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How To Use The Topps Chrome Buy Back Program To Beat Vegas Odds

The Topps Chrome Buy Back program is set to return to 2023 Topps Chrome, allowing collectors a chance to sell their Topps Chrome MVP cards back to Topps in exchange for site credit. We recently broke down the program right here, which you should read as a precursor to this article. 

In this post, we’ll specifically be discussing how to make money with the buyback program and how we can use it to hopefully get better odds than Vegas is offering.

An introduction to the MVP Buyback Program:

As a reminder, the MVP Buy Back program debuted as a result of a pretty messy Topps Chrome launch last year. It was the high point of the program, and the popularity caused Topps to carry it into 2023.

So what is it? In short, it’s a promise from Topps to Buy Back the cards from the MVPs of the 2023 season in exchange for site credit. And the site credit, mostly, was significantly more than the cards would sell for on the open market. 

But this year is a little different…

What makes the 2023 Topps Chrome buyback different?

In 2022, the Buy Back program was announced the same day as the MVPs. So if collectors had Topps Chrome Aaron Judge or Paul Goldschmidt cards from throughout the season, they could be redeemed.

But this year, we know well in advance. It’s not about “if we have them,” it’s more… “can we get them.” And there’s some strategy that comes baked into this. As I mentioned above, Topps is redeeming these cards for significantly more than the cards should be expected to fetch on the open market.

Because of that, there will be some inflation in the final selling price for Topps Chrome cards of MVP contenders, but we won’t know the actual prices until Topps Chrome releases in late July.

Still, there’s some strategy we need to look at and consider so we have a game plan in place for release week. 

The Playbook: A strategic overview

In a nutshell, the way to make money on this program is simple: buy cards of players who you think will win MVP, pay less than the Topps Chrome Buy Back payout, and then exchange the cards when they win MVP.

But it’s more complicated than that, and there are some pros and cons to consider.

Cons:

  • You’re assuming risk. Obviously, if the person you’re buying does not win the MVP, your cards will be worth less than you paid for them.
  • It’s a long season and hard to predict. While Shohei seems like an odds-on favorite to win AL MVP, cold streaks, injuries or other unforeseen circumstances can still change the tides.
  • Other people will be doing the same. It only makes sense, so you won’t be alone. And the higher demand will drive up all MVP-contender prices. 
  • You’re paid out in Topps site credit. A Vegas bet pays in cash. 

Pros:

  • You’ll probably be able to get better odds than Vegas. I’ll explain the logic in a bit.
  • Even if your player doesn’t win MVP, you still have cards. If you lose a Vegas bet, you’re left with exactly… nothing. 
  • You can take calculated risks against the betting market. Since there’s already a standard, you have something to work off.

How much is Topps paying for these buybacks?

Topps payouts once again seem generous.

  • Base cards redeem for $20
  • Refractors redeem for $40
  • Numbered > 100 redeem for $100
  • Numbered < 100 redeem for $200

How much is Topps Paying for these Buy Backs?

Time to answer the big question: how do I profit from this?

To start, check out this YouTube short I made to explain the process.

YouTube video

Now, let’s break it down.

If you can acquire base cards for less than the Vegas odds for a player dictates you should be able to buy them, then you’ll be able to make better return on Topps than Vegas.

But how do you know?

Here’s what I did. On the day of writing, Shohei had -650 odds to win AL MVP – odds that seem growing every single day.

And at -650 odds, that implies a probability of 86% and means a $100 bet would be worth $115.38 total if it hits. The profit is $15.38. And if you’re not a better, that’s okay! Here’s a calculator that will help.

So what happens if you put that $100 into Shohei cards, instead? 

Since we don’t know what the cards are actually selling for yet, we have to reverse-calculate this, but the magic number is $17. If you buy Shoehei base cards at $17 or less, you’ll take on the same odds as Vegas.
For example, it would cost $102 to buy 5 base cards at $17/each, and if he wins MVP, those cards could be redeemed for $120 ($20 each). That’s $18 profit on $100, so essentially the same odds.

But the catch is that base cards are probably not going to sell for that much. This is a 2022 base that just sold for $2.10, including shipping, and here’s a refractor that sold for $3.10. While the buyback program should inflate the card prices, it probably won’t take a $2 card all the way to $17 or a $3 card up to the $40 buyback price. 

So, as a thought experiment, let’s pretend the Shohei base cards sell for $8 and refractors sell for $14.

With $200, you could buy 10 base ($80) and 8 refractors ($114). If he won MVP, that would be worth $520, or $320 profit from Topps.

The same $200 would be worth $260 with the Vegas odds, or $60 profit from Vegas.

See how this adds up? And while that was just a thought experiment, my guess is that Shohei base cards sell closer to the prices in my experiment than the $17 mark. We’ll just have to see.

And no, you don’t have to do this with Shohei. Buy your other favorite AL MVP contender – or take a shot with the NL MVP.  I just picked Shohei because he’s such an odds-on favorite that it’s hard to imagine him not winning, and I also don’t imagine collectors baking in a major premium to his base cards just because of this program —  you might even get them undervalued by buying PYT breaks. We’ll just have to see. 

Bottom line: Play your cards right (literally) for some nice returns.

The return of the Topps Chrome Buy Back Program should excite collectors and bring great opportunity to get some undervalued credit from Topps Chrome if we can identify and appropriately invest in the right future MVP.

Who are your MVP picks? Will you be investing in them to Buy Back? Let us know on Twitter @card_lines and sign up for our free newsletter right here. 

Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes

Jesse Haynes is the co-founder of Solaro Shades, an Amazon #1 Bestselling novelist, and a lifelong sports card collector. His nonfiction work has been featured in Forbes, Inc., MarketWatch and more. At CardLines, Jesse’s specialties are basketball and football cards, not to mention making informative video and Instagram content.

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