Experts' corner

Mark Dizon

Level One - Preventing Cheating

With the first regional of the season fast approaching. Level One goes over common cheats and how to protect yourself from them.

09/19/2019 by Mark Dizon

Hey Readers!

Welcome back to the new season. How crazy has it been since worlds? Many of you have gone back to school and almost all of us have begun the grind to 2020 Worlds. I am so excited to try to get back to England. I went there for the last EUIC and proceeded to go 0-4 drop. I was very unhappy with my tournament play there and want to redeem myself. I just want you to know, that Jetlag is a real thing and you need to be prepared for it. 

It is really exciting that Pokemon is hosting worlds at another location. Sure, seeing different places in the US is great, however, putting Worlds in another country gives Pokemon to the chance to be a more global game. Internationals really help with this but having the biggest tournament of the year in a different location now, gives me hope for the future it might be in some other countries. 

We are currently entering the fourth weekend of league cups in the unified mind season. Sheffield Regionals just passed and the first regionals of North America is just around the corner with Atlantic City waiting to host a huge tournament. We had 800 players plus for the 256 threshold in Philidelphia last year, so I have no doubt this tournament will be bigger. We have seen a new influx of players at league, and many former players return to attempt an invitation to the Queen’s land.

While playing local events I have seen a lot of interesting situations in our local cups. I wanted to connect with players both new and old and remind you about a topic that has been on the forefront since the dawn of the game. The topic is Cheating. CHEATING. There isn’t much that feels worse in this game then when you realize your opponent was cheating. It sucks and it’s rampant.

We have recently seen cheats in our local cups that players were afraid to call judges on. Judges are here to help you. Yes, sometimes they can give wrong rulings, but for the most part, if at any point in time you feel that your opponent is doing something that they shouldn’t or you don’t fully compartmentalize what is occurring. Raise your hand up and call for a judge. This is what they are being compensated or volunteering for.

 Don't be afraid to call a judge, due to the social stigma of us looking like a snitch, or that we are telling on someone. However, sports have referees and rules for a reason, and that’s why we have judges. Ignore the stigma and call a judge. Protect the game and get help so that we can help others.


Here are some of the recent cheats we have seen in recent weeks.

1.       Player A is playing extremely fast after a deck search. They immediately place their deck down, slam a custom catcher down and draws two cards to play a sequence of cards to win the game. Player B watched everything happened so fast and decided not to call a judge.

2.       Player A has used Ultra Space, but whenever he gets a card he quickly shuffles it into his hand and when prompted he reveals an ultra beast from his hand. Player B watches this three times and never calls a judge.

3.       Player A plays two custom catchers to gust a Pokemon. Player B picks up and observes Player A’s discard. When Player A is ready to attack with his Mewtwo GX’s perfection ability, he picks up his discard to find Dragonite GX to show Sky Judgement as his attack. It is at this point that he realizes his custom catchers have been moved from the top of his discard to the bottom of his discard. Player B then begins to call Player A Sketchy and begins to ask how many cards in Player A’s hand and looking under the table accusing Player A of cheating.

4.       I recently heard a story this weekend from a veteran player where Player A had mulliganed twice while attempting to set up for a game. Player B drew for Mulligans. As Player A mulligans again, they ask player B how many cards they have in their hand, where Player B replies 12 cards. Gotcha!

Look, I am not here to say every one of your opponents is cheating. I would say less than 10% of players would ever cheat in a game. However, you need to protect yourself from the possibility of the gaming coming out of your control for something that you can prevent. A few bad apples ruin the whole bunch, so knowing what to do and being on the lookout can save you a lot of possible heartaches. Any of the above scenarios could easily but intentional, however, if it seems fishy, you need to pay attention.

Without further ado, let’s go over some of the most common cheats you might see at a tournament.

 Shuffle Cheats

There are multiple cheats that involve shuffling. One of the most important things to watch is when players look at the bottom of their decks or your decks to try to know where cards will be. Whether it is your deck or their own, the cheaters here will try to see your bottom card, middle cards or set up “cut-stacks” (where they will shuffle certain cards in hope that you will cut to that point). The players who do these cheats will generally be overly nice to try to disarm your guard, they will get you to relax. They will often not cut your deck in hopes you will not cut their deck.

The best way to combat this is simple – ALWAYS SHUFFLE. Shuffling is there for randomization. This game is full of variance. I actually HATE IT when opposing players don’t shuffle or cut my deck. I want my deck to be randomized. There are certain times when the clock is involved, I will stop shuffling my opponents' deck to save time but will alternate where I cut in the deck. This is one thing, I will always tell players, whether it is playtesting, league, or premier events, I want to cut your deck and I want you to cut my deck. One thing I really focus on doing when I am shuffling my deck or someone else’s deck is that I will look up and to the right to not have the deck within my view, or look them straight in the face so that they know, I am not looking at the deck. This also helps because I know they aren’t looking at their deck either.

Disclaimer: As someone that has played card games for years, there are certain times that you might think your opponent is cheating and they definitely aren’t. When it comes to shuffling, you might see players having a hard time looking at their hands as they struggle to shuffle. Some players have dexterity issues or they don’t practice shuffling. I generally tell these players to practice shuffling at home. Give these players the benefit of the doubt and help them with that. 

Two Energy Attachments

This one is a hard one to catch and an easy one to pull off. We have seen it happen multiple times on stream. Sometimes it comes off extremely unintentional, and sometimes it looks extremely fishy. This cheat is very easy to pull off when you are playing decks such as turbo decks that have multiple energy attachments per turn. In regular games, a sneaky player will regularly attach energy early in the turn, proceed to play multiple cards and then end the turn with an attach and then either a pass or attack. Sometimes, the player might even ask you if they already played a energy that turn. Imagine a turn where your opponent attaches energy, plays Rayquaza GX, mills and attaches an energy. Then they Tapu Koko Prism star an energy. Max Elixir twice to attach energy. Energy Switch and then Attach again and then attack. If your opponent is playing very fast, you could easily miss this.

The best way to combat this action – to pay attention to what is going on in the game. If your opponent is playing too fast, slow it down and ask them about the actions or moves they are representing. Half the battle when it comes to cheating is protecting yourself. Paying attention though it seems so simple and easy is something that we have difficulty with if we get bored or stop paying attention in a match.

The “Sloppy Play” Cheat

This goes back to playing fast or playing slow. These players will use their mechanics and slippery hands and will overly apologize for doing things wrong. This could be as easy as drawing extra cards or pretending they do not know how cards work. It could be not putting a supporter in the discard and adding it back to their hand. It could even be adding a DCE into their hand when they Ultra Ball and explaining they didn't know how it got into their hand. 

Disclaimer – sometimes player’s don’t actually know what cards do. You can combat this by actually reading cards. I told my opponent that Faba couldn’t remove stadiums at an event. I thought it was only special energies or tools, like Xerosic. We were rushing. My opponent had made some sloppy mistakes but I knew they weren’t inherently cheating. My opponent read his faba and proceeded to play. After the Match, I learned I was in the wrong and extremely apologetic. This taught me to always scan the card over and over to confirm.

Example of players not knowing how cards work would be trying to use great potion on GX Pokemon on the bench. Trying to attack without the correct energy. Generally, I believe it would be correct to call a judge for these sloppy incidents. If players are trying to gain advantages and they can draw extra cards in half their matches, this could attribute to more wins. If judges aren’t able to track these infractions, cheating players will keep getting away with it, or sloppy players won’t learn from their mistakes. Round one of a regional, my opponent played two supporters, I stopped him from activating the effect and called a judge to note it. In the last turn of turns in game three, my opponent played two supporters again, and the judges penalized him because he had been warned once already. This led to a match win. Had I not called a judge on my opponent the first time, they would have just received a warning and the match might have ended with a different result.

If you make a mistake – call the judge on yourself. Always remember the game is made to be played in a certain manner. You will make mistakes, we aren’t perfect. However, we should be fixing these mistakes by the rules.



Oof. A 60 cards article talking about stalling? Too soon? Slowplaying is very frustrating to play against and is rampant in our game. I am in the camp that we should have clocks around the venue to policy slow play. Some players argue it promotes slow play, however when calling a judge to talk slow play it really helps if you can tell the judge that your opponent started their turn at 37:40 and has been searching and it is now 36:10. Some players actually don’t know they aren’t playing at an appropriate pace, and this helps tell them. It is generally correct for you to give your opponent the benefit of the doubt if they have tough decisions in the turn with due reason. I generally stay in the 40-70 second mark for a tough decision, hoping my opponent would provide me the same courtesy on my turns with tough decisions. The caveat to this, is I am playing briskly on my other turns. You can tell when players are slow playing by seeing how fast they play when they are trying to win from behind, and how slow they are playing when they are ahead in a game. I once had an opponent who took the full-time extension for our match with a 5-minute turn before turns. We received a 5-minute extension for deck checks, this player took all 5 minutes when the time was called, and kept saying they had a tough decision. This player had already won game one and I was extremely frustrated pleading with the judge. Taking all 5 minutes of an extension was excessive. Luckily I was able to win in turns, but I would have been livid had I lost this match and not forced the tie. I knew my opponent was pushing for the one game win.

I am a full believer in trying to give my opponent the opportunity to have a good match. I know some people would not disagree with me, however, It is not something I will stop doing. Sometimes I eat up more of the clock and sometimes my opponent will. It’s finding a balance for both players. On day 2 of NAIC this year I played regional champion Andrew Martin for the second time. I won game one and let Andrew know that we had 35 minutes left on the clock. The games could go long and I wanted him to be able to know the amount we had left. This kept the match going and we had great games. We ended up in a tie anyway, but we both had an opportunity to win.

If you think your opponent is taking to long to make a play, they are continuously looking at irrelevant things, your discard, their discard before every action. Thinking and huffing and puffing before playing a card, please alert your opponent that you both have to play at a reasonable rate. I always say things such as “we both need to play a little bit faster”. I say this because it’s true and it’s not accusatory. Saying things like “ I need you to play faster” can come off as derogatory and offend your opponent. If your opponent doesn’t pick up their pace of play, then I would advise you to call a judge and ask them to observe the game for the pace of play. This will help protect you. I have had judges not call slow playing against opponents I notified them about in events versus me for that specific matchup, however, due to that player being on their radar, they ended up handing out penalties in later matchups. Do not be afraid to call a judge. That is what they are there for.


Again, your opponent isn’t always trying to cheat. Some players ruin it for everyone else. However, stay alert, and focus on games and you will catch mistakes before they happen. I hope this helps you with your upcoming cups and regionals. Always ask questions if you don’t know how things work. You will save yourself a lot of headaches and penalties. We have only scratched the surface here, there are so many cheats to watch out for such as palming, declumping, shuffle baiting and even circumstances where your opponent tries to get you to concede by telling you they have game in hand when they do not. These are a little more advanced and you should ask your testing group about them. I hope you learned something today as a newer player, and as a seasoned player, I hope it reminds you of some things to look out for. 


Until next time,




[+28] okko


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