There are several different materials that are used to make poker chips. However, the three main manufacturers that design Las Vegas casino poker chips use only three different types. They are all approximately 1-1/2 inches in diameter, but the weight varies; mainly due to composite, design, and how intense the dyes are.
Most visitors to Las Vegas and Atlantic City are surprised to find that clay chips aren’t used. Introduced in the late nineteenth century, the clay chips broke easily. Instead it is a clay composite, that contains mostly high impact and very durable polymers. Ceramic chips are also becoming quite popular.
The designs and colors are specific to the casino they represent, but the variance in weight will stay very close to ten grams. You might ask what is so special about ceramic chips. For one thing, it is a solid body, rather than the combined chip with an inlay that is used so traditionally by casinos. They are substantially stronger and more durable, impossible to tamper with, and very difficult if not impossible to counterfeit.
Clay composite chips, with a design in die cut metal foil, was used when the Flamingo Casino opened. However, the casino poker chips changed in the 50’s to chips with logos, and house designs, plus some sort of strip or spot on the edges, to identify the casino in which they were being used. Some chips today are metal and coin-like, with plastic outer edges. Today, all casino chips are unique and identifiable to the house they belong in, copyrighted and secure.
People who are looking for chip sets for home play have more choices. There are composite metal core chips, that are extremely durable. Basically they are made up of a metal slug surrounded by plastic. They can be individualized by decal or hot stamp, and feel and look very much like the Vegas chips.
Most of them are manufactured in Taiwan, and the quality is not always consistent. Request a sample from the seller before you buy them. The Chinese chips often are lower in quality than those of Taiwan, probably because they have poorer quality control methods. The prices are quite similar.
If you are just exploring your interest in poker and don’t want to make an expensive investment as yet, plastic chips are the answer for you. You can get them almost anywhere, from cheap ones in the toy aisle of discount stores to heavier, more substantial chips that weigh up to seven grams.
They are easily damaged, lighter than regulation casino poker chips, and not very easy to stack. If you are looking to invest in true quality, and price is no object, check into simply taking home chips from the casino you play in and using them at home. They can always be returned next time you visit, and they won’t deflate in value.
Now that you know the various poker chip designs and makes, you should be able to make a more informed decision about which type of poker chip you want to buy.