Poker Chip Condition Rating (1 Viewer)

G.G.Spoons

Pair
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 1, 2016
Messages
115
Reaction score
242
Location
Iowa City
I don't comment much but I've been around since the CT days and read these boards constantly (especially the classifieds). One topic that comes up often but never seems settled is rating of chip condition. We've all seen questionable listings either here or on eBay, but we really don't have an agreed upon guide or scale for this. I did some forum searches and couldn't find anything. I believe the CC&GTCC people have something, but ratings for our needs typically pertain to multiple chips (barrels, racks, etc) vs. ratings for singles collectors. I did some brainstorming and threw together a rough guide consisting of 5 condition categories and 3 modifiers. My personal chip knowledge is limited to Paulsons and one China clay set (CPS) so input on the other types is needed. However, it seems condition is less variable and less important with the more durable China clays, plastics, and ceramics; so maybe this guide should only cover Paulson, CPC, BCC, TRK type clay chips?

Having said all of that, here is my attempt at an official chip condition rating system. The way I intended this be used is to list either the category number or name plus modifier if applicable. So for example, if I cleaned and oiled a rack of Jack Detroit $500's that I've put in play twice, they would rate as 2/C/O (or excellent C/O) meaning excellent condition, cleaned and oiled.

The conditions and modifiers are as follows:

Condition 1 - Mint
This is the least subjective category. Mint chips are mint, meaning they've never seen any use. They've never been handled or have very minimal handling. They show no wear whatsoever and remain in unaltered factory condition. These chips may be chalky from the manufacturing process. They are flawless aside from natural manufacturing irregularities. There is no ambiguity, anything other than looking at means chips are no longer mint. This category is synonymous with brand new, untouched, unboxed, chalky. This condition commands a premium in sales.

Condition 2 - Excellent
Similar to mint but have been handled; with or without play. Any cleaning, oiling or significant handling of mint chips would fall in this category. No or very minimal signs of wear. These chips are very sharp with no or minimal flea bites. No major flaws and almost no minor flaws. Strong cross hatching. Should not have seen enough use to get dirty. Synonymous with unplayed, near mint, new, sharp. This condition commands a premium in sales.

Condition 3 - Good
These chips have fairly sharp edges. They will all stand on edge with little to some effort. They will have flea bites, scuffs, and be dirty, but absent of major flaws and are flat. Cross hatching is still strong but may be slightly worn back from the edges and not as strong as an excellent or mint chip. Mold features are mostly unaffected. These chips are in good enough condition to be considered "nice" but also broken in enough to play with. Synonymous with used, nice. This condition does not command a premium in sales but is also not detrimental.

Condition 4 - Casino Used
These chips are not display pieces, they are meant for play. They have seen heavy use with edges rounded enough that most will not stand on edge. They will be very dirty, but have some life left and are typically economical. Flea bites and chips are common but may be less noticeable due to overall wear and rounding. Some visible cross hatching remains but offers little feel. Mold features show wear. Synonymous with worn, used. This condition will diminish value in sales.

Condition 5 - Poor
These chips will be very dirty, smooth, and rounded. No chance that any stand on edge. Cross hatching is barely visible or gone completely. The mold itself will show significant wear. They are at the end of the chip lifecycle. In addition to wear, this category includes other major flaws such as warping, staining, water damage, etc. Synonymous with worn, bicycle tires, damaged. This condition will significantly diminish value in sales.

Modifier C - Cleaned
Chips cleaned in any common method including ultrasonic and hand scrubbing. This generally improves appearance but may result in fading. Cleaning will not improve condition category but may improve value. Cleaned chips can never be mint.

Modifier O - Oiled
Chips oiled to boost color and improve feel. Oiling will not improve condition category but may improve value. Oiled chips can never be mint.

Modifier A - Altered
A large category that includes inlay removal/replacement, milling, overlabeling, cancellation, etc. Alterations may or may not be reversible and may or may not affect value in either direction. Modifications should always be clearly stated along with condition rating in any listing. If a chip is modified into another, the original chip should always be stated. Altered chips can never be mint.


At minimum these are the ratings I have in mind when I'm looking to buy chips. Maybe with a little feedback this can be worked into something we can standardize for everyone to use. Let me know your opinions and what I missed from the non-clay chip categories.

-Tyson
 

Thomacetti

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2014
Messages
4,563
Reaction score
8,127
Location
Belgium
I agree and think the descriptions are fair & simple.
Would add the option that sellers could send pictures to a certain member/mod to have them graded when in doubt (before posting a classified).
 

NumisChip

High Hand
Joined
Apr 7, 2021
Messages
95
Reaction score
72
Location
London
I think these are great. - I collect old coins in the UK (and they have a grading system), but the big difference here is also your different types of modified ratings. - think these work really well!
 

Marius L

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2015
Messages
3,450
Reaction score
4,594
Location
Norway
Sounds like very reasonable categories, and I agree it is important to have a common understanding now that the membership on the forum is growing a lot along with prices - at least for the more sought after chips.

As clay chips are clearly the most valuable it is important to have a common understanding when classifying them. I don't think it is as important to have similar categories for china clays or ceramics, although they do both show wear with use as well.
 

BearMetal

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
May 23, 2019
Messages
3,783
Reaction score
6,646
Location
East Windsor, NJ
I definitely agree these ratings are for clay chips. They don't make much sense for more durable ceramics. For those, I think it's more about how clean they are.

For China Clays, they'll never have sharp edges, but they will have lost a bit of material during use.
 

Marius L

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2015
Messages
3,450
Reaction score
4,594
Location
Norway
I definitely agree these ratings are for clay chips. They don't make much sense for more durable ceramics. For those, I think it's more about how clean they are.

For China Clays, they'll never have sharp edges, but they will have lost a bit of material during use.

Just FYI ceramics can slow a lot of wear as well. As the color is only printed on to the chip, the white "chip" - material will start to show on the edges if they are shuffled a lot, just like clay edges start to round from the same shuffling.
 

jr8719

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2019
Messages
2,745
Reaction score
6,903
Location
UK
I would probably add Near Mint, too, which I deem to be a fair bit better than Excellent.
 

jr8719

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2019
Messages
2,745
Reaction score
6,903
Location
UK
Great idea, by the way!

Just as a point of reference, I would consider these (both of which I recently sold) as follows:

Excellent
IMG_20210412_153029.jpg

IMG_20210412_153047.jpg


Near Mint
IMG_20210409_105250.jpg
 

BearMetal

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
May 23, 2019
Messages
3,783
Reaction score
6,646
Location
East Windsor, NJ
Just FYI ceramics can slow a lot of wear as well. As the color is only printed on to the chip, the white "chip" - material will start to show on the edges if they are shuffled a lot, just like clay edges start to round from the same shuffling.
That's a great point. And normally when I see ceramic, I think dye sublimation which should never wear out. But for those which are not dye sublimated, like Sunfly, I suppose they could wear out if they were casino used.

What about chipcos? Casinos used to use those a lot didn't they. How do they wear? In a recent TCR sale, there were some heavily used chipcos and they looked fantastic still.
 

G.G.Spoons

Pair
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 1, 2016
Messages
115
Reaction score
242
Location
Iowa City
I would probably add Near Mint, too, which I deem to be a fair bit better than Excellent.

To avoid the scale being overly complicated I was trying to limit the number of categories. Aside from mint, each category is intended to be a range of condition. So excellent for example would cover anything not meeting the strict mint definition of mint down to showing the first signs if use. But I agree, there may be variance within each category.

Maybe adding a decimal within the range would help with this? So 4.9 near mint vs. 4.0 for the lowest level of excellent. The problem I see here is we're back to the subjective ratings this was intended to resolve.
 

BearMetal

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
May 23, 2019
Messages
3,783
Reaction score
6,646
Location
East Windsor, NJ
Maybe adding a decimal within the range would help with this? So 4.9 near mint vs. 4.0 for the lowest level of excellent. The problem I see here is we're back to the subjective ratings this was intended to resolve.
That definitely becomes too subjective. Adding numbers to the ratings doesn't help. The original ratings were very well defined. And I think that you're qualifiers to them (oiled,etc) work well enough.

At the end of the day pictures can do a better job than decimals within a specific category.
 

TheDuke

Flush
Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2017
Messages
1,800
Reaction score
3,094
Location
Out of position
That's a great point. And normally when I see ceramic, I think dye sublimation which should never wear out. But for those which are not dye sublimated, like Sunfly, I suppose they could wear out if they were casino used.

What about chipcos? Casinos used to use those a lot didn't they. How do they wear? In a recent TCR sale, there were some heavily used chipcos and they looked fantastic still.
Chipco can definitely wear down. They become smooth and the print wears off on heavily used chips.

Sunfly doesn't use dye sublimation?

I thought all ceramics used dye sublimation.
 

BearMetal

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
May 23, 2019
Messages
3,783
Reaction score
6,646
Location
East Windsor, NJ
Chipco can definitely wear down. They become smooth and the print wears off on heavily used chips.

Sunfly doesn't use dye sublimation?

I thought all ceramics used dye sublimation.
So perhaps this is why we need a different rating system for ceramics. Because it's more about the texture wearing down and the printed artwork fading.

I didn't think that sunfly used dye sublimation. Perhaps they do, but it certainly a different process than say BRPros.
 

warma

Flush
Supporting Member
Joined
Dec 14, 2019
Messages
1,476
Reaction score
1,572
Location
DC
I’m a 4.5 kinda guy. A bicycle tire with just a touch of tread.
 

Nanook

Flush
Joined
Dec 14, 2020
Messages
1,301
Reaction score
1,920
Location
Minnesota, USA
That's a great point. And normally when I see ceramic, I think dye sublimation which should never wear out. But for those which are not dye sublimated, like Sunfly, I suppose they could wear out if they were casino used.

What about chipcos? Casinos used to use those a lot didn't they. How do they wear? In a recent TCR sale, there were some heavily used chipcos and they looked fantastic still.
When I think ceramic, I think Chipco and think of a local Casino here that still has those in play. Almost every chip is almost unrecognizable as so much of the printing has been worn off. Many chips almost look like ceramic blanks & that is how ceramics wear.

Just like you are almost never going to change the condition of Paulsons with home game use, you will never see home game ceramics that this happens to. It just takes too many hours of play for this to happen.

I have seen Chipcos wear significantly with lots and lots of shuffling. When I say lots, I mean like 10-20 hours a week for a few years....
 

G.G.Spoons

Pair
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 1, 2016
Messages
115
Reaction score
242
Location
Iowa City
When I think ceramic, I think Chipco and think of a local Casino here that still has those in play. Almost every chip is almost unrecognizable as so much of the printing has been worn off. Many chips almost look like ceramic blanks & that is how ceramics wear.

Just like you are almost never going to change the condition of Paulsons with home game use, you will never see home game ceramics that this happens to. It just takes too many hours of play for this to happen.

I have seen Chipcos wear significantly with lots and lots of shuffling. When I say lots, I mean like 10-20 hours a week for a few years....

I'm heading out to mow. Maybe later I'll edit this to the *clay* chip rating guide. I don't know enough about ceramics to rate them, so will maybe leave that to the people more knowledgeable than me.
 
Top Bottom