Original or fake? How to tell if Pokemon TCG cards are counterfeit.

If you have found your Pokemon TCG cards from your childhood or have recently returned to the hobby from years ago, you will probably have to ask yourself after a while. Are my cards original? How to check if the cards you own or want to purchase are not Chinese replacements. Over the years, virtually all gadgets, Pokemon Tazo, stickers, electronics or clothing have been counterfeited. However, the most popular, among those producing unauthorized items, are Pokemon TCG cards and games for Nintendo’s console, the Game Boy Advance. Trading Card Games is still at the peak of its popularity, so we can’t be surprised that cards are being counterfeited all the time, in addition, the methods of counterfeiting are changing. So the question straight out of the first Pokemon movie gets us – how to recognize a copy from the original?

The best method we can use to identify cards is to compare them with originals. If we do not have a particular card in our collection, we can use a photo of it from the Internet. In the example of the Mewtwo card from the Base Set, we can see the following differences:

  • Big difference in the hologram, which is hard to copy
  • The font looks different
  • Absurd attributes appear, such as HP 3000 or incompatible Pokemon names
  • The size is different from the standard size
  • Badly cut border, especially visible on the back of the card
  • Rock-paper-scissors symbols are visible
  • Contains Asha Ketchum, or other direct references to Anime Pokemon
Pokemon TCG - Base Set - 10 Mewtwo
Oryginal - Mewtwo Base Set
karta pokemon base set 2 mewtwo podróbka
Fake - Mewtwo Base Set 2

If we have any doubts, we should carefully examine the card. In the first place we should pay attention, to any disturbing deviations from the norm. Many things are easy to recognize if we take the card in hand and check a few basic elements:

  • The card on the side has a visible black strip, between the layers of paper
  • The card is made of inferior quality material
    It bends easily when compared to the original, as it is very thin
  • The color scheme deviates from the original, both on the front and back.
charizard fake pokemon karta
Symbols for the game of pope scissors stone
mewtwo ex fake
Mewtwo EX - Durant visible on the card
pikachu piłkarz fake
Pikachu soccer player - Attack/Defense
karta carvanha three-colo piranha podróbka karta pokemon
Carvanha - Three-Coor Piranha

The back of the Pokemon TCG card.

Of course, it is not only by looking at the front of the card that we are able to determine whether it is original. Also helpful in this matter is visual inspection of the reverse. It might seem that just the back should not be a problem when copying, but very often it is simply made carelessly, the most common problems here are, the wrong color (very often too bright), crooked border or missing details clearly let us know whether the card is original or not.

pokemon tcg back
Original Back
fake tcg back pokemon
Fake Back
tył karty pokemon
Fake Back

So if the card has the original back, a black stripe between the layers or a matching hologram, I can be sure of its originality? Unfortunately no, there is a possibility that the card we own is not original, and certainly not in the whole sense of the word. Using acetone, we can get rid of the top layer of ink from any Pokemon card. On such a prepared base, we can apply practically any card front. Many people make handmade cards or so-called proxies, which should not be sold as original. However, in this case, we can also check whether the Pokemon TCG card is original. Nintendo in its cards often uses colors that are not so easy to copy on home printers, so just compare colors. All irregularities may suggest that we have proxy cards.

Buying Pokemon TCG cards on popular auction sites.

So, does buying cards on popular stock sites give us a guarantee of their legal origin? Well, unfortunately no, quite a few cards that go on sale come from China. This is a big problem and you can’t see anyone dealing with it, some sites are even flooded with “silver” or “gold” cards, which attract our attention with their price, the same is true for popular or sold-out sets. Unfortunately, we have to reckon with the fact that the Pokemon Trading Card Game card booster is an expense of about a few euros. If the price is much lower, we should definitely pay due attention when shopping. Try to read the product reviews, as well as read the auction description carefully, non-original cards are often described as cheaper “replacements”.


So, buying on popular auction sites does not necessarily mean the legitimacy of the product, also non-hobby stores may have substitutes in their offer.

podróbki pokemon tcg
Chinese replacements - gold/black/silver cards

Codes for Pokemon TCG Online

If the boosters we purchased, do not have a card inside with a code for the popular Pokemon Trading Card Game Online then unfortunately we are dealing with fake cards.

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