What started as an after-wine impulse purchase for one New York man turned into a shocking discovery at the kitchen table after he pulled one of the most sought-after Magic: The Gathering cards from an unopened Beta booster pack.
Reddit user veritesq posted on March 11th a photo of his booster pack to the MagicTCG subreddit. The faded packaging was worn but intact, bearing the sentence “Visit the Shores of Imagination” across the top. These packs normally go for several thousand dollars online, due to the potentially priceless cardboard packaged inside.
The post was titled: “Just bought this pack of Beta. Have since learned I supposedly can see through the packaging to learn what is inside without opening. I have not been able to see anything. I've been using various light sources to try to look through the top white portion of the back of the pack with no luck.”
The light trick he mentions is an time-honoured tradition of using light in a very specific way - along with a delicate tool - to search through the contents of a booster pack without ever breaking the plastic seal. These speculators look for specific cards from the Alpha and Beta releases that can fetch auction prices of $10,000 (£7,200) and up, even if their condition is less than ideal. Managing to pull a mint gem-condition Alpha Black Lotus - autographed or not - is akin to winning the lottery.
According to user Dogs4Idealism, who commented on the original post, individuals who search old Beta booster packs use a portion of the white plastic that is particularly thin as their window to its contents. The horizontal wear lines around “Imagination” seemed to them tell-tale signs that this pack had already been investigated and deemed unworthy.
As another poster summed it up, “Man that pack has been searched to death.”
Undeterred, Michael (the original poster spoke in detail about his ordeal with PC Gamer recently) set the booster pack aside to consider his options. Regardless of the contents, his dubious purchase would remain fairly valuable to collectors, or at least a sentimental reminder of a hobby he’s enjoyed since the 1990s. That resolve lasted until the next morning, where Michael found himself hunched over the breakfast table in his underwear once again trying to divine the booster’s fate.
“I took one last ditch effort to search and accidentally broke the seal at the back of the pack at the seam, which left me no choice but to open it," he told PC Gamer.
Lo and behold, Michael’s seemingly “searched to death” pack contained a Black Lotus, a find that left his brain at “full-on loading screen” while he frantically considered whether or not this was all fake. After yelling to his partner not to touch the table while he searched for a card case, Michael updated the Magic: The Gathering subreddit with the good news.
“Amazing things do happen!” the second post title reads. “Accidentally cracked it while trying to search again. I'm shaking and my gf thinks I'm crazy.”
Some users cast doubt on his story, saying the posts could have been fabricated in a way to gain sympathy for an upcoming auction. The sale of rare and valuable trading cards has skyrocketed in the past year, leading to a bubble of value and presumably desperate measures from sellers hoping to make money before the burst. PC Gamer reports that it verified Michael’s identity, along with other details of his story.
Michael’s current plan is to safely store the Black Lotus in a bank vault until he can get it professionally graded. From there? Well, that much money can buy a heck of a lot of booster boxes.