Remember The Name

This is ten percent luck
Twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure
Fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name

Fort Minor / Remember the Name

I’m not a rap expert but that seems pretty on key for Pokemon TCG! Perhaps you don’t agree but let’s have a little analytical look.

10% Luck

You can’t effect this. You can at best average it – if you loose a coin flip 6 times out of 10 then it sucks, but it’s not your fault.

Unfortunately being programmed for survival we tend to remember bad experiences where we haven’t had a deciding input (bad luck) but only remember good decisions we’ve made (self-reinforcing fallacy)

I know mathematically that if I have 60 cards and I have 4 of a particular Pokémon and I draw 7 cards at the start I have about a 34% chance of drawing it. Sometimes I won’t draw that Pokémon for 3 games. Despite 3 hands of 7 being 34%  each, I’m not guaranteed to draw that card after 3 games because chance isn’t that simple. For Pokémon and similar CCGs it’s a hypergeometric pattern that we’re not good at intuitively recognising.

Similarly we’re more likely to remember the 4 times in a row that we failed the coin flip (how can you fail a 50/50 luck based outcome?) rather than the 4 times in a row that we won it.

In short there’s very little you can do about luck, which is why it is luck. Ideally you want to mitigate it, not rely on it, but be thankful when you ‘get lucky’.

20% Skill

Ever heard ‘The more I practice the luckier I get’ ?

This applies to any skill based game or task. Even if you aren’t playing against better opponents all the time, your game will improve as you become more familiar with your deck. The more experience you have, the ‘luckier’ you will become. Of course you’re not getting luckier, you’re getting better, by virtue of your own skill. You recognise what your deck can and cannot do, what outcomes are favourable and what scenarios you want to force in order to succeed. The trick is to maximize your ‘luck’ before pulling the trigger. Even just removing one or two dead cards before you play draw support can nudge the outcome in your favour.

15% Will

This could be easily replaced by stamina (although I don’t think it would rhyme as well!) Playing 5 or 6 rounds of best of three Swiss before a top cut is tough. It takes a lot of physical and mental fortitude. Your brain can only use sugar as energy. To that end I’d recommend making sure that you have some source of nourishment and that you keep hydrated throughout an event.

Many events don’t have time for breaks so you need to grab bathroom breaks and food breaks while you can. If you manage to ID in the last or 2nd to last round it is often a good time to go and take a break.

5% Pleasure

You gotta love the game! If you don’t love Pokémon it’s going to be very difficult to persevere when the going gets tough.

50% Pain

I’m not suggesting playing Pokémon cards is painful. Your hands might ache after a day of shuffling and cutting decks. Rather this is to say that like all art (for playing cards is not a science!) it involves some suffering.

For example 3 rounds of a Swiss tournament at up to 3 games each can be quite taxing mentally and physically. Did you have time for lunch? Bathroom breaks?

Despite these factors that we suffer out of love for the game, there are times when it can be tough. First and foremost Pokémon should be a hobby – that is to say, it should be fun.

However, at the end of some days it will not have been fun. You lost game one due to the opponent getting a lucky Acid Spray coin flip, Game 2 was against a horrible player who kept stalling and calling the judge over, you can’t remember game 3 and by game 4 you were quite convinced that the guy from game 2 had stolen your energy cards!

For the purposes of this article 50% Pain is the ability to stick, to push past the hopefully seldom rubbish occasions and try to remember the positive stuff.

100% The Name

If you’re a horrible person people will remember you for the wrong reasons, but that memory will hopefully fade quickly. Yet almost anyone who follows PTCG knows who Sam Chen is. He hasn’t actually won worlds this year, he’s just a good, gracious opponent and a skilled player!

We are fortunate in the UK that there is a general sense of honour and fair play. This, after all,  is country where in professional cricket, players own up to fouls before the umpire has time to make the call! Niche communities such as ours must be self-policing and thankfully we are lucky* to have players who are great players and great sportspeople.

*Truly in the sense that we cannot individually effect the behaviour of other people. As a community we can