by @krafticus

I've always wanted to have a custom tournament set for my home game. I am sure, like most others, hundreds of iterations and names have been proposed and rejected, as they just don't have that "it" factor. I've toyed with many names and ideas; whether they were family, street name, or what-have-you. I got to the point where my creativity was done, and polled the 100+ players on my distribution list .. and still came up with nothing. One day, it just hit me, and I knew what I wanted. I wanted something that honored my home town, which we are so very fond of. Once I settled on that, I needed a name. Ellicott City was once called Ellicott Mills, due to all of the mills on the river that passed through town. I was thinking about an old mill, but I wanted to find an image from Ellicott Mills in the 1800's, but there was nothing to be found. strike 1. The Railroad industry is also very big around here, with the B&O railroad starting in Maryland and running through Ellicott City. Maybe each chip has a different train, or station. Again, I wanted authenticity, and there isn't much stylistic about the old trains. strike 2. I needed something Maryland/Ellicott City and poker related, and it hit me. A play on words with the SpeakEC. It was perfect. It incorporates the underground game and my home town.

Once the name was finalized, it was time for design. I have my original drawing that I had provided to two designers. The main item on my inlay is the clock that stands at the bottom of Main Street in Ellicott City. The clock, although there are others like it, is a symbol of our town. Ask anyone from the area about the symbols of old Ellicott City, and the clock is tops on the list. It has to be there. As you may, or may not know, our town was devastated by a flood in June 2016. This flood wiped out many of the small business and historic buildings with a vengeance, and devastated the town. The clock was at the bottom of the hill of Main street, and was washed away. The town (and state) came together to clean and repair the city, and it was a beautiful site. The time on the clock on my tournament set represents the time when the State of Emergency was called that evening.

The inlay has the clock as the centerpiece, with some of the old Speakeasy flair to it. It's a rather clean inlay with the clock and the banner (using the yellow color from the MD flag). All of the Maryland flag colors are on the inlay in some way (Red -denomination, Yellow - Banner, Black - text, White - Clock Face).

The chips themselves were mocked roughly 40 times. I was torn between the traditional tournament pattern, in which each chip has the same edge spot, or the different spots with progression. At this time in my chipping journey, every tournament set that I have had, had either no spots or the same spot pattern. I played with the progressions for what seemed like months. I decided that I was going to base some of the chips on my favorite casino chips as well.
  • The T100 - I wanted a non-black base for this chip, and decided to use similar colors to the WSOP 818 chips. The gray base with the Red and Imp Blue looked great, and this was locked in.
  • The T1000 - If you know me, you know my favorite chip of all time is the T1000 spotted Aztar hot stamped chip. This design was locked in. (in theory, I should have gone with the 8A14 spot instead of the 6A14, but I needed to cut a few costs).
  • The T5000 - Well, piggybacking off of the T1000, my second favorite chip of all time is the T5000 from that same Aztar set. I had thought about switching the T1000 to the T5000, and vice versa, but the cost of the yellow chip would have been too much. That, and why mess up perfection.
The remaining chips:
  • The T25 - Since I went with a lighter T100, I needed a darker green. I think Retro Green is one of the most under-rated colors on the palate. When paired with light, bright colors, it just pops. The DG tiger and Canary really make the green a beautiful chip (in my mind).
  • The T500 - To date, this is still my least favorite chip of the bunch. Using bright colors throughout, I needed to get the purple chip to balance. DG green and Black go well together, and it works well with the set.
  • The T25000 - Peacock is a color that should be in every set. I think this chip is an amazing chip that incorporates balanced colors. The only problem with this chip is that it rarely sees any table time.
The Bounties:
For my sets, I always have to have at least one chip with the MD flag colors. In this case, I had originally used a red base with black and canary spots. In some instances, it was mixed with the T1000, but it also has very similar colors to my $5 cash chip. I needed something more unique, and went for an update. The new Bounty has a black base with Retro Red, B. White, and Yellow 3T16 spots. I think it represents the flag perfectly, while also adding a distinct color and pattern to the set.

As a whole, the set now stands at roughly 1900 chips with the following breakdown:
  • 500 - T25
  • 500 - T100
  • 300 - T500
  • 300 - T1000
  • 100 - T5000
  • 40 - T25000
  • 50 - Red Bounty
  • 60 - Black Bounty
  • plus extras
This set now comfortably can run my monthly game of 30+ players (plus rebuys) with starting stacks of 12/12/5/6. While I did just recently add on to the set, I will most likely make 1 more add-on in the coming year (potentially adding another rack of T1000, more T5000, and more T25/100s.


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speak EC splash.jpeg
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Gorgeous chips, excellently designed and turned out amazing! Have plaid with these and they are top notch! Well done!
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