Set collecting advice

Hey guys,

First off, so glad I found this place it has so much information! Thanks for all the articles/posts. I was hoping you guys could give me some advice on set collecting. So basically my goal is to collect every English set/card over the coming years, hopefully completing 1 per month (every 2-3 months when the sets get much more expensive). Do you guys have any advice? I’ve tried both collecting individual cards and buying sets outright, to be honest it seems that buying the sets in my cases have been cheaper (had to wait til I found a good deal of course) whereas some of the cards (especially holos) turn out to be quite expensive. I’ve completed Base Set (unlimited), Jungle and Fossil so far and I’ve got the majority of the Team Rocket set done, so I’m turning my attention to Base Set 2 shortly. That seems to trade for like £200-250 on eBay, which seems high but some of the individual cards are priced crazy high (looking at you Charizard and Blastoise).

It’s probably worth noting that due to the fact that I want every set, I need to be financially realistic and say that I’m just hoping for Good/Excellent and above cards and no PSA grading (otherwise I’d have to remortgage my house lol).

What are your thoughts?


Set collecting is easy, especially for ungraded. Buy the most expensive cards first. That’s it. Basically just work down the price ladder.


Acquiring the sets in pieces is part of the fun.

Trading duplicates with people like myself and others on here is a great way to put large dents in most sets.


I’m currently working on completing Base-HGSS. Its more daunting than you think, but can be done fairly cheap if you know what to look for. I’ve gotten a lot of my cards for my sets from huge ebay lots. I take out what I need and resell the rest.


:blush: i would advise to start off with the the oldest set first and work the way towards the newer ones and do one set at a time otherwise it will be feel like an endless pit with no end it sight atleast if you split it into sets you can see yourself completing each set per month :blush:

1 Like

I am still trying to novitiate myself to complete two master sets. Even that is a slog.

1 Like

Just out of curiosity, how do you get the non-holo cheap cards? That’s actually what’s killing me cause buying them outside of a lot generally cost quite a bit due to compounding shipping

1 Like

We have the same goal. My goal has beend modified during the past four years. I have a humble profession as an educator and since the beginning of my goal I’ve added a member to our family so I’m happy to have adjusted my goal at the moment as to be more realistic. In all honesty, after learning about all the English cards, acquiring every card is either near impossible for me or would take a lifetime given that opportunities arise in the first place to buy certain cards and given that I have the capital to purchase (which I won’t unless I make a career change)

Top 10 pointers for set collecting

1- buy in bulk. buy collections, buy lots, Look for variations, look for errors, look for promos, look for alternative holo patterns, track what you have, organize it, preserve it, sell what you don’t need.

2- don’t go for just one set at a time. There will be certain cards that are very pricey (graded or raw) and that you will need to watch for it’s availability on the open market. A card you are looking for might finally pop up but it isn’t listed at a decent price. Don’t buy it unless you’re dying for it. Just wait, there are thousands of other cards that you can purchase in the mean time. Some cards are not currently available on any tcg site and so you will have to wait until the moment when it pops up and grab it. For these reasons, some sets may be easily acquirable within a small time frame, but many are not.
3- It is pricier than you might think to collect true master sets. a complete 1st ed base, 1st ed neo sets, reverse holo legendary collection, skyridge, etc. These are expensive whether or not they are PSA graded. Some modern sets have Staff Prerelease cards which are more than most cards in the set combined. On top of that, Modern sets have an insane amount of secret rare/ultra rare , alternative art, alternative holos, league promos, etc. which if you are collecting, is a pain. Wait for a few years to purchase the majoirty of modern imo. Keep up to date on the actual TCG to see which sets are playable. This will impact prices. I don’t play the tcg but I listen to deaddrawgaming (DDG: A pokemon podcast) just so that I can keep up with what is hot and what isn’t and factor that into my purchasing decisions.

4- For certain cards, buy PSA/Beckett. For example, some of my first ed base set cards were cheaper in PSA 9 or 8 than a LP raw card.
5- Collect what you like first. I know that the general idea is that you should buy the expensive cards first but I find joy in buying what I like before buying what is pricey. There are tons of cards under $5 that I have picked up where the next available copy was over $10. Through a lot of small purchases, I have still saved a lot of money. Keep an eye on those expensive cards that you really want and jump on one every once in a while. I think I would lose interest if it wasn’t for all the commons and uncommons that I can hand select from certain sites for $50. Getting that package in the mail and opening up a hundred 15 year old cards is fun. It keeps me in the hobby. Treat yo self every once in a while to make it extra exciting.
6- study the hobby. I think It took me a few years but I now have the knowledge of every printed English card. Use bulbapedia for more info on every set. I don’t own every card of course but I do know of their existence and I have started to watch individual cards that I really want. For example, I really wanted a Prerelease Clefable after learning about it’s existence shortly after I started collecting. I watched it for over a year and finally found my bargain. Knowledge and Patience = $$$ in your bank. BTW I know for a fact that there are going to cotinue to be a few random cards that I don’t know about. Every few months, something pops up. Between errors and some random card that wasn’t published on bulbapedia, there is always something to learn about.
7- Cards come and go. If you miss that one sale on ebay, another one will undoubtedly come around sooner or later. After watching hundreds of cards for long periods of time, I am very glad that I did not jump the gun on certain cards. Understanding market trends and availability using psa pop reports and ebay sold listings is very important. Learn patience.
8- Strategize your buying. Learn about when sales or kickbacks typically occur on the websites of your choice. a $1000 purchase is no problem when I see a 10%-15% kickback.

9 - Store your cards properly. When I was first collecting binder sets, I used ultra pro 9 card sheets. IMO, Don’t use them. Use one of the dozens of premium binders. I really like a 12 pocket side insert binder. The guy on “Tolarian Community College” reviews dozens of premium binders. I made sure to watch all of his binder review videos before picking the binder that fit my style the best. Below is just one of his many review videos. Top 3 Best Binders and Portfolios for Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, and other Card Games - YouTube
They typically cost around $25-$35 which is a lot more money than buying a box of 50 nine pocket sheetsand a cheap 3 ring binder but In my opinion, they a) present your collection in a classy manner b) preserve your cards and allow for cards w/penny sleeves to be inserted c) don’t damage your cards like 3 ring binders will. If you can’t buy premium binders ( I only buy them when I’m gifted an amazon gift card) store your cards using other methods. I use the trainer kit boxes and organize my cards that way. I’ve started to use penny sleeves with every single card I own whether it goes in a binder or not. Here is how I store mine. Please note, this is for binder collections, not for PSA collections. How to organize and store your Pokémon cards. - YouTube

10 - Knowledge is everything. My motto is that there really are not absolutes with Pokemon (and probably with most things in life for that matter). So take my advice with a grain of salt. However, I think that just acquiring knowledge of the hobby, following it through the thick and thin, learning from your mistakes, and making sure that you don’t burn out by keeping realistic goals and buying within your means are all really important little facts that are probably as close to absolutes and indisputable as you could get. Follow efour discord, stay up to date, learn about the hobby ( I started with smpratte’s YouTube channel, which are probably the most informative Pokemon card collecting videos out there ) I am somewhat proud and partially embarrassed of the fact that as I have sifted through dozens of massive collections and organized tens of thousands of cards, that I learned the most and probably was more inspired to get into the hobby by watching every single one of his videos than any other media source. I know there are a few other good ones out there as well. I have no problem consuming them all if they add different perspective and focus on different aspects of the hobby. As someone who is a serious collector but does not fall into the group of high end collectors with trophy cards and PSA 10 1st Ed Charizards etc., I made a video discussing these exact things for the modest collector. I spend a couple thousand dollars a years on cards and I also sell enough to break even on everything I buy. We essentially have the same goal and it’s really quite a large undertaking. Anyone who has done it or is doing it knows that it isn’t as easy as it might sound whether you have the money or not. Feel free to check our my video for more info if interested. Again, My advice comes from someone who is as serious about collecting relative to my time in the hobby as any efour member but probably has less discretionary income than the majority. I think it’s good to hear from the common and relatable man every once in a while. I recently put it up for people just like you/ us :blush: How I Got a $10000 Pokemon card collection for FREE. Top Ten Tips - YouTube


WOW! So much advice, thank you so much! And thanks to everyone else that replied. It’s great to hear that you’re on the journey, albeit a LOT further on than I am! Looking forward to buying from/trading with you in the future!!!

1 Like

this is like the bible for set collectors :stuck_out_tongue:

1 Like

This is well written and I agree these strategies are all successful for set collectors. Thanks for sharing this for the benefit of everyone.

1 Like

I also quote the entire post. :wink:
Thank you! :grin:

1 Like

Thank you very much for the advice. Really appreciate the insight. Cheers!

You have my eternal gratitude for introducing me to The Professor :blush:

1 Like