Pokémon Staff Cards: What Are They and How to Get Them

Pokémon Staff Cards: What Are They and How to Get Them

Do you have any cards with the word “STAFF” printed on the artwork? If you do, then you own a staff card. These are special promo cards, and some people go bonkers for them. Staff cards are pretty rare, so people often get them graded or sell them to fund another big card purchase. 

Staff cards are basically just regular cards but have the word “STAFF” printed on them. These are only obtained by working at an official Pokémon TCG event, which is what makes them so rare. 

What Are Pokémon Staff Cards?

It’s important to first understand what a prerelease Pokémon card is.

Before new TCG expansions officially hit store shelves, many local card shops hold prerelease events, where players can get their hands on the new set early and build decks. This is known as a prerelease event and always comes with special prerelease promo cards. 

prerelease clefable

The prerelease cards are handed out to the players who attend the events. However, in 2007, the Luxio prerelease promo from Diamond & Pearl was the first to offer copies with the word “STAFF” printed on the artwork, across from the “PRERELEASE” stamp. These cards were to be given to not the players, but to the staff of the events. 

From this set onwards, all prerelease cards now had a staff variant. 

luxio
The staff version of the Luxio prerelease promo

Any official Pokémon League Tournaments will have staff cards issued, including the world championship events. 

How to Get Pokémon Staff Cards

To obtain your own staff cards, there are two options. First, you can volunteer at an event. To do this, call around and ask your local card and hobbies shops if they hold these types of events and ask how you can apply to help out at one. 

Every year there is a World Championship event. The staff cards that are given out at these events are often very rare and valuable. If you live in the United States then it’s worth checking out the event if it is local enough.

To work at a League event, you’ll probably have to know how to play the TCG. If you aren’t familiar with it, try the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online, and you can learn most of the rules pretty quickly. 

The other option is to buy staff cards on the secondary market.

Where to Buy Pokémon Staff Cards

The easiest and safest way to purchase staff cards is to check eBay. The biggest advantage eBay has over other secondary card sellers is its buyer’s protection guarantee. There is a risk of being scammed (there always will be), but eBay almost always has your back if this happens, and can usually refund you. 

Just search something like, “Pokémon TCG staff promo cards” and see what’s currently for sale

A few more options are:

Are Pokémon Staff Cards Worth Anything?

Staff cards are highly sought-after by the community, so many of them are quite valuable. But it actually depends on how rare the staff card is, and where it came from. 

For example, World Championship staff cards can be very valuable since the event only takes place once a year, and for only two days. Other staff cards are printed in much greater quantities and are easier to obtain.

Worlds staff cards:

  • 2004 Tropical Wind Staff
  • 2005 Tropical Tidal Wave Staff
  • 2006 Tropical Tidal Wave Staff
  • 2007 Tropical Wind Staff
  • 2008 Tropical Wind Staff
  • 2009 Tropical Wind Staff
  • 2010 Tropical Tidal Wave Staff 
  • 2011 Tropical Beach Staff
  • 2012 Tropical Beach Staff
  • 2014 Champions Festival Staff
  • 2015 Champions Festival Staff
  • 2016 Champions Festival Staff
  • 2017 Champions Festival Staff
  • 2018 Champions Festival Staff
  • 2019 Champions Festival Staff

The Most Expensive Staff Card

The most expensive staff card today is the Vivid Voltage Charizard. Why? C’mon, it’s Charizard. But really, the absurd price is the result of a trifecta of factors. 

staff promo charizard

First, yea, it’s Charizard. Charizard historically sells for a lot of money and having a staff stamp just makes it that much rarer. Even people who aren’t Charizard fans understand that ‘Zard cards are worth picking up for good prices, as they always increase in value.

The second factor is the timing. Vivid Voltage was released in November 2020, right at the peak of the Pandemic Pokémania. The hobby saw a massive influx of new collectors and players, all of who were interested in the newest and hottest cards. 

Third, is that the Vivid Voltage staff promo was the last to ever be produced. This was the final card (one of four final cards, actually) before The Pokémon Company International discontinued the staff card promos, making this Charizard not only rare but historic. 

Why Did They Discontinue Staff Cards?

It’s true, staff cards are no longer being distributed for the time being. 

The news hit in December 2020, when Prerelease organizers began to receive emails from Pokémon Organized Play notifying them of the cease. The email was short and sweet, with no reasoning. 

The reason is obvious, however. The year 2020 brought a massive spike in Pokémon card collecting, investing, and grading. Staff cards became a hot commodity and began to sell for a lot of money. The Vivid Voltage Charizard staff card was selling (and still is selling) for four figures. 

This inflated market persuaded shady store owners to not distribute the staff cards to their staff, but to sell them for a profit instead. 

Will staff cards come back? Right now, no one knows. The dreaded email that went out to store owners did say that they were “temporarily” pausing the distribution of staff cards, so it’s a mystery for the time being.

Final Thoughts

There’s an old saying: “The riches are in the niches”. This means that there is a profit to be found when focusing on a smaller niche rather than the whole subject at once. This is true for Pokémon card collectors. You are much more likely to find success completing a set or mastering a collection when you pick a smaller niche and focus on it. 

Staff cards are that niche for many people. There are many to collect, most being very affordable. Sure, some are quite expensive, but having a few grail cards is fun too. 

Staff Pokémon cards are still this kind of untouched secretive space within the hobby, and it could be very beneficial to hop on before people start to figure it out and they all skyrocket in price!