price of a 9.

Anyway this is mainly just a rant. Feel free to tell me if I’m wrong or share your own stories of when you were burned with weak 10s



Buy the card not the grade


Literally just for resale value. If you’re just collecting to keep; I have no clue why people would buy a 10 vs a 9 which is 1/10th the price. If I buy a 10 its because I don’t mind selling the card down the road if the price is right.

Why buy the toyota camry when you can afford a bmw


Here’s a little story, I like to call, “People are arseholes”…

This clown is going I continue to send this card, until it gets a 10. He is preying in the fact that some grader, at some point might miss that huge fucking indent.

I was going to censor the names, but fuck it.


I mean this is a fantastic principle but it’s often unrealistic since you can’t really fully establish the condition of a card until you’ve purchased it and are holding it in your hands. In particular for these cards, I only learned after the seller relisted them with the same pictures that I might not even be getting the same card that was shown in the listing.

I’ve also seen it happen to others here, in deals done over e4 with e4 members, the seller confirms that there are no scratches or defects with the card and that is shown to be false after the card is received.

If all transactions were done in person, there would be no issue. Instead we depend on grading companies as a third party way to establish condition. If PSA is going to be inconsistent about what a PSA 10 is, there’s no motive for me to pay any more for a 10 than I would a 9.

Sorry for such a long rant to a cliche comment. This issue is frustrating to me.


@ssjc I think a more accurate comparison would be purchasing a 1957 BMW 507 Roadster Series I with 25,000 miles on it vs the same model in the same condition that was never even taken for a test drive. It’s the exact same car in pretty much the same condition, but one holds a premium over the other when it comes to resale. :]


Remember that the third party opinion is just an opinion, you are choosing the buy a card that the third party have determined in their opinion is a 10

I know that its near impossible to determine exact condition with just a photo, so asking the seller before you purchase the card if there are any defects/scratches will cover you in the event that he lies or is misinformed

You should also consider the reputation or lack thereof of the seller, go with a seller that has a proven track record and pay a few more bucks instead of going the cheaper and more unreliable route

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What about sellers that process hundreds or thousands of cards?
You think it’s the sellers responsibility to double check PSA’s work on every card?


no its the buyers responsibility to ask for more pictures or more details if they do not trust the 3rd party that have graded the card they are buying…

But when a grading company cannot reliability establish condition, why bother using them at all? I do see the value in having third party grading but to me value of a PSA 10 is unjustified if one in every x number of cards is better suited for a PSA 9 case. And with the issue of regrading, x will continue to shrink over time.

In an ideal situation, you’d have the luxury of buying from either a trusted source or a cheap unreliable source. But in reality, certain cards just rarely get graded or appear so you will have to settle with what’s available. And often sellers will refuse to take additional photos or comment on condition beyond giving the PSA grade.

I think your advice is correct and is a good set of principles to abide by but I don’t know how effective it is in practice. I think my solution will be to just value 10s much closer to what I would value a 9 at because often there’s no difference.

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I always wonder if these scratches that appear in 10s are the result of being scratched by the encapsulation process or caused by the handling of the card after the assessment, but who knows.

Also some recent enlightening words.

“it makes you want to cry but it is the life”
-Androberal (2018)


If that’s how you feel about PSA, then you wouldn’t bother using them, but evidently thats not an opinion that the majority of the market holds or we wouldnt see a premium on PSA graded cards

That’s true that you don’t always have a choice of multiple sellers, but these are not necessary items that we’re talking about, you always have a choice as to whether you want to purchase it or not,

I personally follow my own advice (:grin:) and can tell you it’s very effective, I’ve never been disappointed with a PSA card’s grade that I’ve purchased


I ask myself this every time I go to hit that buy button. I’m not sure why so many people come up with excuses for PSA on their 10’s either. Sure, the one white chip on the back, whatever, it’s only a “virtually perfect card” after all, but when the holo has multiple scratches - whether wear or manufactured - that should be a hard no. Luckily I’ve mostly been burned on lower end $20 cards, but I’ve absolutely returned a card that I spent $1,000+ on and it came with at least six scratches on the holo.

I like how Kyle is claiming the dent is the only issue when you can see multiple other scratches in that photo alone. But seeing that the first thought someone should have is “this bloke about to waste some hard keesh” and not “we have shit 10’s because people resend in their cards”.


in this case that kids a tit but in general this is the reason i collect 9s and not 10s. every submission i have ever done will always have a few cards that have questionable grades and the fact that you can crack them open and re send for a better grade donest sit well with me but if some chump whats to buy my 10s that have flaws for a premium because the label says 10 thats fine with me. i use the money to buy a better condition 9 and a fraction of the price. always buy the card and not the grade

Just curious, where are all these people? Of the thousands of people buying PSA 10 Pokemon cards, all I’ve seen are a few dozen people on e4 and occasionally instagram that post photos of PSA 10s that weren’t exactly what they expected.

Also, the issue here isn’t PSA, or card grading, or pricing, it’s your method of buying. If the foil was of the utmost importance to you, and you wanted to be critical of the card, then you needed to specify to the seller that you wanted a foil with 0 scratches before buying. “Buy the card, not the grade”, isn’t just a phrase, it’s an actual process of knowing what you want in a card beforehand and doing your research/asking questions before spending money. You did the opposite. You bought the grade without doing the proper legwork and now you’re disappointed because the card didn’t meet your expectations. You can rail at PSA, card grading, collecting, etc, all day; it doesn’t change the fact that you didn’t go through the proper process before buying.

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You ask where all these people are yet you have claimed to see a “few dozen” examples? How many do you want to see?

Obviously there’s a level of personal responsibility when it comes to where you spend your money, I never disagreed with that. I even said in the first post that I got what I paid for. The amount I paid is pretty trivial too so its just more of a frustration than anything. BUT this is also very much an issue with grading consistency. The point of third party authentication is that I shouldn’t have to ask what condition the card is in. If I have to “research” every card I’m goint to purchase then what’s he point of including PSA’s opinion at all? Frankly, I don’t have the patience to send messages to every seller I want to buy from nor do I have the ability to verify the condition of the card until months after the purchase since most of the graded items I buy get shipped to a middleman.

You can say I’m lazy or I reap what I sew or whatever, but the result is that I’m just not going to value PSA 10s much higher than 9s anymore since it’s not worth it with regards to my buying practices. And who knows, if other people think like me and the problem gets worse with the amount of regrading over time, it could impact the general value of PSA 10s. However I think there are enough people who buy the grade instead of the card that you probably won’t see that happen.


I’ve never valued PSA 10’s anywhere near where the market does for most cards. That is why my store is mostly PSA 10’s for sale. That is why my collection is 99% PSA 9. I’m very happy with all of my 9’s in my collection and when I look really hard at some cards as you’ve mentioned I have some 9’s that look better than a few of my “weaker” 10’s. To me a mint 9 card is beautiful and I can appreciate and value the art for what it is. I just don’t personally get anything extra out of a 10. I don’t need 3rd party approval of what I see to be a perfect (to me) pack fresh mint card. The borderline of 9/10 is too fine for me and the overlap too large for the value difference to be justified.

Thankfully this is the case in general though it isn’t the only factor. The fact is that most PSA 10’s are “true” PSA 10’s it does lead to far less issues overall selling 3rd party graded cards than selling raw cards. I can’t even imagine what that market would look like where you could only sell raw cards and have to try and describe condition and I know 100% I would not be a participant in it because I just wouldn’t have the time or be able to deal with the headaches. I get overall probably less than 1% return rate on my PSA 10 sales for being “weak”.

Remember that PSA 8/9/10 don’t serve as an absolute. All grades serve a general range and there absolutely is some overlap at each border. I myself try to collect the strongest 9’s I can find and I am certain that if I sent 100 of my 9’s in for review that several if not dozens could come back 10’s.


I think this is a valid point to remember. It’s definitely better with PSA around and the large majority of 10s are probably deserving of their grade. Unfortunately for them, getting it wrong once is definitely more newsworthy than getting it right 100 times.

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