Types of Poker Chips


Intro

If you will be hosting your game for a while, or hosting a game with regular poker players, then you will need to buy a decent set of chips. Although there are hundreds of poker chips on the market, there are different ways to categorize poker chips.

  • Low-end chips vs. high-end chips. This categorization is done by amateur poker players to basically segregate cheaper chips from expensive chips. You are basically deciding between nice plastic chips ("dice/suited") vs. ceramic/clay chips.

  • Ceramic chips vs. clay chips. This categorization is done by serious poker players to differentiate between chips within the higher end.

HomePokerGames.com -- Guide to Poker Chip Types
Amateur Chips
Professional Chips
Low-end chips
Mid-range chips
High-end chips
Cheap Plastic
Faux Clay
Nice Plastic
Ceramic
Composite
Ceramic
True Clay
Super cheap
Low-end
High-end
 
Low-end
High-end
 
 
 
 
Injection-molded
Compression
Injection
Compression
Low-end injection
Mid-range injection
High-end injection
Low-end
High-end
High-end
Hoyle,
Radial
Super Diamond
Dice/Suited
 
Deluxe Dice
 
Claysmith,
Nexgen
Bud Jones,
Matsui
Sidepot,
NevadaJacks
Claysmith
 
Chipco
 
Paulson,
ASM
$0.01
per chip
$0.05
per chip
$0.06
per chip
$0.09
per chip
$0.09-$0.30
per chip
$0.50-$0.60
per chip
$0.32-$0.60
per chip
$0.32-$0.60
per chip
$0.95
per chip
$1.09-$2.10
per chip

Material

  • Cheap Plastic ("supermarket chips")

    These are basically the kind of chips you would get in a kid's poker set and are not chips you would ever use in a real poker game. You would only use these chips if you decided to play a meaningless game of poker with a non-poker crowd. Although these chips are made by many different companies, the bigger companies that make these chips are Radial and Hoyle.

    The obvious advantage to these chips is that they are very inexpensive. The downside is that they are obviously cheap-looking and cheap-feeling. The chips usually have ridges around the edges to make it easier to stack, but these ridges, ironically, sometimes make the chips harder to stack because if the ridges are not interlocked then the stack of chips becomes unstable.

    Summary: These chips are cheap. You should be embarrassed to have these chips. Don't use them. If you do buy these, you need to be careful because they sometimes come in width that are WAY smaller than standard-sized chips - and you won't notice this just by looking at pictures.

  • Cheap Plastic ("Super Diamond")

    These are way better than supermarket chips since they are not flimsy at all. Although they are not even close to being the kind of chips that inspire awe, they are at least a normal weight and size. At 8.5 ounces, they are much heavier than the 2-ounce supermarket chips. At 39mm, they are normal width. And they have no metal slug so they won't make a clanking sound.

    The obvious advantage to these chips is that they are very inexpensive, at 5 cents per chips. Another good thing about them is that they are hot-stamp ready and customizable. The downside is that they are budget-looking. The other downside is that they typically come in single-color, which reinforces their lack of aesthetic appeal - although the aforementioned ability to be hot-stamped makes them customizable.

    Summary: These are way better than supermarket chips. You can get a 500-set for $25, but you can upgrade to much-better ABS plastic chips for $35.

  • Cheap Plastic (ABS Plastic - a.k.a "Suited/Dice")

    These are the most popular poker chips sold today. They are generally known as "Dice chips" because almost all of the chips have a ring of card suits or dice around the edges as a design. These are the less-expensive chips for the home poker market, made from various forms of plastic. Most of these chips contain a metal slug embedded in the middle plastic of the chip in order to give the chip added weight. Some of them are made without the metal inserts, but there isn't too much of a difference. They have a slippery plastic feel and have a slight metallic clink compared to casino quality chips.

    These chips, while being high quality, are deliberately marketed as being "true casino style" chips when they are definitely not.

    SUMMARY: These are not even mid-range chips, but are completely fine for most home games. Non-serious poker players will be very impressed with them. And serious poker players, despite appreciating premium chips, will be fine playing with them. They offer a nice compromise between quality and price. These are usually the chips that poker players buy when they start up their first home game. You can get the popular 300 or 500 sets of these chips for about $25 or $40 respectively.

  • Faux Clay

    Faux clay chips are super cheap chips but are surprisingly good to play with. Faux clay chips look like super diamonds but are made of a different material. They have a more of a gritty texture and are much less slippery than the plastic Super Diamonds. They also stack better and shuffle better.

    The official name for faux clays was "Deluxe Dice" chips. Faux clays attained a cult following even among chip aficionados (who can be snobs) around the 2005-2008 era when they weren't that many options for cheap mid-range chips. Faux clays are somewhat hard to find these days. They have also become less popular because their popularity has always waned since there are now plenty of options for cheap alternates to ABS chips.

    SUMMARY: If you are looking for super-cheap chips in the 5-10 cent range then try these first.

  • Mid-range plastic

    These are plastic chips, but are manufactured with a different process that gives them a softer feel than the hard plastic chips. Compared to ABS plastic chips, these don't feel as slippery. They sound better and stack better because of their softer, duller surface. They have a recessed center that can be customized. Looks-wise, these chips also more closely resemble clay chips with decent-looking molds, similar inlays, and multi-color edgespot designs. The downside is that they still have a plastic feel and look plastic up close. They still have a metal insert and don't sound exactly like clay chips. And you can't customize the edge spot colors.

    These are definitely mid-range chips - and are at the lower end of the range of mid-range chips. They are a nice upgrade from ABS plastic, but still far below casino-grade chips, and even compression clay composites. Consequently, you'll pay a little more for these over ABS plastic chips, but you are paying much less than clay chips. The less expensive chips in this category (such as Nexgens) are a good alternative to ABS chips. But the more expensive chips in this category, such as injection-molded Dunes and Desert Palms are way over-priced at 25-30 cents. For that price, you can upgrade to the next tier of chips and get a nice set of compression-molded "clay composites".

    SUMMARY: If you are looking for something better than 11.5 gram Dice chips but can't really afford anything better, then buying these at 12 cents each is fine. But if you are spending 20 cents or more, then upgrade to better chips. None of the chips in this category will be good enough to impress poker chip snobs.

  • Nice Plastic (injection-molded)

    These chips, despite being plastic, are very high quality. Some of them, such as Bud Jones and Matsui, are casino-grade. These chips are not widely sold, and none of the manufacturers, such as Bud Jones, or Matsui, focus on the home poker chip market. These chips, because they are not clay, have very little deviation in quality. These chips also tend to be a little more slippery than compression-molded clay composite chips, so if texture is important then you should take that into consideration.

    SUMMARY: If you are looking at high-quality mid-range chips, then you should be looking at: (1) these chips, along with (2) the non-casino-grade ceramics, and (3) compression-molded clay composites. Given the fact that the texture is the biggest difference (and that texture is much more of a personal preference than an objective quality, then you should get samples of each and decide on your own.

  • Ceramic (non-casino grade)

    These chips were a lot more popular about five years ago before the compression clay composites came to market cheaply. Most people who have ordered these chips have been happy with them. A few years ago, Nevada Jacks was the most popular company in this category. Sidepot, with their various chip lines, has also become popular over the past few years.

    SUMMARY: If you are looking at high-quality mid-range chips, then you should be looking at: (1) these chips, along with (2) the high-quality plastics, and (3) compression-molded clay composites. Given the fact that the texture is the biggest difference (and that texture is much more of a personal preference than an objective quality, then you should get samples of each and decide on your own.

  • Clay Composite (compression-molded)

    These chips are compression-molded chips. More specifically, they are made with a part injection/ and part compression molding process, which has led to some in the poker community to term them "injectopression". But they have no injection spots, or slug center, or plastic feel. They feel, stack, and sound very close to true clays. And you can buy them at about 30% of the price of true clay chips. The downside (one of the few) is that you cannot customize the colors and edge spots.

    Over the past five years, these chips have become one of the most popular options for the at-home poker player. These chips are at the higher end of the mid-range (non-casino quality chips) chips. Some people have said that you can't tell between these and casino-grade chips if you do a blindfold test.

    SUMMARY: If you want high-quality mid-range (non-casino grade) chips, and you don't want the slippery texture of ceramics or plastic chips, then these are definitely the chips that you want to buy. Get samples, and see which ones are your personal favorites.

  • Ceramic (casino-grade)

    Ceramic chips were introduced as an alternative to clay chips in order to make a more durable chip than clay. Ceramic chips are used in casinos, but are also available to the home poker market. Ceramic chips are sometimes also referred to as "clay" or "clay composite" but they are not clay. They are actually made with a special plastic or resin that is similar to ceramic or porcelain using injection-molding.

    Ceramic poker chips have a very identifiable design. The chips are completely flat, and the image on the face of the chip stretches to the edge of the chip, while leaving only a little room. They are great for people looking to place high-quality graphics and larger graphics on chips.

    Recommendation: If you want a set of casino-grade chips and then you should definitely consider these chips. You should be sure that you don't mind playing with ceramic chips though.

  • Clay (casino-grade)

    Clay poker chips are the most respected type of chips available on the market because of the touch and feel of thee chips. Almost all clay chips made today are not actually 100% clay. They are actually made from a composition of clay mixed with other materials, such as chalk, or sand because pure clay would be too soft and the chips would be too fragile and easily broken. Clay chips are made using compression molding in the manufacturing process, which uses extreme pressure and heat to bind the materials together.

    Most clay poker chips have a familiar design. They have a depressed round middle, called the "inlay". Outside of the inlay are moldings with a particular design. There are sometimes stripes around the edges that have a contrasting color to the main color of the chip. Clay chips sometimes have physical imperfections since they do not employ mass-production techniques.

    The advantages of clay chips are: professional casino quality, good feel and texture (they are not slippery), good sound (when you splash the pot). They are usually available in a variety of designs, colors, and weights, and can be customized more than mass-produced chips. They are definitely considered high-end chips and will make your home poker game more distinguished.

    The main drawback to these chips is cost - they are the most expensive type of poker chips. The other major drawback is that they wear out more easily compared to other types of chips. They are more likely to develop dents and scratches than other chips.

    Recommendation: If you want true clay chips, and don't mind spending the money, then you should consider these.

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