How Sports card and CCG premiums randomized per-pack insertion

Dec 11, 2023 | Blog


Pineberry is a leader in Card Collating and Card Counting Machine Manufacturing, with some questions we often get asked we decided to try and shed some light on the process. While not applicable in every situation, this should give you some idea on how most machines are designed and setup.


“Hello! I’m a random consumer who’s recently gotten into collecting sports cards. But I also enjoy knowing how things work, and I haven’t been able to figure out the following: what determines how/when rarer cards are inserted into packs during manufacturing? I found a Pineberry video on YouTube highlighting your Pick and Place collation system for trading cards, so I figured I’d reach out and ask!

Ex- a given release of cards might have 100+ categories of parallel/inserted cards, each with their own set of odds. 1:40 packs for a numbered-to-1000 gold card, 1:40,000 packs for a “1-of-1” card, etc. Let’s say there are 300 different base/normal cards in the set. During manufacturing, if each pack is supposed to contain 11 normal cards and 1 “extra” card, a company could just add 1-of-1 cards to the first 300 packs, gold cards to the next 300,000 packs, etc., but that doesn’t seem random or fair. So I’m imagining a system that determines when to add a certain type of card based on random number generation vs. the intended odds for that card’s type… but then that seems like it’d need 100+ different feeders, and I don’t know if that’s realistic on a production line.

Given all that, is someone at Pineberry able to share even a high-level version of how this type of randomized per-pack insertion would typically work? This has become really fascinating to me, so I’d love any insight you’d be able to provide!

Thank you all in advance.”


Thank you for the question!

The process of randomizing sports card premiums per-pack insertion can vary depending on the manufacturer and the specific product such as Sports Cards, Non-Sports cards or Collectible Card Game Cards. The general idea is to ensure fairness and unpredictability in the distribution of premium cards within packs.

Here are some common methods used:

  1. Collation and Sorting:
    • Cards are printed in large sheets, and these sheets are then cut into individual cards.
    • The cards are sorted and collated to create sets or packs.
    • During this process, premium cards (such as autographs, relics, or special inserts) are inserted randomly into the collated sets or packs.
  2. Random Packing:
    • Premium cards are randomly inserted into packs during the packing process.
    • This randomness is achieved through automated machinery that places the premium cards into the packs without any specific pattern.
  3. Sequential Numbering:
    • Each card, including premium cards, is assigned a unique sequential number during the printing process.
    • Packs are then assembled with a mix of sequentially numbered cards, and premium cards are distributed throughout the range of numbers.
  4. Randomization Technology:
    • Some manufacturers use advanced computer algorithms and technology to ensure true randomness in the insertion of premium cards.
    • This may involve using random number generators to determine which packs receive premium cards.
  5. Pack Search Prevention:
    • Manufacturers take measures to prevent pack searching, where individuals try to determine the contents of a pack by feeling or inspecting it.
    • Randomization methods are designed to make it difficult for collectors to predict which packs contain premium cards.

It’s important to note that the specific details of the randomization process are typically proprietary information held by the card manufacturers. They may not disclose the exact methods to prevent exploitation or manipulation of the system. Collectors often appreciate the element of surprise and the challenge of completing sets, which is why randomization is a key aspect of the sports card production process.

Wayne Thompson – Pineberry Marketing