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dkumagai 02-17-2010 08:42 PM

Paulson Noir, Archetype, and Venerati Poker Chip Comparison
This morning I received a samples of Venerati and Archetype ceramics, and Paulson Noir clays from SidePot. I wanted to buy a decent set of around 650 chips, so I picked out three sets that I found aesthetically pleasing and purchased 10-20 of each so I could see them in person. I've been playing with my chips all day, and I thought that some of you would be interested in the observations I've made.

First Impressions:

Paulson: I really liked the authentic look of these chips out of the box. The edge spots are very clean for clay chips. The inlaid label is a little boring, however, and the colors are a hair too pastel for my eyes. On the positive, the recessed artwork around the edge is beautiful.

Archetype: Of the three sets, I find these the least attractive. Don't get me wrong, I liked them enough to buy a sample of them, but I'm really not in love with the face artwork. The printed denominations on the rolling edge are a nice touch. One thing I really don't like about the chips is that the $1000 chip is so dark that it is not very distinguishable from the $100 chip, nor is the $5 from the $500. One other gripe I have is that the rolling edge has a rather noticable gouge, presumably from a machining step or the mold.

Venerati: Here's the surprise. I expected the Archetypes and Paulsons to blow the least expensive set out of the water, but I really like the Venerati chips. Despite SidePot explaining that the printing of the Venerati chips is of inferior quality to the Archetypes, the face artwork is very detailed and classy. The rolling edge also has an appealing design. One of my only complaints is that the $25 chip is a little too dark, but it is still distinguishable from the $100 and $500 from the face and edge. The rolling edge also has a slight divot, like the Archetypes (must be common among ceramics), but it is much less noticeable. Lastly, I wish the rolling edge had a more matte finish as the glossy look makes them appear slightly plastic to me.


Paulson: These chips sound very authentic. Riffling these chips produces a dull clacking sound that you would expect of a casino chip. However, the sound is also the most muffled and the chips are a little quiet for my taste.

Archetype: The sound of these chips is quite a bit higher pitched than the Paulsons. They also seem louder when splashed or riffled. The sound is not quite as authentic as clay, but they're still sound good in my opinion.

Venerati: The pitch is slightly lower than the Archetypes, but they sound the loudest to me. I would rate these somewhere between the Paulsons and Archetypes, but closer to the Archetypes in sound quality.


Paulson: The feel of these chips is slightly chalky and noticeably cooler to the touch than the ceramic chips. There's a strange sensation when you rub your thumb along the face of these chips as you go from textured clay to the smooth inlay which makes them feel a little cheap (maybe that's just me). The weight is excellent, no complaints there. However, I have a problem with the sharpness of the edges as it makes shuffling the chips slightly difficult. I'm sure these will wear down over time, but out of the box I don't particularly like the feel.

Archetype/Venerati: The two of these feel very similar. The edges are rounded and smooth, while the face is slightly textured and uniform. They feel very nice and I really don't have any complaints except that for some reason the Venerati chips have an ever so slight plastic feel. I'm not sure what it is, but because of this I very slightly prefer the Archetypes over the Veneratis in this category.

Face Friction:

I've read numerous reviews of ceramic chips that state they are slippery. I performed some simple (non-scientific) tests to determine how slick these chips were.

Test 1 - Face to Face Friction:
I took a stack of 10 of each chip and tried to cleave the stacks by poking them around the middle. The Paulsons seemed to hold up the best, and often times the whole stack would move before any of the chips slid apart. I would give second to the Venerati chips, as they stuck to one another well but would inconsistently slide apart when lateral force was applied to the side. The Archetypes were the least consistent and worst performers in this test, certain denominations seemed to have a lower coefficient of friction than others and would predictably slide apart under some circumstances. Some Archetypes even spun freely on top of another if positioned just so.

Test 2 Face to Surface Friction:
I used a smooth glass coaster to use as a consistent surface for this test. Placing two chips onto the coaster at a time I would then tip the coaster until both chips slid off, and record which slid first. Before each test, I would clean off the surface to reduce variability.

I was very surprised by the results. I expected the clays to perform the best in this test given the subjective results of test 1, however, on average, the Venerati chips held on the longest. Granted, it was pretty close between the Paulsons and the Veneratis, but the Archetypes were not even in the running. Out of 20 trials between the Paulsons and Veneratis using different denominations and combinations, the Veneratis held onto the surface longer 15 out of 20 times. Even when the Venerati chips slid off first, it was by a marginal amount, and at best they held out longer by 15 or so degrees. I can't really explain this other than it appears that the Veneratis have a higher coefficient of static friction. I would say that the are also the flattest and therefore have the more surface area contacting the glass (more on this observation in the next section), but my limited knowledge of physics tells me that the contact area does not have a very significant effect on frictional adhesion.

Subjective Analysis:
I have a feeling that the relative softness of the Paulsons gives them an edge when mating these chips together. They appear to form a sort of mechanical bond with each other on contact. It would seem, however, that the Veneratis are the least slippery of the bunch. In practice, I would still say the Paulsons win here, because I think it matters more that the chips stick to each other better than to the surface they're laying upon. The Veneratis come in a close second for me, especially given the glass test. The Archetypes were by far the worst performers in both tests.

Chip Uniformity and Stacking:

Now I only have 10 Paulsons/Archetypes and 20 Veneratis, so I couldn't make a 100 chip stack of any of the three. However, I did make some interesting observations based upon what I have. If I stack all 20 Veneratis together, they're rock solid. If I stack the Archetypes and Paulsons together, it's a much different story. This stack will lean from side to side a few millimeters and I can see that small gaps form between the chips form as I press down on one side or the other.

Looking a stacks of 10 from each set, again we see that the Veneratis are perfectly flat and mate superbly with one another. The Paulsons come in a close second and I think the play is related the the softness of the clay. The worst were the Archetypes. Even in a short stack of 10, I could see that there was a little bit of side to side play. To test this I made a stack of all 40 chips first with Veneratis at the bottom, stable, but the top 20 wiggled slightly when moved. When the Paulsons were at the bottom of the stack, they were still stable, but there was significantly more play at the top. When the Archetypes formed the base of the stack, the top of the stack swayed for several seconds until coming to rest.

I've come to the conclusion that the Veneratis are the most consistent and flattest of the bunch. The Paulson are probably as flat as the Veneratis, but their softness may make them slightly less stable when stacking. The Archetypes were easily the worst again, and because ceramic doesn't give like clay, the only thing I can conclude is that they are not consistently flat. I'm not saying that you can't make a stable stack of Archetypes or Paulsons, in fact, I've seen 100+ stacks of Paulson Noirs. I'm just giving a direct comparison based upon the chips I have at my disposal, and I have to say that the Veneratis seem the most consistent and stack the best.

Edge Rolling:

Pretty cut and dry here, the Paulsons roll and stand on edge a ton better than either the Archtypes or Veneratis. This is due to the square edge of the Paulsons. In second were the Archetypes, and dead last were the Veneratis.


Hard to give much more than a subjective verdict here, as I have not taken nail files to the chips or thrown them against a concrete wall. I will say this, Paulsons are soft, softer than you may expect, and you will want to take this into consideration before you spend a gob of money on a set. They are softer than plastic and you can put dings into them with just your fingernail. Holding the chips between my index finger and thumb I've applied about 40 lbs of pressure to each type, and while I didn't try as hard as I could to snap them (because I really didn't want to bust any of them), none of them broke under the pressure. I don't think any of these chips will break under normal use, but then again, I don't think any cheap plastic ones would either. I also tested the durability of the ceramics chip finishes. Again, I didn't really try to mar them too badly, but by rubbing them together pretty hard I was able to scuff the printing on the Veneratis and Archetypes slightly. I was able to buff these out for the most part. I was concerned about the ceramic chips chipping, so I splashed the Veneratis and Archetypes together from the height some moron at a home game might. I did this several times and inspected the chips. Honestly, I couldn't find any real damage to any of the ceramics. I didn't try to destroy any of these, I wanted to see how they held up under normal circumstances. In my opinion, either of the ceramic chips would hold up quite well. I'm sure the Paulsons would too, but I can guarantee you they will show signs of use over time.

Performance for Price:

Venerati, hands down. I don't think you'll find a higher quality chip at the $0.39/each range. Even at a buck fifty a pop, I would choose the Paulson Noirs next. They were consistent performers in all my tests and the quality overall was quite good. My gripes about these chips were all pretty minor. I honestly don't think I would ever buy the Archetypes, I was not impressed by the quality of these chips at all especially considering that the Veneratis are better, in my opinion, for less than half the price. Supposedly, the Archetypes are more durable than the Veneratis, but in terms of practical use and aesthetic appeal, I would choose the Veneratis regardless of price.


Honestly, I came into this thinking I would just buy a set of Archetypes or Paulson Noirs, but after playing with the samples I got, I have to go with the Veneratis. They are excellent chips, and not just for the price. I'm choosing them because I genuinely like them the most out of the 3 sets.

Schu 02-17-2010 08:46 PM

Re: Paulson Noir, Archetype, and Venerati Comparison
Holy wall of text...

Buy what you feel comfortable playing with, Period. for me that is a set of Noirs, period. :p

jdunford 02-17-2010 08:50 PM

Re: Paulson Noir, Archetype, and Venerati Comparison
Welcome to Chiptalk!

I think it's great that you got your hands on samples. That's definitely the best way to find what you like most, because everybody will have a different personal taste.

I think your review was excellent, but I have to wonder what you're comparing them to when you say "authentic". Have you played at many casinos? What chips did they use?

Also, while it sounds like you've already decided on the Veneratis, you might be interested to get some other samples. You can get some for free here.

dkumagai 02-17-2010 09:03 PM

Re: Paulson Noir, Archetype, and Venerati Comparison
@jdunford: Authentic as in authentic casino clay. They use ceramic chips at the casinos here in Washington, but I'm referring to the clay chips I remember from my visit to Reno some years back.

@schu: Don't get me wrong, if I were a diehard clay guy I would throw down for the Noirs. They are excellent clays, but I think I just have a personal preference for ceramic.

I just wanted to give my personal thoughts on the matter in case there was some user out there debating which way to go. Btw, I'm very thorough lol.

dkumagai 02-23-2010 05:59 PM

Re: Paulson Noir, Archetype, and Venerati Comparison
Just got my chips in the mail, thought I'd post a pic. Even though the stack was pretty crooked I was able to get it 180 high.

Moufasta 01-11-2011 03:38 PM

Re: Paulson Noir, Archetype, and Venerati Comparison
thank you for this review, i've been debating the same question for a while now, and it looks like im going to make the same decision...

...veneratis it is.

hope you're enjoying them!

BGinGA 01-11-2011 09:01 PM

Re: Paulson Noir, Archetype, and Venerati Comparison
Excellent review; don't know how I missed this last year. I agree completely that it's no contest between the Archetype and the Venerati ceramics, even if costs were comparable.

I love my tournament Venerati set; unfortunately both it and my china clay Pharaoh's Club tournament set must go to make room for two new Paulson tournament sets. I haven't listed either here because I dread having to see them go.... :cry:

bbb_forever 01-11-2011 09:31 PM

Re: Paulson Noir, Archetype, and Venerati Comparison
I've gotten to actually play with the Venerati in a poker tourney, and I like them overall.

My only gripe: the shades of colors on the $25 and $100 are too dark to the point that those two chips are hard to distinguish from a distance.

Case in point, a player at the other end of the table tosses 6 chips in a stack as his bet.
I'm at the other end of the table, and the colors are too dark and similar.
So inevitably, I continually have to ask what is the bet size because the $25 and $100 chips colors are too close.
Pain in the a$$.

Other players also had the same issue with the chips because they couldn't tell the bet size. So I'm not the only one with the gripe.

By the way, my vision is ordinary and average, but the lighting in the large hotel room was somewhat soft where I was playing.

"Temporary" remedy: Provide better lighting in the room whenever the Veneratis are being used.
But it doesn't really solve the color issue for the long term.

BGinGA 01-11-2011 11:24 PM

Re: Paulson Noir, Archetype, and Venerati Comparison
Color contrast is actually a problem with a lot of sets -- either the dark green 25's and black 100's are too close in color, or the dark purple 500's and black 100's are too close in color, especially in low-light conditions.

Imo, a lighter shade of green and a lighter lavender-type shade of purple works better with black, or the darker greens and purples can be used with a lighter shade of charcoal (or gray) for the 100's. Easily-distinguishable edge spots can help tell 'em apart, too -- but those are less prevalent in ceramic chips, and most of the Venerati's share a common spot color.

Most places we use the Venerati's have pretty good overhead lighting, and with decent lighting, there's usually not much of a problem. I did stop using the 5000 chips, however -- too close to the 500's. We use plaques instead.

bbb_forever 01-12-2011 12:35 AM

Re: Paulson Noir, Archetype, and Venerati Comparison

Originally Posted by BGinGA (Post 1029266)
Color contrast is actually a problem with a lot of sets -- either the dark green 25's and black 100's are too close in color, or the dark purple 500's and black 100's are too close in color, especially in low-light conditions.

Heck yeah, a lot of poker sets have this color contrast issue, and it really, really bugs me.

Fortunately, I'm a "mixed casino set" kind of guy, so I can swap out the offending colors for substitutes.

Color contrast issues bug me, but mixed sets do not. Go figure. :)

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