Making Poker Cool Again

Chris Moneymaker set the poker world in motion in 2003 when he won the World Series of Poker. It was the perfect marriage of the world's most prestigious poker event being bested by a novice. This unlikely tale was told in front of millions through the eyes of hole card cameras on ESPN. Prospective players of all ages thought to themselves, "Wow; this is cool."

Instantly, millions of people took to playing poker in garages, basements and kitchen tables all across the country. I once had a man describe a similar boom in Israel like this' "People are going crazy for poker here in Israel. They are playing in homes, at taverns, in parks and even on rooftops."

I don't know if this was an error in his English translation, but I would love to see a game of poker being played on a rooftop. (I'd probably buy in) I never clarified with him if people were actually playing poker on rooftops or not because I love thinking that perhaps it could be true.

Could it be possible that Poker grew so fast that the game had moved to the tops of homes? This was how it felt being in the gaming industry in 2003 and 2004. Poker was booming and it was fun just being a part of it.

Ten to twenty-man tournaments were in vogue and you could find games all over. However, games needed poker chips, so thousands of poker purveyors headed out to Ebay to find poker chips for their games. Unfortunately, poker chip manufacturing processes had not evolved to accommodate this overnight marketplace. Chip-starved rounders had to purchase what was available to them.

Ebayers could sell the most basic of chips sets at whatever price they desired. As you can imagine, quality went by the wayside and volume was the name of the game. If you had poker chips and an Ebay account, you made A LOT of money back in 2003-2004.

The top three poker chips for the home market in 2003 were:
The Dice Poker Chip

This lovely little beauty comes in ten colors from boring blue to weird white. Someone had the bright idea to place the indentions of six pairs of dice separated by 6 rectangle edge spots. If I could only go back in time, I would tell this poker prognosticator that poker is played with cards and not dice. But alas, the poker world was overrun with dice chips. The only good thing about the dice chip was that it was an alternative to the suited chip.

Dice Poker Chip
Striped Dice Poker Chips
The Suited Poker Chips

We call this one the 'Mart special. The suited chip was sold all across the land in Wal-Marts, Kmarts and just about every other 'mart you could find. The Marts eventually dumped this inventory for pennies because nobody wanted to buy them. 500 piece poker chips sets were sitting next to closeout Teletubbies on the clearance shelves. It was a sad day for poker chips. We had stooped to burned out Teletubby status.

Suited Poker Chip
Suited Poker Chips
The Red, White and Blue Radial Chips

This is the poker chip that our fathers grew up with and probably their fathers too. These flat little discs of plastic weigh two grams each (about the weight of a penny.) You had to turn off the fans to play any serious game since a mild breeze could put the entire game at stake. Fortunately you don't see radial chips in play so much anymore.

Radial Poker Chip
Radial Poker Chips

Even though the selection was slim, all of us that were anxious to jump into playing poker were just happy to own our first poker chip set. So in 2003, we purchased our crappy chip sets and loved them. Again, we thought to ourselves, "wow, this is cool."

Over the years poker has changed. It's been eight years since Chris Moneymaker took down poker's top prize. Internet Poker has boomed, been declared illegal, boomed again and been declared illegal again. We have all grown to know poker celebrities like Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey and Doyle Brunson. We've all heard funny terms like donkey, fish, grinder and rock and can use them properly in a sentence.

More importantly, most of us have had ample opportunity to play proper poker in casinos across the country. Our home games have followed suit and many of our products have been upgraded.

We now play our home games with plastic playing cards like Copag or Kem and frown down upon newbies that still play with Bicycle cards. Some of us even own special sun glasses that don't block the sun. Our card guards say "Nobody Cares What You Folded," "But They Were Suited" or "I'm a Donk" and we place those guards proudly upon our hands.

As we have become more sophisticated with our favorite pastime, do you know which poker chips were the number one and number two for the home market in 2011? Are you cringing yet? The top selling poker chip for the home market was the dice poker chip, followed by the suited poker chip.

People of poker… it is time to let go of your old, bad poker products. It is time to enter a new era of poker. Poker is not a fad. Upgrade your gear and get something that you will enjoy for years to come.

Claysmith Gaming is declaring war on lame poker chips. We want to design poker chips for the home market that are exciting. Our poker chips should take you back to 2003 and 2004 when you bought that first chip set and couldn't wait to get them on your table. Back when you used to think, "Wow, this is cool."

Buy a set of Claysmith Chips and bring the excitement back to your game.

About the Author

Jeffrey Smith is one of the principals of Brybelly Holdings, Inc (Brybelly). Brybelly has been serving the gaming community since 2005. Jeffrey Smith has been serving the gaming community since 2003. Claysmith Gaming is a sister company of Brybelly and is focused on making poker cool again by designing kick ass poker chips.

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Great Article By: Chris Smith
This was a very interesting article. Very true. I loved the old days of poker when it was something new and fresh.