Monday, April 18, 2011

Pulling a Wayne Gretzky rookie from a pack

A little while back I put out a request for math and collecting related ideas. Sal from Puck Junk gave me a few good ideas and here is the first one.

Something that has always been a dream of mine is to open a pack of 79-80 OPC and pull a pack fresh Wayne Gretzky rookie card. Having been too young when the cards were available for 20 cents and not having the $13495 for a box or $300+ dollars for a pack, all I can do is dream and look at the math.

Before I get into the math, there are always assumptions one makes with probability.

All packs are sealed, unsearched and you don't look at the back to see what card is there.
Each pack has 14 cards, no more and no less.
That each pack has randomized cards and by buying a box you aren't guaranteed to get a full set and you could get doubles of cards in the same pack.

Getting a Gretzky in a pack
Based on the set size and pack size, you have about a 3.48% chance of getting a Gretzky in a single pack. This includes the fact that you could get doubles of some cards in the pack.

Getting a Gretzky in a box
Based on set size and pack size, you have about an 81.72% chance of getting a Gretzky in a 48 pack box. This includes getting more than one which I am sure anyone spending 13K one a box would hope for a couple. Each box should give you 672 cards which in a perfect world would be a complete set and 276 other cards.

Here is a pretty cool image I found online of a Gretzky still in the pack.

Here is a shot of the front.

Here you can see the back and a bit of the Oilers jersey. I wonder if Wayne has a wax stain?

Another shot of the back.

Just for fun, I did a computer simulation of opening a 79-80 OPC box.

Here are some of my hits:

1 Gretzky Rookie #18
2 Jets Logo #81
2 Oilers Logo #82
1 Ken Dryden #150
3 Gordie Howe #175
1 Bobby Hull #185
2 Mike Bossy #230
1 Nordiques CL #261

Virtual Box Break

329 out of 396 (83%)
343 doubles

In all, my virtual break wasn't as successful as I hoped...good thing I didn't pay 13 grand for it. 1 Gretzky is better than none, but the grade and condition could make or break it. Missing 17% of the set also sucks, but with 343 doubles I am sure I could have traded for the rest.

I enjoyed doing the virtual break and would like to maybe do some others, if you can think of other boxes that need to be "virtually" busted please send along some ideas!


  1. Since I've started collecting Jimmy Howard, I've always wondered the odds of pulling an Auto Rookie Patch from a box, or tin, 05-06 The Cup.

    The only problem with this set is the presence of Crosby and Ovechkin, same with any of Jimmy's rookie year releases. I could never afford to pay what a box of The Cup from that year would go for.

  2. Well Paul, check out this break!

    I will post the math tomorrow on your question.