Friday, September 12, 2014

Cleaning poker chips

We interrupt the vacation photos to briefly talk about something actually related to poker.

Last night my friend Kristi (@alaskagal1), a poker dealer, tweeted that she had shown up to work and it was a chip-cleaning party. She posted this photo, and sent me a few other similar ones:

I had occasionally heard of similar group undertakings from other poker dealers, but I had never seen a picture from a chip-cleaning party. Good lord, that looks tedious. And disgusting. It reminded me of an idea I had long, long ago about cleaning poker chips, but never got around to writing about.

Back in the days when I did competitive pistol shooting, I made my own ammunition. Almost everybody did. Buying commercially manufactured ammunition was just way too expensive, given the large volumes that serious shooters run through.

There are four components to a rifle or pistol cartridge: the bullet, the gunpowder, the primer, and the case. The case is usually made of brass. It's the most expensive part, and the only part that is reusable.

But the brass picks up soot from the burning gunpowder and dirt from the ground. So most shooters clean their cases once in a while. (The really persnickety ones clean them after every use.)

The standard method is to use a vibratory case cleaner, like this one:

You dump your dirty brass in, along with some sort of gently abrasive dry medium (the cheapest and most popular is ground-up corn cobs), put the lid on, and let it go. A motor vibrates everything, and the medium scrubs the gunk off of your brass. An hour or so later, you sift the brass from the medium (which is reusable until it gets too nasty), and you're done. Total time investment is less than five minutes to clean several hundred cases.

I think that the same sort of gizmo would work for poker chips. It wouldn't disinfect them, but it would remove the dirt and stuck-on grime handily.

My only reservation in recommending this solution is that the medium might be abrasive enough to scrub off the lettering, which would not be good. But it ought to be easy to test and see if that happens.

Anyway, there's my suggestion to poker rooms around the world--an easy way to clean all that disgusting glop off of your poker chips without making your dealers sit around a table laboriously scrubbing them one at a time with toothbrushes, which I'm pretty sure is prohibited by the 8th amendment clause about cruel and unusual punishment.


angerisagift said...

hopefully they r getting paid more than 3 dollars and hour

Herb Wolfe said...

The guy who used to run a bar league I played in would wash them in a dish washer once a year. I'm not sure how he managed it, if he put them in a mesh bag or what. I would think that using a washing machine would work as well, using mesh bags.

Anonymous said...

I knew a guy who would take 100 chips home most Saturday nights and run 'em through the dishwasher, then return with them the next Saturday. He claimed he could follow his chips from stack to stack around the table as they shined.

Any ol' ultrasonic cleaner should do the trick, too. Not sure how durable casino chips are, but if they can put up with casino play they can surely handle the rare pass through a cleaner.