Playing Pokemon The Cheap(er) Way — Tips On Saving Money

“Hey man! Long time no see!” you hear as you walk into your FLGS (friendly local game store). You scan the dimly lit room and see Tom the owner standing behind the counter.

“Hey! Been working overtime.” you explain as you approach him. You point to one of the Steam Siege booster boxes on the shelf behind the counter. “That’s the one.” a grin now growing on your face.

“Alrighty.” Tom replies as he pulls the box off the shelf. “That’ll be $125.”

You pull out your wallet and the grin quickly disappears from your face. You stare for a moment at the pair of tens, then your eyes shift to your credit card. You briefly consider the consequences, then pull the card out and hold it up to show Tom.

He hands you the debit machine. “Whenever you’re ready.” But are you ready? After all, you already dumped $200 on Pokemon cards this month alone. And you still haven’t paid the fines off your library card. Maybe, maybe… nah! You swipe the card and punch in your pin (1-2-3-4 of course). “Good luck!” you hear Tom say. You’re not really listening.

You rush over to the nearest table and wipe off an assortment of crumbs. You set the box on the table and pull a pack of sleeves out of your backpack. You begin opening the box, laying waste to the shrink wrap that used to stand between you and your full art Professor Sycamore. You take your inhaler (the adrenaline is too much).

Carefully, you open the first pack. You flip the cards face-down 1-2-3  and… Samurott. As if you didn’t already have enough of those from the evolution pack you got at the pre-release. You search the rest of the pack for something good, anything but there’s nothing. Not the best start.

Onto the next pack. It’s got Volcanion artwork. “lucky Volcanion.” you think (‘Cause Volcanion’s lucky right? Right!?). 1-2… ah forget it! You flip the cards back over and snort in disgust at the Armaldo revealed.

In a matter of minutes you’re faced with the last pack. You look over at the cards from the previous packs. At the dozens upon dozens of FletchlingLitleo, and Tangela. Then your attention turns to the good stuff in the sleeves; Xerneas BREAKHydreigon BREAKMagearna-EXVolcanion-EXM Gardevoir-EX, and that sweet looking full art Steelix-EX. But still no full art Sycamore. Slowly you open the last pack. The first card you see is Hoppip, and flashbacks of watching Prof-It come flooding into your mind. You’ve got a bad feeling about this. Then you see the Spiritomb. This truly is a nightmare.

After analyzing all your pulls, you estimate their total approximate value at $70. Great. $55 deeper in the hole. You should’ve learned from Fates Collide.

Hey hey hey PokeBeach! Fokale here and I’m back (finally) with another article for you guys. Let’s face it, playing Pokemon is expensive. You’ve got to pay for cards, binders, sleeves, tournament fees, gas, hotel rooms and a whole mess of other stuff. It can leave your wallet hurting. A lot. Price is also one of the main setbacks for newer players to start playing the game at a truly competitive level. So today we are going to talk about saving some green (I mean money not the planet. Who cares about that.) If you like saving money keep reading. If you don’t I respectfully advise you to shut off your computer and seek professional help.

I am the second cheapest person on the planet (the first being my dad). Following are some of the things that I do to save money when playing the Pokemon TCG. Keep in mind that this is written from the standpoint of a competitive player, as that is what I am and I do not have much experience as a collector. However most of the information presented will still be relevant. Alright let’s get down to business!

(On a side note, I think an article on collecting would be really cool. Leave a comment if you think so too. Hopefully someone with more experience than me will step up and share their knowledge.)

11 Ways To Save Money

Don’t Attend Pre-Releases

That sounds kind of harsh. In no way am I saying that pre-releases are bad tournaments. They are a great way for newer players to  get into the competitive scene, and they even out the playing field so that less experienced players actually have a shot at doing well. Personally I find that pre-releases are highly luck based and require little skill, but that’s just my own bias. At any rate pre-releases can still be a great deal of fun, and if that’s what your after then knock yourself out. What I am saying is that pre-releases are not very cost effective.

A few weeks ago I attended what will probably be my last pre-release. I paid $35 (Canadian) for a total of six packs plus the evolution pack and three slices of pizza. If a pack is $5 (which they are) then I paid $30 for the packs, and $5 for the evolutuion pack, the pizza, and the tournament fee. This honestly isn’t a bad deal until you realize that those packs are not worth $5 each. Which brings us to…

Buy Singles, Not Sealed

Fact: You will almost never make your moneys worth buying sealed Pokemon products (packs, boxes, blisters, etc.). Why? Because the chances of you pulling a decently priced card are too low, and the cards you are likely to get are not worth as much on the secondary market, as you are paying to acquire them. For example, say you go to a steam siege pre-release and from your six packs you get two ultra rares. Unless on of those ultra rares is full art Sycamore, you’re still not making your back. The more Packs you buy the worse it gets. The only recent set from which you could buy a booster box and actually make your money back is roaring skies, and only if you pulled multiple Shaymin-EX (a regular and full art). It is possible to get really lucky and make your money back on sealed products now and again, but if you are consistently buying these products, then eventually your luck will run out. The fact is that if you keep buying packs hoping to get a card, then by the time you pull that card you could have just bought it as a single.

New LogoOf course there are ways of getting cards without buying sealed. Trading is a great alternative to buying cards and by following the tips described later in this article it is possible to grow your collection by trading alone! However the need to buy cards will arise and when it does, buy singles. There is no need to drop butt-loads of money on packs hoping to get the card that you want. The best place for price savvy Pokemon players like ourselves to buy singles is They have the cheapest prices on a wide selection of cards and they ship worldwide.

Sell Or Trade Reverse Holo’s, FA’s, And Secret Rares

Now I know that some of you guys like to pimp out your decks with all kind of bling, but doing so simply isn’t cost effective. Take for example FA Sycamore. For a playset of FA Sycamore it costs $156! For the same amount of money you could buy 104 regular Sycamore, which does the exact same thing! Additionally foil cards are more prone to bending due to moisture and any money spent on replacing cards is money that could’ve been spent on new cards (or something useful like thermal underwear). Personally anytime I get a reverse card (or FA or secret rare) it goes directly to my trade binder. The only time I’ll hang on to a reverse card is if I need it for a deck and don’t have access to a regular copy.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Every year TPCi rotates several sets out of the standard legal cardpool to keep the game fresh (*cough* And to keep players buying new cards *cough*). The upcoming rotation for the 2016-2017 season is PRC-on. The two biggest factors that effect a cards price are playability and collectability. This means that when XY-PHF are rotated, the cards belonging to those sets will drop in price due to their playability being greatly decreased (limited to Expanded). A good way to minimize your losses is to sell or trade your rotating cards for ones from newer sets before their value falls.

Know The Meta

This is something that every competitive player should prioritize, but did you know it can actually save you money? Trading is one of the best money saving techniques when it comes to Pokemon. Trading cards that you don’t need for ones that you do reduces the need to buy cards, and knowing the meta is the key to making good trades. By knowing the meta and understanding how it will shift when new cards are added to the cardpool (or taken away), you can trade for (or buy) cards before they rise in price (due to their increase in playability). If trading for such cards it is a good idea to trade away cards that you believe will fall in value (due to a decrease in playability) come the new format.

Be Wary Of Deck Choice

Fact: some decks are more expensive than others. Myth: the more expensive the deck, the better it is. We already discussed playability affecting card price, but that doesn’t mean that the most expensive deck is the best deck by default. In our recent nationals format for example, the BDIF was undeniably night march, but there were multiple “less powerful” decks that were more expensive to build (Vespiquen / Vileplume, M Rayquaza-EX / Jolteon-EX, etc.). So while a specific deck may cost more to build due to the cards included being highly playable, a decks price does not directly attest to it’s viability for any given tournament. I’m not saying that you have to play the cheapest deck for any given format, just understand that just because a deck costs less, it doesn’t make it any less viable.

Build Your Deck In Advance

Planning ahead will save you money in all aspects of life. Weather you’re buying your winter jacket in the middle of summer, or filling up the tank the night before a long road trip. Pokemon is no exception. Always get any cards necessary for your deck well before the day of the tournament. This way you’ll avoid having to pay jaw-dropping prices for the last few cards (weather your buying them from the vendor at the tournament or paying big bucks for overnight shipping).

Don’t Rip Your Cards

Countless times I’ve cringed as I witnessed players rip up cards that they assume to be useless. One notable example is when I saw someone rip up a Bunnelby. Now I’ve been a strong believer in the strength of Bunnelby ever since I saw it’s scan. This player however was convinced that it was useless, and continued to shred it into tiny pieces. Obviously Bunnelby has been central to many decks’ strategies including Wailord-EX, and Vespiquen / Vileplume. So if that player wanted to play one of those decks, he would need to get another Bunnelby. Of course Bunnelby isn’t a very expensive card but doing this repeatedly adds up. There are also players who will rip more expensive cards for publicity(?), and this really irritates me because it prevents other players from enjoying those cards. If you’re ever going to rip up a card, just give it to someone else who can enjoy it. I really don’t get the logic behind this so if one of you guys do, please explain it to me in the comments.

Split Travel Costs

Why are tournaments so far far away?

This is a big one. Whenever you go to a tournament (especially if it’s far away), try to find other people who are planning on going to the same tournament so that you can carpool and share hotel rooms. If you have friends or family near the tournament venue, ask if you can crash at their place. Since TPCi announced that there will be no States or Nationals next year, this will mostly apply to Regionals and the new North American, South American, Asian Pacific, And European Championships, and of course Worlds. Apparently TPCi will be handing out a lot of travel awards for these tournaments, so hopefully we can look forward to less travel costs in the future!

Pack Your Own Lunch

Most tournaments are held within lose proximity of some type of food joint. That being said, it’s usually cheaper to pack your own lunch for larger tournaments. Plus this way you can grab a bite anytime you have a couple minutes between rounds, without having to leave the venue. For smaller tournaments like League Challenges, it’s usually enough to eat before leaving for the tournament and after getting back. However it’s still advised to bring along some food, especially if you live far from the tournament.

Don’t Underestimate Free Stuff

Exactly what it says. Most players go to a tournament for the championship points, but it astonishes me how many players will drop from a tournament just ’cause they didn’t make cut, when their record is still good enough to win them a bunch of packs! Any card you get for free is a card you don’t have to purchase, therefore saving you money. And you know what they say; saving money is making money.


That’s all I’ve got, but if you guys have any tips and tricks that you use to save money, be sure to let everyone know! Think I’m wrong about one of these? Let me know! As always thanks for giving my article a read, hopefully you learned something from it, or it at least got the Klinklangs in your head spinning (get it…’cause Klinklangs are gears…never mind). I always have a lot of fun writing these and any feedback that could help me improve is greatly appreciated!

Until next time