In Moki's opinion...Cigar Pass FAQ Q: & A:1. What are your thoughts on the equality of a trade (one for one)? Do you ever put in more than what the cigar is worth or more than just one cigar? What about a host bag and what is it?
A cigar box pass is first and foremost a social event. It brings people together, it gets people talking about cigars, and hopefully everyone learns a thing or two and has some fun with it.
As such I think one should behave as one would at a social event: in a respectful, and "do unto others..." manner. That means that if you're feeling generous, sure, put a cigar that's worth more than what you took or put more than one cigar.
Be careful doing a "quantity for quality trade" though, that is, taking one rare/expensive cigar and putting in two or more lesser quality or less expensive cigars so that things "even out in the end." This is like claiming 3 fat ugly chicks equals one hot chick. We all know that ain't the case.
Running a box pass is actually a decent bit of work for the host; as such, some people have come up with the concept of a "host bag". They will put cigars into the host bag, and these cigars are intended ONLY for the person who initiated the pass.
My personal opinion is that I don't like this practice; it's like throwing a party and asking everyone to donate above and beyond your time and expenses, and profiting from the party. That's not what the social event that a cigar box pass is about.
So I think people who start a pass with a host bag in it already are being a bit... unseemly. If the participants of the pass decide to take it unto themselves and create a host bag, perhaps because they like the guy running the box pass or wish to express their appreciation, then more power to 'em.
Just don't feel obligated to contribute to a host bag simply because it exists.2. When deciding what cigars to put into a pass, what are some of the factors of the cigar's condition that you check before putting it into a pass?
Ensure the cigar is properly humidified; check that the cigar is not damaged in any way (cracked wrapper, mold, water damage, etc.). If the cigar doesn't have any cellophane on it, put it in a small cigar baggy. You should inspect the cigars the same way you would when purchasing a cigar at a local retail shop. If you wouldn't buy it, don't put it into the pass.3. How do you determine a cigar's value when attempting to trade for the cigar in a pass? How do you determine your own cigar's value? What are your thoughts on MSRP? What are your thoughts on Going Market Value?
It's actually quite a bit of work and research to do MSRP for MSRP, and it only gets worse when you realize that for many cigars, MSRP is just not what people pay for them. My personal view on this is again common sense courtesy.
The totality of your puts/takes should end up being quite fair, in that the overall value of what you're taking is the same as what you're putting, on average (but be careful to not violate the "quantity for quality" issue noted above).
In terms of value, some cigars you may be taking a bit more than you're putting, other cigars you may be putting more than you're taking, but overall, if someone gave you
the cigars you're putting in exchange for the cigars you're taking, you should be a happy camper. If not, then you're doing something wrong.4. How do you factor in rarity, or even determine a cigar's rarity? Can rarity be given a monetary amount?
People ask me this question for valuing cigars all the time, and it is a tough one to answer. Rare cigars are like the housing market: they are worth exactly what someone is willing to pay for them. The best that I generally can do is let people know approximately what a particular cigar tends to sell for (to the best of my knowledge) and proceed from there.
The tough part is that what is rare for some people may not be rare for others. And also rarity in and of itself has no value to some people, and is extremely valuable to others. The cigar smoker who could care less that only 100 of a particular cigar were produced won't be impressed when you put it into their box pass in exchange for a cigar that has a much higher MSRP.
For example, the mythical Flor Fina 858 Rosado.
This cigar original sold for $6 per cigar... but it is a very rare cigar produced 5 years ago (as of this writing) in limited quantities. Few people will ever see it; what's it worth?
That is a question that isn't easily answered, other than by seeing what people are generally paying for these cigars. For the record, Flor Fina 858 Rosados tend to go for about triple MSRP these days, which goes to show you why MSRP for MSRP doesn't take all of the factors into account that probably should be.5. How do you factor in the age of a cigar into a trade? Is this something that should be considered for domestics as well as ISOMs? Can age be given a monetary amount?
I personally make no distinction between Cuban and non-Cuban cigars, but some hosts do. Abide by the rules of the host; if they say only take a Cuban cigar if you put a Cuban cigar, then honor their wishes.
In terms of age, I do think age has value. It's generally accepted that most quality tobacco improves with age; but even if you disagree with this, the act of holding onto a cigar and caring for it in pristine conditions for years and years does have some intrinsic value, I believe.
A general rule of thumb that I use is that the cigars go up 10% in value for every year you've aged them. This is utterly arbitrary, but it seems reasonable to me. Of course this doesn't take into account the "rarity factor" mentioned above, or cigars that are out of production (and thus no longer available for aging even if you wanted to).
If you can, when you take a cigar of a particular year, try your best to put another cigar of similar value and similar age. That solves the problem neatly, but again I think this can be done in a "holistic" manner, that is, as long as the totality of your puts/takes is something that adds up reasonably, I think you're okay.
If biggest issue is, if you don't know, then ask.
If you don't have any idea what a cigar might be worth, or how rare it is, ask the host, or ask people in the box pass thread to help you out.6. As a cigar pass continues, sometimes the value of some of the sticks increase. Let's say someone traded for stick #3, a $5 stick, and put in stick #22, an $8 stick. If a passer down the line wanted to trade for stick #22, could s/he trade it for a $5 stick? Why or why not?
When the cigar pass arrives at your doorstep, I think you should look at the cigars as they arrive as the starting point, and ignore anything that has happened previously in the pass. The only exception I generally make is that if I feel someone has "shorted" the pass in some way, I will bring things up a notch in my puts/takes to make things more fair for all involved.
So my answer to the hypothetical question posed is: "no -- you should not try to trade for the original value of the cigar that was taken previously... you should just look at what cigars you're taking, their value, their age, and their rarity."7. Trades in passes seem to be kept to a stricter standard than many trades I have done or heard about on the board. Why is this?
The reason box passes are more strict than trades is simple: more people are involved, and any time more people are involved, you have more people to please. A trade is a one for one transaction; as long as both parties are pleased with the trade (and going into it with eyes wide open), there's no problem.
But in a pass, you have to please everyone, including the host. Again I'll use the party metaphor: the way you behave in a one on one situation is usually quite different then if you are at a social event where many people whose sensibilities you don't know are present.
So be on your best behavior, and realize that you simply have more people to make happy that you're "doing the right thing."8. Why is it recommended that you participate in a few passes before considering hosting a pass yourself? Isn't the host of the pass the one risking his/her cigars?
In the business world, the best managers are the ones who have actually done the job of the people they are managing. It's the same with a box pass. It's best to see how things work before attempting to do it yourself. You will discover things that can only be learned by doing.
And it's best to learn those things before you have dozens of people who will be impacted by your poor managerial decisions. 9. What are your thoughts on trading gifted cigars in a pass?
My personal view is that once a cigar is given to you, it is yours to do with as you will. However, just as it is unseemly to package up the sweater that your friend gave you for Christmas and give it to someone else, I think the same thing applies here.
I don't think it's nearly as detrimental; cigars are rarely as intimate as gifts we might give on Christmas or other occasions. But still, exercise some common courtesy.
On the other hand, we all receive gifts that no matter how well intended, are not exactly "our thing." As such if there's a cigar you just really don't like that was gifted to you... I don't think you're obligated to keep it and smoke it anymore than you're obligated to wear that ugly sweater regularly.
But be discrete; thank the person for their gift, and throw it out or give it to someone else rather than publicly trading it in a box pass, and possibly offending them.10. It seems that a pass' value increases as it continues. Does it seem like the pass host is profitting from having a pass? Does it happen?
Yes, this is a common occurrence. I think there's a fine balance between ensuring the individual participants of the pass are not grossly benefitting from the pass, as well as ensuring that the host is not grossly benefitting form the pass.
Now bear in mind that as mentioned previously, hosting a box pass is a lot of work. So if the host is rewarded a little bit for it, then I think that's okay. But if someone is clearly starting box passes not out of a desire for an enjoyable social event but rather to profit from it... well, I'd just suggest people stop coming to their parties.
One thing that I've seen done (and I like) is any cigars that are "extras" in terms of being more than the number of cigars that were originally put in the pass, or cigars that were put in the "host bag" is that they raffle these cigar off. The winner is a randomly drawn participant in the pass.
This makes it fun and fair for all involved, and ensures the host isn't ending up grossly benefitting from the pass. And that's what box passes should be about, really.11. What are your thoughts on the concept of leaving the pass better than you found it? Does that phrase have anything to do with the cigars in the pass?
I've always viewed this as keeping the physical cigar pass in better shape then when you found it. Consider the box pass a timeshare condo that you and a bunch of friends share... clean the place and put things in order before you leave.
Same thing here; I don't think this has anything to do with the quality of the cigars you put into it, but rather inventorying the cigars to make sure everything is there and numbered properly, make sure the pass it padded properly, everything is properly humidified, etc.12. What would be your top three guiding principles that any pass participant should keep in mind?
Ultimately, the most important thing is to abide by the guidelines that the host of the box pass lays out for you. That for me is the golden rule that supplants all others; it is his/her pass, after all, he/she makes the rules. However, that said, some rules of thumb are:
1) A box pass is a social event that brings people together; enjoy it and perhaps learn from it. Have fun.
2) Put yourself in the frame of mind that you're at a party with a group of people, some you know, and some you don't know, and act accordingly -- on your best behavior.
3) Don't be a jerk or you won't be invited back.
Edited by moki, 25 October 2007 - 08:17 PM.