Cord Garcia Hopes Latest Cards Venture Is Another Colossal Success

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Alongside some heavy hitter partners, 2015 WSOP Colossus champ Cord Garcia has jumped into the booming sports card business with a Hollywood-based shop.

Every day for the past three weeks, Cord Garcia, winner of the Colossus event at the 2015 World Series of Poker, has rolled out of bed, gotten himself ready for the day, and then put in a full day and night of nothing but cards.

He’s been hustling, grinding, gambling even, but what he wasn’t doing was playing poker.

Garcia is working alongside Steve Aoki, DJ Skee, and Dan Fleyshman in a new sports card shop in Hollywood, CA and getting the doors open has consumed him for the past few months. All of that effort turned into a reality on October 1 when those doors opened for business and Cards and Coffee became the latest shop to enter the booming sports card industry.

The journey to the store opening began back in August 2019, when entrepreneur and social media star Gary Vaynerchuk reached out to Fleyshman to invite him to go to the National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago. The NSCC is an annual event built mainly around the sports card industry. Vaynerchuk just wanted his friend Fleyshman, who first cut his teeth in the sports card industry when he was a teenager, to come out to Chicago for one day and check things out.

“He was only supposed to come out for a few hours and he ended up staying the whole time,” Garcia said. “He completely fell back in love with (sports cards) and Gary Vee had him convinced at the end that this was more than just a fad.”

Over the next few months, Fleyshman closely followed the sports card industry and began to accumulate a collection focused on some of the National Basketball Association’s top and up-and-coming players.

Like a lot of pre-teens who loved basketball, Garcia dreamt of playing in the NBA. He knew that working his way through high school and college ball to earn one of the 500 roster spots available in the NBA each year was already a long shot and at 12 years old realized that there was an issue he couldn’t fix, no matter how much he loved the game.

“I wasn’t going to be six foot (tall) and there was only one person in the league that wasn’t six foot,” Garcia said. “I pretty much knew my NBA dreams were shot and that was luckily right when I found poker.”

Yeah, Garcia started playing poker before he was a teenager. By the time he was 15 years old, almost all of his energy was devoted to poker. That investment has paid off with more than $2.8 million in lifetime tournament earnings, with the biggest score – $638,880 – coming from his win in the then-record-setting Colossus tournament in 2015.

Through all of that, Garcia remained in love with basketball. After spending a day earlier this year driving around L.A. area card shops with Fleyshman buying up as many Kobe Bryant cards as possible, Garcia thought maybe there was an opportunity for the two to get into business together and put a bunch of their passions to work at once.

“I was like, ‘Why don’t we open up a card shop and just crush?’ And you could just see the money signs in his eyes. He’s like ‘yeah, yeah’ and just gets all giddy,” Garcia said. He kept pushing, hoping to get Fleyshman to partner with him. “He said ‘It’s a great concept, but typically I like these things to happen organically’.”

Ten minutes later, Fleyshman looked down at his phone to a text message from Vaynerchuk.

“You should open a card shop in LA. Call it Cards and Coffee”.

The opening of the store was the culmination of a friendship that really didn’t start until 2017. Garcia has been aware of Fleyshman since 2010 when the entrepreneur launched online poker site Victory Poker. Garcia appeared on Fleyshman’s radar in earnest in 2015 when Garcia beat out 22,373 other entries in the Colossus to win his first – and only – WSOP bracelet. About two years later, Garcia reached out to Fleyshman.

“Like most of the people in the poker industry, in my class or my tank, we’re all lost in the sauce. We’re playing tournament to tournament, trying to get back make-up, trying to pay this bag, trying to pay that bag, trying to get ahead,” Garcia said.

Things hadn’t been going well for Garcia and he was looking for somebody to put him in the WSOP Main Event. There was some interest from people who had bought pieces of him before, but Garcia was disappointed to find the best offers he was getting saw him earning only 30% of any returns.

“So I reached out to Dan and I was like, ‘Yo man, I’m sure you get asked this all the time, but I can win’,” said Garcia, who has never been short of self-confidence. The now 30-year-old didn’t just want a one-and-done staking deal though. He felt Fleyshman could offer something that no other backer he had spoken to could: a path towards being financially steady.

“I told him, ‘Look man, I know how to win, (but) I have no exit strategy. Do you have any interest in doing business with me? I see what you do business-wise, I’m into a lot of it, but I don’t have the resume or credentials to get in those doors’.”

Serendipitously, at that moment Fleyshman was in Vegas to play the Main Event. The pair met the next morning for breakfast and that’s where things got real. Fleyshman agreed to put Garcia in the Main Event and invited him to move out to Los Angeles with the promise of getting him into some local games but also with the understanding that Garcia would learn as much about entrepreneurship as he could.

Garcia put all of his worldly belongings into two suitcases and headed out to L.A. He found a friend with a room for rent for $800 per month.

“I gave him $1,600 and I would Uber in everyday to Dan’s Elevator Studio, one of his companies, I would just sit in. He basically ran a little mini Shark Tank. People would come in and they would ask him to scale their business or pitch him and I just got to be a fly on the wall,” Garcia said.

At first, Garcia sat there and didn’t say a word. The more meetings he sat in on, the more comfortable he became in that environment. Soon, he was asking questions and working to understand as much as he could about how business worked all with an eye towards creating a path outside of poker.

That path eventually begins with Garcia’s management role with Cards and Coffee. The store sits in the heart of Hollywood and acts as a storefront of sorts for DJ Skee’s Dash Radio, an online radio broadcast company. As celebrities, rappers, musicians, and athletes come to Dash for an interview or to promote their latest projects, they have to make their way through Cards and Coffee to get to the elevator.

Throughout the month of September, Garcia had his head down getting the store ready for customers. The inventory includes a huge selection of rookie cards and chase cards of some of the biggest current stars in the NBA, NFL, and MLB alongside a vast collection of old school stars like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mickey Mantle, and Michael Jordan. As the official opening date neared, Garcia suffered through the anxiety comes with being anywhere near a new business.

“I told Dan three weeks (before opening), ‘Man, we need another month’ and he was like “No, we’re opening on the first’,” Garcia said. “We opened on the first and I was really worried. We were in there the night before until 4 am, getting shit ready and we were opening in six hour hours and still needed to sleep. I was super stressed.”

‘We opened, and then I realized, yeah, we were behind but it was going to be that way even if we opened up in a month,” Garcia said.

Opening a retail business in the middle of a pandemic sounds like a recipe for disaster. Thankfully for Garcia, the foot traffic the first few days eased any concerns he had. A strong social media build-up coupled with their location meant there was a line out the door on opening day.

Having customers coming in the door is only one part of the plan. Built off of Fleyshman’s extensive experience in social media, The Coffee Breakers is the online extension of the business. Rather than just offering collectors your standard click and buy option, collectors can gamble on buying a piece of a high-end box of cards or an individual pack of cards and have that pack opened on a livestream. It ties in the sports collecting side with the gambling side. Garcia hopes to use some of his online poker experience to help innovate the concept and make The Coffee Breakers the top destination online for breaking.

“I think that the store being here in five years would be a good start obviously. I would like to be the number one breaking place in the industry for sure. After that, I just want to grow with the market,” Garcia said.

Ensuring that type of growth means that Garcia’s days of going from tournament stop to tournament stop are over. This isn’t any sort of retirement, however. He just plans on picking his spots and making sure that he’s able to balance the needs of his new role as a businessman with his love of poker.

“I don’t know exactly, maybe it’s once a month I go to the best tournament in America, or in the world maybe. Scale down the volume for sure is the short answer, but I’ll always play poker,” Garcia said. “I’m going to come to Vegas every summer, I want to play the Main Event every year. I still have some goals in poker, but I’m with poker being my primary source of income, now secondary or third even. Hopefully I’m doing well enough to where it bumps out at the top five eventually.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. “Got ’em, Got ’em, NEED ‘EM!, … Got ’em, Got ’em…. ”
    You got doubles? Trade you Dave Keon & Darryl Sittler for Marcel Dionne (Marcel Dionne was REALLY hard to get!).
    this ^ was my experience… shoe boxes FILLED with them… Jacques Plante, Terry Sawchuck, Guy Lafleur, Norm Ullman, Bobby Orr, Wayne Cashman, Bobby Hull, Phil Esposito, Henri Richard, Frank Mahovlich, Yvan Cournoyer, Jean Beliveau, Ken Dryden, & the list went on & on