Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

How to Interact with a Judge

Learn how to properly deal with Judge calls in this FREE article.

06/06/2019 by Zach Lesage

Something is Wrong!

Your opponent just tried to double attach, you think to yourself, did they attach already this turn?!?! You ask your opponent, they respond with a red face and apologize saying that they forgot. They are about to continue on with their turn and you are upset because something feels wrong... I am Zach Lesage, one of the managing partners for 60 Cards, and I want to share some tips today that will help make you realize what to do in a weird situation.

It sucks to call a Judge over because it creates for an awkward moment between you and your opponent, but you need to understand that the Judges at events are there to help. It isn’t really a negative thing, it is the best protection for an honest game of Pokemon. The above situation happens to many players, mostly newer players, because they didn’t realize that it is their duty to stop the game and let their opponent know that they broke the game state. In that scenario, it might sound like our hypothetical opponent is just being forgetful, but what if it is a cheater who just got caught? I’m not a judge, you are not a judge, and your opponent is certainly not a Judge... You wanna know who is a Judge though? The Judge is a Judge and they are there to *calmly* find a solution. If you don’t call Judges, games are unfair, tournaments end up having different results through ripple effects, and the cheaters walk away with prize money. In this article, I will detail the steps on how to prevent “broken game states” by properly assessing situations and calling a Judge over.

The following steps should help you learn to call a judge in any scenario so let’s get there.

Pause The Game

You have obviously realized that something is going wrong in the game and it is best to stop the game exactly where it is right now! If you wait until your opponent shuffles their hand into the deck with Marshadow (SLG; 45)  or if you remember a turn too late, you may be at fault for breaking the game state just as much as your opponent. The best way to do this is to flat out tell your opponent that you believe there is an issue with the game and that you want them to stop their play to resolve this. If you are playing at an event versus a player who speaks a different language than you or if any additional special assistance is required, call for a Translator. Explain to them that you would like your opponent to stop the game and to help translate with the opponent. In any case, it is best to treat a situation such as this with respect to your opponent and not to accuse them right away!

Ask What Happened

So you think your opponent just drew an extra card from Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) ’s Trade, but you aren’t sure and you are worried that you might be imagining things. That’s ok! I often ask my opponent their hand size every few turns or so, I look through their Discard Pile, and I frequently ask questions. In any case, you need to NICELY and I can’t stress that enough. Ask your opponent if they drew an extra card, that’s the easiest way to do it. In most cases, they will just say whoops and ask what to do next. You may be playing against the newest player in the game, a friend, a cheater, or one of the greatest players of all time -- it doesn’t matter. Let them know that you need to call a Judge to figure out the best way to fix the game state. Most opponents should be fine with this, but I have had opponents argue with me, intimidate me to not call a Judge over, or get upset at me for not trusting them. The absolute best resolution will always come from a Judge so I recommend to ALWAYS call for Judge when something goes wrong.

Call A Judge Over

This step is essential in making sure that a Judge notices you -- the best thing to do is to put your hand up as high as possible. Sometimes Judges might think a player is just scratching their back, but they are actually trying to call a Judge with the laziest raised hand of all time! If you have been waiting for a while, it is appropriate to call out ‘JUDGE’ in a firm way, but not to yell it either. A Judge should quickly address that you have called over for a Judge and come over to your table right away!

Explain What Happened

BREATHE! If you start jumping up and down thinking you found a cheater like the leprechauns on cereal boxes just found a new marshmallow flavour, you are not going to get anywhere! If you ask questions appropriately, state facts calmly, and show everyone respect, rules are much more likely to go in your direction. This might not always work, but it is better to be chill than irate, which I am sure every event staff member will appreciate. Confidently state your case, only talk when you are addressed, let your opponent talk when they are addressed, and receive your ruling. If you believe the ruling is incorrect or unfair, you can ask the Judge if they are the Head Judge of the event to see if you can escalate the ruling process. This isn’t meant to be disrespectful, but Judges are human and they can still make mistakes. When the Head Judge comes to the table, confirm they are the Head Judge, and re-state your case. No matter which way the ruling goes, be respectful to your opponent, the Judges, and the Head Judge.

Ask For a Time Extension

Sometimes players will have an important ruling and it will take a bunch of time. Whether the ruling takes two minutes or ten minutes, you should always politely ask for a time extension from the Judge that you were dealing with.

I can count many games that I have heard of players losing or getting a tie from a ruling just because they never asked for a time extension. Like anything, if you don’t ask, you might not receive so always keep that door open.

Thank The Judge

Finally, when a ruling happens, you gotta thank the people involved! Earlier this season at the Oaks, PA Regionals, I received a Game Loss as per the ‘New Rules’ due to having my only Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60)  in my deck being warped. This penalty fell under ‘Marked Cards’ and I received a Game Loss heading into Round 9! They deemed it as unintentional, but the minimal penalty was still a Game Loss. What did I do?!?!... I actually thanked the Judges for making the correct call; even though it was a call that took me out of contention for advancing further in the tournament. In any case, always be professional and always being respectful will go a long ways.

Eyes Like a Hawk

Ok, so you know how to call a judge and why to call a Judge, but how do you know something fishy is going on? Well, you gotta have eyes like a hawk in order to stop the sneakiest players from getting away with whatever they want. During my second round of the Mexico City Special Event this season, I noticed that my opponent’s Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60)  seemed look different than his other cards. I asked my opponent if I could see that card on his bench and I realized that the card was double sleeved. Looking at his other cards, I quickly found out that his other cards were not double sleeved. That meant my opponent could gain an advantage by having varying thickness of cards in their deck which can be manipulated to their advantage.I immediately stopped the game, told my opponent what happened, and called over a Judge! Maybe my opponent made a mistake, but maybe they were trying to cheat against me. You need to pay attention to your opponent when they play instead of looking at your friend play right beside you when it is your opponents turn. Furthermore, after every deck shuffling action your opponent does, you should alternate the way you cut, shuffle, or tap their deck to offset any potential stacking techniques they could use against you. I will shuffle and cut my own teammates deck and they are some of the most honest players I know! If you are watching your opponent for any weird plays, you will often become more developed in the game and see other plays too just from noticing what your opponent is doing on a deeper level! Just remember to call a Judge if you see any sneaky actions!

Columbus Bound

That is a wrap for today. To update you on where I am at, I am sitting at 1700+ CP right now, I am hard locked for a Day Two invite to the World Championships, and I have hit my full Best Finish Limit (BFL) of eight Regional Championships this season. If you don’t understand how a BFL works, it basically takes your best performances at Regionals into account. I will be attending the Special Event at Origins and I will be going to the 2019 North American International Championships. This season has been a super exciting year for me in terms of Pokémon, life, and growth as a person. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me and I hope that you are all there for the ride! If you want to see more of my journey, follow me on my social media:

Twitch: zlesagepokemon

Twitter: zlesagepokemon

Facebook: Zach Lesage

I also have open slots for coaching so if you are interested, please reach out to me on Twitter or Facebook.


Zach Lesage

[+20] okko


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