If you’ve ever visited a cigar lounge or cigar event, you’ve probably seen a cigar poker or “nubber.” They kind of resemble a dart or a needle. Some cigar smokers attach them to the nub of the cigar to smoke that last little bit. Cigar pokers range widely in style and price. Yet, many are more art than a cigar accessory. Despite no real market sales data, the popularity of cigar pokers is accelerating.
Cigar Life Guy caught up with Robin Blue of BlueSmokeATL, a leading maker of custom cigar pokers. If you’ve ever considered getting a cigar poker, keep reading. Robin shares what you should look for when shopping for a cigar poker.
What is a Cigar Poker?
Cigar Life Guy (CLG): What is a cigar poker? What are they used for?
Robin Blue (RB): A cigar poker is a cigar accessory that serves two purposes. First, a cigar poker serves as a nubber allowing you to enjoy cigars to the very end without burning or staining your fingers. Second, you can gently slide them into the top of the cigar to loosen the tobacco. They improve the overall draw from your cigar.
CLG: I imagine they are made from a wide variety of materials?
RB: Cigar pokers are made from a variety of materials ranging from beads to glass to gemstones. There are also various levels of quality that define the overall look, feel, and durability of your poker.
Manufactured vs. Handmade Cigar Pokers
CLG: One way to segment the market is by how they are manufactured. There are mass-produced and custom, or bespoke, pokers made individually, correct? What are the key differences between the two types?
RB: Very true. Manufactured pokers typically have very few unique options and a lot of the same designs. What they lack in originality you can save in overall cost. The items adorned on the pokers are not as carefully curated and are usually bought in bulk quantities. The durability is shorter than a quality, luxury, handmade poker.
Handmade crafters select each part of their process. It’s more creative and unique since a business makes each one. The quality standards are higher since someone with a love for craft started the business. It also shows their sense of pride. Handmade cigar pokers can be customized for a personal impact on the consumer. For this reason, handmade pokers are usually more expensive than manufactured ones. Yet, they are also more durable and long-lasting.
CLG: Even within the bespoke segment of cigar pokers, there are many differences in how they are made. Correct?
RB: In the bespoke poker segment, there are several factors that a shopper should look at when buying. First, the overall quality of the work is huge. The materials used in creating a cigar poker are critical. You also must consider what kind of customer service experience is provided. Does it include a guarantee or warranty on craftsmanship? Can the designer offer ideas or recommendations? Can the designer translate the individual’s vision into a beautiful product? You’ll see a wide variation in a designer or brand’s ability to deliver on all these elements.
You Get What You Pay For
CLG: So, should someone totally avoid a $15 cigar poker, or is there a place for that in the marketplace?
RB: There is a place for $15 pokers, but it depends on your budget and how often that you smoke. If you smoke once every six months, then these pokers may work fine in the beginning. Then, you graduate from there. Your pokers usually match the price of your other cigar accessories. The cigar culture purchases a lot of disposable products. And, $15 pokers should be thought of as disposable. It’s similar to disposable lighters. You definitely get what you pay for.
CLG: Who buys cigar pokers?
RB: I have sold cigar pokers to everyone. It’s really a matter of preference. I typically sell more to men than women, but that may be due to the number of men vs. women smokers. And, yes, men use cigar pokers too.
CLG: Are they really art first and function second or do I have that backward?
RB: For BlueSmokeATL, it’s really art first, and then function. We love the artistry and luxury of it all.
Hot Trends in Cigar Poker Customization
CLG: What are some of the most popular customization trends or themes you see on cigar pokers?
RB: Right now I’m seeing a lot of interest in cigar clubs, fraternities and sororities, sports teams or sport-themed, and hobbies. Really, anything that makes a personal statement about you and your personal journey is a hot theme. The only limitation is your imagination and creativity.
CLG: Tell me about your business: BlueSmokeATL.
RB: BlueSmokeATL is a timeless collection of carefully curated cigar pokers. The name is a play on my last name, Blue. I started the business in 2019. We offer unique cigar pokers to compliment your ability to smoke in style. We offer exclusive custom designs as well. Our elaborate and high-quality designs have catered to every type of smoker from beginner to aficionado.
One of our core missions at BlueSmokeATL is to make our brand as inclusive, diverse, fun, and accessible as possible. We pride ourselves on our quality pieces and excellent customer service. Our pieces are sure to add the “Wow” factor to your current smoking accessories.
We have an online and retail presence to engage with our fans and consumers. BlueSmokeATL is also owned by a woman of color.
For more information on BlueSmokeATL you can check out:
Disclosure: From time to time, Cigar Life Guy will highlight innovative businesses in the cigar community. This is not an advertisement. Cigar Life Guy is not affiliated with BlueSmokeATL. It receives no compensation for any products sold or referred by this article, nor is it responsible for any purchases made.
Photo credit: BlueSmokeATL