Popular Types of Poker Chips

For the last 75 years, clay chips have not actually been constructed out of pure clay. Actual clay chips were used in the United States during the late 1800's; however, these easily broken chips were quickly replaced by clay filled composites that provided much greater durability and security. In the early part of the 1900's chips were commonly molded from Plaskon, an urea formaldehyde molding compound. In the 1930's die cut metal foil was applied to the chips to give unique identity and added security. Bugsy Siegel opened the Flamingo Casino with these chips. In the 40's printed centers appeared and edge spots were added for even greater security. The 1950's saw most casinos using the newest chips with house designs, logos or both molded into the rim and top of chip. Today the style and materials utilized in the manufacture of gaming chips are unique to the particular casino. Some have metal "coin" centers with structural plastic outer rims. Cloth fiber reinforced polymer molded chips and a just introduced all metal alloy poker chip that is anodized in different brilliant colors.

Clay composite chips can be quite expensive and difficult to find due to their popularity. These chips usually are in weight ranges between 8 grams and 11.5 grams and are casino standard 39 mm diameter.

Composite Metal Core Chips These heavy (8g or 11.5g), very durable chips are readily available and can usually be customized through a hot stamping or decaling process for added security. These chips are injection molded from a particulate filled thermoset (does not soften when heated) plastic around an internal metal slug for that exact "Casino" look and feel. Almost all metal core chips are manufactured in either Taiwan or China. Chips from China are, on the whole, of a lesser quality, probably owing to the lack of quality control including less precision in composite mixing, and imperfect dyes used in manufacturing. Chips manufactured in Taiwan are usually of a higher overall quality that becomes quite evident in the general appearance and feel. There does not appear to be any price differential between the two. However, good quality chips are available from China and "made in Taiwan" is not always a guarantee of acceptable quality so it is important to examine a sample before making a large purchase.

Casino Chips These are, of course, the very best, especially when it comes to security. Casino chips are produced by an extremely limited number of bonded companies all located within the US. Each casino has a unique secret blend composition used to mold their chips; this is one of the primary defenses to prevent counterfeiting. The chips are injection molded with copyrighted designs in manufacturing facilities that have security that rivals the US mint. Most modern casino chips are a synthetic polymer acrylic composite with a laminated center. The only avenue available to acquire real casino chips is to buy them from the casino at face value or from a reseller that will usually include a hefty mark-up. Casino chips vary slightly in weight, however most weight in around 10g.

Plastic Chips Plastic chips are the most basic gaming chip option and can be purchased almost anywhere. You can find extremely cheap chips sold at supermarkets in the toy aisle to heavy solid plastic chips that can weight as much as 7g. Plastic chips do not offer much in the way of security and are easily damaged. They lack the look and heft of composite chips and tend to tinkle when splashing the pot. Plastic chips are good for people who might be new to poker (or other games that use markers) or people who have a very limited budget. As with composite chips, its important to request samples of the chips you are considering. Most reputable vendors will send a chip sample if you send a self addressed stamped envelope. Bicycle manufacturers two sets of plastic chips that come in travel cases: the Poker Portfolio (approx. $15 to $20) includes 300 chips and 2 decks of cards; the Poker Attach