TCG Tournament Tips

Trading Card Game Tournament Tips

Tournaments are fun competitive events which can be confusing and overwhelming if it is your first tournament. If you are playing in a tournament you should be familiar with the rules of the game, but here are some tips to help clarify some of the more common game-play issues you may encounter at any tournament.


Required Materials

You can't expect a painter to paint without paint or a chef to cook without a kitchen. Pokémon is no different. Pokémon TCG Trainers can use this as a checklist of Required Materials when preparing themselves for a tournament. Tournament Staff cannot supply players with Required Materials.

  • Your 60 card deck that meets the tournament format requirements.
    • Most tournaments and all premier event tournaments use the Standard Constructed- Boundaries Crossed-On
    • Some Tournaments may use the Expanded Constructed Format- Black and White-On
    • Regionals and Higher Level Tournaments may use multi-format tournaments that use both Standard and Expanded
  • A deck list of the 60 cards you plan on using throughout the tournament.
    • If you are unable to fill out your deck list prior to arrival to a tournament blank deck lists will be on site for you to fill out. If you have to fill out a deck list on site please arrive as early as possible to avoid a Round 1 game loss. Players must be in the deck check line prior to the end of registration if they want to play in the tournament without a Round 1 game loss.
  • Damage Counters (You can use dice for damage counters, they are easier!!!).
  • Poison and Burn Markers.
  • A coin or a die to use has a randomizer.
    • If you choose to use a die has a randomizer it must meet the following criteria.
      • Transparent or Translucent (see through).
      • Six-Sided with well rounded corners.
      • If using dice for damage counters, your randomizer die must be distinguishable from the dice you use as damage counters.
  • If using sleeves, have extras incase any break.
  • Your Player ID number. (If you do not know your Player ID number ask the League Leader or Tournament Organizer who issued you your Player ID for it, they should have it on file.)
    • If you don't have a Player ID number one can be given to you at any league or tournament.
  • Money
    • Most big tournaments will have a lunch break and/OR side events.
Game Play
Use the Universal Language of Pokémon:
  • Before you start a game and after you finish a game shake hands with your opponent.
  • Before the game begins shuffle your deck in front of your opponent and give him or her the opportunity to cut.
  • After any midgame shuffle, again, offer your deck to your opponent to cut.           
  • Follow the rules for Paralyzed, Asleep, and Confused.
  • Use dice or damage counters to keep track of damage.
  • Use makers for Poison and Burn.
  • Your deck and discard pile should be should be on one side of the field and your Prizes and the Lost Zone must be on the opposite side of the field. The Lost Zone is above your Prizes.
  • Make sure all cards attached to your Pokémon are visible to your opponent.
  • If you don't know what one of your opponents cards do ask to read it. It is both players responsibility to know what each card in play does.
  • If you have any questions about what is going on, how a card works, or if there is a problem with your game that needs to be resolved ask your opponent to stop playing and call a judge immediately. Do not try to fix any problems yourself or ask your neighbor for help. for a ruling question, Call a Judge. Judges cannot always correct a problem if play has continued.
  • If you disagree with or don't understand a ruling a floor judge has made it is your right as a player to appeal to the Head Judge.
  • Avoid unnecessary questions or remarks. Unnecessary questions or remarks may distract your opponent or mislead your opponent as to your intended play. These actions could result in penalty

Tournament Procedure

  • Tournaments are run using 3 age groups.
    • Masters- Born in 1999 or earlier.
    • Seniors- Born between 2000-2003.
    • Juniors- Born in 2004 or later.
  • Most tournaments use Swiss Round Pairings.
    • Swiss Round Pairings is a tournament system where players play a set number of games regardless of winning or losing. Numbers of rounds are determined based on number of players in attendance.
  • All premier events are uses Swiss Round Pairings plus Single Elimination Finals if an age group has 8 or more player.
    • League Challenge events do not have Single Elimination Finals.
    • Following the Swiss Rounds the top players are seeded into a Single Elimination Playoff Bracket. Each Single Elimination round players play a best 2 out of 3 match. The first player to win 2 games advances in the tournament.
    • Number of players that play in Single Elimination Finals is determined based on number of players in attendance.

Beginning of Round

  • Before each round a staff member will post Pairings. Names appear in alphabetical order, find your name on the left side of the pairings sheet and go to the table number to the left of your name. When your opponent sits down you can set up but cannot start.
  • To the right of your name is your win-loss record, if this is number is wrong please tell a staff member right away, if the round starts the error cannot be corrected. If you have 2 wins and 1 loss this number should say 2-1. If it says 3-0 or 1-2 tell a staff member.

End of Round

  • During the round a staff member will put a match slip at each table.
  • When you finish your game initial the match slip and circle win or loss, have your opponent do the same and raise the match slip in the air, a staff member will come collect it. Fill out the match slip before picking up your belongings.
  • Before you leave the table it is recommended that you count your deck to insure you have 60 cards and that your opponent didn't pick one up by accident.
  • After you fill out your match slip and counted your deck, please collect your belongings and leave the play area. Players can not watch active tournament games when they are finished their game, they must leave the play area.

Time Limits

  • Swiss rounds are 30 minutes + 3 turns long. This means if time is called during Player A’s turn, Player A gets to finish his or her turn, then Player B gets a turn (Turn 1), Player A gets a turn (Turn 2), and finally Player B gets another Turn (Turn 3). At the end of Turn 3 if there is no winner, the game is a Tie.
  • Some Larger events may use Best 2 out of 3 with a 50 Minute Time Limit during Swiss Rounds.

The Most Important Tip of all- HAVE FUN!!!!