How Ace Grading Measures Centering & How It Affected This Charizard VStar

by | Apr 11, 2022 | Ace Explanations

The team at Ace Grading recently received a newly released Charizard VStar card and upon first glance, it would appear that the centering of this card would be detrimental to the overall grade. However, in this case, the card still graded a Gem Mint 10. In this article, we want to explain and demonstrate how that’s possible and why it’s the correct grade. 

Centering at Ace is a score out of 10, based on the distance between the card edge and the card border on opposite edges in any of the four opposite edge pairings.

A centering score of 10, or “Gem Mint” (which is the highest grade) will be where that percentage doesn’t meet or exceed a 60% to 40% ratio. If that ratio is exceeded, then the centering score would be bumped down to a Mint 9 or potentially further. In the case of this Charizard VStar card pictured, the margins are fine. With a maximum centering percentage of 59.63%, this Charizard VStar was incredibly close to dropping a grade in centering, but still managed to receive the Gem Mint 10 grade.

This Charizard VStar has quite heavy centering from top to bottom and right to left... Let's see how Ace calculates our centering score!

How Does Ace Center?

To understand how the Charizard VStar’s maximum centering percentage is calculated at 59.63%, we want to further explain the measurement process at Ace Grading. 

Ace Grading likes to use technology to make our measurements as accurate as possible, as well as using more traditional methods of making sure our data is correct.


The first step for any centerer is to make determinations:
Is the card rotated? Is the card Miscut? 


Measure all eight edges, making sure that if the card is rotated to measure from the area of most difference.

Data Entry

Input the measurements taken onto our sophisticated internal systems.


Our internal systems calculate the exact percentages of all opposite edges and generate a centering score.

Objectivity is important with centering and one way we ensure this is by using digital measuring via microscopy to determine the measurements to within 1/1000th of a millimetre. 

This is done on each border of the card. On cards where only three borders are visible, for example an EX Ruby and Sapphire card, we calculate the average border size with the known pair (left and right) and then we have a calculation tool that allows us to figure out what the size of the border should be. We then use this to give us our percentage scores.

Once we have the exact measurements of each border, our internal systems calculate the exact percentages of all opposite edges and will generate a centering score as an overall percentage. In this case, 59.63%. 

However, Ace Grading uses a centering scale of 1-10 so the centering percentage needs to then be translated to reflect that. Each grade has a rule that states a range in percentage. For example, the rule for Gem Mint 10 centering is that the card must have an overal centering percentage that is less than a 60%/40% split. 


Grade Has to be better than (Front) Has to be better than (Back)
10 60/40 60/40
9 65/35 70/30
8 70/30 75/25
7 75/25 80/20
6 80/20 80/20
3 85/15 85/15
1 100/0 100/0

Ace Centerer Checks


CHECK! Is the card rotated?


CHECK! Is the card miscut?


CHECK! Have you double checked your data entry?

How Important is Centering?

The importance of centering is vital when considering the overall grade of a card. The card may be flawless in every other aspect or subgrade, but if the image of a card isn’t aligned within that 60%/40% range it can’t score a Gem Mint 10 and will be subsequently knocked down. 

A card that is perfectly centered will be graded higher than a card that is off-center. The reason for this is that an off-center card is less visually appealing, and lacking symmetry. When Ace Grading evaluates a card, they take into account the centering of the design on the front and back of the card.

The reality is that the centering of a card is incredibly complex and each card measures different (to the 1/1000th millimetre!). By having exact measurements calculated into an overall centering score, Ace Grading can then assign a centering grade between 1-10. This keeps our centering precisely accurate and incredibly consistent. 

Even though it may sometimes seem that, to the eye, a card is off-center, but as long as it is within the parameters for a Gem Mint 10, and nothing else is wrong with the card, it will receive that grade.You can be rest assured that at Ace Grading the centering of your card has been measured and calculated correctly. 

If you are unsure about the centering of your card, you can purchase a Grading Report from Ace Grading. This report will show the individual grade the centering of your card received. Centering is just one aspect of grading, but it is an important one. Be sure to take it into consideration when submitting your cards for grading.


On immediate eye-appeal, this card is full of bright colours, has a glittery finish, and has a prominent silver border!

However, the centering looks heavy right to left AND top to bottom, so is this going to stop the card from getting a Gem Mint 10? Let’s do some measurements and see what the math tells us!


Maximum Percentage: 59.63%


And the Pokémon card back that we all know and love (even though it opens the wrong way).

This time we have the blue border to measure. Doing measurements from the left, right, top and bottom we can see that none of the borders of this card exceed 60%, meaning we are still in the Gem Mint 10 criteria for centering!


No edge hits or exceeds 60%, Grade 10!

Many collectors place a high premium on cards that are well-centered. However, there are some cases where a card may be slightly off-center but still be considered acceptable by industry grading standards. In cases where the card is severely off-center in comparison to the overall grade of the card, however, it may be given an “off-center” qualifier. Similarly, if a card is miscut or shows the print alignment dots, it may be given a “Miscut” qualifier. While these qualifiers can affect the value of the card, many collectors are willing to overlook these slight imperfections in order to add unique cards to their collections.


At Ace we decided that centering was something we could have objective measurements for, and implemented a system meaning our centering scores are reliable, accurate and most importantly, repeatable. We wanted to set Ace’s Grading Scale apart in many different ways, and having an absolute definition on how we measure centering is one part of that.

Near enough every person who knows about trading card grading has an opinion on centering, and Ace encourages people to take a keen interest in their cards.  If you’re wondering on the best way to evaluate the quality of your prized cards, there’s no better way than submitting using the button below!

Thomas Broomhall

Position: Head of Grading | Favourite Pokémon: Pidgeot | MetalEtamon Follower

Heya! Often going as “BaseSetTom”, I originally designed the grading scale at Ace, and upon early revisions with the Grading Team, and the leadership team, we came to make what we feel is the perfect way to grade cards! I will be giving more insights on Ace here in the blog, so keep your eyes peeled.