Let's Talk: Low denom, budget sets. Colors, quality, extensibility. Milanos.

TheOctagon

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Hey all! I've been lurking here for a while after having stayed well away from the chip forums for a good clip mostly due to not having anyone to play poker with anymore. I happened to have the opportunity to drag the chips out spontaneously not long ago after a friend suggested we get a poker game going. I'm sure you can figure out the rest.

Quick note: I wanted to do a bunch of sets in one post, but I realize that would have been far too much at once, so I'm going to break it up. Subnote: Milanos are a well-known chip at this point, so I didn't post any photos, but I would be happy to edit the post with some of my own and/or from other source.s

Anyway, I got to thinking that if these friends are as keen on poker as I think they are, we might have an excuse to revitalize the chip adventures. Now, I'm not misrepresenting my hand here at all: I am by no means a full-on chip junkie (yet?). My best set, to date, is 300 ASM 312 blank HHRs from a group buy many, many moons ago. And, yes, I still love them. They are perfect for small cash games (until some jerk forgets the denominations we agreed on).

So, that brings me to the current day. I'd like to mess around with the idea of picking up a small set of low denom chips or augmenting my ASM set and I'm willing to explore all avenues for fun and for educational purposes (that's a good excuse if anyone ever asks why you do this stuff). That includes some of the popular and less popular china clay lines and even compression ABS/plastic versions. I don't think I love the idea of a custom set right now since the duration of our current poker enthusiasm may be short-lived. Even if this doesn't produce much in the way of progress for me, I do hope it brings out some discussion about this tier of chip and what might draw you to one style over another. One thing I've noticed that I'll get to eventually, is that availability is starting to become a concern for a couple of styles.

My theoretical goal is to come up with a set of low denomination chips in the quantity range of roughly 200-300, depending on said denominations, that would support a small stakes cash game (because none of my friends are going to buy in for 100BB in a $1/2 NL cash game). We’re talking $0.25/0.50 NL or the occasional $0.50/1 NL with the potential for some PL Omaha or short rotation. The group I would play with isn’t enormous on re-buys, though it’s entirely possible someone would want to stay in the action after going bust. It’s not enough to make me uncomfortable with a smaller set in the least.

Personal Biases

Briefly, I think $0.50 chips are superfluous in most sets at this range. Your 2 or 3 bets aren’t often in multiples of the table minimum. Worse yet, they’re usually ugly and uninspired. I’ll comment on them, but expect it to be in the negative with few exceptions.

While I think having lower than $0.25 denominations is useful for some, they’re just not widespread enough for me to fall in love with them at this level (Ok, fine, I love the $0.05 Pharaoh’s Club chip). I don’t anticipate playing games at limits where I’d require a dedicated chip at those amounts. Also, there’s something about paying more for a chip than what it will ultimately represent that feels counterintuitive. That’s a personal problem.

I’m a sucker for dayglo, neon, power clashing color combinations. This feeds my desire to locate what I would consider a unicorn chip in this price range. More on that later.

Milano

Let’s get this out of the way early. Claysmith's Milanos are widely available, largely recognized as a solid china clay set, and have tomes of information printed about their durability and material characteristics. I don’t want to re-tread that ground, so let’s focus on what this set has going for it from a visual and practical perspective.

Colors and Denominations

They follow the set standards for the $1 (white), $5 (red), $25 (green) chips. The $1 chip is milquetoast, but not wholly unappealing. It does its job, but is it nice enough for a chip that will comprise the majority of a low roll set like this? In this case, perhaps, because paired with the tomato red $5 chip, it starts to show some character. The complementary outer trapezoid plays nicely with the base of the nickel. The yellow is subtle, but not dirty looking or lacking in contrast. It works.

That said, the $5 chip really speaks to me. Some say the red is drab or dull, but I don’t think that’s the case myself. I prefer the tomato hue as opposed to a fire-engine or brighter shade. In comparison to a Paulson or even ceramics, perhaps, it lacks definition, but the same could be said about all china clays held up against a higher-priced example. I really like the $5 and I think it’d hold its own in a cash game.

Like many china clays and compression molded models in this range, the Milanos feature a $0.25 chip (kind of the point of the exercise) and a $0.50 chip as well. I’m a big fan of the $0.25 colors here. Brown wouldn’t have been my first choice for the base color, but when paired with the pink and aqua combo on the edge spot, it takes on a chocolatey, almost edible characteristic. I imagine a stack of these would be great to slide around the felt next to the $1 and $5 chips. Some of the home shots I’ve gathered from around the Internet confirm this.

And so, my least favorite of the low denom range of this set would definitely be the $0.50 piece. It cops the same yellow from the $1, uses a low contrast chalk blue for the outer trapezoid, and finishes with another low-contrast gray. Aside from the mechanical drawbacks of a fifty-cent stack, I can’t get over how plain and sad this example is. Definitely not a point for the Milanos, but it doesn’t fill a desirable niche to begin with, so YMMV. Not for me.

Here’s where the line between low and high denominations gets a little fuzzy. One could argue that a low limit cash game is best served with around 200-300 chips in the aforementioned combinations ($0.25, $1, $5). However, that limits one to a lower overall bank and ignores my previous constraint of allowing for the occasional small $1/2 game.

Extensibility

$10 is a non-standard denomination by most accounts, but in the budget chip range it makes a frequent appearance and gives a little breathing room for those seeking to allow for higher limits or more heads at the table. Milano’s $10 version doesn’t disappoint here. The royal blue is a hearty base and they picked a nice, high-contrast peach that approximates an ASM/CPC dayglo orange or yellow. It sets off the purple nicely, though I probably would not have gone a shade so close to the base color for that trapezoid. Regardless, it comes out a winner. I’d be happy to load up a sleeve of the 10s in this set.

Oh, the quarter. Its critics pan the green, they say it doesn’t have class. They claim it’s a loser, a loner. They are wrong! Listen, when you pull off a standard $25 base color and pair it with a fiery lime and electric pink lemonade (really reaching tones of some of the Paulson edge spot colors here) you’ve won my heart. I could very seriously make the case for a sleeve of these despite their impracticality at low limits just because I enjoy them so much. It’s important to note, however, that my sample chip does appear to suffer from some fading and wearing about 3mm away from the chip edge. I don’t know if this is widespread or perhaps common in the early runs of this line (my samples are from early 2014). Just something to keep in mind if you do fall in love with this chip like I did.

Honorable mentions for the $100 and $500 chips. The $100 could use a spot of green, in my opinion, because the orange tends to get overused in the higher racks of the Milano line, but it’s a minor complaint. The $500 strikes me the same way the $25 and $5 do. Rich in color, great contrast. My sample also suffers from a little fading and wearing. If you wanted to move into the high limits for a tournament set, the Milanos are fairly interesting, but I’m not huge on their $1000-$5000-$10000 color triad. A bit too samey for me, and the $5000 is prone to big fading (again, based on my sample). Independently, the $10000 chip is very nice. Overall, I’d stick with the low limits from the line.

Ideal Set

If I were to pick up the Milanos at this range, I’d go with a breakdown like the following:

$0.25 - Brown - 50
$1 - White - 150
$5 - Red - 50

That’s 200 chips worth a total bank of $362.50. That satisfies a 4-5 person table of $0.25/0.50 NL games easily at 50BB starting stacks and gives a little wiggle room at 100BB.

The option to pick up a 25 count sleeve of both the $10 and $25 brings us up to a total bank of $1237.50 which is robust enough to keep 4-5 players at the $1/$2 level comfortable even with 100BB buy ins. Again, I don’t play with grinders so we wouldn’t see a bunch of rebuys.

 

MillyS

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If you are looking for low denomination - maybe check out the Majestic range of chips, they have some really nice colours for their 0.25 and 0.50 chips.

It is the sole reason I chose them over the milanos for my low denomination cash set. Once again they are china clays, fairly new to the market but are excellent quality.
 

gopherblue

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That's a seriously good first post! Welcome to PCF! And welcome to another NYC member! I'll respond to your post in more substantive detail once I've had my morning coffee.
 

gopherblue

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^^^ +1 to @courage's question. Assuming that Milanos are within your budget, and you aren't looking to spend a ton, I'd look at a set maximizing your most useful, workhorse chips.

There are a ton of breakdown threads, but I'll rehash my tried-and-true advice. I think your plan to have a 300 chip set, while a fine goal, isn't useful or flexible enough for a full table of NL. It can handle a short-handed game, but even at low stakes it would be a bit strained. The Milanos are inexpensive enough that unless your budget is really limited, you can easily get a 500 chips set to start (or even larger, as noted below). For maximum flexibility, the best chips for your game are 25c/$1/$5/$25, with the hundo as an add on if needed in the future. I would strenuously recommend that you edit the $10 out of your plans for the set. Like the 50c chip, it isn't really useful or needed. You should only have 3-4 denominations in play at any one time (4-5 if your .25/.50 game plays big enough to have $100s on the table). I know you are assuming a short-handed game of 4-5 players, but your breakdown strictly limits you to that. What happens if someone brings a friend? Or too many guys express interest in playing?

For a single table, small stakes NL game with the ability to play a bit larger (always better to have a bigger bank than you anticipate in case of a loose night), I'd recommend starting with, at a minimum, 400 chips:

25c x 100
$1 x 200
$5 x 100

If your budget allows, I'd expand the set to one of the two following options (basically bolting-on additional racks of the $5 workhorse chip), which gives you great flexibility if your blinds increase, even to $1/$2 (with the larger set):

600 chips:

25c x 100
$1 x 200
$5 x 300

800 chips (assuming Milanos, which I believe come in multiples of 25):

25c x 100
$1 x 200
$5 x 400
$25 x 75
$100 x 25

For any of the above breakdowns, you can easily expand as needed, and for maximum flexibility to the 800 set about, you can simply add an additional 2 racks of $5s for a 1000 chip set.

Anyway, glad to see another NYC'er here. We've been trying to get a friendly game going for the NYC area PCF'ers, but as of yet haven't gotten it off the ground. I believe we now have enough of us to easily do a single table, so let's get a game scheduled!
 

TheOctagon

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If you are looking for low denomination - maybe check out the Majestic range of chips, they have some really nice colours for their 0.25 and 0.50 chips.

It is the sole reason I chose them over the milanos for my low denomination cash set. Once again they are china clays, fairly new to the market but are excellent quality.

I'm ordering a couple of new sample sets soon and Majestics are on that list. They look really nice, and seem to be somewhat modeled after the Le Paulson Noir chips of which I have a sample set and am a big fan (RIP Paulson home market).
 

TheOctagon

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^^^ +1 to @courage's question. Assuming that Milanos are within your budget, and you aren't looking to spend a ton, I'd look at a set maximizing your most useful, workhorse chips.

There are a ton of breakdown threads, but I'll rehash my tried-and-true advice. I think your plan to have a 300 chip set, while a fine goal, isn't useful or flexible enough for a full table of NL. It can handle a short-handed game, but even at low stakes it would be a bit strained. The Milanos are inexpensive enough that unless your budget is really limited, you can easily get a 500 chips set to start (or even larger, as noted below). For maximum flexibility, the best chips for your game are 25c/$1/$5/$25, with the hundo as an add on if needed in the future. I would strenuously recommend that you edit the $10 out of your plans for the set. Like the 50c chip, it isn't really useful or needed. You should only have 3-4 denominations in play at any one time (4-5 if your .25/.50 game plays big enough to have $100s on the table). I know you are assuming a short-handed game of 4-5 players, but your breakdown strictly limits you to that. What happens if someone brings a friend? Or too many guys express interest in playing?

For a single table, small stakes NL game with the ability to play a bit larger (always better to have a bigger bank than you anticipate in case of a loose night), I'd recommend starting with, at a minimum, 400 chips:

25c x 100
$1 x 200
$5 x 100

If your budget allows, I'd expand the set to one of the two following options (basically bolting-on additional racks of the $5 workhorse chip), which gives you great flexibility if your blinds increase, even to $1/$2 (with the larger set):

600 chips:

25c x 100
$1 x 200
$5 x 300

800 chips (assuming Milanos, which I believe come in multiples of 25):

25c x 100
$1 x 200
$5 x 400
$25 x 75
$100 x 25

For any of the above breakdowns, you can easily expand as needed, and for maximum flexibility to the 800 set about, you can simply add an additional 2 racks of $5s for a 1000 chip set.

Anyway, glad to see another NYC'er here. We've been trying to get a friendly game going for the NYC area PCF'ers, but as of yet haven't gotten it off the ground. I believe we now have enough of us to easily do a single table, so let's get a game scheduled!

@courage I'm not totally sure of my budget, but if my friends keep interest up for a couple of months or more I'm happy to lay out $100-$125 on the high end (subject to change!). I still have my ASMs, and I have been cruising the sales to see if anyone was offering a rack of a color combo I don't have yet in 312 blanks or even another style as long as it fits my set well enough. So far, not much, but it's only a matter of time. I'll always jump at a deal though! I thought going through my samples and set and doing some reviews within constraints would be a fun way to get some chatter going about these lines. I don't always agree with what I've seen written and said about them especially when they're compared to high end sets which isn't in everyone's budget and isn't entirely fair to the more affordable chip lines so I thought it'd be fun to do some of my own writeups and focus on the stuff that I care about. Weight never really bothers me, sound only somewhat unless it's clear there's a really dense slug in the middle, and durability is rarely a question seeing as I'm an infrequent player at best - I'm huge on how the stacks look and how they look in mixed stacks and big, messy pots :D.

@gopherblue Great advice on the Milanos and points on flexibility and thanks for posting your breakdowns as well! The $10 chip is for vanity over practicality (I wouldn't consider it for a second if I thought it was as dumpy looking as the $0.50 chip haha). The chips really are outstanding. When I picked up these samples a couple years ago, I was floored that the budget chip manufacturers had come up with an affordable way to simulate a higher end chip. Frankly, I was kind of waiting for the day to come to start considering my next set. Well, that and the fact that I didn't have any poker playing friends around to share them with.

Cool on the NYC game, too. If you find that you have the table, the time, and the interest I can probably make it.
 

dickzapper

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You seem exactly like me about 8 weeks ago. I pieced together a Milano set shipped to NYC about that time to improve my home game that was dormant for several years and had restarted. And now I'm in this position, scouring ads, winning free raffles, "re-investing" my wins into new chips, shoving chip history down my friend's throats, coloring up pots to Majestic plaques, and dust-busting various ashes off my speed cloth sometimes mid-hand (the Dirt Devil Scorpion is fuckin amazing, thanks, amazon reviews). I wouldn't have expected jumping into this world but perhaps I should have given my propensity to jump into new hobbies and collections. Anyway I could say alot more about everything but I just woke up from a chair nap and am loopy AF.

If you want Milanos theres are ebay sets of any number you want, some of which you can customize the breakdown, but some of which may match exactly what you want. I first got a 200 chip set from pokerchipmania, customized breakdown in a double-rack, for I think 69 bucks plus ship along with some sleeves of high denoms to complete the set. Then I was tacking on more milanos the following week. Then more and more tweaks and upgrades every week. I would say I should have gotten this or that off the bat to save myself however much time or money, but upgrading weekly has been a lot of the fun for me, possibly more fun than the game itself! I dunno. Anyway my brain is too fried right now to continue phone-typing so if you have any questions I'll check back in later. And welcome to PCF, the best forum/community on the known net!
 

jbutler

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@jbutler Those look pretty great. I'm a little bummed they wanted to can the snapper, but I get it. Thanks for the heads up.

I think snapper is still on for now but nothing's finalized so if you're interested in an order, post in the thread so Tommy can see your interest in the chip.
 
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