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Some guidance in chip selection for an overwhelmed newbie
Hi, I am trying to choose decent chips to play with some friends, nothing really professional, just some casual games, but we would like high quality. I have been doing some research and looks like people tend to prefer 10 grams clay chips. They are used in casinos and have the best feeling. Now, here is the thing, we, as casual players, put so much value in the esthetics of the chip, we would like them to look good, and have found some that we really like, like the 2009 EPT or the Montecarlo Royale Crown. Problem being, first ones are ceramic, not clay, and the latter having a weight of 14 grams. Or is it actually a problem? I would like to find out if its just a common prefference but there is no big difference or it actually matters. In the 10g clay spectrum, many casinos use the Paulson clay but imho they are horrible, are there any good looking alternatives? We would really appreciate your opinion and comments in this matter or, if you do not want to spend the time in writing a whole post, answering in the pool if you would consider, in your experience, that any of those chips spoken about earlier are a bad purchase (0.8€ per chip the EPT ones and 0.3€ the Montecarlo´s) considering that we plan on start going to casinos once we reach the right blind levels). As always, thank you really much =) EDIT: Apparently many people found my post quite deffensive and that was never my intention, I am changing my way to say some things so there is no room for misunderstanding =) View Poll
This post started out as a comment for this thread, but then it got long and I decided it warranted its own post. It's about what to do when people stare you down and say things like "I think you have AK." I love when people do this. The person is rarely if ever being honest, and most often looking for a reaction. Similar statements include "I'm thinking of calling," "I don't feel like you have anything here," or the classic "I don't know if I can fold this." There are basically three levels of livetell training one can have. Either untrained, classically trained, or scientifically trained. Untrained ranges from your online player who's mixing in live games to your rank novices and even includes some livegame veterans who actually ignore their opponents for some reason. These players will often have heard generalized advice about what to look for, but you can generally assume these players don't have any kind of system in place. If you don't have a system in place, then all you have is what's called a "calling reflex." Players want to call, because they want to win. They will look for something to convince them to call. Doing anything -- smiling, laughing, looking angry, fidgeting, receiving a phone call from your mother, they'll be looking for a way to interpret it as "that means he's weak." What to do if an untrained player says this: If an untrained player says "I'm thinking of calling" or something similar (it's usually more aggressive like "I think you just have ace high" or "I feel like you're bluffing here"), they're looking for a reaction. If you want a call, do something. Anything. Touch your face (except not now, because COVID). Shrug. Smile awkwardly. Check your cards again. Shift your weight in your seat. Make a jerk-off motion with your hand. Scream out loud and then try to hide under the table. Doesn't matter if it's weak or strong, but things actually work best if they look less deliberate. Any of these things, though, can trigger a calling reflex. If you want them to fold, don't change anything. Pretend you didn't hear them. Wait for the dealer to tell you that you've won. Classically trained means anyone who's read one of many hundreds of books on poker tells and/or has played a fair amount of live poker. You'll recognize experience and attention to poker tells by someone who's "standardized" their poker behavior. They often try to look at their cards the same way every time. They often try to use the same hand to act. If they use a card protector or a chip on their cards, they try to do so every single hand. Most poker pros have the same advice for how to avoid giving off tells, and players that follow this advice have usually heard advice on how to find tells, as well. The advice they've heard is almost always the same -- "Strong means weak. Weak means strong." Players like these are more likely to call you when you announce your bets and raises loudly, or throw your chips in. They're less likely to call a carefully-placed bet done silently. They think you'll stare at them when you're weak and look away when you're strong. They're looking for all these behaviors. However, when they say something to you in a big spot, they're usually not looking for any of these things. You have to know what they're looking for and what they're thinking before you can really know how to respond. Most modern tell books and even some old ones (like Mike Caro's book) recognize the difference between what's now called controlled and uncontrolled behavior. Controlled behavior is what you choose to do -- you choose to throw your chips in aggressively, to puff your chest out, etc. These are the behaviors that follow the "weak means strong and strong means weak" rule, and because they're controlled, they're the ones that classically trained players are least trusting of. They're the most common "tells", but also the least-reliable. Someone who's read the same book could easily be doing the opposite. So they look for the uncontrolled tells. The quick, automatic glance at your chips when you have a big hand. The way your hands shake a little when you hit a monster. The partially-concealed smile when they sound like they're going to fold. They've also read, or heard, that if they stare you down longer, they often will get a reaction after 20-30 seconds that they wouldn't if they acted faster. One of the most common questions they ask is "If I fold, will you show?" This has two objectives -- first, to see if you react positively to the concept of folding or are willing to offer something to get them to fold. Players with strong hands often immediately say "no." Second, because they want to see as many hands as possible to see if they're right. These players have a system and they'll follow it until you prove them wrong, so obviously never ever show them your hand unless you've reached showdown and have to. What to do if a classically trained player says this: If they say something implying you're weak? They're probably thinking of folding. They're looking for a positive knee-jerk reaction. They're ready to fold if you smile (especially if you try to stop or cover it), if you look at your chips, or if you somehow look more comfortable. Speaking back is a mixed bag. Saying anything makes you seem comfortable -- one of the most commonly-quoted rules is "speech means the nuts." Of course, because they said they're thinking of calling you, a lot of players will speak deliberately to change their mind, saying something like "Well if you think I'm weak, you should call," which some books will advise as weak. This is why controlled behavior is less-trustworthy, both for them to read and for you to use to get them to do what you want. You don't know what books they read or what they believe, so it's best to rely on convincingly dropping some "uncontrolled" behavior. (This is also why they're more likely to say something that sounds weak, like "If I fold, will you show?" Some books advise this to make players who speak in response more reliably strong, although almost all consider the offer to show cards to be weak.) So if a classically trained player says they think you're weak, they're looking for comfort. If you want them to call or raise, the best thing to do is to look like you're trying to seem comfortable, but aren't. If you catch yourself smiling reflexively, don't hide it -- force it bigger. Make it seem more fake. But generally, the best thing to do is to be as still as possible, hold your breath for a bit, then "break." Start breathing again, shift in your chair, make eye contact with them, force a smile... the big gun is to touch your cards. NOT to look at them, like there's anything worth looking at there. To simply touch them. When players are considering whether to call or fold a big bet, one of the things they often do before they fold is to touch their cards, and classically trained players know this. They'll often raise you with nothing if you do this. If you want them to fold, just be comfortable. If it helps, know that they're usually saying something to you -- anything, really -- because they're thinking of folding. You've already won, so relax. Don't hold your breath or try to hold still. Don't even worry too much about seeming nervous. The more you're willing to engage, the more afraid to call you your opponent will be. One thing that has literally never failed for me when getting one of these players to fold is to stare at them for a second and then say, in mock seriousness: "Now, I don't know everything, sure, but correct me if I'm wrong here, because I've heard it both ways... I believe that putting nipples on a butt does not make it boobs. What are your thoughts?" That won't work for everyone, but basically, classically-trained players are warned that such behavior doesn't come from players who are afraid of being called. Scientifically-trained players are few and far between. It's expensive and rarely cost-effective to learn how to actually find tells. The reality is, classical poker tells training is easier to learn, easier to implement (requires less concentration) and is usually effective enough to get by when combined with sound poker strategy. Actual scientific training can cost thousands, requires serious dedication and takes a lot longer. Rather than looking for general rules of thumb and common tells, scientific training involves watching an individual player, cataloging his behavior over time and in various situations, and then trying to come up with a strategy and implement it. A scientifically-trained player will say, "This player looks like he's got a fair amount of table experience and has somewhat standardized all his actions. He waits till his turn to act before checking his cards every time. He'll check his cards, usually looking at them for about 1 second, then plays with his chips with his right hand before placing a chip on his cards and finally calling or raising. Three times, he called or raised before putting a chip on his cards, then remembered to put one on after. All three times, he showed a premium hand of AK or better." These kinds of live tells can be incredibly powerful if properly exploited, but obviously, collecting that kind of information is time-consuming and requires a lot of focus. Generally, the advice for playing against these players is not to worry about them. First, you're so rarely going to encounter one, and they're not unlike card-counters in blackjack -- they may very well have a system in place, but that doesn't mean they know how to execute it. For every successful card-counting blackjack player, there are three or four who learned a little about it but aren't good enough to actually make money. If anyone's interested in how to get such training, they can PM me and I can give them some information, but keep in mind that it takes long hours of study AND a significant course fee, and for most people, I wouldn't recommend it. If you actually WERE sitting at a table with a strong player with good scientific training on how to spot tells, you still wouldn't have to worry too much. That kind of training means you can only really watch three or four players, so selecting profitable targets is the first step. When I sit down, I'm looking for someone who 1) gets into a lot of pots, so knowing whether they're strong is more worthwhile, 2) has somewhat standardized behavior and generally stays still, so things like breath rate and blink rate are easier to watch for, 3) always checks their cards at the same time -- preferably when its their first turn to act 4) looks like they have a reasonable understanding of poker (often, I'll reference a name like Phil Galfond or Fedor Holz and see if they recognize the name, as this is a good indicator of how intently they study the game). So for a lot of players, you won't be playing the playstyle that I'm looking for anyway. If you are, you can turn me off by checking your cards at a different time in the hand -- not as soon as you get the cards, but while it's someone else's turn to act, and my attention might be elsewhere. Also, the more mercurial you are in your actions, the more differences in behaviors I observe, the harder it is to watch you. Some behaviors mean something, and some mean nothing, so the more "noise" there is, the longer it'll take me to observe you. I prefer to play against casino regulars whom I can observe over long sessions (or, most ideally, several long sessions) and so can exploit productively long-term. If a scientifically-trained player says he thinks you just have ace-high, he's definitely fishing for a response, but most of the time, he's already made a decision. Usually in this spot you want to treat him like a classically-trained player, because he's either got you figured out or he doesn't. If he does, just don't try to bluff him so often. Introducing more noise once he knows what to look for is rarely effective. The main benefit behind scientific training is that it's pretty reliable once you know what you're looking for on a specific player, so if someone's genuinely got you figured out, it's probably not profitable to play against him. You can try to figure out what you're doing wrong and do it differently, but you'll usually just be guessing, and that's hit-or-miss. Mostly miss. But yeah, for every player who's actually able to find individual tells on you, there are literal thousands who can't and won't, so most of the time, when you hear probing speech play, it's an opportunity. The player's looking for something to influence his decision, and figuring out what he's looking for is key in getting him to do what you want.
Chapter 7 A Lonely Winter... Specter in his clanhouse with his team but Melody is not with him... Strange. He tries to recall if they are together or not since he blacked out during the fight with Dragon...
Specter is felt heart broken from Melody... He felt a pain in his heart from the memories of her. He sits on his desk and hold his head in pain... How could he forget that face?
Darkcrow and Victor are bitter rivalries and they started to play a game on Roger screen and they played "Hangman" Lily appears and said "Specter, I'm very sorry how you feel something about Melody walks away from you?" He looks at her and his mood improved "Thanks Lily, Well, what do you say we go out on a mission?" She smiles and nods. The team agree to it. Dark figure the answer on Roger Hangman "Umm, Letter M" Roger say "Correct!" "The answer of the Hangman words is Melody!"
Specter is on his mood again to the clanhouse table and groaning sadly and yelled "MELODY! WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME!" Lily appear and said "What's the matter Specter? You think something bad will happen if she comes here? Specter says "Don't you get it, She walk away from her sights after she kissed me! She never coming back ever again!" The rest of the team shock at this. Lily said "I don't think so, There are many places she can go to." Dark Figure out the word on Roger Hangman "J" Specter says "All because of Dragon kissed her in the ceremony. I saw him in the sight!" Dark figure out the answer "P" Roger says "Correct" Victor adds "Possibly, possible or even likely, but not necessarily.” Specter says "Let's just continued our journey for the Ice Orb... She is not coming back ever again..." Victor nods and say "Right then, I'll go and get the stuff for the mission" Victor went out and got some stuff. Him and Darkcrow are preparing for the mission. Lily said "The Ice World is a long way journey... I also stole the mysterious ship from the E.A.S.B." Spencer says "We are going to get the Ice Orb in the frozen continent, and we will come back just as quick as we can!" Lily nod at that. Roger grab the sweater for the teams! Roger says "The Ice World is cold! So everyone needs a sweater!" The team looks "Sweater?" He smiles and say "Yes, it will be awesome for the mission." Specter says "That a great plan, Roger..." Roger just smiles and nods. Darkcrow appears and said "What's the plan for the mission?" Roger says "We need to get the Ice Orb from Frostbite Mountain. Specter says "Frostbite Mountain is a lonely mountain with filled with snows, rocks and trees also it known for home for the Ice Elves." Roger smiles and nod. Specter says "Let's go! Guys!" The team went out of the clanhouse. Roger is leading the way.
Specter and his teams are heading to The Ice World with riding on Lily new ship that she stole from the E.A.S.B, A place where everything is a cold and lonely winter just like Specter heartbroken on Melody... When they're coming near the continent, they could see some ice fields and frozen trees. Linda says "Don't you think that's just too eerily beautiful?"
Specter says "Yeah, I wished Melody should see this..." Spencer shakes his head and said "Too bad she wasn't here to see this, let alone..." Spencer stops himself and just nods at Victor. Roger continue leading the way.
The Ice World A Tundra-Route of the Lairon Region filled with atrocious blizzard that blow away the tree and mountain and that lead to the Tundra Village of The Ice Elves. Including Frostbite Mountain. The Elves will keep their magical landmass to the mountain where it can act as their personal water dam for their village. You arrive to the Village of the Ice Elves... A very beautiful place. The snow that covers everything has made the elves even more beautiful with their clear skin and snow white hair. Lily said "Wow! It's so beautiful!" Victor says "Indeed! I'm so glad that the war has made us friends with the Elves!
Specter says "War?" Spencer shakes his head at Victor's remark. Victor says "Ah, sorry. The Incident. It should be in a decade or so, and the Elves will be wanting another ally."
Roger made a Snowman! While Darkcrow said "Hey guys, Let make some Snowman!" Victor says "What the heck is that, Roger?" Roger says "Come on! Let's make a Snowman!"
Specter says "Did you ever made a Snowman?" Roger nods. Victor rolls his eyes. Roger says "Yeah, I made a Snowman once for the First Time!" Darkcrow says "The memories when i was kid in the winter of Grimhowl... I made a Snowman with a scary face..." Lily says "Come on! You Two! Let's make a Snowman!"
While everyone making a Snowman. Roger and Darkcrow create a Monster Snowman while Lily teach Victor. How to make Snowman... Lily says "Make a circle and add a face. The Elves will find it so cute!" Victor said "I know, I know..." While Specter create his Snowman version of Specter and Melody... Lily said "Still thinking about Melody, Huh?"
Specter says "Yeah, also i wished she sees the Snowman I made, but she run away from me after my Wrath is uncontrollable..." Roger said "Will she coming back, Master Specter?" Specter said "I think so, Roger." Specter says "Still, my memory is still blurry when it comes to her, but at least she came back to me." Victor said "By the way, let's continue the journey to the Ice Orb..."
Specter nods at Victor. Specter and his Teams asked the Ice Elves Villagers about the Ice Orb. The Elves Villagers tells Specter that the Orbs are kept in a Castle in top of Frostbite Mountain. and the Elder Elves also tell Specter that it will take 2 days of Hiking to get to the Castle!
Specter says "How large is Frostbite Mountain anyways..." The Elves said it's taller than Mt. Highmore! Victor says "Well, then it'll be visible from half of the Lairon's surface. Specter says "So, how much for that hiking stuff?" Roger says "For the whole group? One gold piece!" Darkcrow says "That's a lot for 3-9 hours of hiking! Specter still wondering about the chips Darkcrow stole from the Casino... Specter says "Yo! Darkcrow! Have you remember the Chips you stole from the Casino?"
Roger asks "What are you suggesting, Master? Darkcrow said "What you mean, this?" Put the giant loot bags with full of Poker Chips. Spencer says "That bag is a full of Poker Chip, isn't it?" Darkcrow says "Yes." Victor asks "What's the catch? The Elves Shopkeeper said "Well, I see it will be cost Five Gold Piece for all of the Poker Chips you have!" Darkcrow said "WHAT!?" Specter says "Are you serious?" Linda says "I don't think customers would pay that much!" Darkcrow hands over all the Giant Loot Bags to the Elves Shopkeeper. Darkcrow yelled "Damnit! All my hardwork from the Casino from the Astrapian City. Their Poker Chips from the Casino cost was 5 Hiking Bags. DAMN YOU! THE BLACK DRAGON!" Specter says "This is pretty unfortunate..." Victor said to Darkcrow "Same to me, I got scammed by those Astrapian Poker Chip dealer cost me $500 to buy the chips and i got win a lot of chips and they gave me $50 for all the chips. What a waste!"
Specter says "Anyways, Let's continue the adventure..."
Darkcrow said "Hours of making Chips wasted!" Specter said "Don't worry, we still got enough golds for the next Part of this Adventure. Meanwhile at Death Island... Axelegore appears in the Black Portal... And the few Orders members has a seriously looked with Axelegore... Axelegore said "Hello, there..." Gruz says "Hello, Lord Axelegore. We still haven't forgotten about you." Axelegore nods in reply. "Where Light?" Axelegore said. "Oh, him? Why he's in the Black Fortress. He's on a diet. You know, to reduce weight so the ritual can work on him." Gruz said. Light appears in the Lightning Strike and he kidnapped Melody after she run away with Specter... Melody said "Let me go! You freaks!" Axelegore said "Who is this girl, Light? I thought you chose a new pet human girl rather than this one?" "I did." Light said "But she ran away, under the impression that she can just leave. Dragon said "Why hello there, Woman... We meet again..." He try to harassing Melody and said "By the way, where is your Boyfriend?" "I'm not your boyfriend! And neither are you my type! Specter is my real Boyfriend!" "Enough!" Light said. Cogwheel said "Whoa! There Light. You shouldn't treat her like that! That kinda evil! She might try to use her body against you!" "Shut up, you dwarf!" Cogwheel said "Hey! I am not a dwarf, I am a human!" Gruz said " She might try to escape again!" Phantom said "Yeah, let's keep her happy! They do that thing where they make girls not want to leave..." Sizzling Sister said "ENOUGH! WE SHOULD BROUGHT HER TO FROSTBITE MOUNTAIN TO OPEN THE FROSTBITE CASTLE WHERE THE ICE ORB IS SEALED!" Gruz was silent as usual. "Yes, a great idea." Gruz said. "Good." Dragon said. "I'm not some damned monkey! I won't do it!" Melody said. Gruz said "Don't worry half-breed, My perfectly little nephew gonna take care of you for good..." "NO! I'm not going to be a prisoner! I'm not going to be tortured and I'm not going to open up some magic door to the castle, no matter how much you threaten me!" The Sizzling Sister, Sizzerella & Sizzlea Magi-Ability: Sizzler Ability to create a weapons with made of fire and some high flammable explosive bomb! "Well, we could always just kill her..." Sizzerella said. "No!" Sizzlea said "She is a potential asset! Can't let such talent go to waste! Gruz said "Have fun with your new friend!" The Sizzling Sisters stick a tongue on Gruz and fly away... and Cogwheel said "I think they hate you, Gruz!" "Bah! They're just jealous of my popularity!" Gruz replies. "Now it's your turn, Light!" Cogwheel said. Light disappears when the lightning strike at the sea and while Dragon stay at Death Island for training for revenge against Specter. "So, you wanna to works with my ultimate combat robot?" Cogwheel asks. "Of course not, and you're realizing this, aren't you?" Gruz said "But I thought you'd want to..." he replied Axelegore said "Gruz, Cogwheel. Have you already invented our war machine for the war of the Elemental Orb rogue and his teams?" "Yeah, yeah, alright!" Gruz replies. "We know, all the time..." Cogwheel replies. Axelegore said "Great, Now let's go back to our lair before we got struck by lightning or get cursed on this island..." The two of the orders member with Axelegore and left Dragon in his training area... Dragon started his training and draw Specter face on the sands. Dragon said "I'll show you my wrath of my Magi! SPECTER!" and he kicked the sand until he gone and started training... END OF CHAPTER 7 You have reached to Chapter 7
The Iron Clays are a luxury "game counter" (poker chip) first released by Roxley Games as part of their 2017 Brass Birmingham campaign. Due to demand from fans they went on to create a follow up Kickstarter in June of 2019 for just the Iron Clays. The campaign was delayed for a few months by COVID-19 but I received my shipment of Iron Clays just yesterday and wanted to let you all see them for yourself. My pledge was for the standard distribution of 400 chips in a printed box; the kickstarter price was listed as 182 CAD and, including shipping, I paid a total of 168 USD at the time. It was a bit of a rough start with a large hole and some dents in the shipping container. Fortunately the contents themselves were entirely undamaged. The chips are contained in a nice box with foil lettering and magnets that keep the lid closed. Within the box are four plastic containers that hold the chips securely. The chips are beautifully produced and come in 8 denominations currently (1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 2000). I was opposed to the inclusion of 10s and 50s during the campaign, I still am, but in the end I think the 50 may be my favorite looking chip. They weigh an average of 9.4g (compared to 9.2g for a stack of 20 casino chips I own and 8.1g for the chips in Splendor); individual variation in weight from chip to chip is low with all measuring between 9-10g (using a low precision kitchen scale). The chips themselves appear to be of excellent quality; out of 400 chips I have found only one misprint. It should be noted that all of the chips have small lightly colored spots on the edges where they were presumably attached to the mold and so I don't consider this to be a misprint. This doesn't particularly bother me and the edges are otherwise very smooth with a barely palpable seam. I have dropped a number of chips, as well as their plastic containers, from table height during my testing over the past day and have not managed to break or damage anything. Having shown you the chips I did want to discuss some of the concerns raised by various backers and poker chip aficionados since the campaign was announced. A major concern voiced by poker chip collectors has been the chips "slipperiness". The concern being that the chips actual usability is impaired by this because of poor stackability. I have compared the Iron Clays to some chips I grabbed from casinos in Las Vegas (I believe these are so-called Paulson chips which are generally accepted as top of the line and go for >$1 a chip) and find that they are indeed slipperier. This is demonstrated by a tilt test where stacks of Iron Clays consistently fall at a lower angle than the Vegas chips. When they fall they also tend to slide further on my table; on average sliding 55.5 cm compared to 35 cm for the Paulsons and 48 cm for the Splendor chips. I also compared manipulation of both the Iron Clays and the Paulsons and noticed some of the differences in the way these chips handle. The Paulsons are slightly easier to pickup by tilting the stack but in truth 20 chips is too many for me to comfortably handle with either of the chip types. All this said; I'm not convinced that this will impact usability and if that changes in the future there is apparently significant improvement with lightly sanding the chip faces. There has also been some criticism of the color choice and edge spot design. These concerns are valid because it is important to be able to quickly count stacks of chips to and this is aided by having distinct colors and edge spots. I have an album showing all combinations of chips under the same lighting so you can decide for yourself if distinguishing chips of different denominations is difficult in mixed stacks. While the 50s, 20s and 5s are somewhat similar I don't find that I have difficulty distinguishing them. I feel that the various other criticisms raised (color of specific denominations, labeled vs unlabeled, denominated vs undenominated) are entirely matters of opinion and am unconvinced that these design choices impact usability in any meaningful way. I backed the Iron Clays because I wanted to avoid the garish colors and immersion breaking casino theme of other poker chip lines so I think of these aspects of the chips as features rather than flaws. In conclusion I am very satisfied by the Iron Clays. They are sharp looking and do not sacrifice functionality; when considering their price keep in mind that they come with a transportation/storage solution included. I don't want to reduce my impression to an x/10 rating but I do feel that these are a top notch product that fit the theme of a wide variety of board games. Final Update: Out of curiosity I sanded a stack of chips too see if the slipperiness could be reduced. The white stack is sanded, blue is unsanded and the mixed stack is the Paulson's from prior. The chips were very lightly sanded and there is no perceptible difference in appearance but they now apear to be LESS slippery than the Paulson's! https://imgur.com/a/KsF9uBz
Trigger warnings re suicidal behaviours, violent behaviours, self harm, and probably a bunch of other stuff. I don't know if 3rd person recounts are okay here, feel free to remove if not (I have it saved) and if there's a subreddit specifically for this kind of thing I'd appreciate some pointers. This writing process is just part of my catharsis. Maybe other's can relate, I don't know if it would be helpful or not to others, there's a lot of stuff in this story I am deeply ashamed of, but I figure this is a safe space to tell my story, even if I am probably the villain in the piece. Fade out, into bedroom, morning... He woke with a sharp breath, eyes wide open as a sudden shock of adrenaline flooded warmly from his abdomen, igniting his senses. He wasn’t dreaming before he woke, nor did he remember where or when he fell asleep; this would dawn on him soon. For a minute at least, he had no idea where, or even who he was. Muffled sounds of the television floated into the room from beyond. To his side, a grey wall confronted him, virtually featureless save for a deep, dark gouge that penetrated the plaster, chiselled at least an inch deep into the breeze block beneath by some strong, angular object. A visceral instinct clutched at the rapidly fading vestiges of oblivion, steeling his slowly awakening mind against the inevitable clarity of day. His eyes drifted downward, almost by their own will. A trail of colourful debris spread across the grey carpeted floor. He recognised these objects as his own junk: Empty wrappers, an unfinished book (still intact), a scattering of coins, some old shopping receipts, his glasses, some odd socks, and a small handful of odds and ends. This was stuff that he usually stashed out of sight and mind in the drawers beside his bed. Drawers that were oddly absent from their familiar place beside his head. Propping himself up unsteadily on his elbow, he took a more sweeping view of the room. He groaned and sighed as his gaze finally came to rest on the object of destruction. The heavy wooden bedside table lay near the foot of the bed, its drawers spewed haphazardly across the floor, beneath what must have been a spectacular flight path the previous evening. Like a series of lead weights, pieces of the puzzle dropped into place, flashes of memories yanking his mind to sobriety. The drinking. The casino. The staircase. The plastic bag. The wall. The screaming. He quickly packed these images away, but they lay in wait beneath the surface of his awareness, poised to strike at any moment. Rolling again onto his back, he pulled the blankets over his head and tried in vain to retreat to the safety of oblivion. Sweet, peaceful nothingness was all he desired right then and there. If some spirit had entered the room and whisked his soul off into the beyond, he’d have welcomed it without a second thought. His body shook with tremors, and the dull ache of injuries began to throb gently across his body. “Too much alcohol” he thought. “Too much fucking alcohol.” As he lay in the dimly lit room more scraps of the previous night assailed him, little more than still images in random order. Everything else was a blackout. He felt the bruises along his arms, his head ached, his fists were swollen. Probably had a serious concussion, hence the memory loss. That and the drinking. In his fugue state, hours passed, it seemed, before eventually his wife entered the room with a soft click of the door handle. He held his breath. “You awake sweetie?” she asked in a soothing, caring voice. Such kindness only served to deepen his self loathing. He exhaled. “Mmm.” Wordlessly, she walked over to her side of the bed and lay down, laying her soft arm across his shoulders. He winced slightly from contact with some bruises on his back that he hadn't noticed yet. He sighed deeply again. “Oh, lovely...” she whispered, squeezing him gently. “I’m sorry.” He whispered back, still unsure of the exact thing he was sorry for, but he knew it was pretty bad. “I’m so sorry...” She squeezed again, the seemingly undeserved love in her touch flooding him with a rough mix of self-hatred and a tiny spark of hope. “The wall...” he said, groggily. “And the stairs. And your computer...” she sighed. He struggled to visualise the relevance of these words. “The computer?” “You punched the screen. It just shows colourful patterns now.” She giggled, an odd counterpoint that sliced through the sombre atmosphere like breaking glass. Why does she accept this? He thought. I’m a fucking monster. “Oh...” he said, wondering idly what the bill of damages would be. “Are you... okay?” She hesitated. “You didn’t hurt us. Just... broke things. And you were screaming, just screaming. The neighbours must have heard...” _Like a wild animal. A fucking monster. _ She continued. “You were pretty hard on the girls too, you were yelling at them. They hid in their rooms.” Like I used to, when dad used to... “We just got out of the way. They hid their stuff. You were wrecking everything.” “Again...” he said dejectedly. She squeezed him with her gentle arms, and kissed the back of his neck. “You kept hitting the walls, and punching yourself in the head. You were pulling things out of drawers looking for plastic bags. Good thing I hid those last time.” To suffocate myself with. Like last time. I wonder if there’s any around now. “I’m sorry.” He whispered again. “I don’t know why...” “It’s ok...” she said, with another reassuring squeeze. They lay in silence for a while. He couldn’t understand why he deserved her affection. How could anyone love such a beast, such a monster? Wasn’t she afraid? What if he’d turned on her? He’s a big man, slightly out of shape but still strong enough to throw a 50kg bed into a wall in a fit of rage. All he could think was that he should be locked away immediately for other people’s safety, or humanely put out of his misery as a failed experiment in evolution. But nonetheless he felt her love recharging him, her soft breathing warm against his shoulder, chest rising and falling behind him, her gentle squeezes soothing, all of which seemed to say that everything would be okay. While his guilt and shame seemed infinite, her love pierced through his darkness like a javelin of light, fracturing an iron curtain of self-hatred, planting a small seed of hope. Hope. Was hope a blessing or a curse? Was there a point to hope when it just rekindled the cycle, kept him moving on thinking life would be okay, right up until the point where he tore it all apart again? Was there any chance of things being different this time around? Or would he just continue to spiral around the rim like a shit in a blocked toilet, waiting for death’s plunger to set him free unto the depths below? The feeling made him uncomfortable. Hope seemed like a venomous snake slithering in the grass waiting to strike. He turned to her and embraced her, briefly. “I love you. I’m sorry.” He said, before slowly rolling to the side of the bed and planting his feet on the plaster-strewn carpet, seeking escape from these unnerving thoughts. But a shock of pain stabbed though his foot. “Ugh! God damn it. I think I broke a toe.” “The bathroom door...” she said. “Really?” he sighed, testing his weight on the outside of his foot, and, figuring it would hold, rising unsteadily to his feet. The sudden change in altitude caused his head to spin, and he immediately sat back down on the bed. Why did I kick the bathroom door? Was she in there? Why can’t I remember anything? “So, uh...” He said, laying back down. “Why are you still with me?” “Because I love you.” She said, resting her arm across his chest. “I’m scared. I don’t know if it will happen again. I thought after the therapy I would be okay, but this feels worse. I don't remember anything. And the kids... I don’t want to do this to them. This is why I moved away, I wanted to give you guys a chance to be normal.” “But then you’d be alone over there, and I’d worry.” “But it wouldn’t be your problem.” “I’d still care.” “You wouldn’t have to.” He said, matter of factly. But the way she said it, he knew she was sincere. “You’ll get help. We’ll figure it out. We’ll get through this.” I don’t want to always be figuring it out. I don’t want to have to “get through this” and I don’t want to fuck up other people with my shit. I don't want to be that stereotype abusive husband guilting his wife into staying through suicidal threats. They deserve so much better than me, can’t she see she’d be happier without me, he thought. “But I don’t think I can handle too much more of what happened last night.” She concluded. “It was scary.” He remained in bed for a few more hours, before cautiously emerging from the bedroom. The TV was still on downstairs, and he saw his wife sat on the couch. The kids were still at school. As he descended, he took mental note of the damages. The stair rail was badly damaged, bent and twisted. Scuff marks at head and fist height marked the wall at each painful step. Downstairs came into view, and he saw the Ikea chair, frame snapped in half, and his computer monitor, vivid lines and swirls of colour radiating from a fist-sized oval of shattered glass in the centre. His laptop though was curiously still working, save for a slightly bent case that he twisted back into shape. He noticed the poker chips on the hallstand. $1300 worth. He checked his bank account, he’d "only" spent $400 at the casino, so at least he hadn't lost the rent money for the week. “Big deal.” He thought. “What does it matter now?” In total, he figured about a thousand dollars to replace everything he’d destroyed, taking care of his “winnings”, plus some paint and plaster to fix up the walls. The stair rails though, they might need some professional work, he decided to take a look at those last. Wordlessly, he went to the laundry. As he passed through the kitchen, he got a vivid flashback of laying there on the tiles, repeatedly smashing the back of his head at full force into the ground while his wife, or was it his daughter, begged him to stop. He shook away the thought quickly, and fetched the plaster. We have plaster on hand. He thought wryly. This happens too often. Going through the motions, he filled the holes and gouges in the bedroom, the bathroom door, down the stairwell, and the living room walls. Next, he fetched an allen key and dismantled the Ikea chair, stowing the pieces in the shed out the back, to be surreptitiously deposited in the garbage over the coming weeks. The monitor, too, he dropped in the large green bin outside for the next week’s collection. After placing the bedside table back in its rightful place and a quick run around with the vacuum cleaner, only a keen eye would spot any signs of trouble the night before. He sat beside his wife on the couch and snuggled his head into her lap. She gently stroked his hair as the TV droned on in the background. One by one, the kids came home from school. He asked them to come over for a hug, and apologised and explained that they did nothing wrong, that he was sick in the brain and needed help. He told them he loved them dearly. They hugged him back and said they loved him too. His eldest asked if he needed an icepack for his hand. Perhaps a dark joke about the night before was made, nervous laughter broke the tension. They ate dinner and watched TV together, all on the one couch since the Ikea chair was gone. His kids snuggled in while they sat watching a movie on Netflix, and those earlier dark thoughts of ending it all seemed to fade away. His shame remained, as did his guilt. But each step he took to piece things back together made the shame easier to bear. He managed to repair the stair rail with some tools and elbow grease. He replaced the broken monitor. The chair could wait, it was time to get something nicer anyway. Something too heavy to lift, preferably, his wife joked at him. He saw the humour, but he didn’t laugh. He had a beast inside of him, always reminding him of its presence, and the man and father he tried to be every day felt like a fraud. But to their minds the beast was the interloper, it was the fraud that clawed its way out from time to time, and the real man and father was the guy who spent every day fighting to hold it in. They didn’t see the daily struggle, just the man who was husband and father. He wanted to stop fighting the beast and just be himself, no more beast, so the next day he called a psychologist and spoke with them about what happened, his fears, his history. They didn’t judge him, they said they could help, and invited him in for his first session. Screw the cost, his shit needed to be dealt with properly, by a trained professional. Then, he emailed work, who he’d ghosted for a whole day. This was the first time he felt that couldn't make some dumb excuse and get away with it. No more "I dropped my phone in the toilet" or "I forgot about it, gosh darn I'm so busy!" So, for the first time he opened up and explained (sans the gory details) what had happened, that he had mental health issues and had had a breakdown and needed some space to recover. He dreaded the response, surely he’d be out of a job. But instead, they replied saying they would support him in any way they could, that they loved working with him, and he could take as much time as he needed to get back on track. The world that had looked so dark and terminal 48 hours prior suddenly again seemed normal, manageable. These weren’t life-ending events. They were serious, but they could be dealt with. Life would go on, there was literally no purpose to dying over this. Maybe some real therapy would help this time, and maybe the whole family should join in at some point. Without his wife and kids, he feared what he might have done next. Maybe the shred of hope was a lie, but it was all he had to go by, and it had to be enough to see him through to the next day. On a direct note - I am blessed to have a wife and kids that have put up with so much and yet still support me, and I know that I have a lot of work not just to fix myself but to support my family who have witnessed me doing some truly horrible things, especially my children who should not have to grow up knowing people are capable of such levels of unbridled fury. I have arranged professional therapy with a psychologist, and hope to work towards healing myself and my family. If she decides this is too much for her and wants to leave, then I will not stop her, at the same time I will not push her to do so. I have also suggested to her that she should consider counselling with the kids if she feels she needs it. I don't know how she deals with it, honestly. I am not proud and don't glorify what I did, but I can take steps to do something about it so I hope to never have to repeat this story again.
Preface: this is adapted from a job interview question I once had. I embellished it with a story to make it more fun, but if that isn’t your thing, scroll all the way to the bottom for a nice, concise tl;dr version. The story adds a few little wrinkles so the answers to the story version will be a bit different. After saving up all year, you finally arrive in Las Vegas, $10000 in your wallet ready to win you some big bucks. As you walk the Strip, trying to decide which casino to hit first, you happen to spot what looks like a utility closet door in an otherwise nondescript patch of wall between the glittering towers of the casinos. What catches your attention is the dingy, flickering red neon sign which reads The Devil’s Den. Curious, you open the door and step into the saddest looking “casino” (if you could call it that) you’ve ever seen. In the dim light you see a few run down looking slots, a deserted roulette wheel, and a single card table, all of which look as though they were salvaged cast-offs from the big casinos. The carpet is threadbare, worn down and in desperate need of cleaning. The place seems completely deserted and you immediately turn to leave when a figure steps out of the shadows in the far corner of the room. A pale man in a cheap white suit and a fedora hat quickly strides toward you, flashing a toothy grin. “Welcome, my friend, to The Devil’s Den!” He says. “Please! Come in, come in!” “Oh, sorry, I just saw the sign an popped in for a peek.. I’m actually headed over to Cesar’s Palace-“ you start to reply, but the grinning man interrupts. “Pah! The Palace. Overrated! If you truly wish to win by your wits, this is the place to be, and no other, I assure you. Come in!” “Uh, I don’t mean to sound rude but this place doesn’t look very-“ Again he interrupts, “Glamorous? Full of glitter and fun? Oh, I know... it’s seen better days. But the real action is behind that door over there.” He points across the room. “Through that door is a room with a briefcase with contents worth $11 million! It only costs $1 million to enter, and, if you can figure out how to get back out again within an hour, you can take the briefcase with it’s contents with you!” “What do you mean, ‘figure out how to get back out’?” you ask. “Oh, it’s just a little puzzle. I assure you, everything you need to figure it out is in the room.” his grin gets even wider. “Well, I’m afraid I only have $10000.” you say, “It sounds intriguing, but I can’t afford the entry fee.” “Oh... well... I think I can come up with a work around. You can pay out of your winnings if you solve it.” he says. “And... if I don’t solve it?” “Oh. Your soul will be the collateral.” he replies, grinning even wider still. “If you get stuck or can’t afford to pay up, I’ll just keep your soul. This IS The Devil’s Den, after all!” You laugh (a little nervously). Perhaps this man is mad. Or perhaps you are. Suddenly, impulsively, you decide to go for it. “Ok, I’m game!” you say. “Excellent!” he replies, clapping his hands together. For a brief moment, you could swear his eyes flashed red. He places a hand on your back and ushers you across the room to the door, opens it with a flourish, and shoves you inside. “WAIT!” you shout, overwhelmed with the sense that you just made a terrible mistake. “I’ve changed my-“ SLAM! The door closes and an hourglass mounted above the door flips over, the trickling sand telling you that your time has started. You spend a panicky minute or so shouting to be let out, but there is no response. There’s no handle or knob on the door, either. Only a round cavity that looks like a small sphere would fit in it. You turn around and survey the room. In the middle of the room is a table with 8 white billiard balls. The balls appear to be identical in every way. Next to the balls is a balance scale. The arm of the scale seems to be stuck. At the base of the scale is a slot with 4 symbols above it: $1m $2m $3m $4m. In front of the balls is a card that reads: One of these balls is not like the others. One of these balls has a different weight. Place it in the door and you’ll walk away free. But choose wrongly and you’ll seal your fate. You pick up the balls trying to judge their weight, but, of course, are unable to detect the difference with just your hands. You’ll have to use the scale, it seems. On the floor beside the table is the briefcase. As you bend down to pick it up, you spot a Sharpie pen on the floor under the table. You pick it up and test it on the back of the card. It works fine. You then open the briefcase, expecting to see cash. Instead you see 11 poker chips. Each is inscribed with a $1m symbol. The chips are the same size as the slot on the balance scale. You try popping a chip in the slot. Immediately the $1m symbol on the scale flashes. And then disappears. The arm swings freely now. You think you see how it works. You can make one measurement using the scale and then it will freeze again. But the next measurement will cost 2 chips. And then 3... Can you escape from this devilish room with your soul? How much money might you walk away with? Addendum 1: The Devil has to follow strict rule when gaming for souls. He may present the truth in misleading ways but he may never outright lie. Addendum 2: Added the Sharpie pen to the story. While not strictly necessary, it would definitely be helpful. TL;DR You have a balance scale and 8 balls that are indistinguishable from each other. 7 balls have the same weight. One has a weight that is slightly different from the others (the difference is too small to detect by hand). What is the minimum number of measurements you need to make to be guaranteed to find the unique ball?
I just received pre-production samples came in for my game. It's been a journey selecting materials and finishes and coordinating with manufacturers. I thought I'd share some interesting things I learned (along with some glamour shots ;) )(original thread) [note, this thread was originally posted in another forum, but is being reposted here because it seems to better suit this community's purpose and guidelines] All of the cards and pieces together Linen vs Plain Finish I printed samples in both linen and non-linen finishes. You can see the difference below. I and play-testers noticed that the UV-coating-only was a little slick and hard to pick up off the table. I was warned about issues with image crispness when using linen finish. I didn't see any difference in crispness, but the finish does diffuse light, making the blacks a little less deep. This is definitely a trade off - I prefer the colors on the slick cards, but prefer the feel of the linen finish. I've also gotten feedback from other game designers that linen finish can make your cards more prone to scratching and wear and tear. For that reason they recommend only going with linen finish for cards that aren't shuffled especially often. I tried to take a photo where the effect of the UV coating plus linen finish on the glare pattern and color of the cards was apparent. For contrast, here's the glare pattern when the cards have only the UV-protective coating without the linen finish Different manufacturers may have different names for their finishes. If your manufacturer offers both 'varnish' and 'lamination', I believe the lamination is closer to what TheGameCrafter lists as 'UV protective coating'. Paper Core and Weights Did you know card printing uses special paper with a thin piece of opaque plastic in the middle? This prevents bleed-through and transparency. You can use black or white core, but black is more opaque and has better guarantees that card front printing won't be visible through the card. (White core is cheaper, though). Personally I don't think there's a good reason to go with white core, unless I guess if the cards will never need their information to be secret and you're very sure your back design is light enough that it won't show through. Cards also come in different weights, measured in grams per square meter. TheGameCrafter prints 320gsm. Elsewhere I've found 310gsm to be more common and much easier to find. Here is the thickness difference for 10 cards of each paper weight: The visual difference is minimal. I found the hand feel to be just barely noticeable. A little over half of the playtesters I surveyed said they could feel a difference once prompted. difference in thickness between 320 gsm (left) and 310 gsm (right) paper Bridge vs Poker Size Another thing that is less standard than you might think is card size. Standard poker cards are 2.5"x3.5". Bridge cards (which you usually see in casinos, and may have played with more) are 2"x3.5". You can see the difference below: Poker vs Bridge sized cards I went with poker size because these cards have content that really shouldn't interact or interfere with each other. If you're looking to make card to put across the table poker size is a reasonable bet. If you plan for players to hold large hands of cards, consider bridge size. Production in China Remember that import duties, shipping, customization fees, and minimum order quantities exist. Shipping that I was quoted was typically on the order of $500+. As a rule of thumb I'd expect the final cost of an order to double or more above your initially quoted cost. This can still be cost effective, however, especially with larger orders. I'd recommend for orders smaller than 80 or 100 consider on demand printing from US companies/suppliers. At sizes above that it becomes feasible to consider overseas manufacturers, depending on the specifics of your project. Game Token Recommendations I tested out several different kinds of tokens and have opinions. The cheapest you'll find are winks (also called bingo chips), but they are pretty small and pretty slick. Other options include smooth 23mm chips and clay or plastic poker chips. translucent winks vs heavier ABS plastic chips vs opaque winks My favorite are 23mm ones with knurling (grippy ribs on the sides), which is what I've decided to go with: if you've played No Thanks, they are the same kind of chips. Things I think you should look for: an appropriate amount of heft, easy to pick up off the table, good size for how many you'll use. I think 23mm plastic is a good size and weight if you're going to use more than say 20 at a time or make a pile of them. For games with fewer pieces at a time, an unexplored estimation is that larger or heavier chips would make sense: plastic, clay, or wood - possibly closer to 3cm. Samples My parting piece of advice is that it's very important to get samples from the manufacturer before placing a large order. Typically the way this works is like a deposit against the final order: one sample is fairly expensive but the cost will be subtracted from the total amount you were originally quoted for the whole order. For me this came out to about $180. The purpose of the sample is to correct any errors the manufacturer made before you're stuck with the whole order of them. Assume they will make some. I hope that helps! Feel free to ask me questions.This is a link to my game's page as well, if you'd like to hear more about that one specifically.
I just figured out that you can subscribe to this series by viewing my profile and clicking on "Follow". The next new chapters will now show up in your feed as soon as they are posted.
If you'd like to see this story get produced, please consider pledging to my Patreon. More details there. The link is https://www.patreon.com/undergroundpoker Thank you for all of your support. Previous: Inside Underground NY Poker #8 Spades — 1.8 Walking into a casino, for the first time, can be quite an overwhelming experience. There’s so much going on — all of the flashing lights, various sounds, the diverse amount of people flowing throughout, the list goes on. No matter where you look, there’s always something going on that can potentially pique your curiosity. Of course, at this time in the midsummer of 2007, I hadn’t a clue of what to expect. I had yet to step foot inside a real casino. When Chris called and invited me to go with him on a road trip up to Turning Stone, my mood was not only of excitement, it was also flowing with curiosity. I figured that making the drive up to Turning Stone would not only be a great deal of fun, but would also be an excellent opportunity to learn more about professional casino poker. During my phone conversation with Chris, we agreed that we would make the road trip up there after we finished our Sunday shifts at Spades. This gave us about 24 hours to gather up our buddies and put together a crew. Our main goal was to crush some live action cash games there, but we also wanted to let loose and party. I didn’t yet know it, but my version of partying was vastly different from Chris’ version. I made some calls and sent some texts, and not too long after, had a few of my closest friends confirm that they were going to come on the trip. I was the youngest of my social circle in high school, still being only 17 at the time. All of the other guys were already 18, so legally, they wouldn’t have a problem at Turning Stone. If you don’t know, Turning Stone Resort & Casino is located on an Indian Reservation, and as such, the gambling laws of New York state do not apply there — the legal gambling age there is 18, as set by the law of the land. Now, since I was still only 17, this presented a potential problem. However, I looked a bit older than I actually was, and I also had a fake ID that I had been using for a while. Chris was also incredibly confident that it wouldn’t be a problem whatsoever — he even offered to lay me a bet with 3 to 1 odds for $100, that at no point would I be unable play because of my age. I declined the bet of course, not wanting to jinx myself. In 2007, Turning Stone was a “dry” casino, which meant that they didn’t serve any alcohol. However, you were allowed to bring your own, and could indulge yourself to your own desire. As of today, this is no longer the case, but that’s the way it was back then. We calculated that the drive would take us about 4.5 hours, not entirely too long by road trip standards, but could be enough of a mental strain that could potentially effect our ability to play poker, upon arrival. Given that both Chris and I would be dealing right up until our departure, we had made arrangements to take two cars in order to accommodate our entire crew. In exchange for each of us paying for the gas and tolls on the drive up to Turning Stone, neither of us would have to drive — this would allow us to rest up a bit. My group of buddies consisted of four of my closest friends — Brian, Theo, Max, and Scott. I had brought Theo around to Spades more than a few times, and he regularly played poker, unlike the others. However, he wasn’t very good, but he was very lucky, and he had no interest in studying the game. He got better the more he played, but was by all means, a fish. He loved to gamble, and blackjack was his favorite game — most likely not a coincidence. I had invited Andy to tag along as well, but he wasn’t interested and declined — he instead made me a standing offer, an open invitation if you will, to go crush poker in Atlantic City, where there was better action and nicer casinos. However, the offer was only good if we would be going to seriously grind poker. This was an offer that I would later redeem. Chris had assembled his boys just as I had — three experienced poker players and gamblers, each in their early 20’s, just like Chris. The youngest of his crew was Rich, who was 21, and the two others were Derek and Joe, either 23 or 24 years old. Finally, our plans were set and the rooms were booked. We’d all be staying for 3 nights and 2 days in two, separate, 2 queen bed suites. I was anxious, yet excited, and I seriously wanted to book a win in the poker room, considering it would be my first casino poker room session. Sunday finally arrives, and I had decided to wake up a few hours early so that I could stock up on booze and weed. My buddies and I had agreed to split the cost of everything — 4 bottles of Smirnoff, an ounce of Sour Diesel, and four 24-packs of Coors Light. In retrospect, this was probably entirely too much for 3 nights at a casino, but what did we know? I wasn’t a big smoker at the time, although I would partake, but I did enjoy drinking when the time was appropriate to let loose. While on my way driving to Spades, I hear my phone ring — it’s Chris. “Hey dude, you on your way to the club?” “Yeah, I’ll be there in about 15 minutes. I just finished running some last minute errands, stocked up on booze and weed for the trip.” “Awesome. I’m good to go on my end, too. By the way, my plan is to splash around in the $1/$2 or $2/$5 games Turning Stone spreads. I’m bringing $10k.” “What?! $10k??? Why?!” “Well, dude, I’m gonna hit the pits too and play some blackjack and craps. We’ll crush some poker first, then afterwards maybe you’ll hit the pits with me.” “I dunno, man. I’m only gonna bring $2k in total, and that’s for all my costs. Maybe I’ll assign half of that to my poker roll for the trip.” “You should probably stick to $1/$2 then, and save some of your roll for blackjack, to try and run it up.” “Alright, sounds good. I’ll see you at the club in a bit.” I wasn’t convinced about hitting the pits to play table games, but then again, I surely wanted to make the most out of my first casino experience. I arrive at Spades, set up for the Sunday afternoon tournament, and put in the hours for my shift. I wind up dealing the final table, and the tournament ends at around 11PM. Chris was dealing cash, but we had both made sure to get Vinny’s approval to leave early and take off for the next few days. It wasn’t really an issue for me, being that once the tournament was over, it meant my job was done, and I was free to have a good night. However, Chris made sure to get another dealer to cover for him, both the rest of the night and until we got back from our trip. Chris and I walk outside to the parking lot — it’s time to go pick everyone up. We each get into our cars and drive off to scoop up each one of our buddies. An hour or so later, I shoot Chris a text letting him know that I’m about to start the drive up to Verona, NY, which was where Turning Stone is located. He responds, telling me that he had already started the journey about 10 minutes prior, and that he’ll call me when he gets there. I have Theo take the wheel and get into the driver’s seat, as I jump into the back to close my eyes to try and clear my head for what’s about to come. Without making any stops, we finish the drive in just under 4.5 hours. We can see the illuminated, brightly colored sign — “Turning Stone Casino”, and my heart begins to pump just a little bit faster. I’m beginning to get excited. At this point, it was around 4:30AM. Sure, I was a bit tired, but the excitement and novelty of my first casino experience was keeping my adrenaline pumping. I give Chris a call, letting him know that we’re about to park our car, and head into the casino towards the check-in area. “Chris, we’re here man! This place is awesome!” “I know dude, we got here about a half hour ago. I’m in my room changing, getting ready to go play some cards. Did you check-in yet?” “Not yet, we’re about to head over to the check-in desk and get our room keys. I’m pretty tired man, are you sure it’s a good idea to go play right now?” “Don’t worry about that, I already scoped out the room. There’s some good action going on in both $1/$2 and $2/$5. I already put our name’s on the lists. Text me when you’re done getting settled in, but drop by room after. Make sure you come alone.” “Okay… I’m gonna tell my boys that we’re gonna play some poker for a little bit, while they hit the casino floor. My buddy Theo might want to join us. I’m not sure though, I have to ask him. My boys will probably want to get nice and toasty before they head out of the room.” “Sounds good dude, don’t take too long. See you in a bit.” My friend Scott handles the check-in, puts the incidentals coverage under his credit card, and I make sure to get a copy of the room key for myself. We head up to the room, we all change into presentable, formal, evening attire, and I crack open a beer, along with everyone else. I ask everyone what they plan on doing for the next few hours, while suggesting that I’ll be preoccupied playing cards in the poker room. This was nothing but expected, they all knew how often I played poker. Everyone unanimously agrees that they want to hit the pits and gamble, of course, after they get hammered in the room. I casually ask Theo if he’s interested in playing poker with Chris and I, but he declines, saying that he’s not in the mood and would rather play tomorrow night, if at all. I finish my beer, but not before forcing everyone to agree to a bet, in order to make things more interesting — whoever comes back to the room as the biggest loser gets $50 each from everyone else. We unanimously decide that it’s actually a decent idea, and everyone agrees. I leave our room and head towards Chris’ suite. I arrive at Chris’ door, and I give it quick, but firm knock. A few seconds later, the door opens, and I find that there’s nobody in the room except Chris. All of his buddies had already gone downstairs, and were gambling on the casino floor. I tell him I’m pretty tired, and then I ask him why he wanted me to come alone. “Chris, I’m pretty tired, man. You sure we should go play?” “100%. I told you, I already scoped out the games that are running. The stacks are big and there’s some good money to be made.” “Alright, fine. But, why did you want me to come here alone, by the way? Is everything alright?” “Yeah, dude. Here, I wanted to give you this. Take two of these, you’ll be in the zone while you play for the next 8 hours.” “What kind of pills are these? What are they going to do?” — I had never really taken drugs or pills before, other than drinking and smoking weed occasionally. I did, however, try Mushrooms earlier during the summer, and that was fun, but was completely inexperienced when it came to pharmaceuticals, or any other drugs for that matter. “It’s Adderall, it’s a stimulant. They’re 20mg each, take two of them. It’ll make you much more focused and able to concentrate on the game for the next 8 hours or so. You might feel a bit more chatty, and it’ll kill your appetite, but I promise you, it’ll give you an edge. All those players down there right now are tired and worn out from playing. These will put you in the zone, if you know what I mean.” “Fuck it, I’ll give it a shot. We came to have a good time anyway. I’m not gonna lose control of myself, am I?” “Hah, no, dude. It’s nothing like that. They prescribe this stuff to people who have trouble focusing and paying attention. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. You’ll feel them start to work in about 45 minutes to an hour.” Chris hands me two, orange-colored, oval shaped pills, and I swallow them dry. I had stashed $1k into the safe in my room before I left, and I had the other $1k in my pocket. We leave his room and head downstairs to make our way through the casino and into the poker room. I was in a state of awe. This was by far the biggest poker room I had ever been in, up until this point. There must have been at least 30 tables. There were only a handful of games going during our arrival, but still, seeing everything all neat, organized, and ready for action, made me think about what this place would be like during peak hours. I check out the $1/$2 game that’s going, and I see that the buy-in structure is not at all what I was expecting. It’s a $50 min and $200 max. Sure, there’s a few deep stacks on the table, but I felt like this game was much smaller than what I was used to playing. I decide that it’s going to be far too difficult to make any significant amount of money, unless I end up on the good side of a cooler. Overall, it would be a bad move to sit in this game. On the other hand, the $2/$5 game that was running had a $200 min and $500 max buy-in. This was definitely more up my alley. Several players had stacks with at least $1k, and the average was probably right around the max, conveniently right around $500. With several players sitting deep and a couple of short stacks on the table, I come to the conclusion that this is the game I want to play, as I’m fairly certain that I have a decent shot at making some money at this table. Chris had already put our name’s on the lists for both games when he had arrived earlier, so it wasn’t too long until our names were called. We were going to be sitting at the same table, and of course, made an agreement that if we were to get heads-up in a hand, either of us would make only one bet, and then check it down the rest of the way if the other called the bet. We weren’t there to take each other’s rolls, but if there were other players in the hand, then we weren’t going to soft play each other, nor try and sandwich anyone out of a pot. Finally, my name is called, about 20 minutes after Chris had taken his seat, and I head over to the cage to buy $500 worth of chips — $280 in red, $200 in green, and $20 in white. Something I’ve always liked doing, still to this day, is buying at least a full stack of $1 chips. The poker room had relatively nice chips, and I found them to be most excellent. They had a comfortable weight, handled nicely, and displayed a decent aesthetic design on them. They were definitely of a higher quality than any of the chips that the underground clubs used. That’s not to say that the clubs used cheap chips — of course, a few did, however only the casinos would purchase Paulson chips, which are the industry standard, despite them costing over $1 each chip. I take my seat at the table, and all of a sudden, I feel this intense rush of energy. It felt like someone had turned my brain up to 11. Woah — I felt my eyes widen. I introduce myself to the table, and I notice that I’m much more talkative than my normal self. However, I was able to maintain and participate in a fully-engaged conversation, while not missing a single detail of the action that was unfolding during each hand. I could multi-task like never before. I was faster at thinking through hands, I noticed more tells being telegraphed than ever before, and I was aware of the fact that my observations were razor-sharp. It felt like I had been wearing blinders up until this point, and now they were gone. I was more astute than I had ever been before, accurately being able to predict who was going to play a hand, and who was going to fold, before they even made their action. I was paying attention to the game in the same way I would as if I was dealing it. I’d observe each player in turn, then move on to the next when their action was made. I would also catch things out of the corner of my eye — a player’s posture suddenly becoming erect, while they would then immediately try to look disinterested, as they used their hands to protect their cards in such a manner that was subtle, yet distinct from their normal method of handling their cards. It was blatantly obvious to me now, when a player would deviate from their normal patterns of playing, behaving, speaking, bet sizing, time usage, and so forth. I was playing really well. All of my value bets were getting called, my bluffs were getting through, and alarm bells would ring in my head, either to alert me of a perfect spot to make a squeeze play, or if something about the hand didn’t “seem right”. Something I definitely noticed about the Adderall, was that it made me feel much more confident in the plays that I made. It was much easier to pull the trigger, and when I did, I felt certain that my timing was right. My range was also wider than it normally was. I was playing more hands, going for thin value on the river when I would normally check back, and had no problem laying down strong hands preflop, when I was sure I was behind, but would normally be too stubborn to let it go. My session was going very well. Incredibly well, in fact. I made several huge hero calls, and I applied intense pressure on opponents who I deemed capable of folding, only to pick up pots I could never win at showdown. About 3.5 hours had gone by at this point, and within the last hour a new player had taken a seat. His name was Duke, at least, that’s what other players were calling him. This guy was super aggro. He was opening every other hand, raising every C-Bet a player would make, and would just bully people out of the pot by shoving the river or bombing the turn with a $300 bet. The majority of the table was getting annoyed with Duke. Whenever they would fold, they felt like he was bluffing with air, however, when they would inevitably get frustrated and make the call, he would actually have it, and get massive value. During the course of about an hour, he amassed a stack totaling around $900. He had absolutely no fear, and the money at stake, to him, was evidently insignificant. From his perspective, it seemed as if he was playing for, what you and I, would consider pennies. I folded quite a few strong hands to his preflop 3-bets — AQ, TT, 88, and QJs. I would open to $15 or $20, and he would re-pop me to 4x or 5x. I even open folded AKo on an Ace-high, 3-flush board on the turn when he check-raised me all-in, only to show me complete air. That was enough for me, this wasn’t going to continue — not tonight. I had now decided that I was going to be as patient as necessary, and only get involved in a pot with him if the situation was favorable to trap him. You can’t bully a player when the money at stake means far less to him than it does to you. Subsequently, you can’t get value from that same player who is good enough to recognize that you’re only showing him aggression when you have it — they’ll just fold instead of blasting off, knowing that you’re praying that they’ll come over the top. About an hour and a half later, it was around 10AM now, and I had built my stack up to around $1200. Duke was sitting on just about the same, though slightly less, about $1100. He was still bullying people out of pots, and the majority, if not everyone else at the table was clearly annoyed with him. Low limit players often become angry when they encounter an opponent whose style of play isn’t within the same paradigm as their own. The key is to be capable of adjusting your own style of play. Finally, preparation meets opportunity, and I pick up pocket Aces in UTG+1. I raise to $15, and of course get 3-bet by Duke in the Lojack to $60. The button cold calls, and for a split-second, I almost 4-bet, but I resisted what almost felt like a reflex, and decided to just call. The flop comes A5A — I flop Quad Aces! That was the first time I ever flopped quads, let alone quad aces. I stick to my game plan of trapping, and I check my quads over to Duke, who also checks. The button checks as well, and we see a turn of a black 4. The board now being A5A4 rainbow — every fiber of my being is burning on the inside, trying to tell me to start getting some value and make a bet to build a pot. Again, I resist, and check it. Both Duke and the button check back. The river comes in, a red 9. The complete board run-out is A5A49 rainbow. I check, again, for the 3rd time. Duke fires out $200 into the pot of $187, the button snap folds, and I immediately snap-shove on him for a total of around $1140. He looks completely perplexed, and then goes deep into the tank. Not a single player had yet displayed this level of aggression against him. He’s now been thinking for about 6 or 7 minutes, and he announces to the table that he’s sorry he’s taking so long, but he needs some more time and has a decision here. Some random player chimes in, telling him to take all the time he wants, it’s the biggest pot of the night. Another 3 minutes go by, and I’m starting to get agitated now. It’s been at least 10 minutes, the dealer is clearly annoyed, enough is enough. I call for the clock. The floor comes over and gives Duke the “countdown” speech, informing him that he has 30 seconds to make a decision. Before the floor even begins the countdown, Duke announces, “CALL”. Under the influence of the Adderall, I assume, I inexplicably get the impulse to table my hand similar to the way a blackjack dealer would table their cards. I pull both cards adjacent to each other, now sitting side by side. Using one finger, I flip one of the Aces face up, and then use that same Ace to slide it underneath the other, and flip up the remaining facedown Ace. I somehow managed to pull this off with such finesse, that it all happened in one, smooth, fluid motion. It was most certainly a rare form of poker showboating, and it was an incredibly cocky, and unnecessary thing to do, however I just couldn’t help myself. I had just decimated the guy who was running over every single player. The entire table is shocked to see that I reveal flopped quad Aces. Even more surprised, is Duke. He is absolutely stunned to his core. He tables Jack high. I immediately stand up from my chair, and lean in closer towards the table, while rubbing my eyes to confirm — yes, indeed. Jack high. “You triple checked flopped quad aces.” — the tone of his speech indicating a statement, not even close to what asking a question would sound like, as if he was in disbelief of what had just happened. “Yes, sir.” “I just called you with Jack high.” — again, it seemed as if he was confirming, for himself, the reality of the situation that had just occurred. “Yeah, you did, but why?” “I couldn’t put you on a hand, and I thought that you had finally had enough of me pushing you out of pots. It didn’t make sense, how could you have anything there when you checked the whole way?” “I took a risk, and I just figured that you would eventually try and steal it.” “I’m not even mad, kid. Well played, very clever. I salute you.” The dealer ships me Duke’s entire stack, plus the pot, and I toss him two green birds. I quickly start to stack all of the chips while I fold the next hand, and then I get up from the table, as does Chris. “Dude! What a sick fucking play! What in the fuck! Triple checking quad aces?!!?!?” “I know, right? I was waiting all night for that moment. I got stupid lucky that he called. I have no idea why he called me with Jack high. I mean, I heard what he said, but still, why? How?” “You figured him out, dude. Plain and simple. Really nice play, I’m impressed. I don’t think I could ever have triple checked that.” “Thanks, Chris. I think it was just the Adderall. I just felt like I absolutely knew that he was going to do exactly the same thing that he has been doing all night. Whenever he senses weakness, he bombs the river. I wasn’t expecting him at all to call my shove, but I knew that if I bet into two players while out of position, on an ace-paired board, after calling a 4x 3-bet from Duke with the button cold calling, they would both fold.” “That actually makes a lot of sense. Great play, dude. Seriously, that was just sick. Let’s get out of here and see what the other guys are up to.” Chris and I cash out, and we leave the poker room. I ran $500 up to about $2300. Chris booked a nice win himself, running $500 up to $1.1k. We both tipped the cashier behind the cage $10 each. The two of us are still wired from the Adderall, but now only physically stimulated, and not at all under the influence whatsoever. Sleeping is not going to be an option, so we decide to head back to my room, and get to work on polishing off a few beers. I insert the keycard into my room’s key slot, and slowly open the door, as I hear a circus of ruckus coming from inside the room. All of the guys are inside — Theo, Brian, Max, Scott, Rich, Derek, and Joe — they’d gone through two bottles of Smirnoff, a bottle of Jameson that Rich had brought over, a 24-pack of Coors Light, a ton of the weed, and had now moved on to blow, which one of Chris’ buddies had scored from someone in the casino. As far as I knew, none of my friends had ever done coke before. I certainly hadn’t. Everyone seemed to be really enjoying themselves, though, and who was I to judge? I had just played an intensely long poker session on some drug I had never heard of before, I won a bunch of money, all was good, and so I just went with the flow and chalked it up to an isolated incident on a vacation-like casino trip. I asked my boys who had lost the most money, both as a way to settle the bet, and to make a subtle brag about how much I had won playing poker. I wasn’t surprised at all — Brian was the biggest loser, totaling a net loss of a measly, yet exact, $100. He was by far the cheapest person out of all of my friends. He would always argue down to the penny when it came to splitting checks, or getting reimbursed for fronting money for a purchase. Indeed, he sure was cheap, but he wasn’t at all stupid. He made sure that the other 3 guys — Theo, Max, and Scott — lost less than he did so that he could come out ahead on the bet. Of course, he took a gamble by not knowing the status of my winnings, but the worst that could happen was that he would either lose $100 or book a win taking a gamble with it. The 4 of us each paid up, $50 each, and he offset his $100 loss with a $200 gain, for a net profit of $100. We all continued to drink, I tried a few lines myself, and everyone stayed up until the upcoming evening — it was now time to go gamble again. So, what did we do? We drank even more, smoked a blunt, and finished off the 8-ball of blow. The 9 of us were thoroughly bombed. Any and all traces of our decision making skills were completely distorted. Joe was playing $100 flips with Derek — they would cut a deck of cards and whoever cut to the higher card would win. Rich was playing beer pong with Scott for $50 a match, Theo, Max, and Brian were playing $20 rolls of C-Lo with dice that they had bought from the gift shop, and Chris and I were having a pipe dream discussion about how much we were going to win playing blackjack in the next hour. About 30 minutes later, all of us, while undoubtedly lacking full consciousness, head down to the casino floor and make our way into the pits. This time, I brought my entire roll, and so did Chris. The first thing we did was stagger over to a roulette table, only to sloppily introduce ourselves to the dealer. “Hey sweetheart, listen, we need your help. Black or red?” “Are you trying to ask me whether I think you should bet on black or red?” “Ya, of course. You know how you’ve been spinning that ball. Black or red? Which are you feeling?” Chris and I both take out our rolls and count out $1,000 each. “Whatever you pick, sweetheart. If we win, you get 10%. If we lose, you think you could get us a comp for 9 to the Wildflowers restaurant?” “Put it on black, boys. How about we just concentrate on winning for the time being?” “Let’s do it! $2,000 on black!” With a quick flick of her forefinger, the dealer launches the tiny ball into motion, and it begins to spin around and around the track of the roulette wheel. The dealer waves her hand over the table to close the action. “No more bets!” To be continued… Next: Inside Underground NY Poker #10
Metal Coins for Board Games, A Compulsion - Part II
Part II: In this half of this article, I discuss generic metal coin manufacturers and other options for adding metal currency to your games. Check outPart Ifor more info about games that include metal coins and coins designed with a specific game in mind. Edit: I've fixed the image link for the "new"Terraforming Marscubes. Thanks to u/halfisglassfull for pointing out the error. Back in 2016, I posted an article under my other username (u/Luke_Matthews) about my obsession with adding metal coins to board games, which you can read here: Board Games and Metal Coins, An Obsession What started as a diversion became an obsession, and since that article bloomed into a full-on compulsion. I’ve upgraded over 60 games with unique metal coins and currency, and I’d like to share the current state of this compulsion and what I’ve learned along the way. It’s such a strange thing, because metal coinage is a purely aesthetic upgrade. They don’t change game mechanics or offer any extension to the gameplay experience. Even so, deluxe editions have proven there’s a market for aesthetic upgrades, and metal coins have grown into one of the most popular. I have fallen down the rabbit hole of adding unique, thematic coins for each individual game. This approach is not for everyone. If, instead, you’re interested in adding generic coins you can keep aside and use for multiple games, I’ll talk about what sets I think are the best for that purpose at the end of this article. For now, let’s get on with the show! GAME TITLES ARE LINKS TO PHOTOS. For a more user-friendly image browsing experience, view this post on my website or on BoardGameGeek. NOTE:There is no way this will be an exhaustive list of all the metal coins available. I’ll talk about coins I have direct personal experience with, as well as make notes of other coins I don’t have and why I don’t have them. There will likely be a lot of coins not included here, and I encourage you to add your own experiences and pictures in the comments.
Fantasy Coin is one of the first companies I encountered making a range of different coin styles specifically for gaming applications, without tying them to specific games. Of all the coin manufacturers out there, Fantasy Coin are definitely my favorite. Their coins are thick and heavy with fantastic finishes and colors, and come in a wide array of fantasy and sci-fi themes. Getting ahold of Fantasy Coin’s products can be a bit fraught, though, as their primary source of income tends to be Kickstarter. Their website frequently sells out, and as their stocks dwindle, they’ll run another Kickstarter to replenish. Once one of their Kickstarters ends and ships, they’ll typically have stock which can be ordered directly from their website, but be warned you might have to do a little research to find out when more are available. They’ve had some logistical problems with a couple of their Kickstarter campaigns, but for the most part they’re really good at fulfilling them. Their latest campaign was really well handled, and I think they’ve done a great job of addressing their past issues. Some previous backers, IMO, go a little overboard blaming them for mistakes, but forgiveness is not a typical trait of spurned backers. Don’t listen to the haters. Fantasy Coin’s products are genuinely amazing and come at a great price, especially if you get them in bulk from Kickstarter.
I spent a long time trying to decide what coins I’d get for Alchemists. Since it only really requires one denomination, I had a ton of options (the Charterstone coins are a phenomenal choice, FYI). I decided on these coins from FC’s “Magic” set.
Originally, these coins resided in my copy of Lords of Xidit. They’re a great, generic fantasy theme, so can go in many games. Once I picked up the Roll Player coins, though, I thought those were a better fit for LoX, so I moved these over to Clank. And they’re a perfect fit!
This is probably one of my favorite upgrades using FC coins. I couldn’t find any really good, affordable Arabic- or Middle East-themed coins (at the time, there are some now), so I decided to lean into the fantasy side for Five Tribes. The silver coins are from FC’s “Serpent” set, and the golds are from their “Air Elemental” set. I think both work really well as representations of djinn. Some people complain, when using coins like this for Five Tribes, you can’t hide their denominations. If it’s important to you to do so, I suggest getting either pouches or player screens to keep the coins hidden. However, I’ve never once found open money to have a significant impact on the game, so we just don’t bother.
I was originally planning on putting the old Brass coins into my copy of Lancaster, but when FC launched their latest Kickstarter and I saw their “Nottingham” set, I just couldn’t resists such a perfect thematic match.
Lunarchitects doesn’t actually have currency in-game, but one of the other great uses for metal coins is as victory point chits. Lunarchitects has a LOT of VP chits, and I definitely went overboard here, but it’s such a great game and I love these “Sci-Fi” coins from FC.
There are actually several different options for Japanese themed coins, including the Yokohama metal coins and Artana’s Japanese set (which you’ll see in the next section). I chose to go with Fantasy Coin’s “Feudal Japan” coins for Nippon, because I just love the way they look.
Here’s another couple of games without currency, but for which I’ve replaced the VP chits with metal coins. In this instance, I don’t think I went overboard at all, and these “Credits” coins from FC are just an amazing aesthetic upgrade for two classic games.
While Fantasy Coin is the company you’d turn to for fantastical and sci-fi-themed coins, Artana’s where you go when you’re looking for something with a more historical bent. While they don’t mimic specific real-world coinage, their designs evoke real-world cultures and time periods, which make them a fantastic choice for your average Eurogame. They tend to be lighter and thinner than Fantasy Coin, but not in a bad way. They also have 5 different sizes and finishes, from “Tiny” – which live up to their name – to “Jumbo” which are larger than a US half-dollar. Artana’s coins used to only be available via Kickstarter, but they’ve since shifted their model to selling through game-bling websites like The Broken Token and Top Shelf Gamer. Since many coin manufacturers still rely on periodic crowd-funding to release new products, Artana’s consistent availability makes them unique. I have just as many Artana coins as Fantasy Coin, and for good reason: they’re awesome. I’m primarily a Eurogame player so their coins are a thematic match for a lot of games I own. Their price-point is roughly the same as Fantasy Coin – on the lower end of the spectrum, overall – although because they have five different sizes and styles in every coin set, the price point varies depending on what specific coins you buy.
For Archipelago I wanted coins fitting a 1700’s nautical aesthetic. These are from Artana’s “Pirate Ships” theme. The other coins in the set were a little too “skull and crossbones” for what I wanted (although colonizers ARE just another form of pirate), but I thought these two coins fit the theme really well.
I mean, these “Early English Kings” coins aren’t technically thematically appropriate. But I had them and figured I’d toss them in with a game set in 1800’s Bavaria because… well because the game needed some coins.
Artana’s “Middle Ages” theme is great for a game set… in the middle ages. They’re a little more Anglo-Saxon than Frank or Norman, but no one’s ever really going to notice. Ystari games once made coins for Caylus which were a perfect thematic match for Troyes; alas, they are no longer available.
Really, any of the Japanese-themed metal coins I’ve seen or owned – from the Tokaido coins to Fantasy Coin’s “Feudal Japan” theme – would work well in Yamatai. But as beautiful as this game is, I wanted something with a bit more variety. Artana’s “Japanese” theme fit the bill perfectly.
I’m a little torn on the Giochix Historical Coins. On the one hand, they’re nice sizes and weights, and they feel and sound great. On the other hand, they’re not really filling any sort of necessary niche. Artana has the “historical” space covered pretty well, and Fantasy Coin’s selection of SFF themes is pretty universal. If they were going to create specifically thematic coins, I wish they’d have filled some of the holes in this tiny industry, or just gone completely generic, which actually would’ve fit their physicality a little better. All that said, Giochix did manage to create a couple of themes I found useful, specifically their “Pre-Colombian” theme, which is an area of the world other companies have neglected. It is, however, pretty niche, and I understand why they chose to make more applicable themes for Eurogames. I only have two minor gripes: First, the shiny finish – while not necessarily bad in and of itself – does make the denominations a little hard to tell apart at a distance. Second, the relief on the faces of the coins is very shallow, looking much more like modern Euros than anything fantastical or historical. The problem this leads to is making it very difficult to differentiate coins from different themes, but if they’re assigned to a specific game this shouldn’t really be an issue. (It’s only an issue for nutty people like me who have this many different coin sets.) They’re a good price, coming in at about 24¢ (US) per coin, which is on the low end of the scale. Their affordability goes a long way to ameliorate the complaints I have. Now, it’s just a matter of figuring out their availability outside Kickstarter.
Okay, so it’s a bit of a stretch to have Giochix’s “Spanish Colonial” set representing Heaven & Ale, a game about beer-brewing monks more likely set in Germany or Belgium, but there were Benedictine monasteries on the Iberian peninsula, so I’m just gonna run with it.
Since I got these sets in bulk from Giochix’s Kickstarter, I ended up also getting their “Ancient Rome” set. But I have no game to put it in. I would be suitable for Concordia or Trajan or any game set in Ancient Rome, but I already have coins in Concordia, and no other game with a Roman setting at the moment. Here’s a picture anyway.
Sometimes, fake coins either aren’t the answer or aren’t available. If you can’t find fake coins for your games, the best option might be actual currency, either historical or current. I’ve used real currency in 5 games, so far. The real problem with acquiring real currency, especially if it’s historical or foreign (I’m in the US), is availability and price. Most of the time you’re not going to find it any cheaper than fake coinage, and getting enough coins in large enough lots to use for board games can sometimes be a chore. If you’re willing to do the extra legwork, though, you can get ahold of some really nice coins.
When I published the original version of this article, I saw people shortly after talking about Ukrainian coinage for games. I followed through on picking some up, because they are INSANELY cheap in this context, running about 8¢ per coin. Which, incidentally, is massively higher than the exchange rate for some of them, but still massively cheaper than fake coinage. The design is pretty, and is the same across all the kopiykas, and they come in all the standard European denominations. There’s a problem, though. The 1s and 10s are extremely small, thin, and light. Smaller and thinner than a dime, and significantly lighter. For me, this is a massive issue, for a number of reasons. They’re so small and thin I actually have trouble picking them up, which makes them frustrating to use. But more importantly, they’re not really an aesthetic upgrade from punchboard coins. Every time I used them, I found myself disappointed and just wanting to go back to the cardboard ones. There is one MASSIVE exception here: the Ukrainian 1 Hryvna coins, which I’ll detail below under “Village”.
The unlike the kopiykas, the 1 Hryvna coins are actually pretty fantastic. They’re a little bigger than a quarter, and they’re really beautiful. You’ll have to cope with a very, very Orthodox design, and they’re obviously only good for games with a single denomination. But all those features make them really perfect for Village, a game with a small number of single denomination coins and a church as a major part of the theme!
I couldn’t find good, fake coins for Le Havre, so I just bought real ones! These are WWII-era aluminum “Emergency Coins” from France, and they’re absolutely fantastic. They’re a little light, being made from aluminum, but they’re beautiful and thematic, even if the time period is a little off. Beware, though: There are two different kinds of these coins. Some are from the French Republic, occupied in WWII by the Germans but still opposed to them, and some are from Vichy France, a French state who became collaborationists with the Germans. You can tell them apart (both physically and in ideology) by their mottos: The Republic coins say “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite” (or “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”), where the Vichy coins say “Travail, Famille, Patrie” (or “Work, Family, Fatherland”. YEAH). Don’t get the Nazi-adjacent coins.
Good Austrian coins for games are hard to find at a good price. The thematic ones – especially for a game like Grand Austria Hotel – are prohibitively expensive. Granted, it’s not entirely necessary to replace the money tracks in GAH, but I wanted to anyway. I ended up picking up a bunch of semi-modern Austrian Groschen. They’re a little small, and they might be too modern for the theme, but they’re Austrian and that’s enough for me.
I absolutely can’t take credit for this particular idea. I saw a reply on BGG from user TRONOFOTHEDEAD with the idea of using Indian Head Pennies and Buffalo Nickels for Great Western Trail, and I followed suit. I gotta say, I *love* these coins for this game, especially the 2-cent coin as the round marker. This is a rather expensive upgrade. The bulk of the coins aren’t too bad. The Buffalo Nickels are actually only about 7¢ per coin, but the Indian Head Pennies run about 60¢ each. The two, together, average about 37¢ per coin, which is on the high end, but not terrible. It’s the 2-cent coin which really breaks things, though. I paid $14 for the 2-cent coin alone, the common price range is for coins in not great shape. To be fair, when shopping for coins like these, you’re rarely going to get coins in decent shape at these prices. This is the cost for what are called “culls”, or coins collectors have separated out as junk and are selling in bulk because they’re not collectible. But they’re perfect for board games! As a side note, the metal coins for Montana: Heritage Edition are a near-perfect thematic match for Great Western Trail, if Big Kid Games decides to sell them at retail.
I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect upgrade than these. The included coins are clearly modeled after rubles, so real rubles are a great replacement. This set was comparatively expensive, costing me about $18 for 20 coins, but since I only needed those 20 and they were so thematically perfect, I bit the bullet. The problem, now, is 90’s era rubles are pretty difficult to find. I tried searching for them on eBay (where I got these) and couldn’t find a decent lot.
OTHER GENERIC COINS
These are a couple of examples of other fake coins not specifically designed for board games, but which work well under certain circumstances.
Pachinko tokens are an absolutely fantastic option for generic coins, especially if you want something vaguely U.S.A. themed. I originally bought a large lot of them for a planned LARP which never materialized, and have since repurposed them for several different games. Almost all pachinko/pachislo tokens are about the same size and weight as a US quarter, and most of them will come with Japanese, vaguely American, or casino/gambling designs. Mine are mostly U.S.A. themed, so I use them in games with a modern Western theme.
Again, modern Western setting, and nearly thematic coins to go with it. A great addition to Suburbia. At least right up until I get my copy of the Collector’s Edition, which includes bespoke metal coins!
“Pirate Dubloon” is probably the most ubiquitous theme in fake coinage, both metal and plastic. I got these particular coins on Amazon, for really cheap. They’re about he same size as a US quarter and come in 4 different finishes. Note: these are the same coins Eagle & Gryphon Games sells for Empires: Age of Discovery, but they’re MUCH cheaper on Amazon and can be obtained in larger quantities.
I don’t have a hell of a lot of pirate-themed games in my collection, so I found the one game they work really well with.
CUSTOM POKER CHIPS
Some games just scream for custom poker chips instead of metal coins, and I can’t help but oblige. I’ve made custom chips both for currency and tokens for games, but I’ve only included pictures of the currency here. Making custom poker chips is actually fairly easy with a set of relatively inexpensive tools. I’ve created a tutorial on how to do it, which you can find HERE. That tutorial also has links for artwork which can be used for printing your own stickers for the games I detail here.
The square wood “coins” included with Capital Lux, frankly, baffle me. They neither look like gold coins nor match the theme of the game, and for a card game as beautiful as Capital Lux, with stunning art from the always amazing Kwanchai Moriya, they actually detract. So it was a no-brainer for me to design chips for the game.
There’s a chance I may replace these with full-size custom poker chips some day, but for right now I love using these mini poker chips in Lord$ of Vega$. These particular chips aren’t available anymore, as far as I know, which is a shame. They’re the only mini poker chips I’ve found modeled after regular chips instead of the plastic, ridged ones, which I viscerally dislike.
Okay, there are a couple of different sites offering a metal cube upgrade for Terraforming Mars, to replace the metallic plastic cubes included with the game. The upgrade is phenomenal, and it was one of the first things I ordered after getting the game. Here’s a pic of that set. But it’s always bothered me that the “gold” cubes in the set are the gold bars from the Stonemaier Treasure Chest instead of actual cubes. I know it’s a piddling thing, but it just seemed a little off. A friend of mine, Eric, is the biggest Terraforming Mars fanatic I know. My gaming group plays the game a lot, and Eric plays it even more, with multiple groups he joins to play. So it only makes sense he’d be the one crazy enough to actually requisition a new set of metal cubes for Terraforming Mars, ones better matching the style of the game by a) actually having CUBES for the gold, and b) all being different sizes. Here’s a pic of these new, awesome cubes. This set is better, IMO, than the ones you can get from The Broken Token**. Eric** plans to make them available via an Etsy page soon, and I’ll update this article with a link as soon as it’s up and running.
I know I already mentioned the coins for Tokaido’s Collector’s Edition, but before I bought the CE I had these coins for my retail edition. They’re unmitigated garbage. They’re thin and flimsy and tiny and they don’t sound great or feel particularly good and they’re really not any better than the carboard coins and they’re Chinese and not Japanese and they’re trash. A pic of these awful coins I paid $2.47 for 40 coins, shipped, and I got ripped off, honestly.
COINS I DON’T OWN AND WHY
Obviously I’m not going to go into detail here about games I don’t own which include metal coins. I mentioned several sets in the Bespoke section above. But here are some details on some metal coins made by other companies and why I haven’t added them to any of my games. The main reason I don’t own any of these is price. I was willing to spend the extra bucks for game-specific coins for LoW and 7 Wonders, and maybe my set of Russian Rubles, because the theming made it (sort of) worth the extra cost (I’ll be honest: I own and love those coins, but probably wouldn’t pay the price again. Maybe. I think?). Most of the coins below cost nearly the same (75₵-$1 per coin), but aren’t specifically themed for a board game. In a lot of cases, getting enough coins for a board game involves multiple “sets” – as the manufacturers define them – so you don’t run short during play. With these manufacturers, multiple sets just end up being too damned spendy. That being said, the coins they make do look fantastic. The designs are really good, but they’ll need to come down in price before I’d be willing to buy some.
The designs here are really great. I contemplated getting a set of their Arabic theme for Five Tribes, but I couldn’t justify the cost. Even in bulk, at their cheapest offering, they’re still 70₵ per coin. Most games, in my experience, require 50-60 coins to ensure you don’t run out at higher player counts, which rounds out to about $35-$48 for a set (depending on how you acquire them). That’s a little above my top end; half-again to double what I paid for the coins from Fantasy Coin and Artana.
Campaign Coins are really beautiful, and have the most “high fantasy” feel of any I’ve found. I actually considered getting sets from them for Lords of Xidit, simply because they match better thematically. However, at their cheapest, they’re about identical in price to the Legendary coins, so just out of my range.
Minion Games doesn’t have a wide variety, with only two different themes: “Metal Dragon Coins” and “Futuristic Metal Coins” (the coins for Hegemonic), and they range in price from 70₵ to 90₵ per coin. Which is, frankly, absurd. They’re cool looking coins, but they’re absolutely not worth the price.
The only reason I don’t have experience with Moedas’s coins is because I just haven’t ordered any yet. They have some very awesome bespoke coins for specific games, including the giants like Terra Mystica, Great Western Trail, Lisboa, and more. Their prices are right in line with companies like Artana and Fantasy Coin, and their coins look genuinely great. They’re a Brazilian company and their website doesn’t handle currency conversion, so to place an order in North America you have to e-mail them directly, which does add a layer of difficulty. It’s not something I’m at all averse to doing – the owner replies occasionally on BGG and other users have posted positively about their products and service – I just haven’t done it yet.
Again, gorgeous, but expensive. Not quite as expensive as some of the others here, but still just outside what I would consider affordable. And, honestly, I haven’t seen any recent information about this company, so they may not be making coins anymore.
Shirepost’s coins aren’t really viable for this kind of application. They primarily do licensed coins (Lord of the Rings, Kingkiller Chronicle, A Song of Ice and Fire, etc.), and they’re not built for bulk orders. They’re designed to be a novelty, and are wildly expensive, coming in at well in excess of $1 per coin. So, they’re cool, but not really worth it for board gaming.
Rare Elements Foundry is one of the first companies I ever encountered making metal fantasy coins. Unfortunately, they are ungodly expensive for the most part. Their coins run around $22-$25 for a set of 10, pushing them up to and even beyond Shirepost’s prices. Their coins are very beautiful, but not feasible in quantity.
BEST GENERIC COINS
Here’s the thing: I love upgrading the coins in my games, and I think metal coins add a genuinely massive aesthetic boost. They’re absolutely my favorite type of upgrade. BUT, I also understand buying separate, thematic coin sets for a ton of different games isn’t for everyone. You might want metal coins, but would rather just have one or two generic sets you can use across multiple games whenever you play. So here are my opinions on the best coins for that purpose: Honorable Mention – Poker Chips Poker chips, either generic or custom, are a great option. They’re frequently cheaper than metal coins, and you can get them in a bajillion different styles with or without denominations. But they’re not metal, and that’s an issue. They’re a fantastic option, though. Honorable Mention – Pachinko Tokens Granted, pachinko tokens have a weird “theme” and they look more modern than thematic, but honestly they’re great coins and you just can’t find a better deal. They come so cheap and in such large quantities I have to mention them here as an option for the budget-conscious. Honorable Mention – Scythe Coins The Scythe coins are absolutely fantastic quality and, as I mentioned before, are almost so thematic they’re themeless. If you want a set of coins with a little extra flair and don’t think their odd theming will clash with your games, you absolutely can’t go wrong here.
BEST SINGLE-DENOMINATION COINS – CHARTERSTONE COINS
Stonemaier does it again with their Charterstone metal coins. You absolutely cannot get a better set of coins for games with a single denomination. Some examples of games these coins would work great in are Lancaster, Russian Railroads, Villages of Valeria, Alchemists, and Village. But, basically any game where you only need 1s, get yourself a set of these. Charterstone Coins
BEST OVERALL GENERIC COINS – SEAFALL COINS
The clear winner here are the Seafall coins from Plaid Hat Games. They may be rather generic, but their design is beautiful, and they’d make a fantastic addition to any game you’d want to use them with. They’re a tiny bit expensive at about 40¢ per coin, but there’s over 100 coins in the set and if you’re only buying them once, it’s an absolute no-brainer. They’re a great size and weight, and the colors and finishes are unmatched. I really like how distinguishable the colors are on these coins, and I absolutely love the satin finish because it keeps glare low and amps up the color variance, making the coins easy to tell apart from across the table.
I acquire new coins as I get new games, and sometimes coins change homes when a game leaves my collection. To track and show these changes, I’ve started THIS GEEKLIST on BGG. Do you have metal coins in your collection? Do you want to show them off? Please add your own pics and descriptions to that GeekList! I know my collection is not comprehensive, and the more pictures and suggestions for coins and they games they work with would be incredible! Thanks for spending the time to peruse my compulsion for metal coins in board games! I hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures and commentary. If you have metal coins of your own and would like to show them off, I’d love to see them added to the GeekList, and I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you want to talk about metal coins, or DIY upgrades, or board games in general, you can always find me on Twitter @PixelartMeeple, on Instagram @pixelartmeeple, on BGG at PixelartMeeple, and on my website www.pixelartmeeple.com! You can also hear my (much more succinct) thoughts on games on The Five By podcast. Thanks for reading, and happy gaming!
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