Identifying Fake Pokemon Cards

The Basics

It seems obvious, but a simple step to make sure the card is authentic is to make sure it is a real Pokémon card printed at some point. Yes, people just make fake Pokemon cards with unofficial pictures and sell them online.

Pokemon cards are back in popularity, and as people become more interested, the market for buying and selling Pokemon cards is now booming. As the number of people who want to buy Pokémon cards continues to increase, so does the number of people trying to fake them and ake advantage of this trend and start making money quickly.

It Can Get Expensive

The most famous example of this is Logan Paul. He and a group of investors almost bought a box of Pokémon cards valued at $375,000. The seller agreed to open the box and display the cards before exchanging cash. Fortunately for Paul, he did not pay a penny, but this mistake even fooled Paul’s advisors.

Although ordinary people don’t have the money to hire expert consultants, ordinary people can easily identify fake Pokemon cards with a few suggestions. This article will teach you how to identify fake cards and prevent falling into a trap. This guide aims to provide you with more detailed advice on how to spot fakes on the go. Whether you are a full-time collector or just getting into Pokemon cards, we will try our best to protect you all!

Steps to Spot ’em

  • Firstly, does this Pokémon exist? Yes, we have had people submit Pokémon Card that didn’t exist.
  • Secondly, focus on, if the card has an accent over every single “e” in Pokémon?
  • Are the energy symbols in the card printed clearly and correctly?
  • Are there obvious spelling and grammatical errors on the card? e.g. missing punctuation or letters
  • Is the print of the card light or blurry?
  • Does the color accent of the back of the card, match up with every other Pokémon card?

These are just basic steps to judge the card right off the bat. There are more in-depth checks you can perform to make sure that the card you are getting or have is absolutely an authentic.

Version Check

This may seem like another obvious fact, but a simple step to ensure that the card is authentic is to ensure that the card is a real Pokémon card printed at a certain time. Yes, many just make fake custom Pokémon cards with unofficial pictures and sell them on several online sites.

You can check a Pokemon card by a quick search. The official Pokémon TCG website contains a card database. On top of that, make sure to check out the card on different directory website to make sure you have a real on one hand.

Better Fakes

Now there are fake cards that was so good that they pass all the above steps with perfect scores. At this point, you’ll have to further inspect the card. A simple and reliable way to check whether a Pokémon card is fake is to compare it with a real card, given that you access to the same real card. Check the two cards to see if there are any differences that are easy to spot. Does the text written on each letter match the word? For example, forged descriptive text or attacks may be slightly different from the original or different punctuation.

When comparing the two cards carefully, a common feature of counterfeit cards is poor print quality, which causes the text to be slightly blurred. Compare the text on that card with the real one. Is there text display? A little vague? On real cards, the handwriting is clear and neat. The print quality of counterfeit products is lower and is more obvious when displaying small text. Also compare the colors on the cards. Make sure that the color saturation is the same.

The Light Test

The most difficult part is to remake the actual cardboard that original Pokémon cards use when it comes to counterfeit products. Do the cards bend the same way, or do they look thin and easier to bend? Hold the questioned card to a flashlight. In many cases, the light will penetrate more on the counterfeit compared to real card because the fake cardboard is not of high quality.

This is a harder test to perform, because it varies highly with Pokémon card version and series. For example, some Japanese Pokemon cards are so thin that the light will pass more freely and bright than a real English card of the same series.

Buying Online and Not in-Person

Buy from sellers and website that have a great customer support, good reviews and a solid return policy, no questions asked. This is very important, because, if lets say down the line you buy a card and realize it’s fake, you easily just report the seller, return the card and claim a refund. Another easy step, is to just ask the seller if the cards are real or not/ Let them know that you’re going to return the cards, if they aren’t real and it will be a waste of time for both parties.

It is generally recommended that you remove the card from the envelope and inspect it yourself. As mentioned earlier, fake cards look different from real cards. Buying from a guaranteed platform is always what we look for. However, this is not always an option, especially now. During the pandemic, for example, Facebook groups became popular and convenient places for shopping and sales.

Most Faked Out Cards

A good insight is that not all Pokémon cards have fake version of them. it is especially the the ones which are rare, vintage or of value, both high and low. Some popular fakes to look out for are:

  • First Edition Shadowless Holographic Charizard
  • First Edition Shadowless Holographic Blastoise
  • First Edition Shadowless Holographic Machamp
  • Black Star Promo Holographic Cards
  • Pre-Release Raichu Cards
  • The Shining Edition
  • 1999 Pokemon 1st Edition Venusaur
  • Gold Star Espeon and Umbreon
  • Full Art Holographic

Best Way to Avoid Fake Pokémon cards

If you are a collector, hobbyist or just a starter, the most effective way to avoid getting fake cards, is to buy already graded cards, but this is also not the only reason. When you are purchasing a graded card, you can confidently come to a price, comfortable for both parties as the condition of the grade will be displayed right on top with the grade that it achieved. Graded cards are described as the holy grail of the Pokémon industry. The ease of mind and the guarantee of authenticity far outweighs, it’s cost. On average, a graded card is worth fives times more that a non-graded mint card.


Weather, it’s graded or not, the best advice and the point to take away from this article, is to make sure to be as knowledgeable as possible when buying your cards for a 3rd party. After following all the steps correctly, we can confidently say that you’ll be able to distinguish fake cards from real ones. But at the end, you will be the final judge of the cards you are buying. Therefore, it is statistically better to be safe than sorry and most importantly, having fun.