This article was originally published on The Daily Chain, 18th November 2019.
“This weekend we are targeting to release the beta version to the community.”
Sg777, CHIPS Lead Dev
Listening to podcasts is a great pleasure of mine. I love the medium.
I have spent a good deal of time exploring the projects in the Komodo ecosystem and have been surprised time and again what I find there. This has resulted in four lengthly reviews for four such projects: Pirate Chain, Hush, Utrum and Verus Coin.
So when I came across Crypto Core Radio, a podcast hosted by a prolific Komodo and Pirate Chain community contributor called Lootz, I was understandably excited to discover what a great show he hosted.
I’ll cut to the chase, a phrase which would sound well with Lootz’s Brooklyn accent, and tell you the show in question was about a poker coin called CHIPS. It was recorded ony two months ago with one of the project leads, a name also familiar to me from Komodo discord, NutellaLicka.
The phrase under the radar has been much abused in crypto circles and doesn’t quite cut it for CHIPS. There’s under the radar, and then there’s CHIPS. Meaning that it is so ridiculously obscure it:
- Doesn’t have a whitepaper
- Doesn’t have much activity on bitcointalk
- Doesn’t have CoinMarketCap or CoinGecko listings
- Doesn’t have any significant volume on any exchanges
- Doesn’t have any sizeable supply left to mine
- Doesn’t even have a website
Now for the good part.
Four of a Kind
Listening to that podcast had me absolutely gripped…
At this point I should remind the readers that this is not financial advice, or even an attempt at a substantive review. Simply think of what follows as a true story.
I was gripped for four reasons. Firstly, poker. Secondly, CHIPS was created by Komodo founder JL777 who remains involved and helps fund the project. Thirdly CHIPS is led by a cryptographer with the handle Sg777 (it’s okay… he’s a cryptographer and can pay homage with the three 7’s) who was hired by JL777. Fourthly, and most importantly, because of what NutellaLicka had to say.
“CHIPS is the currency that will be used for a decentralized, secure, on-chain application. The whole idea behind CHIPS is that there’s a couple of protocols that work together to allow people to play poker with each other in a peer-to-peer fashion.
“So unlike other current forms of poker applications that run their own applications on their own servers, the difference with CHIPS is that the programs used to run CHIPS are all peer-to-peer. They use an actual blockchain for the cryptocurrency itself, they have a decentralized peer-to-peer method of shuffling the deck that uses a specific cryptographic function. Then it also uses Lightning Network technology to create real-time betting applications.”
CHIPS is the only coin in the Komodo ecosystem to have adopted Segwit and Lighting network. It does this to enable real-time betting, and it settles the pot on the blockchain at the end of the game. Very elegant.
CHIPS is a fork of Bitcoin, has the same supply of 21 million, and a 10 second blocktime. With those 10 second blocktimes most CHIPS have already been mined.
Even though CHIPS does not have a whitepaper (as mentioned above) there is another paper which mentions CHIPS, authored by both jl777 and sg777.
The paper has a snappy title. PANGEA/Privatebet — Decentralized and generalized shuffled decks with faceup and facedown support and recovery from minority nodes disconnecting.
Abstract — The idea is to develop a privacy enhanced peer-to- peer gaming system which allows players to play and transact funds without need of any centralization institution. The platform is resilient against collusion between any of the participating entities, player disconnection and privacy tracking. […] CHIPS, a bitcoin fork, is a token on this platform, and is transacted using the JUMBLR process in Komodo, which brings anonymity to CHIPS. The consensus of the game is made by recording every move on the blockchain.
Now, I will admit to being a sucker for mathematical equations in white papers, and I have seen ever so many. Like chinese calligraphy I find them beautiful to stare at, but have no clue what they mean. I do not recall ever seeing quite as many cryptic looking equations as I have found in the Pangea paper, and were it not for JL777’s name attached to it I might think them a hoax.
The Pangea paper also provides us Sg777’s email and since cryptographers are in short supply it didn’t take long to discover he’s also a published novelist. This detail, like the esoteric symbols in the PDF, I also thought beautiful.
Of himself Sarat says:
Sarat was born in India and is tall for no reason. Post graduate in Information Security from NITK, loves Cryptography, works as a cybersecurity engineer and he writes.
In the show NutellaLicka describes him thus:
“Sg777 ha a masters in Applied Cryptology, worked in network security for Samsung, cloud security for Amazon, got super interested in blockchain and then started writing the cryptographic paper for CHIPS [Pangea]”
Back on the podcast NutellaLicka was keeping my attention with his chocolate words
Potentially in the next few weeks we’ll have a good looking GUI that will have multiple players being able to play the game.
So I went to their discord today, two months after his prognostication, and was happy to see the progress for myself.
Having described the blockchain settlement layer, the lightning network gaming layer NutellaLicka then describes the third core component. Shuffling.
The Pangea Protocol is used for deck shuffling. It uses Shamir’s Secret key sharing which gives a part of a secret key to every player at the table and then in order to see the cards at the end of the game everyone needs to share that key back.
There are 3 types of nodes in the CHIPS poker network
- Dealer nodes create the table, sets the blind limits, the min/max buyout, and opens and closes the Lightning channel. Dealer nodes do not play but take a 25% of the rake (see below)
- Player nodes for playing the game
- Blinding Value Vector nodes who make sure the dealer has no way of colluding with players on the table by blinding the data. They do not play but also take 25% of the rake
The Rake is the scaled commission fee taken by a casino or cardroom operating a poker game. It is generally 2.5% to 10% of the pot in each poker hand, up to a predetermined maximum amount. The fees are used to cover the expenses of hosting the game.
CHIPS has a very low rake of only 1% which is shared three ways. Half to dealer and BVV nodes, and the other half to the dev fund.
Since the interview was aired the CHIPS plan to change from SHA256 to the VerusHash v2 mining algorithm have altered. As NutellaLicka explained in discord earlier today:
We are no longer looking at changing to verushash algo. The idea for that change was to enable people to be able to CPU mine the coin. We are looking into adding adaptivepow instead now. The reason for this change is that difficulty stranding is a serious threat on sha 256 coins. If somebody with access to a lot of hash strands the blockchain, the games would stop and nobody would be able to play. With adaptivepow, a single CPU would be able to continue to mine blocks shortly after the spike in hash rate
Also coming to CHIPS is support for Komodo’s Custom Consensus. As Mike Toutonghi, ex-Microsoft VP and Verus Coin Lead Dev explained some weeks ago in interview:
“Custom Consensus protocols (they’re internally called Crypto Conditions), and really what they are is the ability to write new functions and opcodes into the bitcoin script.”
— Mike Toutonghi
What this will mean for CHIPS is support for many other coins at its poker tables. It will also provide a means of decentralized dispute resolution.
Does CHIPS go beyond poker? I asked NutellaLicka
“Yes, Texas hold’em poker is the first of many casino style games that are on the cards
“But that is in the distant future. For now focus is on Texas holdem.”
This statement is echoed in the detailed CHIPS documentation which serves purpose until the website goes live
How will CHIPS be used in the Komodo Platform?
CHIPS will be the pioneer currency for the decentralized flagship gaming application “Pangea Poker”. Pangea Poker is a truly decentralized Texas hold ’em game application. Komodo coins will be exchangeable into CHIPS to be used in the poker game. This will facilitate truly fair decentralized and secured betting and gaming. CHIPS’s use cases don’t stop here though! Any other dAPP or online gaming project that would like to utilize the platform is free to do so! CHIPS is a fair launch coin with no premine, allowing for lightning network to be implemented in a fully functional currency, easily adaptable to any online gaming or gambling environment.
What does CHIPS have to do with Pangea Poker?
Although the coin itself doesn’t have a connection with Pangea from a technological point of view, the poker application will be the first focus of the coin’s usage. CHIPS will be the only currency that will be accepted in Pangea Poker — so initially it is going to be exclusive to that decentralized application (dAPP). Pangea poker will be run on the BET platform, which is the technology that will drive Komodo Platform’s gaming module.
What are some of the features of CHIPS?
– Lightning Network enabled
– Micro-transactions — used for betting or any other micro-transaction application
– Will be used widely in betting platforms within the Komodo Ecosystem
– Will be the only currency supported in Komodo Platform’s Pangea Poker
– Can be integrated into any other gaming system such as online casinos, betting, or incentivized gaming of any type
– 10 second blocktime
— CHIPS FAQ
Even though CHIPS remains a fork of Bitcoin, thanks to JL777 it is very much part of the Komodo ecosystem. dPow is an option and will provide Bitcoin-level security. Some KMD Notary Node operators also donate to the project.
Shortly after catching NutellaLicka in discord, I was fortunate enough to spend a little time with Lead DeveloperSg777. I started by asking him the same question about other games.
Next one on the line is blackjack.. we first want some stable system for card games, then we explore more… we can usually use this for live betting, say ball-by-ball cricket betting or any game betting.. roulette is also a perfect fit..
Sarat Sg777 gave me a bit more background
Before developing this , i never played poker in my life, im a cryptographer love to solve to solve cryptography puzzles…
The game which we designing is fully decentralized, in the sense website hosting, backend hosting and we designed the protocol named pangea to bring in the trust into the system along with truly random shuffling of cards…
We use multisig signing to lock the player funds with notaries(so that even the dealer has no control of the player funds, so no cheating by dealer), and uses lightning network to record the gaming transactions to happen in real time and to resolve any disputes…in that sense the player can play in a truly decentralized environment with complete trust…
I learnt lot of things during these 2 years….though it appears like a simple poker game, but ideally CHIPS is a very complex project…our idea of CHIPS is not just limited to poker..our idea is to design a dencetralized gaming platform where any game can be playing with the trust we create using the pangea protocol..
Sarat gave an unexpected response to my last question, “When do u expect the public will have an easy to use version,” I asked
“This weekend we are targeting to release beta version to the community..
“The current beta which I’m working on along with pixelshove(GUI dev) is good to play..”
As I said near the beginning of this article this was not a review of CHIPS, but rather the story of CHIPS.
The story is one of the more remarkable in crypto. A coin with genuine class and talent. All bets on mainnet, no testnet. A great use case with many more possibilities. A public beta coming out this weekend.
Forget the popcorn lads, I’m having chips.
As I left the casino I called out to a man sitting at the wheel of a car, his face obscured. “Why’d they call it Pangea?” I asked him as I pointed up at the bright neon lights that spelled out the casino’s name high over its golden entrance
“To indicate its scope to cover all games.”
came the man’s solemn reply as the car pulled away from the curb. I caught a glimpse of the plates, J L 7 7 7