designed poker chip inlays
The common consensus among chip collectors and serious poker chip consumers
is that there is a lot to be desired when it comes to poker chip design.
Casinos, probably rightly so, are far more concerned with security than
with design. Unfortunately, it shows. Once you jump into the consumer
poker chip world, design somehow manages to go downhill.
Our philosophy, and in fact our entire business, is based upon the idea
that poker chip design is of utmost importance. It’s no different
than any other business, whether it’s cars, t-shirts, or shoes.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to argue with breathtaking design.
In poker chips, aside from form considerations such as great
mold design, and color combinations, great design hinges on the design
of the inlay.
What is an inlay?
The “Inlay” is the industry term for what most consumers
refer to as the sticker, typically a round graphic in the center of the
chip. On authentic clay casino chips, the inlay is actually compression
molded into the chip. It’s far different from a sticker, which kind
of indicates that it can be applied and removed separately from the manufacturing
process. As you can imagine, it’s not an option for inlays to be
able to be removed on real casino chips as they typically contain the
monetary value denotation of the chip. In fact, you have to destroy a
real casino chip to remove the inlay. As our high-end chip lines (Protege
Archetype) are all authentic casino chips, the inlays can’t
be removed without destroying the chips. They don’t color bleed
when they get wet. They can’t be easily scratched. In a nutshell,
they’re made to last for tens of thousands of hours of play in a
somewhat harsh casino environment.
Why poker chip design is so bad?
There are two primary factors that make consumer poker chip design so
Design culprit #1
The first culprit is an unexplainable fixation on fantasy chip designs
- consumer chips that try to emulate actual casino chips by adopting a
“Fantasy theme” such as pirates, Egyptians, the Wild West,
Mardi Gras, or some other theme that a Las Vegas casino has adopted to
create an fantasy-like world for their guests. For casinos, this kind
of makes sense, although more and more of the high-end casinos today just
have luxury or trendy as their theme. But for the chips you use at the
regular game at your house, it’s somewhat absurd.
Are you going to magically transform your basement into a real live pirate
ship and sweep your guests away on a spirited adventure? Or are you trying
to build brand loyalty for your home game so that people refer to it as
the game in the pyramid? What is it, and why do you want or need pirates
on the chips you use to keep track of the money game in a friendly poker
game? It’s just an oddity that has perpetuated into the consumer
for no apparent reason other than habit.
Design culprit #2
The second culprit is chip customization. A long time ago, customization
of high-end poker chips (and many luxury items) meant putting your monogram
or family crest on a chip. It was a luxury thing, part security and part
ego driven. Today, with the substantially increased access to customized
printing technologies, people can customize pretty much anything they
want, if they want, and they can go as low budget as they dare.
Just because you can customize something, it doesn’t always mean
you necessarily should. Sure, if you have a professional designer or have
been trained in the principles of design yourself, it’s a pretty
cool time. You truly can have your own line of poker chips for not too
much of an extra expense. That’s cool. Unfortunately, that’s
the rare exception. Hacks taking a nice set of clay chips and slapping
a superficially thought out design on them just never comes out that good.
You can also design your own t-shirt, but you’ve got to admit it’s
the rare talent that can get away with that and still retain their dignity.
Bringing good design to the market
Our idea to bring good design to the poker chip market is a very simple
and straightforward idea. If the industry is plagued with bad design,
then go outside of the industry for your talent. Give that talent full
autonomy to design a poker chip as if it were the first chip ever designed,
and intended to establish a benchmark for all future designs. Have them
borrow from award winning designs in other design disciplines, as well
as completely unrelated industries that are known for great design.
What we came up with is classic, elegant inlay designs. Our Archetype
line ia based upon a clean laurel wreath and dice design. Our Protege
and Le Paulson Noir lines were selected by popular vote from amoung dozens
of entries into a poker chip design contest. Most importantly, all of
our lines blend great inlay design with great mold design and edge spot