Kenny’s Wisdom: Why You Are Bad At Pokémon (and so am I)

Mark A. HicksUsually during Cities I take a more relaxed view of writing and stick to tournament reports of events I did well at, giving a round-by-round summary, a decklist, etc. This is mostly because it’s hard to write top notch articles on a consistent basis when I’m playing Pokémon all weekend every weekend, my job gets much more busy, and there’s all of these “holiday” things everyone talks so much about. You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been writing any articles as of late, particularly not tournament reports. Why?

The answer boils down to this: I haven’t been doing too hot at Cities. I’ve bubbled the cut a few times, and other times I’ve done downright awful. I’ve yet to make a single top cut, and I’ve got to admit that it’s pretty bittersweet to see your friends succeeding so much (Tyler Ninomura and Isaiah Middleton in particular) while you continue to finish so far outside the money it’s not even funny.

Instead of sulking around and telling bad beats stories, I decided that this article would be about dealing with those losses, learning from my mistakes, and coming to terms with why I continue to lose and make those mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m an awful player, but if this season tells me anything it’s that everyone can improve, and that it’s important to reflect on your losses.

I’m going to forego listing decklists or talking about metagame analysis and and simply going to make a list of all of the things I do wrong in Pokémon. If you have the ability to look inside your self and realize your shortcomings, I’d encourage you to post your personal list in the comments section.

22 Things I Do Wrong

Mark A. Hicks1. I often get distracted during Swiss matches. If it’s a win-and-in or the first round or something I’ll be paying much more attention, but if I’m already 5-0 in 6-round Swiss tournament or if I think I have a good matchup, I’ll often look away from the table, get distracted by small things, and generally let my mind wander more than I should.

2. I care too much about having foils/the right versions of cards/nice sleeves/etc. and, although it doesn’t negatively affect my game, I could definitely be using that time to think about actual in-game play.

3. I get overconfident against players who I have never heard of or think I am better than. On the flip side, I get underconfident against players who I think are better than me, or who are “names” in the game.

4. There are times when I try to settle in-game mistakes of my opponents without calling a judge because I don’t want anyone to get in trouble.

5. My judgement often gets clouded by pressure in tense situations, and I’ll often take a much riskier line of play just to get out of the situation as fast as possible, regardless of whether it is correct or not.

6. In playtesting I’ll often scoop too early, which can lead to dismissing entire decks/technology prematurely.

7. I don’t play the game “one match at a time” and instead always thinking about how I need to win half of my games to make it, etc.

8. I often go to tournaments hoping that I’ll do well and not simply that I’ll win.

9. I’m pretty bad at remembering gamestates which, although it doesn’t directly affect my success, does make it harder to go over the game with friends and evaluate what I could’ve done differently.

cartoonstock.com10. I go through phases of not being innovative enough/discounting ideas completely (i.e. seeing The Truth the night of the Grinder and thinking it was awful) and overdoing it/innovating for the sake of innovating. I’m still struggling to find a happy medium.

11. I don’t think enough turns ahead and often lose to very straightforward lines of play because of it.

12. I will sometimes overextend to get the turn 1 or 2 win when I have a perfectly reasonable hand to play out a long game.

13. I often don’t evaluate all lines of play possible and get too hung up on what a deck “should do.”

14. Although this doesn’t particularly affect my actual play, I often put off an overserious/unfriendly attitude during matches that aren’t even all that important, creating an unfriendly environment for my opponent and an overly stressful one for both of us.

15. I don’t remember everything that my opponents have played, which is often troubling when myself or a friend is facing the same opponent later in the tournament.

16. Going along with number 15 a bit, I’ve been more lax than ever about taking notes, when in reality I should be taking even more notes now that we have such a huge metagame and wide variety of decks.

Mark A. Hicks17. I sometimes write off decks/cards as mediocre/bad and don’t re-evaluate my thoughts on them when the format shifts. The same can be said to a lesser degree about decks that I like.

19. I have trouble playing to my outs and get stuck in situations which, had I played slightly tighter, I could work my way out of with ease.

20. Connected to number one sort of, I’m willing to bet there have been opponents that have drawn extra cards and things like that simply because I like the attention at times.

21. I have a hard time playing at a perfect pace, either going into the tank for too long during stressful matches or playing too fast during early turns/easier matches, etc.

22. I’ll play much looser in Game 2 of a match in which I’ve won Game 1 because “I can afford to lose one.”

So there you have it. Twenty-two of my biggest downfalls in Pokémon. Because I realize that reading a big list of stuff I do wrong isn’t all that entertaining, I wanted to try and make this article interactive — share your own personal list of things you could improve on in the comments section, and I’m hoping we’ll be able to conjure up a lively, honest discussion about our personal shortcomings. Think of it as a New Year’s Resolution of sorts!

Looking toward the future — my mailbag article!

Because there’s a lack of Cities over the Holiday break in my area, I thought a good way of getting content out would be to ask you the readers to submit questions. I’ll then post an article up shortly after the New Year with all of your questions answered to the best of my abilities (with some additional content as well, I’m sure). If all goes well it’d be great to make this into a regular series of articles that I can whip up when there’s a lull in tournaments or something.

Feel free to leave your questions here in the comments section, or e-mail me directly at Also please let me know if you’d prefer to stay anonymous, otherwise I’ll be publishing your names with the questions.

I’ve got a lot of cool things planned for 2012 in video, audio, and the written word, so I hope you’ll all stay tuned, and I want to personally thank you all for the incredible level of support you’ve given me in 2011!


Reader Interactions

27 replies

  1. Anonymous

    21 things that almost all pkemon players do. specially number 22. i often am very tense on round 1, only to find up winnning, getting cocky, and losing round 2. and sometimes i get so focused on surprising everyone with a “pro play” that i totally forget about other things(like how my opponent catcher my terrakion one time. and so i energymtie hoping to hit a rinbow to use revenge(to knock out magnemite) only to not get it then remembering i had research records but couldnt use it. found out that the records would have gottong me the rainbow.)

  2. Anonymous

    This is exactly why sixprizes is not a very good place to read about pokemon…

    • Anonymous  → Anonymous

      And why is that? Because someone has some problems when playing Pokemon that he is trying to work out, and if he did then he would win more tournaments?

      Because that, my friend, is not a good reason at all. Most of the articles here are very informative, even if this one was more of a fun article.

      You need to loosen up.

    • Lynx Meche  → Anonymous

      If you don’t like the filler and general strategy articles, just don’t read them. It’s holiday season and the end of super-busy school time, so the FPC aren’t gonna take time out of finals and gift-buying so that they can post daily articles about popular decks and cool new rogues. Would you really rather we allow a few hundred Tyram or severely-untested Magneboar lists just to have deck analyses go up? Read the forums if you want that, loads of lists and lots of advice given daily =|

      Seriously, it helps to find out what you’re doing wrong in a match if you want to play competitively. If you can’t nail down the error, a list of common mistakes helps when you think back on your games. This is a free service, you know, not like this is UG and you’re paying money to see this one.

      • Dave Wilson  → Lynx

        Completely agree. Sometimes the general strategy articles are so much more important to the development of a good player than just reading about one deck archetype and getting someone’s list. One will have benefits later on down the road if you take it to heart and try hard, whereas dependency on the other may yield benefits in the short term but will likely not improve your skill as much.

    • Joe Lewis  → Anonymous

      I actually lol’d at this post. Sixprizes is the best place to read about pokemon. If you didn’t like this article, so what? It’s not like you’re paying for it. This writer took the time to write this article. I enjoyed this, and if you didn’t, that doesn’t mean sixprizes is bad.

    • Anonymous  → Anonymous

      well im sorry sixprizes just doesnt allow players to net deck decks that go x-0. im very sorry we liek to make members feel a sense of community and fellowship to thier partner players.

  3. lucas mazzega

    Reason #18 – When I’m doing deck lists I always want to create numbers perfectly, like energy in numbers pars, trainers and pokemons with a number logic, I don’t know why, but I always do that.

  4. Anonymous

    I never have time to build a good deck because I procrastinate :(.

  5. Lynx Meche

    Hmm, number 18 and alexmf2 are getting more attention than the article itself. (Normally I would go in and edit something like that, but there are too many comments about it, and some of them are kinda funny. If 18 is a number that is missing, have we found the article that harbors Missingno.?)

    For relevant commenting, I do like that somebody can post a list of mistakes they make. Leaves a nice reference if anybody is having trouble and wants to see if they can identify what they’re doing wrong.

    One I didn’t see on there that I do is, rather than being overconfident about a match you should win, you stress yourself to a loss against a deck that’s a negative matchup for you. Last format, I had trouble against Gyarados SF due to Crobat G/free retreat + Rescue Energy/Pokemon Rescue/Combee + BTS. Sometimes I’d try and get confident and start doing well, but lose all of it after killing the exact same Gyarados four times in a row and get too frustrated to play well. (And as soon as I got better about that, boom ZPST.)

  6. Tyler Ninomura

    #23: Always trust Tyler. He always knows what’s up and his sushi senses tingle when he realizes a new rogue can be brewed. Besides, fortune cookies grant him the ability to tell the future, and that’s always a good thing.

    In all cerealness, I loved this article. I have a bunch of the same problems that I have on-and-off on days where I feel good/bad. It happens to everyone, so this seems universal.

    I know one of my problems is that I try too hard to innovate and play different decks than the meta just for the sake of being rogue. I’ve recently seemed to get over that hurdle in terms of tournament play, but that doesn’t take away the feeling of guilt I have when I play something mainstream.

    • Anonymous  → Tyler

      Wow, that’s the same problem I have. I hate playing meta, but sometimes you just have to; there’s a reason that they’re played so much. :P

  7. Adam Capriola

    A couple things I mess up:

    1. Not testing enough. I don’t think you can ever test enough.

    2. Playing a little too fast. I think it’s good to be methodical with your moves, so you don’t accidentally screw something up. Like even if you play a Communication then want to go back in your deck by playing Collector and want to skip the shuffle, do it very methodically so your opponent understands what you’re doing and everything is copacetic.

  8. x

    “8. I often go to tournaments hoping that I’ll do well and not simply that I’ll win.”

    What size of tournament are you talking about here? For nationals and states this is usually the correct attidude as you’ll often be up against a large field of players, with many of them being as good as if not better than you. Also luck can cause you to lose games against lesser opponents and you’ll not enjoy yourself or be able to rationally assess you or your opponents mistakes if you only care about winning. The same applies to poker whether you play recreationally or professionally.

    • Adam Capriola  → x

      Eh, it depends. Psychologically, it’s a defense mechanism to lower your expectations of yourself. It allows you to do bad, and you’ll feel ok about it, but if you happen to do well, then it’s an ever greater accomplishment.

      If you’re good and you think you can do well, then your expectations should be high. If you’re a newer player, then I’d still set reasonable, but high expectations. And make them specific. Like “I want to top cut” is more specific than “I hope to do well.”

      • x  → Adam

        My point is pokémon isn’t remotely a pure skill game. Nadal goes into every Tennis tournament expecting to win, because he knows only 2-3 players are credible threats to him when he’s at his best. In pokémon you could potentially lose to anyone with enough bad luck. If Nadal loses to a nobody he knows its because he played poorly. In pokémon all you can do is pick a deck that will give you the best chance of winning.

        • Adam Capriola  → x

          That’s true, but I still feel like you should set specific expectations for yourself. Hoping to do “well” is too generic in my opinion, it’s better to set a specific record to aim for (and of course taking into account the luck that’s involved).

  9. Julian Silva

    Pointing out your flaws is a good step to becoming a better player. Writing an article will hopefully help others, like myself, recognize theirs.

    Good job.

  10. pokejav

    I loved the concept behind this article. You are on the money here, as far as analyzing where you could do better. I have this bad habit of not guarding my bench on the first turn. I feel so stupid when it happens! I just got dunked at City’s with a basic in my hand, hoping to get a Communication on my second draw. Dumb move…

  11. theo Seeds

    The first step of getting better is knowing what you are doing wrong. That’s what this article is for. Good job!

  12. Lee Caffee

    #9 is very true. In a game like Pokemon it is so easy to say, “meh, I did the best I could, but just got a bit unlucky in that match.” When you break down a match right after it happens, you will almost always find there was something you could have done better (at least for myself and anyone else who doesn’t play a perfect game every game).

    I also agree with the whole “feeling overwhelmed by big name players”. When I was playing the guy who got first in our state last season, I find myself suddenly playing faster than I should be and making more “chancy” moves in order to get out of a bad situation faster rather than thinking the thing through thoroughly. I think that statement hit on about three different numbers you mentioned there.

    Yay for mistakes!

  13. Anonymous

    Ugh I always don’t pay attention to the small details–like, special energy or resistance. I think that’s obviously more because I barely test and usually just show up for kicks. I will do better with more practice! (And so will you!)

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