This Is the Pokemon Guide You've Been Waiting For

What are some useful tips and tricks for Pokémon GO? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by William Chen, Data Scientist and Pokémon Enthusiast, on Quora.

I've been playing Pokemon GO since the game was released in the US and am very familiar with past games by both The Pokemon Company and Niantic - here are my top tricks to get you started!

Top 13 Tips to Level Up Quickly

  1. Go where lures are and stay there - You can easily spot lures on the map because purple "flowers" will be falling around the Pokestop. These lures are placed by other players, and are usually placed around high-traffic areas or parks. Just sit by the lure and catch a steady stream of Pokemon. The more lures you can be around, the better! Lures can be earned via level-ups or purchased via coins in the store. If you plan on using your own lures, go with a group of friends so you can share in the benefit!
  2. Play in a moving car driving through a big city - Not while you're driving, of course! I've found that on Uber rides through San Francisco, I can usually get a pretty steady stream of new Pokemon to capture. The huge benefit of this tip instead of staying at a lure is that you get exposed to a wider variety of Pokemon. If the car is traveling under 12 mph, then you'll get to hatch your eggs, too!
  3. Turn off AR and aim well when catching - While the AR / Camera component is fun and makes for some nice screenshots, it hurts your aim, as the Pokemon will move a little bit since your phone is not perfectly steady. Turning off AR also makes it easier to get the throw bonuses. If you hit the Pokemon near the center of the circle, you will get bonus XP, either 10 XP (Nice Throw!) or 50 XP (Great Throw!) or 100 XP (Excellent Throw!) depending on the size of the circle.
  4. Don't throw curveballs - While throwing curveballs gets you an extra 10 XP per catch, I don't actually recommend this since it makes aiming a lot harder and wastes Pokeballs. Go for the throw bonuses instead. To throw a curveball, shake the Pokeball a bit before throwing it.
  5. Don't tap the Pokestop items - Once the items appear after you spin a Pokestop, don't tap on the items. Instead, just exit out of the Pokestop and you'll see that the items are automatically transferred to your inventory. This is an excellent tip if you're playing in a moving car.
  6. Get a battery pack - There's nothing more frustrating than running out of battery as you're trying to play the game. Buy a battery pack so you can charge your phone while you play, and keep your phone charging throughout the day so you can always play with a full charge!
  7. Ride on a bike - Or a scooter, or even rollerblades! Stop and capture Pokemon or spin Pokestops! This is by far faster than walking around to Gyms or Pokemon. Be safe and don't play while moving.
  8. Use a Lucky Egg - You might get one after you level up after level 9 or so. You can also buy these with points. Since each one is single-use and only lasts 30 minutes, plan to use these only when you're dedicated to catching Pokemon / gaining XP in that 30 minutes, potentially with a Lure.
  9. Use Incense - These will increase the number of Pokemon that you encounter. These are occasionally gained through leveling up, or can be bought in the store via coins.
  10. Don't do Battle Gyms - Gyms are incredibly fun, especially when done with friends, but the amount of XP you can get from them is terrible for the time investment. Gyms are particularly buggy and laggy, and the experience is generally pretty painful. You can get 10 coins per day per Pokemon you have at the gym, but it's hard to hold a gym for long enough for this to be worth the time investment. Hold off on gyms until you have a Pokemon that can dominate (for now, say a Pokemon of CP at least 1500).
  11. Use the Nearby feature to locate rare Pokemon - Each new Pokemon added to your Pokedex will give you a generous 500 XP. Use the nearby feature and the "footprints" to go towards these rare Pokemon. Check out Lawrence Chiou's answer to What are some useful tips and tricks for Pokémon GO? for more tips on using this strategy.
  12. Farm, Evolve, and Transfer Pidgeys - Once you get a large number of Pidgeys and Pidgey candies (say, 10 Pidgeys and 120 Pidgey candies), boot up a Lucky Egg and then evolve all of them into Pidgeottos. With a Lucky Egg, this will get you a whopping 1000 XP each. Pidgeys are especially appropriate for this strategy since they're extremely common and have a very low threshold for evolving, making this a very efficient and quick way to get XP.
  13. Avoid Server Issues - The only way to reliably avoid server issues is to keep your app updated. For example, Niantic released a new iOS app version on July 12th that promised to reduce the number of crashes and prevent the need for forced sign-in again.

Top 5 Tips to Get Rare Pokemon

  1. Throw a Pokeball before the Pokemon zooms out - There is a critical period between then "Wild X has appeared" and when the Pokemon starts zooming out that you can throw a Pokeball. Since the Pokemon is still zooming out at this stage, the catch circle is very large and you can hit the Pokemon with almost 100% probability. This is likely an oversight in the programming in the game, so take advantage of this while you can!
  2. Use the Nearby feature - You can click on a Pokemon on your "Nearby" list in order to have it always displayed on your bottom right. Note that the number of footprints translates into your distance away from the Pokemon - 3 footprints is the farthest while no footprints means that the Pokemon is basically in range. Walk straight until the footprints decrease (or go the other way if the Pokemon disappears).
  3. Hatch eggs, especially 10km eggs - 10km eggs have the rarest Pokemon. You can get Pokemon like Scyther, Pinsir, and Snorlax from these eggs.
  4. Use a Razz Berry - Use this as your first item. It will increase your chances of catching the Pokemon.
  5. Choose your Eevee evolution - Before you evolve your Eevee, name your Eevee Pyro to get a Flareon, Sparky to get a Jolteon, and Rainer to get a Vaporeon. Heard through /u/TheAztek on reddit.

Reading Your Pokemon's Attacks

Understanding your Pokemon's attacks is one of the most important steps in identifying which Pokemon you should transfer, evolve, or power up. It's arguably more important than having a high-CP Pokemon, since you can make up for low CP with Stardust, while you can't change the attacks of a Pokemon.

Here is a comparative example with two Pidgeots:

Screenshot courtesy of Lawrence Chiou

The Pidgeot on the left has the following attacks:

  • Attack - Wing Attack, Flying Type, 12 damage
  • Special Attack - Hurricane, Flying Type, 60 damage (charges with 1 long blue bar)

The Pidgeot on the right has the following attacks:

  • Fast Attack - Steel Wing, Steel Type, 15 damage
  • Special Attack - Air Cutter, Flying Type, 25 damage (charges with 4 short blue bars)

Note that the fast attack is the more important attack since this is the attack that you will be able to spam against the other Pokemon, and the primary way that you get in damage. The left Pidgeot's attack has base power 12, but will get a 25% STAB bonus (same-type attack bonus) since its attack is the same type as the Pokemon itself. This means that the effective base power of Pidgeot's move is 15, which is the same as the base power of Steel Wing.

For details on what the best attacks are of each Pokemon, check out this helpful spreadsheet at PokemonGO Stats.

Transfer Pokemon

You can transfer Pokemon to Professor Willow in exchange for that Pokemon's Candy. In order to do this - go to the Pokemon's page and then click "Transfer". Note that these transfers are permanent, you cannot get the Pokemon back.

There are several incentives to do this:

  • You can only hold 250 Pokemon. I expect most dedicated players to inevitably reach this limit, so it's best to transfer some of your weaker Pokemon to the Professor.
  • If you have duplicates of any one Pokemon - transfer the ones with the weaker CP (Combat Points) to the Professor. This will give you candies of that Pokemon that you can use to evolve or power up your strongest version of the Pokemon.

Pro tip - Transfer away Pokemon that you don't want to evolve or power up. This usually includes low CP Pokemon, or Pokemon with undesirable attacks. You can check PokemonGO Stats for stats on which Pokemon are more powerful in general, or what a Pokemon's best move is.

Here are a series of screenshots that describe the process:

Evolve Pokemon

You can evolve your Pokemon with enough candies of that Pokemon. You can get Pokemon Candy by catching Pokemon of that species, or transferring Pokemon of that species to the Professor.

Pro tip - Only evolve Pokemon if they have high CP, since you will save on stardust to train them to be powerful. Note that as you level up in this game, the Pokemon you encounter will be stronger and sometimes already be evolved, so it's best to only evolve Pokemon that are strong already. Save your candies for power ups! An exception is if the Pokemon is very common (e.g. Pidgey) and has a low candy requirement to level up. Then feel free to level these up for the XP (preferably with Lucky Egg turned on)

Second pro tip - Evolve your Pokemon before powering them up, since there is a chance that your Pokemon will evolve to have undesirable moves.

Here's an example that uses the Rattata Candy from the previous example:

Nickname Your Pokemon

You can nickname your Pokemon. You can do this via the Pokemon menu as well.

Here's an example that uses the same Raticate:

Hatch Your Eggs

In order to hatch your eggs, you have to go to your Pokemon menu, and then swipe right to the "Eggs" menu. You can have a maximum of 9 eggs, and eggs can be found spinning Pokestops.

In order to hatch an egg, you must put the egg into an "Incubator". You have one incubator by default, and you can get new incubators by buying them with coins in the store, or gaining them via level ups.

After you've put an egg in an Incubator, you need to walk the required distance before your Pokemon hatches. This distance is either 2km, 5km, or 10km depending on the rarity of the Pokemon. These are the Pokemon that I've personally gotten through eggs:

  • 2km egg - Weedle, Poliwag
  • 5km egg - Growlithe, Oddish, Psyduck
  • 10km egg - Scyther

There might be ways to cheat at egg hatching - you can ride a bike or a car (but have to go under 12mph), or you can try to find another way to move your phone (for example attaching it to a fan or model train). Be safe, don't ruin your phone, and remember that you have to keep the app open in order for the egg hatching to count!

Me hatching my Scyther out of a 10km egg.

Navigate the Map

Note that you can pinch the map to zoom out and zoom in, and also rotate the map around. I recommend spinning the map occasionally so you can view a wider area to see what places are promising. Some key objects to note around the map:

  • Pokestops - These are the cubes spinning in mid-air. When you get within range of one, it will change shape into a Pokeball with a ring around it. You can then click on it and spin it to get items. After you've claimed items from it, it will turn purple for 5 minutes, and you can't get items from it again for the next 5 minutes.
  • Pokestops with Lure Modules - These are Pokestops with pink flowers falling around the Pokestop. These are the best places to farm XP / catch Pokemon since Lure Modules increase the number of Pokemon that appear around that area. These cost coins but can be shared, so are best done with a group of friends (or you can just seek out ones that other people have put up). The benefits seem to stack, so if you come across a location where two lure modules overlap, stay there since that's one of the best places to get a steady stream of Pokemon / XP.
  • Gyms - These are the tallest landmarks visible on the map and will usually be claimed by one of Red, Yellow, or Blue teams. They will occasionally have a Pokemon on the top that is the "lead" Pokemon of that gym. Future sections of this guide will cover battling these Gyms.
  • Rustling Grass - Occasionally you will see rustling grass in Pedestrian areas - this means that there is a Pokemon in that area, that you can walk up to and catch. Your "Nearby" list will give you hints on what the Pokemon might be.

If you're hunting for Pokemon, I recommend going near Lure Modules, Public Parks, or Waterfronts. The first two are the best places to get a high-density of Pokemon, and Waterfronts are the best places to get water-type Pokemon (most commonly Magikarp and Tentacruel)

Me at the same location, zoomed in and zoomed out. I usually keep the map zoomed far out to look out for rustling grass and lure modules. The purple object in front of me is a Pokestop that I've already spun. The yellow tall landmark with a Pidgeot is a gym.

Pick a Team

Once you reach level 5 and then click on a gym, you will have the option of picking between one of three teams. The three teams are distinguished by their names, colors, and philosophies.

Team screenshot courtesy of Vicki Hsieh

Here are the official descriptions from the app cutscene:

Team Instinct (Yellow): Pokemon are creatures with excellent intuition. I bet the secret to their intuition is related to how they're hatched. Come on and join my team! You never lose when you trust your instincts!

Team Mystic (Blue): The wisdom of Pokemon is immeasureably deep. I am researching why they evolve. My team? With our calm analysis of every situation, we can't lose!

Team Valor (Red): Pokemon are stronger than humans, and they're warmhearted too! I'm researching ways to enhance Pokemon's natural power in the pursuit of true strength. There's no doubt that the Pokemon our team have trained are the strongest in battle! Are you ready?

There are currently no functional differences between the three teams, although in the future there might be exclusive features and options available to each team. For example, the teams are represented by Zapdos, Articuno, and Moltres respectively, and there might be exclusive events related to each of these Pokemon in the future. Additionally, the teams seem to focus on hatching, evolving, and battling respectively, although that difference hasn't really seemed to manifest yet.

I would advise you to choose a team based on what your friends are doing. This allows you to team up to take down and hold gyms together! If that is not an option or your friends haven't gotten far enough yet, I would recommend choosing a team based on what team holds most of the Pokestops in your area. That will make it easier for you to park your Pokemon in friendly gyms, and gain coins as income!

Battle Opposing Gyms

An opposing-team controlled gym may have one or more Pokemon attached to it. You will have to defeat them in ascending order of combat points, and you can pick up to 6 of your Pokemon to join you in the fight. Click on a Pokemon to switch it out of your team, and then click "GO" to start the battle.

Battling Options:

  • Attack - After "Go!" appears, you can tap anywhere on the screen to attack your opponent. You will see a "Very effective!", "Not very effective!", or nothing at all, and then a reduction in the opposing Pokemon's HP bar to confirm that your attack hit. If you're seeing any "Not very effectives", I would recommend you choose a different Pokemon with different typed moves.
  • Special Attack - Tap and hold on your Pokemon to charge up the special attack - this will typically be more powerful than the regular attack. You have to wait for one of the blue rectangles under your HP bar to charge before you can use it!
  • Dodge - Swipe left or right on your own Pokemon to evade the other Pokemon's attacks. I recommend using this for special attacks, since there is usually more clear warning whenever a Pokemon is doing a special attack. Special attacks tend to do more damage as well, so they're good candidates for dodging.
  • Switch Pokemon - You can use the "up-arrow-down-arrow"option to switch between any of your 6 Pokemon. Do this when your Pokemon's moves aren't effective against the opposing trainer!
  • Items - You cannot use items during Gym battles, only afterwards. If you're low on potions, just let your Pokemon faint instead, so you can just use a Revive.

By defeating the gym's Pokemon, you can gain experience points for yourself and reduce the "Prestige" of the gym. If you defeat all of the gym's Pokemon, the gym will become neutral again and you can park your Pokemon at the Gym.

Pro tip - Do this with friends on the same team! This becomes a lot more fun this way, and will make taking down opposing gyms easier. There is room for multiple trainers to park their Pokemon at a gym, so the benefits will go all around.

Occupy Neutral Gyms

If a gym is neutral (no team has claimed it), this becomes really easy - you can just pick one of your Pokemon to place in the Gym. I would recommend putting up a relatively strong Pokemon in the Gym (roughly 500+ CP), but not your strongest Pokemon, since you'll want to save your best Pokemon for battling opposing gyms. The Pokemon that you put into gyms are stuck there until they get defeated.

Occupy and Train at Friendly Gyms

If a gym is friendly (your team controls it), you can park your Pokemon there if it has space. If it doesn't have enough space, you can increase the "prestige" of the gym by doing friendly battles at the Gym, to increase the amount of spots the gym has available. You only get to pick one Pokemon to do a friendly battle, not 6. Your Pokemon cannot faint in a friendly battle, it will just stop losing health at 1HP.

Note that this gym has a total of 7772 prestige out of a 8000. The gym can either increase in prestige (if blue team members train here), or decrease in prestige (when non-blue team members battle here). There are a variety of scenarios that can happen:

  • If the gym surpasses 8000 prestige, then a 4th slot will open up for another Blue team member to park their Pokemon at the gym.
  • If the gym goes below 4000 prestige, then the lowest slot will disappear, and the lowest-CP Pokemon will get kicked out.
  • If the gym goes below 2000 prestige, then again the lowest slow will disappear, and the lowest-CP Pokemon will get kicked out.
  • If the gym reaches 0 prestige, then all of the Pokemon get kicked out and this becomes a Neutral gym again.

Earn Coins and Stardust from Parked Pokemon

You can earn coins by parking your Pokemon in friendly gyms, and then visiting the store and clicking on the shield in the top right. You seem to get 10 coins per Pokemon per 20 hours. This is the free way to earn coins with which you can purchase helpful objects like Lure Modules (increase Pokemon around a Pokestop for 30 minutes, great for playing with friends) and Lucky Eggs (double your XP for 30 minutes, also great if you want to level up faster).

Hatch an Egg

On the second tab of your Pokemon menu you can view all of your eggs. You can only hold 9 eggs at a time and there don't seem to be a way to get rid of eggs other than hatching them.

To hatch an egg, you have to place it inside an incubator and then walk the required distance (as specified on the egg). You get one incubator with unlimited uses for free, and you can also gather additional incubators from buying them at the store, or earning them from level ups.

One key thing to note is that the app will only count distance if you have the app on. This means that if you go on a jog with your phone locked, you won't be able to measure the distance. Better use a battery pack to conserve battery!

Another thing to note is that the updating of the distance seems to be very unreliable. I believe there might be a condition that steps are only tracked under a certain speed, to prevent people from logging car rides / train rides. Also, there might just be server issues that causes unreliability and lag when measuring egg steps.

Conserve your Battery

Bring along a charger, and even better, a battery pack! Keep your battery pack charging your phone at all times, and use an outlet / car charger to charge your phone at all times when you're near an outlet.

Pokemon GO is a huge energy drain, especially if you have an older phone, or use the Camera feature. You can turn on the "Battery Saving" mode in settings which should help conserve your Battery.

There's more frustrating than a dead phone when you want to catch a Pokemon (except for server issues)!

Server Issues

These are incredibly frustrating and I don't think there are ways to avoid these, unfortunately. We just have to hope that Niantic fixes their issues quick, since it's a huge downer on such a fun game! The best way to guard against server issues is to keep your app updated. For example, Niantic launched a July 12th app update for iOS that promised to fix crash issues.

Catch Rare and Powerful Pokemon

My friend Lawrence has written a really good answer on this on Quora that helped him catch a Jolteon.


If you have any questions about the game, please feel free to ask it on Quora and send me an answer request. Follow the Pokémon GO! topic on Quora to see more of this kind of content!


Thank you Lawrence Chiou, Steve Dean, Brandon Sim, Di Liu, Don van der Drift, and George Wu for helpful tips, suggestions, and corrections that led to improvements to this guide!

All screenshots are made by me unless specified in caption below image.

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