Teach me how to be a chipper? (1 Viewer)

Flawed_Titan

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Hey all,

Firstly I want to say I am new to this forum but in the past week, my experience here has been illuminating and very positive. I was hoping that you all could explain some things to me... the only problem is that I don't know what I don't know. :unsure:
  • How do I tell high quality chips from low quality chips?
  • How can I assess brands of chips? Are there even brands of chips?
  • What are molds, how are they used to create chips?
  • What different molds do people usually collect from? (I'm not even sure if my questions are making sense at this point.)
  • The top hat and cane variety... there's so much here. Speedy explanation please?
  • Paulson chips - are they a brand, or a mold, or what? Why do people like them so much? How does one get Paulson chips?
  • If I already know the breakdown I want for the beginnings of a set, how should I begin to collect/search for chips I like?
    • Samples. How do I find them?
  • There's so much more I have read on this forum and still don't understand at all, but I forgot those questions.

Anyways, I hope you guys can help me out? Maybe there is a quick and easy link to a masterclass thread on this stuff, but I haven't been able to find anything on google that I understand. Please treat me like an idiot and teach me like a five year old! Any random tips/thoughts/questions I SHOULD be asking are also welcome.

Cheers,
Flawed_Titan
 

BearMetal

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  • How do I tell high quality chips from low quality chips?
Well, I think you trust the manufacturer. Typically the chips you find on the Internet are low quality. If they use the term "Official Casino Weight" or "Real Clay", then it's best to steer clear. In general:
  • Quality clay chips are only made by a few companies (Paulson, CPC, BCC, ASM) and only Paulson and CPC are still in business, and only CPC sells directly to the home market. To get Paulsons, you need to buy them from casinos that have closed or basically pay face value for them and walk out of a casino with them.
  • Quality ceramic chips are made by many manufacturers (SunFly, BRPro, etc) and can be purchased very easily for home games
How can I assess brands of chips? Are there even brands of chips?
See above, but yes, most chips here have a manufacturer. Most chips on the Internet and in Walmart don't (or if they do, they're pretty bad)

What are molds, how are they used to create chips?
Molds are the physical properties of the chip - the size/recessed text/etc ... but NOT the inlay/label in the middle. Top Hat & Cane (THC), Reverse Hat & Cane (RHC), house molds (name of the casino recessed in the chip), etc are all molds. CPC has a LOT of molds to choose from: http://www.classicpokerchips.com/pokerchips/realclay/molddesigns.htm ... everything from horse heads to crowns.

What different molds do people usually collect from? (I'm not even sure if my questions are making sense at this point.)
The answer to this is, "Yes". We collect ALL MOLDS

The top hat and cane variety... there's so much here. Speedy explanation please?
Originally made a long time ago by Christy and Jones (C&J), the mold was sold to Paulson and then to it's current owner GPI - basically, you can't get these unless you do something like I mentioned above: buy chips from closed casinos, or walk out with them at face value. Paulson makes a LOT of varieties of this chip type with the Hate/Cane in different positions.

Paulson chips - are they a brand, or a mold, or what? Why do people like them so much? How does one get Paulson chips?
Paulson was the brand/manufacturer, that is now owned by GPI - they make the Hat & Cane -style chips, but also have some other molds. They also make the house molds for casinos (search for Golden Nugget as an example of a house mold).

Welcome to PCF - search is your friend - start searching and you'll find answers... Also, visit the Resources section for breakdowns of terms used here, molds, manufacturers, etc.
 
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Flawed_Titan

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Well, I think you trust the manufacturer. Typically the chips you find on the Internet are low quality. If they use the term "Official Casino Weight" or "Real Clay", then it's best to steer clear. In general:
  • Quality clay chips are only made by a few companies (Paulson, CPC, BCC, ASM) and only Paulson and CPC are still in business, and only CPC sells directly to the home market. To get Paulsons, you need to buy them from casinos that have closed or basically pay face value for them and walk out of a casino with them.
  • Quality ceramic chips are made by many manufacturers (SunFly, BRPro, etc) and can be purchased very easily for home games

See above, but yes, most chips here have a manufacturer. Most chips on the Internet and in Walmart don't (or if they do, they're pretty bad)


Molds are the physical properties of the chip - the size/recessed text/etc ... but NOT the inlay/label in the middle. Top Hat & Cane (THC), Reverse Hat & Cane (RHC), house molds (name of the casino recessed in the chip), etc are all molds. CPC has a LOT of molds to choose from: http://www.classicpokerchips.com/pokerchips/realclay/molddesigns.htm ... everything from horse heads to crowns.


The answer to this is, "Yes". We collect ALL MOLDS


Originally made a long time ago by Christie and Jones (C&J), the mold was sold to Paulson and then to it's current owner GPI - basically, you can't get these unless you do something like I mentioned above: buy chips from closed casinos, or walk out with them at face value. Paulson makes a LOT of varieties of this chip type with the Hate/Cane in different positions.


Paulson was the brand/manufacturer, that is now owned by GPI - they make the Hat & Cane -style chips, but also have some other molds. They also make the house molds for casinos (search for Golden Nugget as an example of a house mold).

Welcome to PCF - search is your friend - start searching and you'll find answers... Also, visit the Resources section for breakdowns of terms used here, molds, manufacturers, etc.
Thanks very much for the breakdown! I'm starting to understand, I think.
 

BearMetal

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  • Also, labeling. wuts hot stamps vs. inlay (vs. other types?)
  • wuts leaded?
  • Fantasy chips cheaper or not?
  • Type out all acronymns? :)

Hot stamps refer to text/images that have been pressed into the center of the chip with foil. This is instead of a printed inlay/label. Here's an example of a hot stamp:


Leaded chips contain lead as part of the formula; they are a little heavier than chips made today; Paulson removed lead from their chips years ago.
"Cheaper" is a relative term ... but in general, no, Fantasy chips run a premium (Big Top Poker, Pacific Star, etc to name a few)
No, we use acronyms here; there's a glossary in the Resources section that will help you out.
 

Flawed_Titan

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Hot stamps refer to text/images that have been pressed into the center of the chip with foil. This is instead of a printed inlay/label. Here's an example of a hot stamp:


Leaded chips contain lead as part of the formula; they are a little heavier than chips made today; Paulson removed lead from their chips years ago.
"Cheaper" is a relative term ... but in general, no, Fantasy chips run a premium (Big Top Poker, Pacific Star, etc to name a few)
No, we use acronyms here; there's a glossary in the Resources section that will help you out.
Ah, so leaded and weighted are different.
Thanks for the info! I'll check out the resources page again.
 

BearMetal

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Ah, so leaded and weighted are different.
Thanks for the info! I'll check out the resources page again.
Yes - most quality chips are not "weighted". This usually refers to the act of taking a cheap plastic chip and putting a metal slug in the middle to make it heavier. These weigh between 12g and 15g / chip and are billed as "casino weight" and are total crap.

But a leaded chip is just a chip that has had some lead dust/flakes added to it, either to give it a slightly heavier feel or for security reasons (since it's hard to emulate metal flakes in a fake). Paulson used to make leaded chips, and then started reducing the overall lead content until they finally put none in. I much prefer the feel of a leaded chip (a Paulson chip from about 20 years ago) to a brand new Paulson chip today on the same mold.
 

utgtrash

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what you want can really evolve and change so getting a hold of samples or paying attention when you go to casinos and cardrooms is really helpful. you would never test drive a porsche when you know you're shopping for a decent prius but you'd be surprised at how quickly things can escalate and it helps to be ready for it or you're going to be buying a lot of chips to find that out. luckily even if you overpay you can often times get back some of your value if you get paulsons, bcc, etc.
 

BearMetal

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what you want can really evolve and change so getting a hold of samples or paying attention when you go to casinos and cardrooms is really helpful. you would never test drive a porsche when you know you're shopping for a decent prius but you'd be surprised at how quickly things can escalate and it helps to be ready for it or you're going to be buying a lot of chips to find that out. luckily even if you overpay you can often times get back some of your value if you get paulsons, bcc, etc.
Fantastic advice, as always - samples are a must before making a purchase... However, @Flawed_Titan is more in the "What is a car and what do you use it for" stage :) ... baby steps; I actually like a new member trying to figure out the community before diving in and trying to buy a first set.
 

turboj623

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How to be a chipper?

Capture.JPG


It's inevitable!

@Pinkdan
 

upNdown

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"Cheaper" is a relative term ... but in general, no, Fantasy chips run a premium (Big Top Poker, Pacific Star, etc to name a few)
I think the only reason fantasy chips run a premium these days is because they’re Paulsons and the market has gone crazy for Paulsons.
When I started messing around with chips 5 years ago, I feel like fantasy chips were pretty much on par with other chips. Some of the more popular sets would sell for a premium. But many Paulson fantasy sets sold for cheaper than casino Paulsons for a handful of reasons, not the least of which is that Paulson fantasy sets tended to use the same colors and spot patterns over and over. Times have changed a bit. The fantasy chips you mentioned do sell for a premium, but more because they have fantastic colors and spots and because they’re fairly scarce. I’m not sure that if somebody pulled out their RHC dogs or generals or sports, if they’d sell for a premium, today, over other RHC chips.

I guess the best way to put it is this - there are many factors that drive the prices of chips (or fair market value, thank you @detroitdad) and the mere status of being a fantasy chip is not one of them. If a set of fantasy chips has the qualities that people are looking for, they’ll sell for tens of thousands of dollars. If not, not.
 

BearMetal

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The fantasy chips you mentioned do sell for a premium, but more because they have fantastic colors and spots and because they’re fairly scarce. I’m not sure that if somebody pulled out their RHC dogs or generals or sports, if they’d sell for a premium, today, over other RHC chips.
Oh that's interesting; when I read his post, I interpreted fantasy as chips that were made only once for fake casinos (CDI, BTP, AS, PS, etc). I normally don't consider chips that we make ourselves for our own purposes (either through CPC or inlay replacement) as fantasy.

I guess the best way to put it is this - there are many factors that drive the prices of chips (or fair market value,
It's all supply and demand, right? (With a little bit of jitter thrown in when some people just overpay and drive prices up) So, yeah, it's all relative, I guess is my point.
 

upNdown

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Oh that's interesting; when I read his post, I interpreted fantasy as chips that were made only once for fake casinos (CDI, BTP, AS, PS, etc). I normally don't consider chips that we make ourselves for our own purposes (either through CPC or inlay replacement) as fantasy.


It's all supply and demand, right? (With a little bit of jitter thrown in when some people just overpay and drive prices up) So, yeah, it's all relative, I guess is my point.
Just to clarify, when I said RHC dogs and generals and sports, I was referring to actual fantasy sets produced by Paulson. There were a buttload of different sets that have mostly fallen off the map. So keep your eyes open at estate sales and thrift stores.
Edit: All I have is this one - most of them were on the RHC mold, but this set was made on the web mold by Paulson. Not sure if it was presidents or generals, though.
32C5D544-2164-47B7-A33E-57E84E05A476.jpeg
 

Josh Kifer

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Read alot. Use the resources section. Ask questions. Find a senior member who's personality you think would fit and chat with them. Buy samples. Expect that your tastes will change as you go along this journey. Don't take things personally.
 

CrazyEddie

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Welcome to the forum! You're asking all the right questions. Sadly, no, there is not one place to look to find all the answers; new members have had to slowly put the pieces together by reading and searching the archives. But since you've asked, I'll take a stab at making a good starting place right here.

This is going to be a big post, spread across several posts, and it'll take me a while to get them all put up. Please be patient.

Also, while I'll try to cover the big picture, there's going to be a lot of details I won't get into, which means that this will necessarily be incomplete and inaccurate in a lot of ways, but hopefully all of those omissions and inaccuracies will be small and not particularly important to a new member such as yourself.

---

The first thing you should know is that poker chips can be usefully divided into five broad categories, and that these categories roughly correspond to both quality and price, in increasing order:
  • Mass-market plastic chips
  • Enthusiast-grade plastic chips
  • Ceramics
  • Casino-grade plastic chips
  • Casino clays

Mass-Market Plastics

Mass-market plastic chips are readily available at retail outlets such as Amazon and Walmart. Most of them contain a metal insert (a "slug") to add weight. Nowadays they come in a wide variety of graphic designs, but in the earlier days the most common design was a generic pattern: six stripes with spotted dice between the stripes; we now call these "dice chips".

1630160839313.png


Here's a small selection of other designs:

1630161006860.png1630161094469.png1630161139939.png1630161284883.png

Regardless of design, these all have a few things in common: they're made from injection-molded plastic, they contain a metal slug for added weight, and the graphic design in the center of the chip is printed on an adhesive decal (basically, a sticker).

Very often these chips will be marketed with phrases such as clay, clay composite, and official casino weight. The terms clay and clay composite mean nothing in this case; these chips are made out of plastic and are completely unlike the clay chips used in casinos. There's no such thing as an official casino weight; casinos use a variety of chips with a wide range of weights. Slugged mass-market plastic chips weigh between 11.5 and 14 grams, whereas casino clays weigh between 8 and 11 grams. Casinos also use ceramic chips and plastic chips, and the plastic chips casinos use have the same range of weights as the mass-market plastic chips, although the casino grade plastics are a much higher quality.

Mass-market chips like these are considered the lowest quality by chip enthusiasts. They're heavier than the clay chips most prefer. Very often, the plastic they're made from is very slick, which makes the chips difficult to handle and stack. Even so, some of these types of chips are more highly regarded than others and can make a good choice for someone on a tight budget. Notable brand names include Outlaw, Monte Carlo, Showdown, Casino Royale, Desert Heat, and The Mint, but there are others as well.


Enthusiast Grade Plastics aka China Clays

Enthusiast-grade plastic chips are made for and marketed to people who are looking for a high-quality chip at affordable prices. Like the mass-market chips, they are made out of injection-molded plastic and use a decal for their graphic designs; however, they do not contain a metal slug. Their graphic design and the plastic they are made from are designed to imitate the look and feel of casino clays as closely as possible. Since these are made in China (whereas casino clays are made in the US and Mexico), they've come to be known as "China clays".

Notable china clay brand names include Milano, Majestic, Royal, The Bank, Dunes, and Pharaohs (these last two are china clay tributes to the original versions which were casino clays, which can sometimes be confusing). Older china clay brand names that are no longer widely available include Spirit Molds and Championship Poker Series.

Here are a few examples:

1630163128423.png1630163140172.png1630163157385.png1630163210199.png1630163284486.png

China clays can be found at various poker chip retailers online, most notably Apache Poker Chips. Some brands may be available on Amazon or ebay, but in general you won't find china clays at major retail outlets. They're a good choice for someone who wants something more like casino clay chips than the mass-market chips are, but is on a somewhat limited budget.


Ceramics

Ceramic chips are widely used both in casinos and in home games. They're readily available, come in an endless variety of colorful and distinctive graphic designs, can be easily customized, and are very affordable compared to casino clays. Despite the name, ceramics aren't made out of ceramic; they're injection-molded plastic. The particular blend of plastics used makes them feel somewhat like ceramic.

The distinctive feature of ceramic chips is that they can be printed on using a method called dye-sublimation (aka "dye-sub"). All the other types of chips covered here have their graphic designs printed on circles of paper or plastic which are then either glued to or pressed into the surface of chip. Ceramics have their graphic designs printed directly onto the chip surface. The dye-sub process actually slightly evaporates the ink and the chip plastic so that the printed design is bonded into the chip surface, which makes the printed design very durable and resistant to wear. It also means that the graphic design covers the entire face of the chip and the rolling edge; other types of chips have the graphic design only in the center of the chip, with the other elements (such as colored spots and debossed mold impressions) being molded into the chip body.

There are a few ceramic brands that are available through mass-market outlets: Nile, Scroll, and Laurel Crown. Those aren't very well-regarded, though. Higher quality ceramics can be obtained from vendors such as ABC Gifts and Awards and Sun-Fly. Both of those vendors have a number of stock designs available, including frequent favorites Dia De Los Muertos and Tiki Kings. The chief appeal of ceramics, though, is that they are completely customizable; ceramic chip vendors can print chips using any graphic design you like. You can get custom ceramics from ABC, Sun-Fly, or via certain Chinese vendors that many of our PCF members have been working with (these are often called the "cards mold" vendors). There are other sources you can buy various ceramic stock designs or customs from as well; you can find them with a google search.

This earlier post of mine, as well as the rest of that thread, discusses ceramic chips in more detail.

Here are a few examples, including some from actual casinos:

1630165797507.png1630165880262.png1630166001652.png1630166115186.png1630166397719.png


[TO BE CONTINUED]
 
Last edited:

BSteck

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Welcome to the forum! You're asking all the right questions. Sadly, no, there is not one place to look to find all the answers; new members have had to slowly put the pieces together by reading and searching the archives. But since you've asked, I'll take a stab at making a good starting place right here.

This is going to be a big post, spread across several posts, and it'll take me a while to get them all put up. Please be patient.

Also, while I'll try to cover the big picture, there's going to be a lot of details I won't get into, which means that this will necessarily be incomplete and inaccurate in a lot of ways, but hopefully all of those omissions and inaccuracies will be small and not particularly important to a new member such as yourself.

---

The first thing you should know is that poker chips can be usefully divided into five broad categories, and that these categories roughly correspond to both quality and price, in increasing order:
  • Mass-market plastic chips
  • Enthusiast-grade plastic chips
  • Ceramics
  • Casino-grade plastic chips
  • Casino clays

Mass-Market Plastics

Mass-market plastic chips are readily available at retail outlets such as Amazon and Walmart. Most of them contain a metal insert (a "slug") to add weight. Nowadays they come in a wide variety of graphic designs, but in the earlier days the most common design was a generic pattern: six stripes with spotted dice between the stripes; we now call these "dice chips".

View attachment 765139

Here's a small selection of other designs:

View attachment 765141View attachment 765143View attachment 765144View attachment 765145

Regardless of design, these all have a few things in common: they're made from injection-molded plastic, they contain a metal slug for added weight, and the graphic design in the center of the chip is printed on an adhesive decal (basically, a sticker).

Very often these chips will be marketed with phrases such as clay, clay composite, and official casino weight. The terms clay and clay composite mean nothing in this case; these chips are made out of plastic and are completely unlike the clay chips used in casinos. There's no such thing as an official casino weight; casinos use a variety of chips with a wide range of weights. Slugged mass-market plastic chips weigh between 11.5 and 14 grams, whereas casino clays weigh between 8 and 11 grams. Casinos also use ceramic chips and plastic chips, and the plastic chips casinos use have the same range of weights as the mass-market plastic chips, although the casino grade plastics are a much higher quality.

Mass-market chips like these are considered the lowest quality by chip enthusiasts. They're heavier than the clay chips most prefer. Very often, the plastic they're made from is very slick, which makes the chips difficult to handle and stack. Even so, some of these types of chips are more highly regarded than others and can make a good choice for someone on a tight budget. Notable brand names include Outlaw, Monte Carlo, Showdown, Casino Royale, Desert Heat, and The Mint, but there are others as well.


Enthusiast Grade Plastics aka China Clays

Enthusiast-grade plastic chips are made for and marketed to people who are looking for a high-quality chip at affordable prices. Like the mass-market chips, they are made out of injection-molded plastic and use a decal for their graphic designs; however, they do not contain a metal slug. Their graphic design and the plastic they are made from are designed to imitate the look and feel of casino clays as closely as possible. Since these are made in China (whereas casino clays are made in the US and Mexico), they've come to be known as "China clays".

Notable china clay brand names include Milano, Majestic, Royal, The Bank, Dunes, and Pharaohs (these last two are china clay tributes to the original versions which were casino clays, which can sometimes be confusing). Older china clay brand names that are no longer widely available include Spirit Molds and Championship Poker Series.

Here are a few examples:

View attachment 765164View attachment 765165View attachment 765166View attachment 765168View attachment 765169

China clays can be found at various poker chip retailers online, most notably Apache Poker Chips. Some brands may be available on Amazon or ebay, but in general you won't find china clays at major retail outlets. They're a good choice for someone who wants something more like casino clay chips than the mass-market chips are, but is on a somewhat limited budget.


Ceramics

Ceramic chips are widely used both in casinos as and in home games. They're readily available, come in an endless variety of colorful and distinctive graphic designs, can be easily customized, and are very affordable compared to casino clays. Despite the name, ceramics aren't made out of ceramic; they're injection-molded plastic. The particular blend of plastics used makes them feel somewhat like ceramic.

The distinctive feature of ceramic chips is that they can be printed on using a method called dye-sublimation (aka "dye-sub"). All the other types of chips covered here have their graphic designs printed on circles of paper or plastic which are then either glued to or pressed into the surface of chip. Ceramics have their graphic designs printed directly onto the chip surface. The dye-sub process actually slightly evaporates the ink and the chip plastic so that the printed design is bonded into the chip surface, which makes the printed design very durable and resistant to wear. It also means that the graphic design covers the entire face of the chip and the rolling edge; other types of chips have the graphic design only in the center of the chip, with the other elements (such as colored spots and debossed mold impressions) being molded into the chip body.

There are a few ceramic brands that are available through mass-market outlets: Nile, Scroll, and Laurel Crown. Those aren't very well-regarded, though. Higher quality ceramics can be obtained from vendors such as ABC Gifts and Awards and Sun-Fly. Both of those vendors have a number of stock designs available, including frequent favorites Dia De Los Muertos and Tiki Kings. The chief appeal of ceramics, though, is that they are completely customizable; ceramic chip vendors can print chips using any graphic design you like. You can get custom ceramics from ABC, Sun-Fly, or via certain Chinese vendors that many of our PCF members have been working with (these are often called the "cards mold" vendors). There are other sources you can buy various ceramic stock designs or customs from as well; you can find them with a google search.

This earlier post of mine, as well as the rest of that thread, discusses ceramic chips in more detail.

Here are a few examples, including some from actual casinos:

View attachment 765195View attachment 765198View attachment 765208View attachment 765214View attachment 765215


[TO BE CONTINUED]
Get this to the Resource section - STAT!
 

bergs

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Hey all,

Firstly I want to say I am new to this forum but in the past week, my experience here has been illuminating and very positive. I was hoping that you all could explain some things to me... the only problem is that I don't know what I don't know. :unsure:
I loved you in Infinity War and really thing you got a bad rap. Well, I guess it was....inevitable. Answers below with ****
  • How do I tell high quality chips from low quality chips? **** If they’re insanely expensive they’re good chips. If you can’t find them, they’re REALLY good chips. If you can sorta pick them out in a picture of Windwalker’s collection or BGinGA talks about the fact that has them but doesn’t post a picture for 3 years then holy fuck they’re amazing chips.
  • How can I assess brands of chips? Are there even brands of chips? **** There are insanely expensive chips and then just chips that you can’t afford while maintaining a house and the ability to buy groceries. Personally, I think housing and buying edible, clean food is overrated, but then again I am very fat and live in the dessert. I mean, the desert. Or whatever.
  • What are molds, how are they used to create chips? **** Molds are what none of us can afford to have customized. I mean, I don’t have children, never really wanted them, but if squeezing a couple out and trading them for a custom mold was possible, I’m surprising my wife tonight.
  • What different molds do people usually collect from? (I'm not even sure if my questions are making sense at this point.). **** Top hat and cane and then a bunch of bullshit
  • The top hat and cane variety... there's so much here. Speedy explanation please? **** It’s a top hat with a cane on the outer ring of the chip. There are a few variations. Don’t get the ones where it almost touches the edge of the chip or everyone will feel pity and sorrow for you.

  • Paulson chips - are they a brand, or a mold, or what? Why do people like them so much? How does one get Paulson chips? **** First, you need to win your country’s national lottery and establish massive amounts of liquid assets. I mean actual money, not really expensive bottles of booze.
  • If I already know the breakdown I want for the beginnings of a set, how should I begin to collect/search for chips I like? **** With sufficient money, you can buy all the chips available and then auction the ones that don’t make you pant like a fat dog on a hot day
    • Samples. How do I find them? **** I’m not above begging, personally, but the best way to do it is to figure out where Poppin stashed all our chips in those salt mines in Europe
  • There's so much more I have read on this forum and still don't understand at all, but I forgot those questions. Here are the answers: 1) never wear burgundy, it’s a shit color; 2) silverware is a nice gift; 3) bright white with metallic edge paint; 4) seven thousand three hundred and twelve; 5) yes MatB is really that horrible; 6) turnips; and 7) it works a lot better if you just stand on your head until you pass out

Anyways, I hope you guys can help me out? Maybe there is a quick and easy link to a masterclass thread on this stuff, but I haven't been able to find anything on google that I understand. Please treat me like an idiot and teach me like a five year old! Any random tips/thoughts/questions I SHOULD be asking are also welcome.

Cheers,
Flawed_Titan
Honestly, wait for a Chiproom sale and get some of those (everyone loves Paulsons and it’s probably the most affordable way to get a playable set) and keep looking at the forum and figuring out what you like, and try to get samples of those.
 

upNdown

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This is going to be a big post, spread across several posts, and it'll take me a while to get them all put up. Please be patient.

Also, while I'll try to cover the big picture, there's going to be a lot of details I won't get into, which means that this will necessarily be incomplete and inaccurate in a lot of ways, but hopefully all of those omissions and inaccuracies will be small and not particularly important to a new member such as yourself.

---

The first thing you should know is that poker chips can be usefully divided into five broad categories, and that these categories roughly correspond to both quality and price, in increasing order:
  • Mass-market plastic chips
  • Enthusiast-grade plastic chips
  • Ceramics
  • Casino-grade plastic chips
  • Casino clays

Mass-Market Plastics

Mass-market plastic chips are readily available at retail outlets such as Amazon and Walmart. Most of them contain a metal insert (a "slug") to add weight. Nowadays they come in a wide variety of graphic designs, but in the earlier days the most common design was a generic pattern: six stripes with spotted dice between the stripes; we now call these "dice chips".

View attachment 765139

Here's a small selection of other designs:

View attachment 765141View attachment 765143View attachment 765144View attachment 765145

Regardless of design, these all have a few things in common: they're made from injection-molded plastic, they contain a metal slug for added weight, and the graphic design in the center of the chip is printed on an adhesive decal (basically, a sticker).

Very often these chips will be marketed with phrases such as clay, clay composite, and official casino weight. The terms clay and clay composite mean nothing in this case; these chips are made out of plastic and are completely unlike the clay chips used in casinos. There's no such thing as an official casino weight; casinos use a variety of chips with a wide range of weights. Slugged mass-market plastic chips weigh between 11.5 and 14 grams, whereas casino clays weigh between 8 and 11 grams. Casinos also use ceramic chips and plastic chips, and the plastic chips casinos use have the same range of weights as the mass-market plastic chips, although the casino grade plastics are a much higher quality.

Mass-market chips like these are considered the lowest quality by chip enthusiasts. They're heavier than the clay chips most prefer. Very often, the plastic they're made from is very slick, which makes the chips difficult to handle and stack. Even so, some of these types of chips are more highly regarded than others and can make a good choice for someone on a tight budget. Notable brand names include Outlaw, Monte Carlo, Showdown, Casino Royale, Desert Heat, and The Mint, but there are others as well.


Enthusiast Grade Plastics aka China Clays

Enthusiast-grade plastic chips are made for and marketed to people who are looking for a high-quality chip at affordable prices. Like the mass-market chips, they are made out of injection-molded plastic and use a decal for their graphic designs; however, they do not contain a metal slug. Their graphic design and the plastic they are made from are designed to imitate the look and feel of casino clays as closely as possible. Since these are made in China (whereas casino clays are made in the US and Mexico), they've come to be known as "China clays".

Notable china clay brand names include Milano, Majestic, Royal, The Bank, Dunes, and Pharaohs (these last two are china clay tributes to the original versions which were casino clays, which can sometimes be confusing). Older china clay brand names that are no longer widely available include Spirit Molds and Championship Poker Series.

Here are a few examples:

View attachment 765164View attachment 765165View attachment 765166View attachment 765168View attachment 765169

China clays can be found at various poker chip retailers online, most notably Apache Poker Chips. Some brands may be available on Amazon or ebay, but in general you won't find china clays at major retail outlets. They're a good choice for someone who wants something more like casino clay chips than the mass-market chips are, but is on a somewhat limited budget.


Ceramics

Ceramic chips are widely used both in casinos as and in home games. They're readily available, come in an endless variety of colorful and distinctive graphic designs, can be easily customized, and are very affordable compared to casino clays. Despite the name, ceramics aren't made out of ceramic; they're injection-molded plastic. The particular blend of plastics used makes them feel somewhat like ceramic.

The distinctive feature of ceramic chips is that they can be printed on using a method called dye-sublimation (aka "dye-sub"). All the other types of chips covered here have their graphic designs printed on circles of paper or plastic which are then either glued to or pressed into the surface of chip. Ceramics have their graphic designs printed directly onto the chip surface. The dye-sub process actually slightly evaporates the ink and the chip plastic so that the printed design is bonded into the chip surface, which makes the printed design very durable and resistant to wear. It also means that the graphic design covers the entire face of the chip and the rolling edge; other types of chips have the graphic design only in the center of the chip, with the other elements (such as colored spots and debossed mold impressions) being molded into the chip body.

There are a few ceramic brands that are available through mass-market outlets: Nile, Scroll, and Laurel Crown. Those aren't very well-regarded, though. Higher quality ceramics can be obtained from vendors such as ABC Gifts and Awards and Sun-Fly. Both of those vendors have a number of stock designs available, including frequent favorites Dia De Los Muertos and Tiki Kings. The chief appeal of ceramics, though, is that they are completely customizable; ceramic chip vendors can print chips using any graphic design you like. You can get custom ceramics from ABC, Sun-Fly, or via certain Chinese vendors that many of our PCF members have been working with (these are often called the "cards mold" vendors). There are other sources you can buy various ceramic stock designs or customs from as well; you can find them with a google search.

This earlier post of mine, as well as the rest of that thread, discusses ceramic chips in more detail.

Here are a few examples, including some from actual casinos:

View attachment 765195View attachment 765198View attachment 765208View attachment 765214View attachment 765215


[TO BE CONTINUED]
I was wondering where you were going with “enthusiast grade plastics.” I like it. Hope it catches on. Because China clays should not be called clays.
 

Taghkanic

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Welcome to the forum! You're asking all the right questions. Sadly, no, there is not one place to look to find all the answers; new members have had to slowly put the pieces together by reading and searching the archives. But since you've asked, I'll take a stab at making a good starting place right here.

This is going to be a big post, spread across several posts, and it'll take me a while to get them all put up. Please be patient.

Also, while I'll try to cover the big picture, there's going to be a lot of details I won't get into, which means that this will necessarily be incomplete and inaccurate in a lot of ways, but hopefully all of those omissions and inaccuracies will be small and not particularly important to a new member such as yourself.

---

The first thing you should know is that poker chips can be usefully divided into five broad categories, and that these categories roughly correspond to both quality and price, in increasing order:
  • Mass-market plastic chips
  • Enthusiast-grade plastic chips
  • Ceramics
  • Casino-grade plastic chips
  • Casino clays

Mass-Market Plastics

Mass-market plastic chips are readily available at retail outlets such as Amazon and Walmart. Most of them contain a metal insert (a "slug") to add weight. Nowadays they come in a wide variety of graphic designs, but in the earlier days the most common design was a generic pattern: six stripes with spotted dice between the stripes; we now call these "dice chips".

View attachment 765139

Here's a small selection of other designs:

View attachment 765141View attachment 765143View attachment 765144View attachment 765145

Regardless of design, these all have a few things in common: they're made from injection-molded plastic, they contain a metal slug for added weight, and the graphic design in the center of the chip is printed on an adhesive decal (basically, a sticker).

Very often these chips will be marketed with phrases such as clay, clay composite, and official casino weight. The terms clay and clay composite mean nothing in this case; these chips are made out of plastic and are completely unlike the clay chips used in casinos. There's no such thing as an official casino weight; casinos use a variety of chips with a wide range of weights. Slugged mass-market plastic chips weigh between 11.5 and 14 grams, whereas casino clays weigh between 8 and 11 grams. Casinos also use ceramic chips and plastic chips, and the plastic chips casinos use have the same range of weights as the mass-market plastic chips, although the casino grade plastics are a much higher quality.

Mass-market chips like these are considered the lowest quality by chip enthusiasts. They're heavier than the clay chips most prefer. Very often, the plastic they're made from is very slick, which makes the chips difficult to handle and stack. Even so, some of these types of chips are more highly regarded than others and can make a good choice for someone on a tight budget. Notable brand names include Outlaw, Monte Carlo, Showdown, Casino Royale, Desert Heat, and The Mint, but there are others as well.


Enthusiast Grade Plastics aka China Clays

Enthusiast-grade plastic chips are made for and marketed to people who are looking for a high-quality chip at affordable prices. Like the mass-market chips, they are made out of injection-molded plastic and use a decal for their graphic designs; however, they do not contain a metal slug. Their graphic design and the plastic they are made from are designed to imitate the look and feel of casino clays as closely as possible. Since these are made in China (whereas casino clays are made in the US and Mexico), they've come to be known as "China clays".

Notable china clay brand names include Milano, Majestic, Royal, The Bank, Dunes, and Pharaohs (these last two are china clay tributes to the original versions which were casino clays, which can sometimes be confusing). Older china clay brand names that are no longer widely available include Spirit Molds and Championship Poker Series.

Here are a few examples:

View attachment 765164View attachment 765165View attachment 765166View attachment 765168View attachment 765169

China clays can be found at various poker chip retailers online, most notably Apache Poker Chips. Some brands may be available on Amazon or ebay, but in general you won't find china clays at major retail outlets. They're a good choice for someone who wants something more like casino clay chips than the mass-market chips are, but is on a somewhat limited budget.


Ceramics

Ceramic chips are widely used both in casinos as and in home games. They're readily available, come in an endless variety of colorful and distinctive graphic designs, can be easily customized, and are very affordable compared to casino clays. Despite the name, ceramics aren't made out of ceramic; they're injection-molded plastic. The particular blend of plastics used makes them feel somewhat like ceramic.

The distinctive feature of ceramic chips is that they can be printed on using a method called dye-sublimation (aka "dye-sub"). All the other types of chips covered here have their graphic designs printed on circles of paper or plastic which are then either glued to or pressed into the surface of chip. Ceramics have their graphic designs printed directly onto the chip surface. The dye-sub process actually slightly evaporates the ink and the chip plastic so that the printed design is bonded into the chip surface, which makes the printed design very durable and resistant to wear. It also means that the graphic design covers the entire face of the chip and the rolling edge; other types of chips have the graphic design only in the center of the chip, with the other elements (such as colored spots and debossed mold impressions) being molded into the chip body.

There are a few ceramic brands that are available through mass-market outlets: Nile, Scroll, and Laurel Crown. Those aren't very well-regarded, though. Higher quality ceramics can be obtained from vendors such as ABC Gifts and Awards and Sun-Fly. Both of those vendors have a number of stock designs available, including frequent favorites Dia De Los Muertos and Tiki Kings. The chief appeal of ceramics, though, is that they are completely customizable; ceramic chip vendors can print chips using any graphic design you like. You can get custom ceramics from ABC, Sun-Fly, or via certain Chinese vendors that many of our PCF members have been working with (these are often called the "cards mold" vendors). There are other sources you can buy various ceramic stock designs or customs from as well; you can find them with a google search.

This earlier post of mine, as well as the rest of that thread, discusses ceramic chips in more detail.

Here are a few examples, including some from actual casinos:

View attachment 765195View attachment 765198View attachment 765208View attachment 765214View attachment 765215


[TO BE CONTINUED]

Epic post. Look forward to Part 2.

I’d just note that there are other types of chips you will encounter on eBay or Etsy, in flea markets, etc., which mostly are no longer made, but are still widely available because they were mass-produced by the millions, mostly in the 20th Century.

These include resin-based chips like Bakelite and Catalin, usually undenominated, which often have a semi-translucent look… Plus all the lightweight interlocking plastic chips, which are even worse than dice chips.

Going back farther you find the “composite” clays and even cardboard or wood chips, often in solid colors, either plain or with geometric or other basic symbols “baked” into them.

I started a thread trying to assemble a rough timeline of chip production methods below, and some members have posted some very interesting info there:

https://www.pokerchipforum.com/threads/timeline-of-poker-chip-materials-a-work-in-progress.70760/
 

CrazyEddie

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[Part Two]

Casino-Grade Plastic Chips

Casinos use clays, ceramics, and plastics, but the plastics they use are much higher-quality than the ones that are sold on the mass market. They're superficially similar; they're made from injection-molded plastics, they often (but not always) have a metal insert for added weight, and the graphic designs are printed on an adhesive decal (i.e. a sticker). The difference is in the materials used, the types of designs available, and the quality control used during the manufacturing process. The final product is much more attractive and much more expensive.

Casino-grade plastics are made by just a handful of manufacturers: Bud Jones, Bourgogne et Grasset, Abbiati, and Matsui. All four sell mainly to casinos; Bud Jones and B&G are now part of Gaming Partners, Inc (GPI) and sell exclusively to casinos. They don't carry stock designs; all of their chips are made to custom-order.

Abbiati and Matsui chips can be purchased directly from them, but they have high minimum order quantities and setup fees that make them even more expensive when ordering small batches of chips. Accordingly, from time to time PCF members will organize a group buy of Abbiati or Matsui chips so as to help bring the per-chip costs down.

Bud Jones and B&G chips are only available on the third-party market, such as through the PCF classified ads. These are generally speaking going to be chips from a casino that has closed or never opened, and the chips were found or purchased by a chipping enthusiast who then resold them into the market.

Here are some examples:

1630168427304.png1630168457954.png1630168581920.png1630168593348.png

1630168646800.png1630168658926.png1630168714211.png1630168740320.png


Casino Clays

Clay chips are "the real deal". They're what people think of as casino poker chips, even though as I mentioned above casinos use clays, ceramics, and plastics. But clays are the chips that the casinos and card rooms used in the very earliest days of organized gambling, and to this day are still the main type of chip used in big-name casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and throughout California, as well as smaller casinos and card rooms across the entire US.

Clay chips are not made from clay as most people think of it, the way that bricks and flower pots and crockery are made. Most clay chips are actually made from plastic, or other plastic-like materials, with some amount of clay minerals mixed in to give it a distinct texture. Even though this material is essentially plastic, for convenience we still refer to it as "clay".

Clay chips are compression-molded, unlike all the other types of chips, which are injection-molded. This makes a difference in how they look and feel. The two big differences are in the inlays and in the molds.

Regarding inlays: the graphic designs for clay chips, like with plastics, are printed onto paper or plastic circles. Unlike with plastic chips, though, the circles aren't just glued onto the chips like stickers; instead, they're pressed into the surface of the chip, resulting in a smooth and seamless transition between the inlay and the rest of the chip's surface.

Regarding molds: clay chips are initially made from round slugs of clay, with the edge spots cut out and inserted. These discs are eventually placed into the compression mold, which presses them under high heat and pressure. This hardens and sets ("cures") the plastic/clay mix and imparts the mold's texture and design onto the chip. This picture explains the process:


1630169615355.png


Accordingly, compression-molded clay chips have physical features that are completely unlike those found on injection-molded chips. This gives them a certain very appealing aesthetic, and it makes it very difficult to create forgeries. Making compression-molded clay chips requires a substantial investment in equipment, materials, and know-how.

There have been only a handful of compression-molded clay chip manufacturers: The United States Playing Card Company (USPCC), The Burt Company which became Atlantic Standard Molding (ASM) which became American Standard Molding (also ASM) which became Classic Poker Chips (CPC), TR King (TRK), Paulson, and The Blue Chip Company (BCC), plus three others not worth mentioning here. Paulson eventually became Gaming Partners, Inc (GPI). Paulson, BCC, Bud Jones, and B&G are all now part of GPI. USPCC stopped making poker chips in the 1940s. TRK shut down when the owner retired.

That means that today there are only two sources of new clay poker chips: GPI and Classic Poker Chips. But GPI only sells to casinos, which means that if you want new clay chips, the only source is Classic Poker Chips. CPC carries a few lines of stock designs, and they have one reseller - Key West - who carries and sells their own stock design. But besides their stock designs, CPC's main line of business is made-to-order custom casino-grade clay poker chips.

As you might expect, clay poker chips are both the highest quality poker chips available as well as the most expensive. Bear in mind that although the word "clay" is used in marketing and selling all kinds of different chips, most of them are low-quality metal-slugged plastic; Classic Poker Chips is the only source of new casino-quality clay poker chips available to the home market today.

However, it's possible to buy used clay chips on the third-party market. As with the casino-grade plastics, people have found ways to buy up clay chips from casinos that have closed or which never opened, and then resell those chips onto the market. Your best bet for finding clay chips like this is the PCF classified ads.

Here are some examples of clay chips, showing off a variety of edge molds (the debossed impressions around the outer edge of the chip) as well as several different manufacturers, and both chips made for casinos and custom chips ordered by individuals for their home games:


1630173373280.png1630173415821.png1630173509681.png1630173680967.png1630173826538.png


[TO BE CONTINUED]
 
Last edited:

Pippa

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Hey all,

Firstly I want to say I am new to this forum but in the past week, my experience here has been illuminating and very positive. I was hoping that you all could explain some things to me... the only problem is that I don't know what I don't know. :unsure:
  • How do I tell high quality chips from low quality chips?
  • How can I assess brands of chips? Are there even brands of chips?
  • What are molds, how are they used to create chips?
  • What different molds do people usually collect from? (I'm not even sure if my questions are making sense at this point.)
  • The top hat and cane variety... there's so much here. Speedy explanation please?
  • Paulson chips - are they a brand, or a mold, or what? Why do people like them so much? How does one get Paulson chips?
  • If I already know the breakdown I want for the beginnings of a set, how should I begin to collect/search for chips I like?
    • Samples. How do I find them?
  • There's so much more I have read on this forum and still don't understand at all, but I forgot those questions.

Anyways, I hope you guys can help me out? Maybe there is a quick and easy link to a masterclass thread on this stuff, but I haven't been able to find anything on google that I understand. Please treat me like an idiot and teach me like a five year old! Any random tips/thoughts/questions I SHOULD be asking are also welcome.

Cheers,
Flawed_Titan
Save your wallet and your life
STAY AWAY FROM HERE!!!:wtf:
 
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