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"PTCG... Oh!" — Maximizing Results on Pokemon's Online Platform

Caleb Gedemer



Hey again Dead Draw Gaming fans. Today I will be going over a topic that I never have seen done before. Many of the competitive player base use the Pokemon Trading Card Game Online as a medium of testing decks and getting ready for tournaments, but are those same players using the program to its full potential? Are they getting the most bang for their buck when it comes to the trading function? Do people sell the versus ladder short when it comes to quality of opponents? Get ready to find out!



The Pokemon Trading Card Game’s online client has been around for some time now. Throughout its lifespan, there have been many ups and downs. However, I have stuck with it from its birth, and use it for nearly all of my outside-of-tournament gameplay. Much of this will be review for the most of you, but the program is fairly easy to digest, even for a beginner. There are simple, easy-to-navigate icons atop the screen that have various functions to reach certain pieces of the program. All of them are generally self-explanatory.

Once inside the game, most players will be frequenting the following functions, mainly:


  • [Play Button] > [Versus]
  • [Play Button] > [Events]
  • [Card Button] > [Collection]
  • [Card Button] > [Deck Manager]
  • [Card Button] > [Trade]


To talk about these very briefly, the Versus option will be where you will be finding random opponents from all corners of the world. Events will be where you can engage in tournaments, which are generally very uncompetitive, and earn booster pack prizes, among other in-game items. The Collection tab is where you can sift through all the cards you have, and choose which ones you need to get rid of, or obtain. The Deck Manager is the holy grail for most players, myself included, and this is where I build all of my competitive decks first. The builder is very simple to use, and features a plethora of options to make finding the best cards in each deck easy. Lastly, the Trade option is where I get all of the new cards that I want. It is probably the least polished feature of the game, but it still does the job. I generally create my own offers, and wait for other players out there to accept them. This can be tedious, but is usually the best way to get the cards you want for the “price you want” (I will get more into this later).


That is all I have for now, time to get into the real meat of this entree!


Now you might be asking how the heck does one get started on the online game, and that is what I will be talking all about in this section. While many players redeem their online booster pack codes and go right ahead and open the packs they get, that is generally foolish. The same logic applies to cards in the real world, how many top-level players still buy packs in attempts to get cards that they want? To get around this, trades are the best way to get cards that you want.

Just think about online booster packs as a form of “currency” when it comes to the game. Cards generally have a booster pack “price” attached to them, in many cases. This website is an awesome reference to get a better idea of what I am talking about. To generalize, some booster packs are worth more than others, and this is generally because some sets contain “better” card than others. For instance, a Roaring Skies pack is going to be worth more “currency-wise” than a FlashFire one. This is because Roaring Skies has Shaymin-EX, and tell me, what does FlashFire even have?

To get back on topic, the website I mentioned just before has links to trading pages within the Pokemon Trading Card Game Online’s forums. Many traders set up “shops” and these shops accept specific numbers of packs in exchange for various cards. While you may not want to trade with these shops directly, using their values of cards is a great way to go about making your own trade on the public offers function of the program. The website also offers their own evaluations of card values, which is amazing in its own right, too.

To take some of my own experience, I would like to call to mind my journey to getting all the cards that I wanted online from the new Sun and Moon set. Start by looking at this:


Now I did “overpay” just a tad, but that was because the set had just dropped, and I was in a hurry to get the cards I wanted. At any rate, I personally value four of any commons and uncommons at the cost of one booster pack. This formula has been working for me since the beginning, so I am confident in this evaluation.

Now take a look at a trade for some Trainer cards. Now this is not always consistent with every Trainer out there, some are worth more than others, but you can usually get most of them in a set of four for a single pack. Others, like N or VS Seeker, for example, will require more packs, since those cards are of higher demand than something like the Rare Candy in the picture below.

Finally, I should show you some “money” cards out there, like Pokemon-EX or Pokemon-GX. In the two pictures below, we have a stark contrast between Gumshoos-GX and Lurantis-GX. These cards, just as they are in their respective paper copies, are very far apart when it comes to price.


At the time I am writing this, ‘shoos is hovering around $4.00, whereas Lurantis is about $14.00, or so. Just as these two prices are scaled different, it is almost reflective of the online “cost” of these two cards. Now this is definitely not always the case, but in this example, one could use each online pack at a $1.00, and for each dollar a card is worth in the real world, divide by $1.00. So, a $15.00 card is going to be worth around fifteen virtual booster packs. That sentiment can be used as a decent rule of thumb when it comes to the guessing game that is PTCGO, sometimes.

To wrap up on this section, you can do the math to determine how many online booster packs you will need to get started on the game. Just for example, the Sun and Moon set took me around three hundred packs, personally, to complete. This got me all of the playable Pokemon-GX cards, as well as the Rares and all the Trainers I wished for.

Online booster pack codes cost anywhere from $0.20, to $0.50, depending on the set. I try to get all of mine for the lowest price possible, and then I attempt to be as frugal as I can to make sure I get as many cards as I can for each pack that I trade away. I never open them, because I prefer the “consistent guarantee” of trading (or “buying), as compared to the obscene risk of gambling and opening packs.

Versus Ladder

I would like to start this last piece by calling to mind that many, many people out there think that playing PTCGO in general is a poor form of testing Pokemon. Many are quick to judge and call to mind a “rigged algorithm of shuffling”, and show off their disgusting hands of things like four copies of VS Seeker. Do you truly believe that a huge enterprise like Pokemon would not make the shuffling sequencing up to par? Well, the company absolutely did, and the online game is the most “pure” of testing forms. It is the “perfect” randomization properties, and does not account for improper shuffling that does take place in the real world of paper cards.

With that out of the way, the next fallacy I would like to address is that of “terrible opponents”. Much of my testing is from playing random opponents on PTCGO. While some of them are playing rather unplayable decks, the clear majority are playing something that you could see in a sanctioned event. Never expect perfection, though, but these players are just like the next random opponent you could sit down across the table from at a tournament.

I do not know if there is any hard evidence of this, but it has seemed for me personally, the more wins I get with a deck, the better opponents I play. Starting off fresh with a new deck usually seems around the time that I face off with something that you might see straight out of a theme deck.

The versus ladder, as underwhelming as it can be, awards prizes as you advance. This is a nice incentive to keep playing, and lately, some of the awards have been fantastic (Darkrai-EX from BREAKpoint and Max Elixir come to mind).

Remember, each and every game you ever play builds muscle memory, not only with your hands, but in your brain, itself. The more times you play an Ultra Ball and choose which cards to toss, you are making conscious decisions and becoming more and more acquainted with the best decision that can be made. Even against the worst of opponents, this repetition matters.

The online game is by far the best way to play a high frequency of games in an allotment of time, and that is my personal favorite thing about it. On a good day in about an hour, I can play upwards to seven games. That is incredible, and while playing in person with real cards can be more satisfying, I find the most satisfaction in knowing that I played as many games as I could, and got the most out of my time.

I cannot say for sure if you will be a changed person after reading this, but I am going to hold strong to my thoughts about the Pokemon Trading Card Game. The versus system is incredible, and there is always someone on the other end waiting, like you, for a game. You can get the sample size you are looking for, and improve your game overall much faster than you can on a card table. What is more to want?


That is all I have for you all today, folks! There is a lot of valuable information here that you at the very least can stuff away until you are ready to invest into the Pokemon Trading Card Game Online. If you are already wanting to get started, then you can use this article as a guideline to make sure you make the most out of your money, and time. Thanks for reading everyone, and until next time, take care!



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  • Nick on

    Really good article – thanks for taking the time to write up. However, there is one thing I disagree with; “Starting off fresh with a new deck usually seems around the time that I face off with something that you might see straight out of a theme deck.” I’m not sure what to make of that to be honest. May be there is something wrong with my game but if I put a new deck together, eg Lycanroc GX/Carbink I usually get slaughtered by something like Volcanion EX with a perfect draw. Literally every time. I have asked PTCGO about their match-making system to little avail. My in game level is 30 but ive no idea if this makes any difference (this was just fun to complete the challenges) but what I would say is that I generally get very tough, experienced opponents and I could never squeeze in 7 (ish) full games in one hour. Maybe its just me but I would love to draw a few starter decks with no experience every once in a while. Apart from this monster frustration, the platform is actually pretty good. Cheers, Nick

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