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Inplay Clay Poker Chips Review

Discussion in 'Poker Chip Reviews' started by CaptLego, Oct 17, 2005.

  1. CaptLego

    CaptLego Super Moderator
    Staff Member Lifetime Supporter

    Mar 21, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Manufacturer: Blue Chip
    Retailer(s): BuyPokerChips.com
    Average Price:$1.05 (qty 1000) to $1.40 (qty 50) per chip
    Member Review by: CaptLego (in white), Strange (in pink)
    The InPlay clay chips are new top-of-the-line chips available from BuyPokerChips.com. The vendor claims several innovative features including; a new mold, the smooth feel of a chip that is already broken in, pre-oiled, and an "inspired inlay design."

    The interesting marketing approach of selling a chip that is designed to feel already "worn in" and a high price tag at low volumes has produced a huge amount of debate about this new chip. Does the chip live up to its marketing hype?

    I applaud BPC for their efforts to innovate a better chip. Are these chips worth the premium price? I bought 2 sets of sample chips (2 each of 11 denominations) to check them out.

    These chips were originally introduced at a premiun price ($2.00 per chip for small quantities). That high price provoked the strongest criticism of these chips. You can follow the discussion of their price in this thread. (You can search this board for "InPlay" to find more discussions about these chips.) Recently, their price has been reduced by 15% to 30% (depending on quantity). At $1.05 per chip (sets of 1000 chips) to $1.40 per chip for small quantities, these are still among the most expensive chips available to the home market. The only way you could pay more is to buy premium authentic retired casino chips. In the end, you have to decide for yourself if the features of this chip justify the price. Personally, I think they are still over-priced. ​
    These chips weigh about 8.8 grams each. (range is approx 8.5 to 9.0 grams). This is comparable weight to the Blue Chip Mardi Gras or ASM A-mold, about 1.1 gm less than a Paulson, and 1.8 gm less than a Chipco. The InPlays' weight is not bad, but in handling them they are noticeably lighter than the Paulsons or Chipcos. I personally prefer the heftier chips.

    One of the key features of these chips is the new "Cigar and Snifter" mold. This mold gives the clay face a very smooth finish, and the edges are slightly rounded. The goal was to give them the feel of a casino chip that's had about 3.5 years of use. I like the feel of these chips. The rounded corners make them a bit easier to shuffle than Modern Clays or Mardi Gras, for example. The smooth finish translates into a very smooth feel as the chips slide across each other as you square up the stack when completing a shuffle. The rolling edges have a fine grooved texture, which gives you a good grip when lifting a stack or shuffling. The texture of the rolling edge is about the same as other Blue Chip chips (e.g. James Bonds, Modern Clays, or Mardi Gras).

    The feel of these chips was always going to be "different" than a classic clay chip from, for example, Paulson. This is the main improvement that BPC are claims with the InPlay. Certainly it's immediately obvious that the edges are not as sharp as new Pharaohs, and with the surface of the chip much flatter, with a shallower mould, the overall impression is one of smoothness, just as you might get from a worn casino chip. No sharp edges, no texture to the clay surface at all.

    I don't agree with the vendor's claim that this chip "feels just like a chip that has been in use in a casino for 3-5 years". To be honest, I don't really know how much wear a casino chip gets in 3 years but to me these chips feel more like "barely broken in" than years of casino abuse. The edges are still quite square, and you have no problem standing these chips on edge (see picture below). I'd say they feel more like a chip that's had three or four hours of use.

    I find that a stack of brand new Paulsons, with their razor-sharp edges, is quite hard to shuffle. After a few of hours of shuffling, though, the Paulsons begin to behave quite nicely. During that time you can just feel the Paulsons grinding each other. But after two or three hours of shuffling, the Paulsons feel better than the InPlay clays. After a couple of days of shuffling, the Paulsons feel better in every way than any other chip, but by then the chips are dirty from the colors rubbing off on each other and you've got colored Paulson dust all over your fingers. By the time the Paulsons are really broken in, they need to be cleaned. If you work your way through a set of Paulsons by shuffling stacks of 20 for two or three hours, you're looking at months of work to get them all broken in. In normal use, the process will take years. The Blue Chip chips (like the InPlay clays) seem to be made of a harder clay material than Paulsons, so the break-in period will be even longer. There's something to be said for a chip that is already broken-in.

    The much advertised "ready oiled" effect is also very noticable. There is no dust or dryness to the chip at all.

    Pre-oiled: These chips come pre-oiled. I don't have any un-oiled versions to compare them to, so I can't say how much difference this makes. The do look like they've been oiled, though. The colors are rich and shiny, compared to the Modern Clays, for example (I think you can get the Mardi Gras chips pre-oiled). It's nice that they pre-oil these chips. It's not a major differentiator, though, since you can always oil your own chips if you want.

    The recessed inlay has a fine linen feel, a little more coarse than a Chipco, for example, but with less texture than a Modern Clay, Mardi Gras, or Nevada Jacks ceramic. For me, the texture of standard-sized recessed inlay has little impact on the feel of a chip. I normally handle chips by their edges. The inlay texture has no effect on the stacking or shuffling properties of the chips, since it is recessed. Mostly, the texture just serves to impart a matte finish to the inlay.

    The inlay has a fine, cross-hatched texture to it, perhaps comparable to a linen finish playing card, although a little finer.
    The InPlay chips are pretty good stackers. Stacks square up nicely, the chips have good grip, and there were no spinners in my 22 samples. Again, I'd rate them better than the other Blue Chip models, slightly worse than ASMs, and worse than Chipcos or Paulsons. (Of course, they are way better than Dice, Nexgens, Faux Clays, WPTs, etc., but for their price the InPlays should just be compared to other high-end chips.)
    Right out of the box, the InPlay clays shuffle well. These are the best feeling chip of any Blue Chip model. I'd have to say that the InPlay clays are easier to shuffle than new Paulsons. Whether new or broken in, the Paulsons have more grip (mostly, more sliding friction) than the InPlays. The InPlays don't feel as good to me as the ceramics (NJs or Chipcos), and they're not even in the same league as broken-in Paulsons. The broken-in Paulsons, in particular, have that wonderful silky-smooth (that's smooth, not slippery) feel. I prefer the feel of ASMs to these chips, as well. The ASMs aren't as smooth as the InPlay clays, but they have better friction and grip.

    Given the sample size that I had to review (11 chips), its not possible for me to really say how high this chip would stack, but I do get the impression that the combination of the smooth chip surface and the very slightly recessed inlay could produce that suction effect that you hear about. Stacked side by side with my Pharaohs, its difficult to discern much of difference at these stack sizes. I would guess that a normal stack of 30 or so chips would not present any problem at all.
    They sound just like other Blue Chip models, most notably the Modern Clays and BC JB's. Mardi Gras and Martini Clubs also sound quite similar, perhaps just a wee bit higher pitched and less "solid" sounding than the InPlays. To my ears, the ASMs are nearly indistinguishable from the Mardi Gras. By contrast, Chipcos have a much higher pitched ring to them, while Paulsons have a much deeper "thud". You can hear the InPlay clays Here

    The sound of the InPlay chips is very similar to the Modern Clay from BPC, with a slightly higher sound compared to other home clay chips. Certainly not an unpleasant sound. There is a notable difference when a stack of chips is lifted and riffled through. As the chips drop directly on top of one another there is a definite hollow sound, strangely reminiscent of two halves of a coconut being tapped together. Its possible that the same features of the chip that help it stack cause this hollow sound when the chips slap together. Quite distinctive.
    Mold: As far as I can tell, this is a brand new mold, the "Cigar and Snifter". It has 8 cigar and snifter recessed elements around the main part of the body. Near the outside edge is a circular groove. While the vendor claims there's a second concentric circle on the inside, I haven't been able to spot it. If the inner ring is there, it's being covered or mangled by the inlay. Even though the Cigar and Snifter clearly mimics the Top Hat and Cane, I like this mold. To me, a cigar and snifter makes more sense on a poker chip than dice, horse heads, "Paulson Chips", or a top hat and cane, for that matter. The InPlay mold is much better than the barely visible Blue Chip flame or sun mold (or whatever it's called), and much preferable to the "A36K10248Q5J79" mold of the Modern Clays.

    The new "snifter and cigar" mould is clearly an attempt at linking the chip with the Top Hat and Cane of the Paulson brand. The design is fairly shallow, so the effect, either positive or negative depending on your point of view, is reduced somewhat. A simpler mould, perhaps with just the brandy glasses, might have been more successful. As stated previously, the manufacturer has aimed at a smooth finish, and the low depth of mould cut is one result of this approach.

    Colors / Edge Spots: All these chips have 3 by 2, 1/4" edgespots. You can decide for yourself if you like the color combinations. For me, these chips are a bit of a mixed-bag. Some chips (like the $1, $2, $100, $500, $1000, and $5000) are rather bright and candy-colored looking. Others (e.g. the $.50, $5, $25) are a less saturated and more subdued. In some cases the edgespots contrast highly with the main body color (see the $1, $100 and $1000, for example), while in other cases (like the $.25, $10, and $5000) the edgespots have much less contrast. The $.25 and $10 are too close to each other in their main body color for me to want them both in the same game. Overall, I just don't see any pattern or logic behind the choice of edgespot colors, they just seem to be chosen haphazardly. Fortunately, nobody needs 11 denominations of chips (certainly not in the same game). The trick with these chips, then, would be to find a subset of the denominations that provide a coherent set, work for your particular game, and appeal to you.

    Inlays: The vendor for these chips makes a big deal out of the inlay design. For me, this inlay is a deal-breaker. I don't like it. Years from now, the exhorbitant price could be forgotten but these chips will still be ugly. The inlays for all the chips are quite similar, with some subtle variation in the minor details. They're all basically rust and mustard colored (that doesn't blend well with many of the chips), with the denomination printed in the center and spelled out (twice) around the perimeter. For me, the contrast is too low to easily see the center denomination, and I have to get within about 10" (and look through my bifocals) to have any chance of reading the spelled-out denomination. The QC on these is about as good as BC's get... there are some out-of-round and off-center examples. They're not nearly as gross QC-wise as the Modern Clays or other Blue Chips, however. I'd judge them to be comparable to the Mardi Gras or Martini Clubs. (Not even in the same ballpark as ASMs, TRKings, or Paulsons, in terms of inlay roundness and centering.)

    The inlay of each denomination is essentially the same, with only tiny and apparently random additions and deletions of small white 'leaves' to either side of the denomination itself.

    The inlay colours are chiefly orange and green on a sort of khaki ground and the combination means that the inlay colour manages to clash with almost every chip colour in the set. Coming to these chip colours, some are more successful than others: the navy 50c chip with pale blue and white edge spots works quite well, whereas the $5 (red with khaki and white edge spots) is pretty dreadful.

    Where these chips are really let down though is in the quality and placement of the inlay. I now understand that this is just what you have to expect from BC, but to me as a newbie, it came as a real shock. Of the eleven chips that I was sent, ten have very obviously misplaced inlays, and most of them also appear distorted in some way. A combination of off-center printing, misplacement or inlay distortion means that in almost every case, one or both inlays on the chip appears not to be round. in several cases the inlay is so far off centre that the base of the snifter is obscured. My sample were also pretty dirty, very much as if they had picked up a lot of finger oil from being played with incessently. Since this is the effect that the retailer is aiming at, he might regard it as a success. I suspect that most buyers would be surprised by the level of grime that these new chips display.
    These chips have a fair bit of originality since they're the only chip made on that mold (so far), have a unique inlay, and unique color/edgespot combinations. As for security, they are available on-line to anybody who wants to buy them so they're not going to provide the security of custom (or custom-labeled) chips. I doubt that many people will be spending the $ on these chips, though, so you're unlikely to come across another set at random.

    The high price of these chips will mean that they will remain fairly exclusive for the time being. If you decide to buy a set, you are unlikely to find someone at your game that has come to the same decision. The inlays are certainly unremarkable, and yet have enough detail in the currency inspired filigree designs to be reasonably original.
    They're Blue Chips. They seem to be quite hard (and already broken-in), so I doubt you'll observe much wear in your lifetime.

    I don't believe that the process that these chips goes through to give them a worn-in feel would have a detrimental effect on the lifespan of these chips, so they are likely to last a very, very long time in home games, just as you would expect from any real clay chip, and certainly one at this price point.
    Reviewers Comments
    Overall, I'd consider these chips to be comparable to the ASMs or other Blue Chip designs. I like the mold of the InPlays, and I like chips with double edgespots. Their feel is roughly comparable to ASMs, and a bit better than the other Blue Chips. I much prefer the inlay design of the Mardi Gras or Martini Club chips, but your mileage may vary.

    I will not be buying a set of these, mostly because I really don't like that inlay. For the money, ($1.11 per chip at qty 500), you can buy better chips. If you could get these chips with custom edgespot colors and a custom inlay for $1 each, you'd have a winner.

    Customer service from BPC was very good, with the chips arriving within a week of my order. For international shipping this represents very good response.

    The first thing that struck me on opening the packet that the chips came in was the horrible quality of the inlays. I had just spent a couple of days oiling 1000 Pharaohs and was expecting the same level of quality from the InPlay chips, since, at volume anyway, they are roughly 10% more expensive. Almost all of the inlays appear mis-shapen and this has a huge effect on the look of the chip, no matter what the mold is like. If I assume that these chips are a good representation of the level of quality in a larger sample, I would be very disappointed if I had shelled out $1200 for a large set. Given that this was a sample set, and the retailer had the opportunity to hand pick good quality ones from a selection, it gives me grave concerns about the general quailty control going on here.

    There is no doubt that the pre-used feel works as the manufacturer hoped. These chips feel much more like the used casino chips that I own and not at all like my brand new clays. It really comes down to the individual about whether they would pay extra for this and, if you are looking for a worn-in chip, the InPlay might be your only option. Me? With the quality control issues that are so evident, I'd be very wary of putting in an order at the minute, and, frankly, I wouldn't ask my friends to play with chips that look this shoddy, particularly when you consider what else is available at this price.
    Chip Pictures

    Close-up of the chip, showing the mold and inlay. (double-click this image for a 1923x1905 version)

    The complete set of denominations. (double-click this image for a 1404x1054 version)

    This picture was made by standing the chips on-edge on the scanner. You can see that the edges are pretty square. You can also see the grooves in the rolling edge.​
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2006
    1 person likes this.

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