How To Identify Fake Pokemon Cards

Hey everyone and welcome back to ChannelFireball! I am back with another article in my collecting series and while lately I have been reviewing new releases and current events, today’s article is going to be a little bit different. As much as I would love to discuss craziness every single week, the fact of the matter is that things like a Blastoise selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars don’t happen on a weekly basis. This leaves me to talk about some informative and important topics. The entirety of this article is going to be a close look at fake cards and how to identify them! There is a lot more that goes into this than some of you might think, so I urge you to keep reading even if you consider yourself to be a pro.

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I’ve heard many horror stories from people in the community when it comes to fake cards, but I personally have had minimal issues – I account this to my knowledge and experience. The fact of the matter is that new people to the hobby and people buying cards as gifts for family members are not going to know what to look for, making them vulnerable to scams. I hope more articles like today’s are released around the web because the more that people are informed, the fewer problems there will be.

Fake cards are often sold on eBay and they are easy to spot when you know what to look for. If you are someone wanting to use a “proxy” card for your collection or competitive deck, there is no shame in buying these, but I do not support anyone who is producing them. The issue here is that a lot of people will rebuy them and then get them into circulation without disclosing that they are fake, which is where the problems come in. Let’s be real, the people on eBay selling fake 1st Edition Base Set Charizard cards on eBay that use sketchy listing practices know exactly what they are doing: scamming people. Asides from that, there are plenty of other ways these fake cards get brought into existence and none of them are for good or honest reasons.


The good news is that fakes are generally easy to spot and with a little bit of investigative work, you should be to spot even the best of fakes. I would have to say that there is a batch of fake Neo Genesis Japanese cards that showed up in a PokeRev box opening on YouTube – great dude by the way – they were by far the best fakes I have ever seen. Other than that, there is almost always something glaringly wrong with fake copies.

The rest of the article is going to be split up into three sections, each of which will contain specific information about how to identify fake cards. These sections are separated in a way where I can focus on certain aspects of a card to make it easier to consume as a whole.

Card Text

This really is as simple as it sounds, sometimes the card text is just off. However, there is a lot to cover here. There is the name of the Pokemon, the attack text, the flavor text, the HP of the Pokemon, the Energy symbols, the Evolution box, and more. You have got to pay attention to all of this, as I have seen a ton of different things here that prove the card is fake. From ridiculous errors such as certain aspects of the cards simply being missing, to the Energy symbols on the card just being too big. While the other sections I will cover will help you once you have the card in person, the look of a card is the only way to tell a card is fake by just looking at a picture. When looking at a picture of a card you might buy, you should always compare it to another card if you think it might be fake for some reason. Generally, any seller with high feedback is going to be safe to purchase from, but I would avoid anyone with low feedback and listings that look like they may be fake. If you already have the card in person, you can use the steps below as well, and you should be covered by a site’s buyer protection if any issues arise.


Card Texture

This is another thing to pay attention to, and there are a few things that go into this.

For starters, a very common thing with fakes is that they are way too glossy. You can literally see the light reflect off the card, meaning that the texture is so off it has become apparent visually. When a card is way too glossy, it will feel completely different than a real Pokemon card. You will be able to tell the difference right away if you compare it to a card that is legitimate, as the texture will not even be close when it is too glossy.

There are other issues as well, such as a holo card missing its holo pattern but still having it show up in the artwork, which is a clear sign that a card is fake. This goes for ultra rares as well, which are not only supposed to have the clear visual pattern, but they are also supposed to be textured as well, and a fake copy will often be missing that. There are some examples of these below, as this one is going to be easy to tell in person, but I wanted to provide an example of what I meant as well.

There isn’t a non-holo Empoleon from Diamond & Pearl – check the way things are printed.

Card Thickness

So, I want to start by saying that there are differences in thickness between regular cards that are totally legit. This can be cause by difference in age, as you can notice subtle differences in card thickness between very old and newly released cards. Additionally, holo or ultra rare cards tend to be slightly thicker and firmer than a non-holo card. This is totally normal, and this should be accounted for when thinking about the thickness of a card and using comparisons to do so.

Check the card from the side like this – this one is perfectly normal.

What I am referencing in this section are extreme cases of this. This is especially true when it comes to cards being way too thin, as that is a great indicator that the fake card was not produced in the same way a real card is, leaving it with a much thinner feel to it. You will be able to spot the difference when comparing this type of fake to another card, the feel will not even be remotely close. As for thickness, there are two things you get to check for here. First off, some fakes will just be too thick. It is that simple. They try to be closer to a normal card, but end up being too thick, which leaves you with a difference to spot. Additionally, a practice common in Magic that is now making its way into Pokemon is rebacking. This is where someone will peel apart cards, and then use the layers to reconstruct the card in a manner that would benefit them when they sell it. This is more worrisome in Magic because it can allow them to pose a less rare card as one that is rarer, since the backs can help them differentiate that sometimes, but it is still something to look out for in Pokemon as well. Not only could someone be trying to improve the condition appeal of their card this way, but I have even seen a fake front be placed on a legitimate back, making the card harder to spot as a fake.

Authenticity Checklist

  • Card text (HP, attack text, etc.) – Does anything look blurry or discolored? Is there too much space in between anything?
  • Card art/symbols – Does anything look blurry or just wrong? Is everything the right size?
  • Card texture – Does the card feel or look glossy? Is your card missing a holo pattern?
  • Card thickness – Does the card feel too thin or too thick?

There are obvious fakes as well. Any Pokemon card that has an absurd number of HP or does an absurd number of damage, such as 1000, is fake. See if you can find a scan of your card on the official Pokemon website if you have any doubts about your card.

Compare it to another card in your collection that you know is real, it should be easier to spot an issue with this step.

If you don’t have the exact same card in real life, still compare as similar of a card as possible, but also look at the exact card online and see if there are any noticeable differences.

If you do find out a card you bought is fake you should be covered by buyer protection. Make sure to reach out to the place you bought from immediately to work on a solution.

That is going to wrap this up everyone! I hope I have helped to educate you all on the world of fake cards, as while I don’t have any issues myself, these issues tend to hurt the newer members of the community more than anything. I am sure that purchasing a fake card is probably the worst way possible to experience something for the first time, so I hope that articles like this one can help prevent that experience. Anyways, I will be back next week with another article, where I will review the Battle Styles set as a whole, mostly from a financial aspect. This will mostly entail reviewing the cards in different manners, but I will also brush on the sealed product portion and some other things. Until then, I hope you all enjoy the world of Pokemon!



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