Will the PSA bubble burst for Pokemon?

I have been thinking quite a bit lately about how the rise in popularity for PSA grading of Pokemon cards has changed the hobby in some ways.

I couldn’t say whether the PSA craze is at it’s peak right now, but I am sure others have noticed how insanely hard it is to get raw gem mint copies of cards now and my meager experience of 2 years PSA grading tells me it has a lot to do with how popular PSA grading has become, and how many people are on the bandwagon, so-to-speak.

When I am selling ungraded cards on eBay these days, I even get messages from people asking ‘How well do you think this would do at PSA?’ or something along those lines. (I’d really like to know if others have been getting these sorts of messages, by the way)
Getting those sorts of messages tells me that there are quite a few newbies with very little knowledge trying to get into it, and that will only increase.

The crux of all this, will the bubble burst on PSA grading on Pokemon? Will too many people start doing it where it becomes a detriment to the hobby(some people would say it already has). Will there eventually be a crash of sorts?

I’d really like some perspective and comment from people who have been collecting for longer than I have, and people who have been using or been involved with PSA a lot longer than myself.

I have noticed this similar trend take off in the last 6 months. I’ve noticed the rise in the number of Youtubers doing it and also doing group submissions making it easier for others to join. I started over a year ago and before that I had been collecting mint cards. This is a concern of mine as well since I noticed a rise auctions of PSA gold stars too. Many people are selling off their psa 9 copies. There are also people buying an reslling PSA cards that have begun affecting the market as well.

The bubble doesn’t seem to burst for PSA 10s. In fact prices are rising because of how rare they are and everyone else now selling their PSA 9s to try to make PSA 10 sets. I feel like the PSA 9s and below will burst sometime because of how many will start to flood the market. I don’t have more experience doing this than you but I am seeing a trend of what people are doing right now.

It all depends on the card. Some cards have no business being in PSA cases (with any price increase over ungraded) at all. Those will not fair so great!

But many will flourish. 1st edition base set holos just keep going up and up, and that simply isn’t going to stop, for example. And something like the Masaki cards will continue to command huge graded prices because they’re so difficult to find ungraded in decent condition. The pop remains disproportionately low at the top, and people want a guarantee of those cards in great condition!

I think one trend we’ll continue to see is a general increase in the ungraded price of mint cards because many are seeking them out to grade them.

Prices on PSA cards will continue to find their niche in time, but everything depends on the individual card and how difficult it is to find, how tough it is to find mint, the demand (and specifically for high quality copies) etc. So much to consider!

One thing is for sure though, there are definitely so many more people grading cards nowadays…and also bringing Japanese cards across from Japan which is flooding the market over here and affecting prices on that subset of cards.

Eta: of course everyone grades for different reasons. It’s great to grade for protection and quality purposes in your collection if you like that sort of thing, but you can expect every card to have a new price tag 4x what it was before. It’s the bandwagon graders trying to grade anything and everything to score a profit who may have some trouble getting the payout they expected. All depends on the card!

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Like @cbd1235 said, it depends on the card. Cards that are starting to dry up will benefit more from the PSA experience. This goes two-fold: raw copies will be more difficult to find, more sought after, and likely more expensive. Collectors might seek raw copies simply because they prefer them over PSA graded, or they might seek to grade them in attempt to turn a profit. As these raw copies dry up, you might expect PSA to become a standard. Conversely, collectors might not be willing to invest that kind of money into slabbed cards and that could be detrimental to the hobby.

It is also worth noting that some cards do better with the PSA guarantee. Everyone has seen the abundance of inexpensive cards with a PSA label on them. Many of these cards are difficult to sell as a raw copy. Put them up for auction and you could walk away from that sale having lost a fair amount of money. With PSA, the auctions end, on average, at a significantly higher sale price. Examples include e-Series Holos and English EX cards. Since we are on the topic of Pokemon (go figure), I feel that I should point out non-sports cards are often times inaccurately described on eBay. One might argue PSA benefits the hobby by taking out the guess work and, of course, increasing the value of our collectibles.

This hasn’t been happening just the last 6 months. It has been steadily increasing for the last 15 years. WOTC cards are always safe in high PSA condition as will many pre 1999 Media Factory cards. The bubble burst will happen with post 2002 cards especially gold stars so don’t fall into that trap unless you can afford to take a big hit. At the very least, don’t buy graded gold stars. Buy ungraded and put them away for 5 or so years then you’ll see where they’re at, graded value wise.
Always remember…PSA WILL STILL BE HERE when an accurate track record emerges and more truth comes out.

This is a good topic! It involves a lot of aspects that extend beyond pokemon. I think what Jason said is the answer, “certain cards”. Gary also mentioned the Gold stars, which I think can go either way. The only thing that might save them are the amount printed, which no one knows the exact amount.

This discussion has been around since pokemon cards were first graded. There have always been different types of people grading cards. Ranging from strictly collectors, to the fleabayers (fast cash guys). The youtube collectors really started to pick up a few years ago. I am not big into youtube, but if it helps people get into the hobby I am all for it.

The best way to make an assessment of possible saturation is calculating how many people are actually collecting. What brought the hobby to this point today are the amount of actual collectors. It is difficult to imagine, but back in the day people just collected, and didn’t buy and sell. The more people you have collecting, the more consistent the market. The more people you have constantly buying and selling, the more saturated the market becomes because everything is constantly circulating.

If you look at any bubble burst, it is the temporary or false foundation that is the cause. With pokemon, and any hobby, a temporary boom is usually temporary because of the temporary components; the people in it for quick cash. If you see a ton of people only grading and selling, that is a warning sign.

This happens in sports cards as well. The patch/memorabilia cards which are the most valuable modern cards in the past 10 years have a similar dark cloud always looming. There are youtubers doing box breaks who can’t pronounce majority of the athletes names. This is not to say businesses should not exist, we need sellers, ones who know what they are doing. Not people out of their depth who do not have the proper funds, experience, knowledge or patience.

Basically, if you look at the housing crash here in the US, it was the result of people buying something they ultimately could not afford. This is similar with any temporary boom. People thinking they are going to make it big, but then realizing, oh crap, they were dreaming, and just like everything in life, it takes years of constant work and planning to make a successful business, a successful anything.

Ultimately, I think PSA is still getting its footing in Pokemon. As the amount of collectors grow, the less actual raw mint-gem copies exist on the market. I am not engaged in the youtube community, but if people are who visit here, take a look at how many people have an actual collection. Oh and if you are worried about your items saturating, as Gary already touched on: the older, the rarer, the minter, the better!


Great goodness look what I received today:


I just got back into the hobby 2 months ago or so and while I can’t really tell if a bubble will burst, I can vouch for people actually asking “what grade do you think this card would get?” I started doing Pokemon card trades and occasional sales on my youtube channel as a way to network for more trading. This is where I have received multiple messages asking about grading. Even had a few people ask me “well what do you think the centering would be on the card?” REALLY? The centering?! I am not a PSA employee! Lol…

It kind of bugs me to be honest, and its why I will not start a graded collection (at least not now). Another thing I can touch on is that it does seem like Sometimes Pokemon card lots/individuals sell for more when the cards are advertised as NM or better and “sleeved right away” than graded cards 7 or below because there is hope from the buyers that they could be PSA 10 gradable. In fact I believe a whole 1st edition edition base set advertised as NM or better would sell higher than a complete PSA Grade 7 (Near Mint) 1st edition Base Set. Obviously that’s just speculation on my part though (not saying it’d be much more $ either).

So I do not know if a bubble will burst, but I do think there are a lot of people out there looking to make quick cash off of graded cards instead of just collecting them. I think more people want the 10’s to sell and not collect. It also seems like everyone is just trying to get a good deal so bad it ruins the fun in trading, but that could just be my personal experience in the past few months hahaha

Here’s an example of someone trying to rip someone off for a Machamp. I’m sure this has been happening for years now though. Pretty sad though lol

As the hobby becomes more mature, demand for PSA-graded cards will most likely increase instead of tapering off particularly for high-end cards with grades of 9 or 10 because of the limited number of cards issued. Most collectors would also desire the best examples for their collection which explains the bias towards mint cards.

More and more card are being graded today because of the assumption that they can be easily sold for a profit which is totally wrong. For some, their only business model is to buy cards from YJ, get the cards graded by PSA, then sell the cards on eBay for a profit. The aspect of building a collection is gone. The effect is that it saturates the market and erodes the price of cards.

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The one thing I can say that I like about graded cards is the quality assurance when buying over the interwebs. I’m a ‘raw’ collector so this is especially valuable. I’m always happy to pick up rare cards for cheaper when their grade is below 10 :stuck_out_tongue:

Specifically the gold stars. There is a huge amount of PSA 9s online right now because people feel like oh well I got this graded and I can sell it for profit. While I am myself is guilty of this I do so to complete my collection.

for the resellers. I simply refuse to sell to them. Others should do the same to help put the cards into the hands of collectors and not resellers. rhea0098 tcg collector and others. I’m happy to take a loss to sell to a collector.

It’s also at this time I happy I have a pretty decent sealed booster box collection.

The emphasis on re-selling is at least having a basic understanding of business. Opportunity is finite. If everyone thinks they can get the same piece of the pie, they won’t.

When hobbies become popular, there are always the opportunists that appear. They usually do not realize that the great prices they see exist because less people are selling. The perspective with modern sports cards/memorabilia is that no one collects anymore, everyone sells. Guess which market is better, vintage or modern?

Vintage cards are almost all graded. Prices are more consistent because of this. Which is also why every third party company puts its main focus on vintage cards. They are more quantifiable. This is similar to pokemon, even though the timeline is much smaller. The older cards are more consistent, more desirable.

With pokemon, I think PSA is still on the incline. Since about 2011 grading in pokemon has exponentially grown. What will redeem it over the years is the fact that it is a pain to find older raw mint cards. Even some of the cards that are now 10 years old are becoming annoyingly difficult to find in actual Gem Mint condition.


Well said Scott…

Well that is an odd statement.
90% of our fellow UPCCCers are resellers to help pay bills or build up collections. Thanks to most of them, great cards end up in collectors hands,

Really appreciate the wisdom from the more experienced collectors here guys, thanks a lot.

I don’t have a problem with that. Not just because they are are members here. The people here are collecotrs. I’ve noticed that those buy cards already at a high price and keep trying to raise it up even more. I’ve bought and resold a small amount of psa cards only because they were wayy under priced. The buying I mentioned is already at the top of market price and they list 25 to 50% higher. If the card was priced low then okay but where it was originally to what they are charging bothers me.

I’d rather have seen it go to a collector. I don’t know if you see the distinction I am mentioning.

@hisoka107 - Why would it matter if the price is 25-50% below market price and at market price?
A reseller is a reseller no matter how you slice it. If they want to invest their money to make more, that’s their business.

It is their business to do what they want. I just don’t see it as a reseller is a reseller. Smpratte put it better when he said there were the opportunists looking g for fast cash/turnaround. Based on the cards they buy and sell I can tell which type they are. You don’t have to agree with me but that’s how I feel about it.

There’s nothing I can about those people except not to sell to them. The price isnt below market value. They were buyig psa 10 gold stars at market price and then resell for 25 to 50% higher than what they paid. They are forcing the prices to go up. I apologize for lumping lumping all resellers into a single group.

No worries. Just that’s good for the rest of us if they increase prices, I don’t see it as a negative?

@hisoka107 If I get you correctly, your issue is with pure resellers, rather than the act of reselling itself. You understand that collectors often do some reselling, but you want to keep your cards in their hands because they will respect the cards and be reasonable with them. They know what they have. On the other hand, people who only want to resell are being reckless with valuable cards and are affecting the market in ways you don’t like, so the best way for you to combat that is only sell to people that you trust to be reasonable with the cards and use them in a way that benefits the community. Right?