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In the Pokémon games, when Payday is used, you can gain a small amount of money. The amount is however pitiful, so it's never used as an infinite money trick or effective money grinding strategy.

In the anime however, during the Johto League Arc, in one episode Jessie, James, and Meowth are copycatting a famous burglar who had a Meowth as a partner. In his escapes the burglar's Meowth used Payday like a smoke screen. When Jessie and James copycat, they do the same thing, however because Meowth can't use Payday, Meowth throws bottle caps belonging to James' collection. (When Ash, Brock, and Misty examine the "coins" they comment they are just bottle caps, after which you hear James in the background saying they aren't "just bottle caps".)

I am wondering however, is the money that's thrown out when Payday is used the same kind of money used in society in Pokemon? If so, then how is it people don't abuse the move to get rich? (For example, Team Rocket stealing Pokémon with Payday and using them to fund their criminal operations.)

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    Also i remember other occasions Jessie and James complaining about how if Meouth knew Payday they wouldn't be scraping the barrel all the time, though this could just be passed off as them being desperate – Memor-X Jul 16 '14 at 2:08
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    I'm pretty sure payday provides real money and is just one giant plothole lol – krikara Jul 16 '14 at 3:11
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In chapter 56 of the Pokemon Adventures manga, you can see how Kanto's Pokemon Fan Club Chairman had perfected the pay day move on both its Rapidash and Fearow. He used the coins to pay his ticket to ride the S.S. Anne, so they must be real coins. As to why Team Rocket does not use this method to gain loads of coints, it probably costs too much time and effort to be worth it. Imagine your cat could spawn a couple of cents a day and with some effort it might be able to spawn lets say a dollar a day. You might retain only a little after paying for the training and food to keep your cat healthy to spawn lots of coins. I doubt it would make someone rich quickly. I think Team Rocket would be much better off just robbing a bank or something or stealing from some rich dude instead of stealing or breeding a bunch of Meowth.

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It's possible that Payday as a move that is only successful if the opponent has money on them. In this case the Pokemon would need to have some kind of money and so the move would not always be successful in the anime if they don't have access to what they consider money.

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While I have no canonical answer, I do have a few ideas.

  • First, maybe it's somehow tied to Pokemon happiness. Miserable Pokemon gives a couple pennies, overly happy Pokemon gives several quarters (maybe not in USD, but hopefully I've conveyed the point).

  • Alternatively, maybe it can only be used once every so often. After all, there is no exploit of Charmander for heaters or Pikachu for powerplants. Pokemon do not have limitless power, they eventually need to rest and recharge.

  • Perhaps the coins are actually fake, just some people buy them as keepsakes. This would be similar to going to the beach and buying seashells or buying a fancy rock from the mountainside. Maybe even just buying it as a lump of metal, similar to recycling plants that pay for your aluminum from used cans.

  • It could also be that only some coins are real and the others are illusions. If a bunch of gold coins are being thrown in a crowd, some might jump on the opportunity just in case they are real.

One potential reason the crowd might have swarmed for Payday coins would be that it looks like real money. In a crowd, they might not know it was a Payday move and mistake fake coins for real ones. It could also be that Payday is not a well known move to the general population.

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