If you’ve ever tried your hands at poker, you’ll be familiar with poker chips — small, flat, round discs used in casino table games that symbolize different values of money. Players leverage the poker chips’ value in order to place their bets in a game or tournament.
Whoever has the best poker hand (or can get others to fold) wins the pot of chips. Why use chips instead of money? For starters, it’s easier to break them into change (one $20 bill can be turned into 20 $1 chips), and secondly, it’s easier to count each other’s stacks.
Learn more about the history of chips below, how best to handle them, and the different types of chips used in poker.
The History of Poker Chips
The ancestors of modern casino tokens were the counters used to keep score in 17th- and 18th-century European card games like Ombre and Quadrille. French Quadrille sets contained several different counters, known as jetons, fiches, and mils.
Unlike modern poker chips, they were colored differently only to determine player ownership for the purposes of settling payments at the end of the game, with different denominations marked by different shapes.
In the early days of poker, during the 19th century, players used jagged gold pieces, gold nuggets, gold dust, or coins, as well as “chips” made of ivory, bone, wood, and paper. Several companies between the 1880s and the late 1930s eventually began to make clay composite poker chips.
Materials Used To Make Poker Chips
Modern clay chips are a composition of materials more durable than clay alone and often include metal and plastic. At least some percentage of the chips is known to consist of earthen materials such as sand or chalk.
The process used to make these chips is a trade secret and varies slightly by manufacturer. The edge spots, or inserts, on chips are not painted on. Instead, this area of the clay is removed and then replaced with clay of a different color.
Ceramic chips were introduced in the mid-1980s as an alternative to clay chips. The ability to print lettering and graphics on the entire surface of the chip, instead of just the inlay, has made them popular.
Different Types of Poker Chips
Whether you are playing Texas Hold’em poker or five-card draw, poker chips are the lifeblood of the game. Listed below are the most common types of poker chips that you’ll find in casinos.
When it comes to poker chip types, casino chips usually come to mind first. Each casino chip is assigned a monetary value that is usually written on the surface of the chip.
Currency chips are usually considered to be the direct replacement of coins and cash in casinos. Casinos in Nevada will even honor another casino’s chips. When you receive your payout, you can again convert the chips into cash through direct exchange.
Some tournaments will have custom poker chips made, without which you cannot participate in the tournaments. It’s also important to note that these chips are only valid for specific tournaments.
Tournament chips don’t have any equivalent monetary value. At the beginning of a poker tournament, each player is typically given a starting stack — a specific number of tournament chips that are determined by the tournament’s buy-in or entry fee.
For example, a tournament with a $100 buy-in might provide each player with 10,000 in tournament chips.
Colour-Based Poker Chips
The value of the different colored chips varies and depends on the casino or specific poker tournament rules. In both live dealer casino games and online casino games, the color and value combinations are used to make it easier for players and dealers to identify chip denominations during a game.
The most common values of colored poker chips are the following mentioned below.
Tips For Handling Poker Chips
One of the main advantages of poker chips is that they can be stacked, making them easy to count and keep track of. Here are a few dos and don’ts when it comes to handling chips:
- Keep them in stacks: This is for better money management and easy counting if, say, an opponent asks you to count your stack.
- Keep your chips behind bet lines on the table: Do this so that you don’t accidentally bet them.
- Don’t mix different denominations in the same stack: You might want to call and end up raising instead.
- Don’t splash the pot: In other words, don’t call by throwing the chips into the pot sloppily.
- Don’t hold the chips too tightly or fiddle with them: This could be a tell for your opponents to exploit.
Different Chip Tricks Used at the Poker Table
You may find players doing benign chip tricks at the table, whether it’s rolling chips from one hand to the other or twirling a chip in their fingers.
The most popular chip trick at a poker table is riffling. This involves putting two stacks next to each other, wrapping your fingers around them, and pulling up so that the stacks riffle into one. This can become a nervous tic for some and a tell for other players.
Keep Chipping Away at Online Poker With BetMGM
Online poker rooms use virtual poker chips to replicate the traditional casino poker experience and also eliminate the need for manual chip counting. Register with BetMGM and enjoy the convenience and accuracy from the comfort of your home when you play online poker or in an online poker tournament.