Poker is a popular card game across the world with the excitement of gambling and potential for huge payoffs. Almost integral to the poker game are the poker chips, and indeed poker does not feel like poker without poker chip sets.
The chips are small discs of various colors representing different denominations, meant as substitutes for real money, which is instead stored in a more secure place. The use of money substitutes, or token money, can be traced back through the 13th to 17th centuries in Europe. Today poker chips are often made according to themes and formats that unite a particular set of chips. This is useful in avoiding counterfeiters, even for games at home or in private.
Casino chips use many different anti-counterfeiting measures, with the most basic being chip coloration and embossed or molded patterning. Holographic inlays, distinctive colored markings on the edges and ultraviolet markings on the inlays further deter potential counterfeiters. Lastly, Radio Frequency Identification or RFID tags are used by some establishments. The latter method can be quite costly, but the establishments that use them feel the cost is justified. Given the difficulty in counterfeiting chips, poker chip frauds in casinos are rare.
If you plan to play in private though, you should be careful of frauds, especially if you are using mass-produced chips. Another reason for these security measures is to identify which casinos they came from. This is usually not a problem, since casinos usually honor only their own chips and it is more of a matter of branding. In Nevada however, casinos are permitted to honor chips from other casinos, and these identifiers make returning chips to the casinos they belong to easier.
Poker Chip Sets – Composition and Coloration
Authentic casino poker chips are made of clay, though not pure clay which is too soft. Special composite mixtures have been made, using trade-secret techniques, the confidential nature of which is yet another speed bump on the counterfeiter’s path. Sometimes, special edition poker chip sets may be bought from casinos, though generally poker chips stay in the casinos. Poker chips made for home use on the other hand may or may not be of the same quality as their casino counterparts.
For home use poker chips, ceramic and ABS plastic are the most common materials. When ceramic is used, special compositions allow them to approximate the feel of real clay while maintaining a lower price profile. Ceramic chips are also used in some casinos. ABS plastic chips on the other hand may be molded with a metal disk or slug inside, to give them some heft. For those in Europe, poker chips may come in mother of pearl, which gives them an incomparable sheen and luster. Coloration is standard for different denominations in one set, but may differ across sets. For example, in some places there are standard coloration schemes for chips, while in others there are none. Of note is the US State of Nevada, where casinos are given free rein on their chip designs and colors.
Poker Chip Sets – Sets and Themes
Since poker games often involve large amounts of money, a large number of chips are needed. Standard sets have 300 pieces, while others can have 500 pieces, and yet others reaching a stunning 1000 pieces. Some casinos sell poker chips similar to those used on the floor but with a few differences for identification purposes. This is great for those who want to emulate the feel of their favorite places of gambling at home games. Limited edition sets can be highly collectible, and there is a thriving community of poker chip collectors.
Many of the poker chips are traded via eBay, and the most special ones can go for thousands of US dollars, regardless of face value. Whole sets of these special poker chips can cost even more than the individual pieces. What really ties the members of all poker chip sets together is the design of the chips. Poker chips in one set are often of identical sizes, of consistent coloration, and having similar inlays. Colors and inlays vary according to denomination, but the idea is that chips from one set are identifiably from the very same set.
The edges and rims may also be embossed with characteristic patterns and even have colored sections made via special multi stage molding techniques. The designs may be simple and straight forward, just simple chips with numbers. They could just as well be whimsical, like having humorous or otherwise interesting prints on the inlays. A set of poker chips will often be packaged in a poker chip case or some such container such as an acrylic poker chip carrier or humidor style wooden poker chip case, in the tradition followed in casinos worldwide. One would suppose that if you are going for the authentic feel, then there’s no point skimping on the little details.
Poker Chip Sets – Elements of Authenticity
Poker chips are essential to playing poker. One can „play“ poker without them, but it will not feel like poker without the chips would it? It is the feel of these poker chips that gives a tactile sense of authenticity. The clink of these poker chips as they hit the table and trade hands adds to the ambiance. The nature of these poker chips ensures that no one can weasel out of the bet that they placed, so it ensures a fair game as far as bets are concerned. Speaking of amounts, the printed or inlaid values may vary depending on where you buy your poker chip sets.
It is even possible to find manufacturers that make poker chips that reflect your country’s currency and useful denominations, though generic chips are also available. With the popularity of televised poker and TV series set in casinos, the mystique of poker chip sets has increased, and many people feel that poker chips are the only way with which to play poker. If you are the kind of person who likes taking souvenirs, then chips from the casinos you have visited make fine reminders of good and bad times alike. Poker chips are definitely the elements of authenticity in poker games.