How To Prepare for a Tournament, OR: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Soap

Going along with my previous article “Tools of the Trade“, I thought I would write a brief article about the very next question I get asked:


Maybe I just think too much, but I’m often bewildered by players, especially high level players, who aren’t fully prepared for tournaments the night before, or even the day of. Luckily for them, I’m here to provide a handful of tips that will guarantee* tournament success.

* – No guarantee.

Decide on a deck

Everyone has different opinions on deciding what to play. Some players play one deck the entire season, becoming insanely good at playing it. Others decide the night before a tournament after hours of hotel room testing. Others decide the morning of the tournament. Whatever your choice, the first step is to pick one deck. We can go into what makes a good deck choice and anticipating your metagame and playing what you’re comfortable with, but that’s another article for another time.

S.O.D. (Sleeve, Order, Decklist)

After you’ve chosen your deck, you’re probably going to want to sleeve/resleeve it. I always resleeve at tournaments State level of higher, cause I can’t be dealin’ with penalties and game losses, nahmean? If you trust that your sleeves are in sufficient condition, then go for it, you GAMBLER.

Next, you’re going to want to order your deck for deck checks, and our third step…

Printing a decklist. I use SteveP’s program just because it’s fast and simple, but there’s nothing wrong with using one of the POP provided ones available on Poké I highly recommend against writing out your decklist at the venue, but maybe that’s just because by that time I’ve usually gorged myself on Red Bull and hotel waffles. Whatever your decision, all tournaments require a decklist so you should probably get on that.

Check, Check, 1, 2

As you’ll learn from my previous article I am some kind of special a very prepared, organized individual. This means that, during the morning of the tournament I’m known to check my storage box multiple times ensuring I have my deck, extra sleeves, dice, mascots, playmats, decklist, etc. all organized and ready to go. If you’re not like me you can probably just check once and go live a normal happy life, but I digress.


Oh God this is the most important step. You don’t even know.

The morning of the tournament, you should set your alarm 30 minutes earlier than you would typically, and hop in the shower. Use soap, water, shampoo, and conditioner (if you’re into that) to make yourself presentable for not only your opponents, but also the gorgeous single male/females/etc. that are sure to be flocking to the top tables.

It’s also probably a good idea to apply deodorant before and possibly even during the tournament.

No, your smell is not a ruse to distract your opponent. Stop that.

In conclusion, there are several different ways of preparing for a tournament, and no method is truly right or wrong (but please GOD do bathe). I’d love to hear your thoughts about what you do differently than me, or even what you do the same, what you need to work on, etc. Hit up the comments.

Reader Interactions

57 replies

  1. Jordan Baker

    YES YES YES YES YES! Way too many people who play pokemon are complete and total slobs. Please everyone heed Kenny’s advice.

  2. Karol Nowak

    So, it looks like Six Prizes finally has its version of an article that talks about “Getting ready for a big tournament.” Well, I got to admit, this is one very well written article. Great job writing it! Your articles are becoming very good, and they may even help a lot of players as well, especially this one.

  3. David Burnett

    LOL I’m the same way! The only thing I need now are some mascots (preferably a Lucario and a Zorua)

    Batheing, the most important thing*! I cannot stand it when I smell bad, so you can imagine how that is! I like to call it Double Coat of OldSpice Body Wash/Deoderant! ROOOOOAAARRR!

    *Besides having your deck, POP ID, Hotel Room, and most of all your self!

  4. Chris Barrieau

    No! I shall smell so good I will infatuate my opponent and they will have a lowered probability of attacking me! Mwahaha! >:3


    That entertained me. =] But yes. I agree. I’ve encountered some pretty bad smelling players at tournaments… and it can even make the play venue (depending on intensity of stench and size of venue) less of a happy event for some people. =[ Furthermore, I find that having taken a long hot shower before a tournament helps you clear your mind a lot better and makes you feel completely refreshed. I know it’s unpleasant to encounter stinky and gross players, but taking a shower for yourself as well will actually increase your performance because you’ll feel overall better and more relaxed and mentally and spiritually prepared, and you’ll be able to think clearer and make less bad plays and do better in the tournament. =] Clear thinking is directly related to personal comfort because you’re spending less time thinking about your discomforts and negativity, and more time feeling comfortable and focusing on the game. =]

    Arriving with a pre-made decklist also helps clear your mind because you’ve less to stress over ’cause it’s already done. ^^

    Another thing I could say is playtest and playtest lots. Play vs your friends, on redshark for some games you’re not used to, but play only with the deck you’ll be using. Get all your misplays out of your system, and spend some time thinking about which decks will arrive at the tournament and how your deck plays against them. Don’t play with other decks, that should have been done a lot earlier on.

    Eat a good, filling meal so that you’re not playing on an empty stomach.
    Bring snacks and a water bottle or two.

    If you’re as music oriented as I am, find some good suiting music to listen to before the tournament. I personally find it makes you feel more comfortable while playing. Nothing too stressing that’ll make you lose your focus, and nothing too mellow that you’ll miss stuff.

    Basically, make yourself feel as comfortable as possible to help you play better, and practice a lot beforehand, not just the night before. Play regularly for a week or two, like every day or two or something, to get more into the game. =]

  5. tim h

    This could be summed up with two, massive, bold words.



  6. L M

    I hope this intervention er… article does not fall on deaf ears. It’s time to put an end to the smellies!

  7. Ed Mandy

    I’m always a bit surprised at how many people fill out a decklist, by hand, with like 5 min left before the registration closes.

  8. Martin Garcia

    In every big event or challege that i face, i have come up with the following metod of preparation, consisting in 3 diferent parts: Mental, physical, and spiritual preparations.

    Mental: Practice what you will do!
    Practice what you will do unitl you can do it even asleep. Make sure you dont make any stupid mistakes. Simple right? (Card games, studying, an interwiev, whatever it is)

    Physical: Eat breakfast so you are not hungry, dress accordingly so you are not cold/hot, go to the bath so you dont need to do it in the event, get lots to drink so your are not thirsthy, sleep a lot so you are not sleepy in the event, make sure you dont feel ill or sick, ect.
    In general, your body must be in TOP shape, so your mind can actually work at 100%.
    If you have to worry about being hungry, cold, or whatever, you lose focus in the game you are playing.

    Spiritual: Confidence, concentration, focus, clear mind.
    You need confidence in yourself, and practice to focus in only one thing. If you arent 100% convinced you can do it, dont even try, you will fail. To perform at maximun capacity, you need to believe that you can perform at maxium capacity, its actually quite simple, but at the same time, hard to achieve.
    Its amazing how a little bit of confidence can work wonders in making you a better player. On the other hand, its also amazing how the lack of confidence can destroy an excellent player´s game.
    I guess thats it for my preparation.

  9. mewuk85

    This was a great article. Great insight on how to prepare.
    My favorite parts of the article is when you said.

    -It’s also probably a good idea to apply deodorant before and possibly even during the tournament.
    -No, your smell is not a ruse to distract your opponent. Stop that.

    Great humor to start the day! Ha ha Lol

    But truly, I know I have forgotten a deck or dice and even a playmat before so thanks.

  10. Collan Baker

    So many players needed to hear the bit about taking a shower and using deodorant.

  11. Ryan Graham

    So in conclusion, bathe before tournaments.

    Again, very well written article. You should also too probably bathe.

  12. James Hall


    My first tournament was the Regionals held in Indiana and I didn’t even know we needed a decklist…

    I know, I know, NOOB!

  13. Ed Mandy

    That makes complete sense to me. It’s perfectly logical for a noob to not know that. It’s the guys that come every time and are late with making the lists that are odd to me.

  14. Joshua Pikka

    What I thought one of the perks of being a CCG player is that you don’t have to bathe?

    Since when did the showering policy come into effect?

  15. Joshua Pikka

    Yeah some people even the good ones wait until the end, while some have their decklists printed out days in advance.

    I dont know the advantages of either one, but waiting till the end is a little weird.

  16. Karol Nowak

    No, I don’t even have any hygiene issues. I’m just saying that his articles are pretty helpful and detailed.

  17. Chris Barrieau

    “Your articles are becoming very good, and they may even help a lot of players as well, especially this one. ”
    That’s a quote from your comment. I think Jordan Baker only meant to say that you saying this can be read as you having hygiene problems, because when you say “especially this one”, it could be thought that this one” refers to players and not to articles. So since this article seemed to focus on having good hygiene, it made it sound as if you were saying the article about soap would help you a lot. I figured that’s not what you meant, but I had noticed it kinda sounded like that.

    Just thought I’d clarify this situation for the both of you. =]

  18. Martin Garcia

    in my first BR i didnt knew that too, so i had to write my list in a rush couse the tournament was starting xD

  19. Tony

    Oh, and don’t forget to bring a pack of gum or at least brush your teeth. You know, you even get a free dice holder with some of those plastic gum containers! Maybe Pokemon should start selling the “Pokemon Hygeine Tin”- complete with your favorite Pokemon-logoed toothbrush, deodorant and volume-enhancing shampoo. They’re sitting on a goldmine and don’t even know it!

  20. Tony

    Actually, I thought you didn’t wash your hair- that’s why you wear the hat!

  21. 3lectricpancake

    Very nice article. Now I will have my list to see to when I get ready for some big league events.

  22. Guy Bennett

    I just want to be the first to appreciate the title of your article. I watched Dr. Strangelove just the other night and thoroughly enjoyed it. What a satirical american classic! So yeah, there’s at least someone out here who appreciates the creativity of your title!! Great article too.

  23. theAlmightyTrux

    “It’s also probably a good idea to apply deodorant before and possibly even during the tournament.

    No, your smell is not a ruse to distract your opponent. Stop that. ”

    OMG thank you so much for writing this. It’s so friggin true. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

  24. Adam Capriola

    I don’t do that either actually hahaha, you got me figured out Tony. :P

    I do shower though! I’m not a complete bum. ;)

  25. Tony

    As you can see (or not see), I don’t have a picture icon because of my black teeth, lice-infested hair, and non-deodorized underarms. However, this article has inspired me to great things, so watch out Pokemon world!

  26. Michael Randolph

    You completely forgot to mention the negative effects of people whom describe their moves with play by play precision whom havnt brushed their teeth. This can cause a many of negative effects, the worst being an upset stomach and bitter beer face!

  27. Anthony Smith

    Personal Hygiene is an issue with all competitive gaming scenes. It’s amazing. I’ve seen official rulesets at competitive gaming tournaments include “You are required to shower that day before entering the venue”. lmao.

    I challenge someone to turn up to an event in a full suit. If there’s ever a ‘World Suit Up day’ on a league day, I’m totally doing that.

    But seriously, I think pride and confidence in oneself, even just your appearance and hygiene, is where success in anything begins.

  28. Anthony Smith

    I’ve even been to LAN gaming events where they put deodorant in the male toilets marked ‘Use me!’

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