How to Spot Fake Pokemon Cards

This article will show you how to spot fake Pokemon cards. We’ll show you some simple tests you can perform to determine if your Pokemon card is genuine or a counterfeit.

How to identify fake Pokemon cards... real and fake Pokemon cards.

We get a lot of comments from people asking us to identify cards that they can’t find on Cardmavin. If you search for your card and don’t find any results… it could be a fake. Or maybe you have a valuable Pokemon card but it just seems “off” in some way. It could be a counterfeit card. This guide will help you identify fake Pokemon cards.

Look it up on

If you type in the card name and number on it’ll return results for cards just like yours. If it doesn’t return any results, it’s probably a counterfeit card. No results means nobody has sold the card online… that’s a bad sign. If Mavin does return results, click on the card images to take a closer look. Are they identical to yours? Keep reading to learn how to spot the differences between fake and genuine Pokemon cards.

Compare it to Genuine Cards

If you found some cards on Mavin that are similar to yours, the next step is to take a close look at the following details:

Card Stock

Counterfeiters don’t go through the trouble of using the same quality card stock used in genuine Pokemon cards. An easy way to see the difference is to hold the card up to a bright light (I use a flashlight). The light will be much brighter when you shine it through a fake Pokemon card compared to a genuine one. Genuine Pokemon cards are made by sandwiching a layer of semi-opaque paper/plastic in the middle of the card. Counterfeiters don’t go through the trouble, making them slightly more translucent.

Or you can tear the card in half to see the middle layer… but take my word unless you want to destroy the card to find out!

Another simple test you can perform is “The Bend Test”. Hold the Pokemon card with two fingers, one at the top and one at the bottom and bend the card over. Genuine Pokemon cards won’t crease when they’re bent… fake ones often will. Go easy on the cards… it would be a shame to crease a genuine card by doing an overly aggressive bend test.

Another thing to check for is the coating on the card. You’ll notice counterfeit cards won’t have the same glossiness as a genuine card… or they’ll be too glossy. It’s tough for the counterfeiter to get just the right amount of gloss. You can often feel the difference just by rubbing your finger across the surface… compare this to a genuine card and you’ll realize the card stock they used isn’t the same as a genuine card.

Colors and Effects

The process for printing Pokemon cards is a closely kept secret… counterfeiters don’t use the same sophisticated printing process resulting in a card that looks like it was scanned into a graphics program and printed on an inkjet printer. The fake cards will look a bit blurry and have more or less vibrant colors than genuine cards. Try looking at the back of the Pokemon card and compare the color shading to a genuine card… the genuine card will have more color variations in the shading than a fake Pokemon card. The fake cards just look a bit flat.

Holographic effects are hard to counterfeit. Often times the counterfeiter won’t even bother trying to recreate the shiny/shimmering holographic effect and print off a non-holographic version of the card, making it look blurry. If they do attempt a holographic effect it often won’t shine and shimmer to the same degree a genuine card will. It’s simply too hard for them to reproduce with the same quality as a genuine card.


Compare your card to a genuine version (look it up on… is the text an exact match? I’ve seen fakes with misspelling, different wording, incorrect line breaks, even missing punctuation. For example, a real card will always have the accent symbol like “Pokémon”… but a counterfeit might have “Pokemon” without the accent symbol.

Are the HP and Attack numbers the same? Fake cards will often inflate these numbers in an attempt to make them more powerful. If the numbers are unrealistically high, it’s probably a fake.

Do the fonts match genuine Pokemon cards? The counterfeit cards will often pick a font that is similar but not an exact match. If you’ve got a good eye for typography you’ll notice this right away. Examine the text from a known genuine card and make sure the shape of each letter is the same. Also make sure the font weight is the same… usually the fake card will have letters that are a bit bolder, or lighter, than a genuine card.

Really bad counterfeit cards won’t bother re-mastering the text and instead will scan the card and “cut out” the text… making the text really thin and blurry, a dead giveaway it’s a fake.

Edges and Borders

Genuine Pokemon cards will have excellent centering… the border around the card will be uniform on all sides. Fake cards will often be off-center a bit… resulting in a border that is thicker on one side of the card.

Another thing to look at is the edge of the card. A perforated edge is a dead giveaway that it’s fake… genuine Pokemon cards are never torn from a perforated sheet of cards.

Also look for the middle layer sandwiched between the card… genuine Pokemon cards will have this, but it’s difficult to see (unless you rip the card in half!). Fake Pokemon cards will be made from a single piece of card stock… no sandwich layer in the middle!

In Conclusion…

I can often spot the difference between a fake and genuine Pokemon card just by looking at it… the lower quality of counterfeit cards are a dead giveaway. If I’m still unsure, I’ll use the spotlight test and the bend test to make a final determination.

Let me know in the comments what you do to spot fake Pokemon cards!

Excellent Video by Phelous

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