Kenny’s Wisdom #1: Do Right And Kill Everything Part 1

Hello and welcome to the first of my weekly column, Kenny’s Wisdom. This week and the next we’ll be going over tips that I think will help you become not only a better player, but a better human being in general (probably not). This week the focus will be on things you can do outside of actually playing the game, whereas next week we’ll go more deeply into things you can do while playing a game — mindgames and such.

I hope that you’ll enjoy the article, and even if you don’t, feel free to let me know how you feel about it in the comments. In the future I’ll be doing set reviews, deck analysis, tournament reports, and other articles like this one, for as long as there’s a demand.

With all that being said, here are a few tips I’ve picked up from playing this game for the past few years. Not everyone will agree with these I’m sure, but I hope most of them will apply to everyone. As I said before, these are not so much tips for succeeding in the game, but rather succeeding outside of the game, as a person/friend/member of the community.


Take a shower before events. I went over this in my tournament preparation article , but it’s worth repeating here: If you want people to enjoy their experience playing with you, being at an even with you, and generally just being around you, hygiene is key. Take a shower before events, apply deodarant before (and during, if need be) events, and make sure that you generally look and smell presentable. Trust me, this will go a long way.

Walk, speak, act, and play with confidence.

I don’t remember where I originally read or heard this, but one tip that’s stuck with me through all of my life (probably one of the top 10 most important things I’ve ever learned, to be honest), is this: “When you walk in a door, never stop. Make it one fluid movement of getting out of your car (or whatever), reaching for the door handle, and walking in. To stop and awkwardly shuffle your feet before opening a door shows a lack of confidence.” Obviously I’m paraphrasing here, but I find this an incredibly helpful tip both in Pokémon, and in most situations in life.

Be confident. Always. This isn’t to say that you should be cocky, rude, disrespectful, or arrogant, but always convey a sense of confidence, even if you’re nervous. Look people in the eye when you talk to them, speak clearly at a loud-enough-to-hear-but-not-loud-enough-to-shatter-eardrums tune, and always shake hands with opponents after a game. Always stay calm, cool, and clear through any situation that may arise while at the event or involved in a game.

Be respectful of others

I don’t know how it is in your universe, but in mine, events often have high numbers of attendance, and the places they’re held in may not always be optimal (except Olympic Cards and Comics in Lacey, WA holler). Whether it’s an issue of space, or in the case of one of our local shops, smells, typically you’re going to reach some state of uncomfortability during an event.

Luckily, you can do your part in not only helping yourself, but others as well. Making sure that everyone has adequate space to play (playmats often get in the way of this, no matter how much I love them), not interrupting matches, speaking at an appropriate tone, etc. can go a long way in how your community perceives you.

Keep a clear, clean board

One of the most irritating things I’ve experienced when playing Pokémon is the guy who comes in late after lunch with a half eaten McDouble in tow, drops his dice on the way to the table, spills his deck on the floor, and then guess what? He forgot his mats in the car. Once you finally do start playing, he doesn’t display tools and energy the correct way, puts his deck in random places, doesn’t display LV.Xs correctly, stacks his prizes, forgets to set damage, or doesn’t set it directly on the card, and doesn’t spread out his benched Pokémon enough on the board. This makes the game completely unfun for the person playing against him/her, and can easily be prevented by managing time and your things a little bit better.

Respect others while spectating

We all understand that byes happen. As do donks, and as do unusually short games in general. We also all know that you probably have friends/teammates in the event, and you’d like to see how their matches go. This doesn’t mean that you should pull up a chair next to them and exchange pleasantries during their game, all the while talking about how good their hand is, and how easy their opponent’s deck is to beat.

Some TOs have set rules for spectating, but in general, as a decent human being, there are some rules that can be followed. Standing behind your friend, quietly observing the game is the best way to go about things (as long as you’re not infringing on others’ space, of course). After the game ends is when you can go over matchups, plays, how your game went, etc.

Pre-match etiquette

I admit myself that I’m unable to always follow this pattern, but in general, your pre-match etiquette should be something like…

– Check table number, sit down at table
– Introduce self to opponent, ask for his/her name if you’ve forgotten
– Exchange pleasantries (nice to meet you, hand shakes, etc.)
– Shuffle deck
– Shuffle/cut each other’s deck
– Coin Flip
– Wish good luck

Obviously time, your own attitude, your opponent’s attitude, and a number of other things factor in to the equation here, but you should try your best to adhere at least somewhat to those standards, or similar ones. Pokémon isn’t exactly known for it’s socialites, so it’s always nice when someone knows how to properly introduce themself, and has generally good manners.

Post-match etiquette:

Again, here are a few simple guidelines for after a match:
– Establish who has won clearly (very important to do this first)
– Sign match slips (very important to do this second)
– Clear board (pick up cards, dice, counters, mats, mascots, etc.)
– Hand in match-slip (I’ll go over this more in Pt. 2)
– Shake hands, wish good luck in the rest of the tournament

Not only will following these simple rules help you if a disagreement happens between who won/lost, what the gamestate is/was, etc. but it’ll also help what your opponent thinks of you, and how you handle winning and losing.

I hope everyone enjoyed this article, and will come back next week when we delve into the competitive side of this very same topic. Let me know what you thought in the comments!

Reader Interactions

35 replies

  1. Anonymous

    Solid article mr. Wisdom. I know that this might come as second nature to a lot of you guys, but it can always help to read this over– good tournament eticate will keep you less mentally stressed and exhausted over the course of the day.

    My rule for spectating: if they can rotate their torso and hit you while still sitting, you are too close.

    Sometimes I try and avoid the handshake after I have donked someone if they are someone I don’t already know/ has known to not have the best in-game disposition. Some people are sensitive and angry after a donk, and might do this:

  2. Zachary Lesage

    I enjoyed this article and it is great for those who need to read it. Hygeine is the biggest thing ever because when you are in a crowded shop, you can seriously make some people sick. One time my dad vomited because some guy smelled so bad lol.

    Solid article :)

  3. Rokman

    a little like my pokemon tcg etiquette article on the gym, but whatever

    • Kenny Wisdom  → Rokman

      That’s true. I assure you I wasn’t trying to steal any of your thunder. The next part of this series kind of goes along with John Kettler’s mind game article (not fully, though), and I finished writing mine before I even know his was getting published. I hope you’re not upset at all.

  4. Evan Baker

    “Take a shower before events, apply deodarant before (and during, if need be) events, and make sure that you generally look and smell presentable. Trust me, this will go a long way.”

    Yes. This. Exactly this. While I’ll echo Pikkdogs’s “let nerds be nerds” sentiment, I don’t think there is anything in the proverbial “nerd handbook” that requires a nerd to smell bad. In the same way, proper hygiene is not exclusive to bikini models.

    The reason Kenny is bringing it up is because it’s a problem. Pokemon tournaments just plain don’t smell good most of the time, and it can cause the room to become extremely uncomfortable after a few rounds (especially at smaller tournies). Fortunately, this is a very, very easy problem to remedy… hop in the shower.

  5. ostrigal ostrigal

    You’re correct Mr. Wisdom, all of these points can (should) be applied to daily human behavior. Well said.

    During the tournament cycle, players build reputations two-fold: As a player and a person. We’re likely to face an opponent multiple times over the course of the cycle, and there’s nothing wrong with being polite and making a friend.

  6. Joshua Pikka

    Decent rules…..but:

    Stop telling people to shower

    We are nerdy card players, not bikini models.

    One of the trademarks of nerds is that they are not up on the hygiene, and if we change that we lose our identity and become something different.

    So keep on being nerds!

    • Matthew Tidman  → Joshua

      You know, I get your point, but there’s a fine line between “nerd” and “homeless person who makes everyone around them wish they could drop dead from that horrible, horrible smell.”

      So I suggest a compromise: Be sure to take a shower at least once a week. If you haven’t showered yet this week, maybe it would be a good idea to take one before a big event in a room full of people. Unless smell is one of your mind games, then you should be courteous enough to bring nose plugs with you if your opponent asks for them.

      • Joshua Pikka  → Matthew

        agreed no one likes a smelly person, but ya gotta be a little smelly to be a geek. As long as we don’t become underwear models, its okay with me.

        Geeks have already lost video games, we need to unite and stand our ground before we lose something else, even if it is not showering.

  7. George

    Great article! Everyone should read/follow these simple – proper – guidlines for respectful participation in Pokemon!

  8. chrataxe

    Speaking of hygiene, I finished my match at BR before my son and was watching him in the Juniors area. The kid next to my son in a different match called the judge over and said: “Judge, can you tell him to quit picking his nose and touching my cards!”

    • Kenny Wisdom  → Anthony

      You don’t get to spectate at all? Where do you live? We generally (in the NW) are told to stay out of the “player area” but obviously the severity of the rules changes depending on the event.

      • Matthew Tidman  → Kenny

        At the first Battle Roads of the season here we were told that we couldn’t spectate in our age groups because it might give unfair advantage to the players who finished a game early, being able to see what was in an opponents deck. It was kind of funny, actually because none of the Masters at that event were highly competitive. There were only two people running a major archetype (LuxChomp, Sablelock were the two if you were wondering). Everyone else was either running a tier 2 deck or some kind or rogue build.

        The reason for this is it’s actually a part of the official rules. Section 5.2 says, “Players who are still participating in a tournament may not watch other games still in progress, as this provides an unfair advantage to those players during later matches.”

  9. Ian Sedelow

    What is it with guides having to tell us to shower? am I the only one that takes daily showers?

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