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Before You Start Buying Pokemon Cards…

Although the best kept secret of the Pokemon card community is well and truly out of the bag, there’s still great value to be added by grading cards.

You just need to know which ones to go after.

In this article we’re going to look at some of the best Pokemon cards to buy raw, get graded, and add value to.

Big disclaimer first!

It goes without saying, this is not investment advice! I’m merely sharing my opinion. You are responsible for how you spend your money!

And also…

You need to be extremely thorough in your analysis when buying cards raw to grade. Being able to closely assess a cards condition and predict which grade it might get, is the key to understanding its potential future value. You have been warned!

Recommended Reading:

What are the Best Pokemon Cards to Buy Raw and Get Graded?

1. 1st Edition WOTC Pokemon Cards

The trick to buying raw Pokemon cards, and adding value by grading, is to mitigate your risk even at lower grades.

Perhaps it’s a scratch that you didn’t detect, or a crazy print line that went under the radar; if your prediction of a PSA 8 and 9 drops down to an 7 or 6 after grading, you could easily lose money on your initial investment.

Therefore, buy purchasing raw 1st Edition Wizards of the Coasts Cards on eBay for example, you reduce your risk of this considerably.


Because, the demand for these cards remains high, even a lower grades.

In fact, there are even collectors out there who try to acquire PSA 1 through to 10 (albeit usually only for the holographic cards).

Ultimately though, the age, rarity, declining population of raw variants and sheer nostalgic value make buying 1st Edition WOTC Pokemon cards on eBay a great place to start.

2. Misprint, Miscut & Error Pokemon Cards

We as collectors pride ourselves on owning cards no one else has.

Aside from Base Set Charizard (where even over 25k graded variants doesn’t impact its value greatly) most of the time, a lower population means a higher value.

Therefore, if you’re lucky enough to come across a misprinted, miscut or error card, you can bet your bottom dollar it’s worth more than the normal version.

Again, there are collectors out there who only look to acquire these kind of cars. Furthermore because of the rarity of them, they’re still desirable even at lower grades.

Here are some cool searches to get you on your way:

*All links in the bullet points below go to eBay*

3. Staff & Pre Release Pokemon Cards

In the early days of the Pokemon TCG, pre release cards were given to participants of Pokemon leagues.

Visually, they were stamped with a prestigious ‘PRERELEASE’ in gold lettering.

Popular variants include Prerelease Aerodactyl from fossil and Pre Release Dark Gyarados from Team Rocket.

Later on they were released in ‘kit boxes’ to coincide with the release of new sets.

Staff who worked at these events could acquire special ‘STAFF PRERELEASE’ variants, which of course are even more exclusive.

In my opinion, the most sought after modern staff pre release is the 2016 Charizard from Evolutions. Graded copies of this card go for thousands!

So, picking up raw ungraded variants of these cards is a shrewd move in my book.

The combination of exclusivity and limited volume can help add considerable value by simply grading them.

4. Sealed ‘Old School’ Promos

Unlike sealed booster boxes, packs or theme decks, promotional Pokemon cards tend to only come in a simple clear sealed sleeve.

There is usually some kind of informational card to cover the front and keep the artwork a surprise until opened.

These promos, especially from back in the day, are great Pokemon cards to buy and grade in my opinion.

Firstly, with a bit of pricing research on eBay you can quickly assess the cost of the card raw, and the selling prices in high PSA grades.

But also, because they’re sealed, they are often good candidates for achieving these high grades. 

Here are some of my favourite promos I buy, grade, sell and repeat:

*All links in the bullet points below go to eBay*

5. Unusual Variants from Pokemon Theme Decks

Throughout the history of Pokemon there have been some wonderfully unique cards that were only collectible via theme decks.

For example, I’m a big fan of modern variants like the Evolutions ‘Cracked Ice Pikachu‘ from the Power Theme Deck. This is a card I buy again and again.

But if you continue to go back to the early days, there are some awesome cards, that if purchased raw then graded, can add significant value to your collection.

The non-holographic Legendary Collection Charizard springs to mind first. Only accessible via the extremely rare ‘Lava Theme Deck’, this is an unusual take on an iconic card.

Buying the sealed theme deck nowadays would set you back several thousand pounds, but buying the Charizard raw is a much cheaper way of getting a great card.

Likewise, its brother, the ‘Turmoil Theme Deck’ contains a non holographic Dark Blastoise, another cool take on an incredibly popular card.

Wrapping Up

So there you have it!

Hopefully I’ve provided you with some interesting paths to pursue…

Just remember, the underlying strategy is to find cards rare and unique enough that would still be valued higher than your purchase price – even if the grade you achieve was lower than expected.

Best of luck!