Pro Pokemon Players


Meet: Tanner and Parker Hurley
Pro Pokemon Players

Five years ago, Tanner Hurley (12) found his older sister’s Pokemon  (a Japanese card game and video game) cards in the attic. “Morgan (now 25 years old) didn’t realize it was a game. She would just trade the cards,” says mom Shannon Hurley, from downtown Orlando. The cards piqued Tanner’s interest, so his dad, Rex, sought out a Pokemon league.

“They thought they were going to trade cards. They then learned it was a game,” laughs Shannon.

Flash forward to today, and it’s a family affair. Both Tanner and his sister Parker (9)  play Pokemon on a world stage. Rex plays in an adult league. “It’s a complex game,” says Shannon. “what is cool about Rex playing is that it adds an extra element to his relationship with his children. It gives them a connection.”

Both Tanner and Parker compete locally in tournaments. They also travel around Florida, the nation and the world to compete in tournaments, where prizes include college scholarships, paid expenses to tournaments and more. “You get championship points based on how well you do,” says Tanner. “If you have enough points, you get to go to the world championship.”

At the end of last season, Tanner, who plays the card game version, was ranked No. 1 in the world in the senior category (ages 12-16). He’s won a $1,500 college scholarship and gets his expenses paid to play in tournaments all over the world. Parker, who plays the video game version, was ranked No. 3 in North America in the junior category (ages 11 and under).

“If you’re in the top 16, you get free trips,” says Shannon. “they pay airfare, hotel and travel costs for the child and parent.” Those trips have taken the family to Italy, Scotland and throughout the United States.  “We’re going to Lima, Peru this year,” says Shannon.

The best part, says mom, is that the game complements their education. “Pokemon is strategic; when you put your cards your deck, you need to know the odds of winning against someone else’s deck,” says Tanner. “It helped me with my math and thinking strategically.” The game has helped Parker get ahead in math. “When I was  5 years old, I had to learn how to multiply to play the game,” says Parker. “In Pokemon you have to calculate which Pokemon is [the fastest], and you have to analyze your cards against your opponents,” says Shannon. “There is a lot of math and strategy, and it helps the kids to think analytically.”

Lest you think the Hurley children are obsessed with Pokemon (which is only half correct), they are also both involved in sports. Tanner plays tennis, and Parker competes in gymnastics, a sport she prefers to playing Pokemon. “I like the [uneven parallel] bars the best,” she says.

All members of the Hurley family agree that Pokemon has brought them closer as a family and has given them the opportunity to visit places they may not have visited otherwise. “When we travel, we take the opportunity to learn about the city or country we are in. It’s great for family bonding.”

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Want to learn the game? 
Tanner and Parker Hurley, along with mom Shannon, will be hosting a Pokemon Camp, July 18-22, from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at The Parke House Academy in Winter Park. “We teach them how to play the game. One of the kids we taught to play last year at our camp  competed all year and received an invitation to play at the Pokemon World Championship this year,” says Shannon. For more info, email Shannon at

Where To PLAY:
The Game Academy Orlando
10077 University Blvd., Orlando, Fl 32817

Campus Cards and Games
12226 Corporate Blvd., Ste. 130, Orlando, Fl 32817

Gathering Place Games
953 State Road 436, Casselberry, Fl 32707

Cool Stuff Games
Three locations:
– 8550 S. US Hwy 17-92, Maitland, Fl 32751
– 504 N. Alafaya Trail, Ste. 115, Orlando, Fl 32828
– 12720 Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, Fl 32837


Words by Tracey C. Velt
Photo by Jessica Friend 

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