Anyone surprised by what manages to become popular on YouTube clearly hasn’t been paying attention. From magnet fishing for trash, to trampolining off high platforms, there’s a channel with over a million subscribers for everything. So it shouldn’t shock anyone that when it comes to watching other people open Pokémon TCG cards, there’s an audience of tens of millions.
It’s not as odd as it seems. Beyond the obvious vicarious pleasure of watching someone else succeed and fail (these packs are expensive, and the odds of getting good cards aren’t great), the cast of PokéTubers is one bursting with personalities—big characters with unique approaches, and their own specific target demographic. Yes, it all boils down to watching adults opening foil packets and getting excited about shiny cardboard, but this niche of a sub-genre has developed some genuinely great presenters.
It’s worth noting that there are inherent issues with this entire theme, especially an emphasis on finding the most expensive cards, and the gambling-adjacent nature of this whole pursuit. And perhaps more insidious, all of them will show a person opening dozens of packs at once—something most viewers could only dream of—in a way that can make a more normal approach to the hobby seem lacking, especially for children. Many of these channels are very kid-friendly, but I think these issues are worth bearing in mind.
This list is a selection from the huge array of PokéTubers out there, some by far the most famous, others smaller but deserving of views. It’s not comprehensive, and while it includes most of the biggest hitters, you may well have a favorite you think deserves to be mentioned. So mention them! Drop a YouTube link in the comments below, along with why you think they’re worth a watch.
OK, let’s begin with the PokéTuber I consider to be the best: Pat Flynn, aka Deep Pocket Monster.
Flynn is not the biggest by far, his sizeable follower count having stalled recently just shy of 700,000. But he is the most interesting. A self-made millionaire, Flynn decided about four years ago that he wanted a new hobby, and set out to create a Pokémon YouTube channel with a defined ethos of promoting kindness and giving back. But rather than simply join the throng of people sat at tables, tearing open packs, his channel has always opted for more original ideas.
These are as varied as deliberately buying the weirdest Pokémon-related items he can find on eBay, and then opening them in horror on camera (the Pikachu-chu being a classic), to buying people’s entire Pokémon card collections, sorting through his plunder, and then revealing how much he paid.
Too many of the successful channels become about a rich person having more money than you to spend on the hobby you share, but Flynn’s backward approach to this makes for a refreshing change. Already rich, rather than rich because of, his approach is to give everything away to his viewers. Those collections he buys—it’s invariably because the person who owned it was in trouble, and needed the help. His live-streams are dominated by the generosity of his followers, as viewers buy each other subscriptions to his membership club, with the openings all given away to viewers chosen at random. Frequently Flynn interrupts himself to give genuine, impassioned pleas to his viewers to find confidence in themselves, and to form generous, sharing communities.
His ongoing friendly rivalry with Poké Vault (see below) is a joy, and there’s no new episode alert that gets me clicking faster than when he’s uploaded one of his complete-a-set challenges, many of which conclude with improbably tear-jerking examples of kindness and community.
Flynn is also behind 2023’s new convention, Card Party, that proved to be a hugely popular event featuring most of the names you’ll find in this list, and is set to happen again in 2024, this time in Florida.
I have to talk about RealBreakingNate next, because this is the channel that dragged me into the whole universe of Pokémon cards, as I watched these videos with my then-seven-year-old son. To give a sense of how deep this went, my now almost-nine-year-old son has cards on his wall signed by Nate, a YouTuber who seems to be as warm and kind-hearted in private as he is on his child-friendly channel.
With over 1.5 million subscribers, Nate’s channel has been a long-term project, beginning in 2014 and running consistently since. Frequently recording with his wife Marie, the two have established a set of formats that run with the familiar regularity of a favorite magazine show.
The most notable of these are videos in which the pair go shopping for Pokémon cards in stores like Target, Walmart and Dollar Tree (Nate is, after all, the KING of the dollar store), and search for “hidden and out-of-place” Pokémon cards. This extends to lifting the bottom shelves, where a surprising number of packs have been discovered within the muck and detritus that gathers below. These are then opened back in their studio, in the hope of finding a stand-out card, rescued from obscurity.
Other strands include visiting Nate’s local card shop to trade cards and play in TCG tournaments, challenges between Nate and Marie to pull the best cards in openings, and the latest, an attempt to document collecting one of ever English-language Pokémon card ever printed.
But what stands out most about Nate is his kid-friendly approach. In almost every opening you can expect to see a moment where he gets into a conflict with an evil Psyduck plush in his studio, and most likely an extended speech in which he encourages his viewers to “be yourselves,” not letting others tell you who to be, effusively telling his audience how much they’re loved. He also has an array of catchphrases, from his opening pronouncement of “sending some positive vibes,” to the putting out of the miniature VIP velvet ropes for ultra-rare cards (along with the miniature box of Bagel Bites for guests), to his closing mantra of “I love every single one of you, alllll around the world…say it with me now, peace, love, and a high-five!”
As an adult, the repetition can become a little tiresome, but it’s such a smart way to engage with younger viewers. Also, his messages are so positive, so uplifting to his viewers. This is made all the better because of the channel’s lack of focus on how much cards are worth (prices pop up, but are almost never discussed), and that a card worth $30 tends to be reacted to the same way as a card worth $3. Plus, honestly, there’s just something inexplicably compelling about watching a man search under supermarket shelves for hidden treasure.
If you’re looking for a PokéTuber bursting with charisma, then you want the fantastic SuperDuperDani. Good friends with RealBreakingNate, and co-hosting the Shadowless Podcast with him, Dani’s presentational style is one of the most impressive on YouTube. They have an amazing array of voices that break out during videos, from a surly Noo Yoik to Wisconsin mom, all buoyed by intense silliness.
They regularly do live breaks, often going live multiple times a week, and unlike many of the YouTubers in this list, Dani also frequently streams playing the Pokémon video games, usually in the week after a release.
The channel has just crossed 250,000 subscribers, and fully merits the attention. The editing stands out as especially good, pre-recorded videos moving along at an entertaining zip, with excellent cutaways. Plus, Dani is one of those presenters that just feels like a friend.
Our first representative from the UK, PokiChloe is about to hit 60k followers. Hers is a more traditional approach to the PokéTuber format, primarily opening packs on camera, either in pre-recorded videos, or live breaks where viewers have bought the packs she’ll open.
Although, you know, sometimes she jumps out of planes for the pursuit. (See above.)
Chloe co-runs an online store, Collector’s Cardhouse, where she sells enormously popular Mystery Packs in collaboration with fellow Brit, PokeDean. This means she also appears as a vendor at a bunch of British card shows, which creates the peculiar situation of people queuing up for her autograph, rather than to buy the products. (Or, in an epic moment, her coming up to my son when she spotted him wearing a Deep Pocket Monster t-shirt, and asking to send a photo of him to Pat Flynn.)
It’s such a cheerful, positive channel, super kid-friendly, and very expert in the field of TCGs.
It would be rather impossible not to include PokeRev. With an astonishing 2.3 million subscribers, and a seven-day-a-week upload schedule, the man better known as “The Rev” is probably best known for opening ultra-expensive classic sets.
Rev’s channel is one of utter decadence, where each new set of Pokémon cards is opened on an eye-watering scale. With the most recent release, Pokémon 151, he had opened over 400 packs before the cards were even available to buy. While the same may be true of some other YouTubers, including Danny Phantump (see below), Rev doesn’t do this to explore pull-rates, or gain statistical information, but rather just for the hell of it.
Most sets will be completed just through openings on the channel, where he tears through packs so fast that I once believed the footage was sped up—until I saw him doing the same live. Rev streams live once a fortnight, when he opens a classic booster box, having sold its packs to viewers ahead of the stream. Cards then get shipped out to the buyers, where people are sending upward of $800 per pack.
Like PokiChloe, Rev also runs an online store—the PokeCave—albeit one far more focused on classic sets and his own line of mystery packs. It’s via this that he appears to acquire the pallets of cards opened on his channel, thus getting them ahead of street dates (which is naturally infuriating if you’re writing about the same sets for a major gaming website but need to stick to embargoes…).
Rev’s style is…well, passionate perhaps doesn’t quite get us there. He’s ferocious, and you might want to turn your speakers down a bit before you hit play. He also appears to find pulling lots of good cards to be something of an existential crisis, frequently declaring, “WHAT EVEN IS THIS?!” and genuinely appearing to worry that his reality has come unstuck.
I sometimes find Rev’s absolute dismissal of anything less than an Illustration Rare a little hard to stomach, and while it’s all family friendly, it’s a channel I’d keep my kids away from, given how much the opulent scale devalues opening an ordinary pack or two. But I cannot deny the appeal, and love watching his fortnightly live streams.
While Spanish YouTuber Folagor03 likely holds the record for the highest subscription count for opening Pokémon cards, at 4.34 million, possibly the highest figure in English is UnlistedLeaf. Michael “Ando” Anderson started his Australian channel back in 2012 when he was just 17 years old, and now rules the roost with just the loveliest attitude.
Given his success, he’s obviously not badly off, and as a result the channel has leaned into opening more expensive sets, or attempting to complete sets in very short amounts of time. Oh, and that time he bought a McLaren 570S with Pokémon cards.
Ando is a man who clearly loves Pokémon with every atom in his body, and it comes across in all the videos. He’s so good-natured, and there’s no malice, no edge to his videos. (Yeah, yeah, there was the StockX fiasco, but it’s so vanishingly unlikely it was deliberate on Ando’s part.) It’s all very family-friendly, and the enthusiasm for the pursuit is infectious.
Internet degenerate Sean is a newer face on the scene, but his Poke Vault channel has already hit over 80k subscribers in about two years. And boy is it refreshing stuff, in a genre that’s primarily focused on being family friendly. Poke Vault is definitely aimed at older viewers, not least because of Sean’s obsession with identifying which Pokémon are stoned off their faces. (With a special rage saved for Paras, the “bug-eyed freak” who’s “high on his own supply.”)
The mix of recorded videos and live streams have a lot of overlap, in their frequent use of cutaway video stings, and Sean’s unique gift for inserting himself into other videos via green-screen. Even live. This invariably involves a loose form of “dancing,” usually to calm himself down after a big pull.
His live streams open with acted sequences that border on the surreal, while his love for a clip in which a peculiar woman farts into a microphone perhaps sets the tone for most of the content. It ends up feeling much looser, more outrageous than other channels, and a pleasure for it.
Sean’s secret sauce is cunningly making friends with many of the big names in the industry, frequently popping up in videos with Deep Pocket Monster, or sending abuse in YouTube chat to PokeRev during the latter’s live streams. The result is a cheerfully silly antidote to the majority of these channels, with a genuinely funny man at the helm, who cuts across the celebrity of those bigger names and spreads his degeneracy like a disease. Because this is a man who recently uttered the words, “I got a degenerate tingle right in the floopus area.”
It’s honestly a surprise that Danny Phantump doesn’t have more than his already impressive 116k subscribers, given the scale of openings on his videos. If you want to know pull-rates for any given set, this is the channel to head to, simply because he has the ability to open thousands of packs of every set, and the willingness to make the graphs and charts after he’s done.
His videos are certainly a more stoic style than many, calmly presented from a desk, and rarely venturing away from that format. He also opens astonishing numbers of packs in the calmest way imaginable, which does rather take the edge off what is unquestionably ludicrous excess.
But for the ultra-nerds, it’s an incredible source of data. Videos like the one above are certainly the most dry he publishes, but it’s information that you’ll struggle to get anywhere else.
Certainly too apologetic for The Pokémon Company, especially in the face of the abysmal pull-rates in 151, you won’t often find him criticising. However, he provides all the information I need in order to do so, which works for me.
More radio than video, Ptcgradio is one of the best sources for pure Pokémon TCG news.
Uploading sometimes multiple times a day, presenter Wossy is incredibly fast with the latest information on the cards, thanks to his forensic scouring of Japanese news outlets and channels. Essentially presented as slideshows, with deeply enthusiastic narration, Ptcgradio has hi-res images of cards almost before the artists have finished drawing them.
His passion for the trading card game has elevated him to being a regular commentator on the official Pokémon TCG tournaments, and is likely one of the leading authorities on Pokémon cards as they’re used in the game, rather than as a collector.
There are filmed pack breaks on the channel, but the majority of the content is these presentations, not least because—as Wossy notes at the beginning of every video—“I was told I had a voice for radio…”
Imagine if the speed and accuracy of Serebii were a YouTube channel, and you get the idea.
So who did we miss? Obviously there are other big names like Leon Hart and maxmoefoePokemon, but which are some of the smaller channels you rate? Who are the YouTubers who deserve far more eyes on them?
Yeah, this final page is just so I could post this specific Poke Vault video too, which so cruelly mocks most of the people listed above, but come on.