Jared Bleznick won US Poker Open Event #8, $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha for $189,000 on Friday, but he said afterwards the win “really doesn’t do much for me.” Instead, the recent high roller champion gets more enjoyment out of the sports card industry these days.
PokerGO commentator Jeff Platt interviewed the champ, along with runner-up Maxx Coleman, who earned $126,000 for his third final table appearance of the series. In that interview, Bleznick didn’t hold back on his thoughts about poker and what his true passion is at this point in life.
— Jeff Platt (@jeffplatt) June 12, 2021
Bleznick, who cracked the $1.8 million live tournament earnings mark, hugged Platt before the host asked the PLO winner how he felt about the victory. The New York poker player gave an interesting and unpredictable answer.
“I’ve got to be honest, all this, it just doesn’t do anything for me,” Jared Bleznick said of the US Poker Open win. “Nothing. Sports cards. That’s my life. This was something that I loved growing up in my 20s. Sports cards, it’s just the greatest business in the world. I’ve played enough poker in my life, (Coleman) played phenomenal. But sports cards, I love the business.”
Bleznick beat a field of 63 players in the two-day event, including Ali Imsirovic, who already has five high roller titles in 2021. The young Bosnian poker pro took home $63,000 for fourth place, while Joe McKeehen holds onto his lead in the 2021 US Poker Open standings with three events remaining.
Just Like the Poker Boom
Chris Moneymaker, an amateur poker player, came out of nowhere (Tennessee, technically) to win the 2003 WSOP Main Event. His shocking victory helped spark a massive poker boom, with millions of new players dreaming of becoming the next Moneymaker.
The sports card industry went through a similar spike in popularity last year. But instead of an Average Joe accountant winning loads of money, a pandemic that kept everyone home brought new collectors and investors into the hobby, and brought former collectors back to hobby. Card prices in major sports (baseball, basketball, and football) reached all-time highs in value. Many cards jumped more than 10 times in value almost overnight during the NBA’s 2020 bubble.
Bleznick capitalized on the sports card boom. He runs TheBlez.com, a site that hosts “breaks,” a form of gambling within the sports card industry. “Breakers,” the term used for those who run the breaks, sell spots into a break to collectors and hobbyists hoping to score an expensive card affordably, or to win a card of their favorite players.
The breaker opens packs of cards on a live-stream and then ships the cards to those who purchased a spot in the break. The cards each participant receives is based on the team that player bought into. So, if you buy a Los Angeles Chargers spot, you’ll receive every Chargers card pulled during the break.
Friday’s high roller champion makes money hosting these breaks, and he’s one of poker’s most enthusiastic sports card hobbyists. But he isn’t the only one in our industry that dips into the sports card business. CardsChat ambassador Jeff Gross is also a long-time sports card investor and passionate collector.
Poker commentator Joe Stapleton often takes a gamble on breaks and once pulled a Kobe Bryant autograph card valued at around $25,000. CardsChat News asked Stapes what he plans to do with the card, and he said he’s holding it because he believes it will skyrocket in value one day, potentially as high as $100,000.
Profiting off a Down Market
Although card values spiked to all-time highs in 2020, and the hobby remains popular, the industry is currently on a steep downturn. Most basketball cards have declined significantly in value over the past few months, and the football offseason certainly hasn’t been kind to football cards. Still, most card prices are well above the market value pre-pandemic.
Bleznick’s business, however, isn’t solely dependent upon individual card values. He sells spots in breaks for boxes of cards, not individual cards. Despite the decline in individual sports card prices in recent months, hobbyists continue to pay high prices on boxes, especially for football cards. The collectors love chasing rare cards that are worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Most of the time, however, they pay $50-$200 to enter a break and end up receiving $5 worth of cards. That’s the gamble they take, much like recreational players who travel to Las Vegas hoping to win big at the poker table.