9 Ways to Spot Fake Pokemon Cards

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Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Are you worried that you might be buying fake Pokemon cards? In this article, I'll tell you how to make sure you don't get ripped off!

Pokemon cards have been selling like hotcakes for more than the past 20 years now and it doesn’t look like they’ll be stopping anytime soon. From shop windows to McDonald’s promos, to the ads on your television, it sometimes feels like you can’t escape them. So, naturally, people are going to find shifty ways to stick their hands into the honey pot that is The Pokémon TCG (Trading Card Game). 

With endless ways to buy and sell Pokemon cards such as through sites like eBay, TCGPlayer, or even companies that buy the cards directly from you. One of the shadiest things that circulate in the Pokémon TCG community is undoubtedly fake cards. It’s an absolute burden to everyone. Collectors and players alike can agree that fake cards absolutely ruin the experience of collecting Pokemon, especially for newer and more naive collectors who don’t know any better. However, fear not, as today we have put together a list of the top things you should look out for if you suspect a card is fake.

So, without further ado, let’s get into this list. 

1. The Word Pokémon Without The Accent On The “é”

spot fake pokemon no accent
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

“Pokémon” is the trademarked name of the game and company and has been since the 90s. All legitimate Pokémon cards will have an accent on the é, each time the company name is mentioned, if the accent is missing - this is a huge red flag!

2. Spelling & Grammatical Errors

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Aside from just minor issues with the accents above certain letters, the people producing fake Pokemon cards can often make even more obvious spelling mistakes. It’s super unlikely that an official Pokemon card would have a word spelled wrong, so if you suspect a card could be a fake - double-check the spelling on everything, including the Pokemon names.

As well as this, it might sound like a no-brainer, but check the name of the Pokemon matches the Pokemon on the card as well as other pesky details like missing commas or full stops. 

3. Unrealistic HP Value

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This is a less common error but it is always worth checking; the HP value of the card. There are standards for the HP values of Pokemon cards, as of 2021 no Pokemon card has a greater HP value than 340 and even before that, it is impossible to find a Pokemon card with an HP value greater than 1000. 

4. Card Rigidity

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If the card is extremely flimsy to the point where it’s practically wafer-thin and has no rigidity to it at all, your card is probably fake. Alternatively, if the card is extremely thick and has way more give than it should, the card is probably also fake.

A good rule of thumb is to compare the feel of the card to another real card to gauge the thickness of a card. It will usually be quite evident very quickly whether or not it’s too thick. 

5. Card Foil

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Any cards like secret rares, amazing rares and just standard full art cards have a very specific texture depending on the era they are from. What we mean by texture is the subtle spiraling indentations on the card that makes the card physically feel different.

Fake cards do not have this luxury and simply have a flat, untextured foil that they apply to all “rare” cards to make them look shiny. However, even more of a dead giveaway than untextured foil is a lack of foil altogether on cards that should clearly have some sort of foil such as holographic rares, ultra rares, and sometimes even secret rares.

When we say foil we aren’t referring to the stuff you wrap your sandwiches in, we are referring to the material that the printing companies use to make the cards shiny or “holographic” if you’re a cool kid. 

6. Washed Out Card Color

washed color
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

English Pokemon cards have a very distinct deep blue that is used universally on the back of all Pokemon cards as far back as the very first Pokemon set. So, if you find a card with a washed-out light blue color on the back chances are the card isn’t real. 

7. Borders Blurring Into Card

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As well as this dark blue color, all Pokemon cards have a distinct blue border and then art of a Pokeball opening within the border of the back of the card. However, if the dark blue border begins to bleed into the art in the middle (most often caused by bad printing), you likely have yourself a fake Pokemon card. 

8. Incorrect Pokemon Typing

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The type of Pokemon is indicated not only by the color of the card but by the symbol in the top right of the card next to the Pokemon’s health. The best way to check this is by searching for a digital copy of the card, but we’ll get into how you do that shortly.

9. Different Set Symbol Or Number

Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

This one is also pretty subtle so it’s important to look out for it but each set of Pokemon has a designated set symbol which can be found at the very bottom left of the card. Next to this symbol, you will also find a number like 123/231 or something to that effect. Unless you know what the set number should be, you’ll again have to find a digital copy of you card and cross-check this.

How To Correctly Cross-Check Your Pokemon Cards

We get it, all of these factors can be pretty intimidating and it’s easy to start second-guessing the validity of your entire collection. Especially with details like incorrect set numbers and symbols; things like that can fly under the radar pretty seamlessly. However, we’re here to assure you there are some pretty easy ways to cross-check your cards and make sure that they are in fact real. 

Check A Digital Scan

One of the easiest ways to do so is to look up a digital scan of the card you are suspicious of. This way you can compare your card to the official Pokemon Company release and scan for errors such as issues with the HP, attack values, typing, etc. 

Compare Card Backs

Similarly, for details such as washed-out color on the card and blurry borders, a copy of literally any other English Pokemon card will allow you to verify its validity as English cards have had the same card back since the base set of Pokemon. 

Use Online Forums 

If you’re super skeptical about your card and you don’t think your judgment can be trusted then it’s always worth snapping a few pictures and posting them to online forums. You can find plenty of them on sites like Reddit and Serebii and the communities would be more than happy to help.

Visit Stores In Person

It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to make all of your card purchases online. If you are unsure about a seller and think you might be getting swindled ask if you can view the card in person before making a purchase. If you are already unsure about the card’s validity and the seller is reluctant to let you see it before you purchase it, it’s never a good look. 

Buy From A Trusted Seller

As the age-old saying goes, prevention is better than cure and one of the best ways you can prevent yourself from getting scammed with fake Pokemon cards is by buying from trusted sellers. This can be done on sites like eBay by viewing the number of sales a seller has as well as viewing what their previously sold items were. 


Hopefully, with all of this information in mind, you will be able to now correctly identify whether or not your cards or any cards you look to buy in the future are in fact fake. It will usually be quite easy to tell from a few glances and if you are buying from trusted sellers on sites like eBay it is unlikely you are being sold fake Pokemon cards. 

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