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Pokemon Card Rarities Explained

It’s time to grab yourself a Pokemon Trading Card Game booster pack – and come with us, as we take a look at all of the Pokemon Card Rarities!

The cards in any given set of a Trading Card Game (or Collectable Card Game, as they’re sometimes known – you can check out our article ‘the difference between TCG and CCG’ for more information!) primarily get into the hands of players via booster packs.

Though there are ways to guarantee getting hold of certain cards – in products such as Starter Decks, for example, which are pre-constructed and always have the same selection of cards – but for the most part, players will be at the whim of chance when opening a booster pack.

Each set can have a slightly different number of common cards, uncommon cards and rare cards that make up a booster pack’s contents. 

How do you know which is which though? How do you tell a Common from an Uncommon, or a Rare from a Double Rare – or even a Secret Rare?

What is a Secret Rare, even?

Let’s find out, as we check out all Pokemon Card Rarities!

What Card Rarities Are There In The Pokemon TCG?

There are three basic rarities for cards in the Pokemon TCG – and each type of rarity is denoted by a symbol found in the bottom left of every card, each of which we’ll detail and show highlighted for you – for each type of card rarity.


Pokemon Common Rarity - pokemon card rarities explained

Common cards have a solid black circle symbol, as pictured. 

You’ll usually get mostly commons in any given booster pack, so these will make up most of any Pokemon fan’s card collection!

It’s worth noting at this point that Common – and Uncommon cards – may be found with foil treatment in a booster pack.

So a tip to remember: though all Rares (no matter the level of rarity) are foil cards, not all foil cards are Rares – so it’s definitely useful to know the difference between the symbols.


Pokemon Uncommon Rarity

Uncommon cards feature a black diamond symbol.

These are less numerous in a booster pack than Common cards, but you’ll still get multiple Uncommon cards in each pack.


Pokemon One Black Star Rarity - pokemon card rarities explained

Rare cards have a star symbol, but – and here’s where things get really interesting – this can be different in colour or even the number of stars, denoting even further levels of rarity.

It used to be the case that some Rare cards didn’t have a holo foil treatment – but that’s no longer true; if you have a card with a star to mark it as a Rare, then it’ll also be holographic.

Note that there’s also different types of holo foil treatment – and you can find out more in our Holo vs Reverse Holo guide.

What Do The Different Stars Mean?

So, with the ‘Rare’ level being denoted by a star, the different number of stars and even the colour are also important details.

Before the release of the base set of Scarlet and Violet, the majority of rare cards had just one black star, regardless of what level of rarity they were

One Black Star

We’ve already shown you this, as you can see from the image above.

So having one black star means that it’s a ‘standard’ Rare card; beyond being holographic, it’ll look pretty much the same as a Common or Uncommon card – though the card’s Pokemon or Trainer card abilities are likely to be pretty useful in-game!

One White Star

Pokemon One White Star Rarity

Rainbow Rare cards have a single, shiny star that appears to be white (though, given how shiny the foil treatment of the cards are, it could arguably be said to be silver!).

These cards usually feature a simple, close up, full art illustration of a Pokemon or a Trainer, in a beautiful rainbow foil colour scheme.

You can see a full gallery of these, as well as more information besides, in our all Rainbow Rare Pokemon cards guide!

Trainer Gallery and other special, full art illustration cards also have a single white star. You can learn more about those in our All Trainer Gallery Pokemon Cards article.

Two Black Stars

Pokemon Two Black Stars Rarity - pokemon card rarities explained

If your card has two black stars instead of one, that’s a Double Rare. 

These are usually extended art cards; though not full art illustrations, they do look and feel more special than standard, bordered cards.

Two White Stars

So if two black stars are a Double Rare – what does it mean if you have two white stars on your Pokemon card?

Well, this denotes a Secret Rare, though in older sets it may mean Ultra Rare.

Note that they can sometimes be solid white stars, but – as you can see in the photo above – they can also be white bordered stars.

So – what exactly is a Secret Rare? Well, we promised to answer this – basically, check out the numbers of any given Pokemon set. 

Pokemon Secret Rare Numbering

If your card’s number goes above the number of cards in a set, technically it’s a secret – because it goes beyond the number of cards that ‘should’ be available.

Hence: Secret Rare.

Of course, in the days of internet access, plentiful set announcements and sites such as the one you’re reading right now, no Secret Rare cards are ever really a surprise – unless you avoid any spoilers on upcoming or recently released sets entirely, of course!

Which, let’s face it, is next to impossible for us fans here at Card Gamer – and no doubt, if you have the same passion and enthusiasm for TCGs and CCGs that we have, then it’s the same for you!

One Gold Star

Pokemon One Gold Star Rarity

If your card has a single gold star, it’ll be a full art card.

These are alternate art variants of cards at different rarities; they can usually be found in the standard form as Common, Uncommon or Rare cards.

Just like cards marked with two white stars, the full art, one gold star cards are also Secret Rares – as they’re numbered above the set number. 

Two Gold Stars

Pokemon Two Gold Stars Rarity

So two black stars and two white stars have been explained – what about two gold stars?

Much like the one gold star cards, these are full art cards – though they’ll be of special cards such as ex Pokemon or Trainer cards, which tend to have the most powerful effects when it comes to Supporter cards.

Three Gold Stars

Pokemon Three Gold Star Rarity - pokemon card rarities explained

These are, arguably, the most spectacular looking cards of all – and they’re almost always the most highly sought after cards in any given set too!

These will be full art, gold foil variants – often of the most powerful Pokemon in the set.

The art is never less than spectacular and the foil treatment itself is textured, giving these cards a genuinely special look and feel.

Rainbow A

Amazing Rare Rarity Symbol

Here at Card Gamer, we love to uncover unusual card rarities – and an A in a rainbow splash denotes an ‘Amazing Rare’.

If you want to know what these are and see the full gallery of them, check out our Amazing Rare Pokemon cards guide!

One Black Star Promo

Pokemon Black Star Promo Rarity - pokemon card rarities explained

A card which has a black star and the word Promo across it can be almost any type of card – but they tend to be pretty desirable Pokemon from a gameplay perspective – or special, exclusive alternate art cards that you can only find in products such as Elite Trainer Boxes.

These generally don’t end up being valuable cards from a financial point of view – because you’re able to find them in whatever pack type they’re guaranteed to appear in.

However, you may sometimes find that they can form the backbone of numerous decks in the game, precisely because they’re easier to find than cards hidden randomly in booster packs!

There you have it; now you know all about your Pokemon card rarities! Now, it’s time to make sure you keep those rare cards looking fresh and clean!

How Can I Safely Store And Protect My Rare Pokemon Cards?

Card Sleeves

Whether you’re intending to play with your cards or not, it’s a very good idea to protect them as soon as you can once they’re out of a pack.

Here at Card Gamer, we tend to use slightly thicker card sleeves for cards we add to our decks and any cards with foil treatment.

We also use penny sleeves for non-foil Common and Uncommon cards to ensure they’re protected too.

You can find out more about the different sleeves we recommend by checking out our best trading card sleeves list.

For storage, we’d recommend getting a binder – and we recommend our favourites on the best trading card binders list!

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