Pokemon TCG Online Trading Guide – build a competitive deck for free

"Catch 'em all, Ash, but don't spend on microtransactions." - Ash Ketchum's mom

One of the reasons I keep coming back to Pokemon TCG Online is because of how well it treats free-to-play players. If you know what you’re doing, you can easily start getting the best cards in the game within a week. In this Pokemon TCG Online trading guide, I’ll take you through the entire process of going from “new account, have nothing” to “winning tournaments, collecting more decks”.

Step 1: Play Versus matches until you get 500 Coins

As a beginner with barely any cards in your Collection, you will have to exclusively play the Theme format for a while. Theme decks are pre-made decks that can be bought from the in-game shop for coins. All of these decks cost the same (500 Coins), making it easier for new players to get a head start by acquiring the best Theme deck quickly.

The one small challenge new players face is getting these 500 Coins in the first place. The game gives you a free deck called Mental Might, and three easily unlockable decks, each with one legendary bird. All of these decks are lackluster, and don’t stand up against better Theme decks.

When you begin your first matches with one of these weak Theme decks, resign if you see an opponent that doesn’t have any of them. The game has a pretty convenient matchmaking system that will immediately match you against weaker decks if you aren’t winning much. There’s no official rating system, so you have nothing to lose by resigning.

Keep playing Versus matches until you have 500 Coins. It doesn’t take long, but the real fun of Pokemon TCG Online starts once you get your hands on a good deck.

Step 2: Get a Theme deck from the Shop

Once you have obtained 500 Coins, head over to the “Decks” menu in the Shop and get a Theme deck.

Relentless Flame cost
Theme decks can be exchanged for 500 coins at the Shop

Relentless Flame is currently one of the best decks in the game. I highly recommend it for new players, because it is easy to learn and will help you speed through the Versus ladder quickly with plenty of win streaks. We have a dedicated Relentless Flame deck guide to help you use it. If the deck doesn’t look fun to you, go for one of the other meta decks: Unseen Depths, Soaring Storm, or the Rillaboom Theme Deck.

The Versus ladder is like a Battle Pass with rewards. It’s free for everyone and has plenty of great rewards.

Versus ladder rewards
Versus ladder Tier 2 rewards

Step 3: Play Versus for Tickets while also collecting Booster Packs

As you play the Versus ladder, you will obtain Coins, Tickets, Booster Packs, and Chests. Use your Coins to gather more Theme decks if you want, or go straight for Booster Packs in the Shop.

All the cards that you obtain through these methods will be trade-locked, but will help you build up your collection easily.

Daily rewards
You can obtain Coins, Tickers, and Booster Packs through Daily Rewards as well

An important thing to understand about trading is Pokemon TCG Online is that not all cards are tradable. All the cards that your Theme Decks contain – or cards from Booster Packs that you obtain from the Item Shop – are un-tradable.

However, all of these cards can still be used when you start making your own decks.

PTCGO Booster Pack

Booster Packs are the lootboxes of Pokemon TCG Online. The great thing about this game is that there is no way to buy Coins or Tickets in-game. You pretty much have to earn everything.

Players do buy codes online, since physical Pokemon packs have codes on them that people regularly sell for a cheap price. You don’t have to buy them at all, however, since it’s pretty easy to get tradeable packs in Pokemon TCG Online.

Step 4: Play Tournaments to get tradeable packs

While you use your Coins to buy Booster Packs and Theme Decks, you use your Tickets to enter Events. Theme Deck tournaments cost 4 Tickets and the rewards include guaranteed tradeable packs.

Here’s what a tournament finale looks like and the rewards I won. At the end of the video, note how the packs I’ve obtained have a trade icon on them.

The rewards that you earn from these tournaments can be used to trade and obtain the cards you desire. Never, ever open these packs. There’s always a high chance that you won’t get any good cards. If that happens, the pack loses all of its value. Use these packs to trade and buy other packs or cards.

Step 5: Use a value guide to trade, profit, and grow

Trading in Pokemon TCG Online requires you to rely on a card value guide that will update you on the real-time price of cards. Most players use PTCGOprices as a point of reference.


You can look up specific cards or Booster Packs and determine your selling and buying price. Say a Booster Pack has a value of 1.0 – you should find a card that is valued around 1.2-1.5, and try to trade that Booster Pack for that card. Once you have that card, try trading it for a card that is valued at around 1.8. Then, trade that card for something that is valued at 2.0.

Note, that all trades expire after a predetermined period of time. Trades that are about to expire appear at the top of the page. This means that setting your trade for the lowest possible time period (8 hours) and renewing it repeatedly is the best way to get noticed by more people. Creating a trade offer costs a small number of Coins that scales linearly, so you’re never losing out on Coins.


Repeat steps 3 to 5 in this Pokemon TCG Online trading guide. Have multiple trades active at any given time and keep trading till you get the cards you want. The playerbase is pretty active and you can easily find buyers and sellers for most items at any time of the day.

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Rahul Abhyankar

I'm a 25-year-old writer and digital marketer based in Toronto.
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