Thread: Your Basic Primer on Chips

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    alces alces moose's Avatar
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    Your Basic Primer on Chips

    In the beginning...there were dice chips.

    They were called clay but really weren't. They are injection molded plastic, slugged with metal to give them weight and for advertising purposes, labelled "official casino weight". Which was pure crap.

    Most cheap sets you see these days are improved 'dice chips' that look better, may have stickers on them for denominations but are still made exactly the same way as the original dice chips.

    Some hints for avoiding these crap chips.

    1. if it comes with an aluminum case, with or without some dice - they're crap.
    2. if it mentions anywhere "official casino weight", run run run away
    3. if you use a magnet and it sticks to the magnet, it's slugged

    What do you think? Do these chips sound amazing or what?

    Product Features

    Casino Style 14 Gram Clay Composite Poker Chips
    High quality inlay with a laser graphic ring
    Play poker with the look and feel of real casino chips
    Available in 10 different denominations
    Great for Poker, Blackjack or any other casino game!
    So at the top in quality are the casino chips...

    Casino chips are made by a very few manufacturers.

    1. Real clay chips - the only current manufacter of real clay chips for casinos is Paulson. Their classic company logo is referred to as the 'Top Hat and Cane'. All recent chips have this logo somewhere on the chip - either in the inlay (not a sticker) if it is a custom mold chip, or molded permanently in the chip.

    Like this:



    Obviously obtaining a real casino set made by Paulson is the top top of sets.

    Like mine:





    All other manufacturers of real clay chips for casinos have either been bought out by Paulson or have shut down. Manufacturing real clay chips is a closely held secret that is very expensive and labour intensive.

    A real clay chip is the ONLY 'clay' chip that will actually wear down with use. Heavily used casino chips will actually become rounded over time. It doesn't take too long. These chips are probably about 4-5 years old in casino life. Now in a home setting, mint chips will last you a lifetime. My chip sets have hundreds of hours of play on them and you would have a hard time telling them from a pure 'mint' chip. In a casino setting however obviously the chips are in play 24/7. Newer casino chips are sometimes referred to as 'can still easily stand on edge' to indicate how much wear they have. Looking at the chips below, a few could still stand on edge but most are worn enough, that it would be not 'easy'.



    2. Ceramic chips. The main casino supplier was chipco, which has been bought out by PGI - Palm Gaming International.

    Here are some chipco made ceramic casino chips:



    So like real clay chips, ceramics will eventually wear down and the face will start to disappear, though it will take much longer than a clay chip. Plastic chips will never wear out, which is why casinos are starting to move to these crap chips.

    A worn ceramic with probably 6-8 years of play on it.




    3. High grade plastic chips. RTP, Icon, and Bud Jones. Clay chips are so expensive, base costs in quantity are getting close to about $1/chip. Since casinos don't want to lose money when people take chips from the casino, more and more casinos are moving to these cheaper chips, though Bud Jones are much higher end than Icon and RTP.

    Fallsview (RTP)



    If you don't like how these chips feel, it's because they are plastic crap which suck and are marginally better than dice chips only because they don't have metal slugs in them to make them "official casino weight". Another reason why I hate Fallsview - their chips are cheap crap.

    Real casino weight is actually about 8-10 grams. So anything advertised heavier than that, must contain a metal slug. Trust me, you don't really want heavy chips. They suck to play with and sound terrible when you throw them in a pot. Your hand will actually get tired trying to shuffle heavy chips.

    What you want is chips that stack well. Well manfactured quality chips like Paulsons stack well. They don't need weight to achieve that.

    Bud Jones chips (I hate these because I think they are slippery as hell)



    Bud Jones also makes these metal inlay chips, which some people think are cool. But mostly I think they are heavy, slippery crap.



    At the bottom end of the scale, are the Icon chips. The really crap casinos use these. Unfortunately due to the economics of making clay chips, once the cost of making a clay chip starts to move significantly over $1, you will see plastics and ceramics become more and more prevalent. Just like the dime and .25 cent chip, soon the $1 clay chip will become extinct.




    That pretty much covers it for casino chips. Next up: home chips.
    Last edited by moose; Oct 17,2014 at 01:53 PM.
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  2. #2
    alces alces moose's Avatar
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    Home Chips

    As mentioned if you want the top, then find a good quality casino set from a closed casino.

    Good luck getting a Vegas set, by law all Vegas chips are supposed to be destroyed when taken out of service.

    One exception: Dunes chips. When the casino was blown up all the chips were left inside and were supposed to be destroyed by the explosion. True story: the next day the bulldozer operator starting finding thousands of chips that were in the vault and survived the explosion. He called his friend Mike Spinetti - one of the very early dealers in used chips and they scooped them up. Spinetti's is a great store to visit when you go to Vegas. He has several thousand old casino chips for sale and on display in his store. Spinetti's also sells a lot of chips through ebay, everything from 40 year old rare casino chips, to injection molded crap, so be aware.

    A good sized Dunes set will run you at least $10k - if you can find someone willing to sell. Min. cost of $500/rack and up.

    I have been lucky enough to play with real Dunes. There is probably $250 worth of chips just in my starting stack there alone. After the tourney 2 $1000 chips went missing and the owner practically tore the house apart looking for them. He was super pissed as the $1000s are completely irreplaceable. He found out the next day his mother in law was looking at them as he was packing up and ended up taking out the two $1000s and didn't put them back. Another reason to hate your mother-in-law?



    Fret not, as you can see in my above pictures, there a lots of closed casino sets from other states that can be had for a reasonable cost, sometimes even for less than $1/chip, depending on condition and desirability.

    Ok, chips made specifically for home use.

    1. Paulson - they do make some sets for home use, though they are very careful not to duplicate any colours and spot patterns that are used in a casino for obvious reasons. So the choices, colours and spot patterns that are available are very limited.

    Update: As of Oct 29, 2014, Paulson has discontinued all home sets!

    Like these:



    Very rarely, if ordered in quantity you can get some custom made chips, though again, the choices are very limited.

    Like these, the quarters were custom made by Paulson to go with my casino set:



    Anyways home use Paulsons are expensive and limited in choice, mostly because Paulson doesn't really care to serve the home market as they don't want to interfere with their casino contracts since they probably supply about 85-90% of all casino chips. Home Paulsons are min $1.50/ea and mostly higher.

    2. CPC - Classicpokerchips, originally ASM - Atlantic Standard and Molding

    These are your only supplier of custom made real clay chips. One of the oldest manufacturers of chips in North America. Many years ago they had most of the casino chip market but they pissed off the Nevada Gaming Commission because they also heavily served the home market and ended up being banned from selling casino chips in Nevada, which effectively ended their casino supply end and Paulson took over. Many of the old school casino chips from Reno and Vegas from the 50s and 60s that you see on ebay were made by ASM.

    So if you want one of a kind, pure custom real clay chips, this is your only source. It's expensive - min $1.40/chip and up over $3 per, depending on the spot choices.

    But you can get chips that look and feel very similar to casino grade Paulsons. Note that as with Paulsons, the weight comes from metal flakes added to the clay, not from crappy metal slugs. Depending on the colours used (some dyes are metal based, so weigh more) real clay chips are 8-10g.



    That's not dirt on the chip, it's the metal flakes. Mostly brass, some stainless steel. Used to use a lot of lead but for some reason someone decided lead was harmful, as if you would handle a live casino chip and then lick your fingers. Older Paulsons made with lead have this wonderful buttery soft feel to them once they are worn in.



    3. Ceramic. You can get premade sets, like my Desert Sands, or can be completely custom, like my Zombie chips. Cost varies, there are a few suppliers like Nevada Jacks and PGI. Ceramics will run you .40 to 1.20 per chip depending on the source, if you go custom or stock etc.





    They stack decently but are not quite as flat as clay chips, nor are the edges sharp like mint clay chips, because ceramics are printed on both faces, and the edge. They are pretty tough but may chip. Since the colours are printed on a white ceramic base, if they chip or wear, you will see the white underneath, whereas a clay chip is obviously a solid colour all the way through so chips and wear is not as obvious.

    Some people don't like ceramics, since they feel different than clay chips and make more of a clinking sound in pots versus clay chips and don't stack as nice. But I like them. The Desert Sands were my first higher end chips. You obviously have full control over colours and designs, even the edges, with ceramics.

    You can have a lot of fun with custom printed ceramics.



    Here are some links to some nice stock ceramics:

    Venerati
    Royal Yak
    Desert Sands
    Nevada Jacks Saloon series

    As has already been noted, there are several Chiptalk.net sponsors that offer both stock ceramic chips and custom-printing. Any of these are good choices, and custom ceramics can usually be obtained for not much more than stock chips would cost (sometimes less, during one of the common CT-only sales). Here are a few CT sponsors that offer quality ceramic chips :

    ABC Gifts & Awards (ABC) - also bought Nevada Jacks
    Apachepokerchips.com
    Game On Chip Company (GOCC)
    Old West Poker Supplies (OWPS) Update: now closed
    Palm Gaming International (PGI) - also bought Chipco assets Update: now closed

    Here is a link to the forums on ChipTalk where sponsors announce new products an offer great deals, including those companies listed above:

    ChipTalk.net - Market Place

    EDIT: Update chiptalk.net is mostly shut down nowadays. The site for all things poker chips to go to is pokerchipforum.com

    3. Compression Molded Plastic chips

    So in the beginning for making plastic chips, you could injection mold them, which yielded your basic dice chip, and then improved versions of the dice chip. Note: to injection mold a chip - it is PLASTIC, not the misleading abomination "official casino weight clay". Then some super smart Chinese guy figured out how to compression mold a plastic chip, that looked and felt very similar to a real clay chip (which is also compression molded). These compression molded chips do not have a metal slug in them so they are very close in weight to 8-9g real casino chips. They have a much less plasticy feel than injection molded chips and have a fair amount of 'grip' which makes them stack nicely.

    Unfortunately before compression molded plastic chips were invented 4-5 years ago, some fairly nice looking but still injection molded chips came on the market. Many of these, like the Dunes Commemorative chips, don't have slugs for weight either. Because of the Chinese 'source', when compression molded chips were invented, the Chinese manufacturers started duplicating some of the nicer injection molded chips, so now you can find injection molded and compression molded chips that look exactly the same. However compression molded chips are FAR superior.

    Just as an aside, for most of the local players, Buzzzardd's tournament set uses injection molded Dunes commemorative chips, but his cash set has compression molded $25s. Next time you play in his cash game, compare the $25s to his other chips and you will see the difference. The injection molded chips are slippery as hell and hard to keep in stacks.

    Injection molded Dunes. Note how uniform and straight the spots are when viewed from the edge.



    Since compression molded chips came available, and due to their low cost and simularity to real clay chips, I would always recommend these to anyone who want good quality chips at a low price. I would avoid all injection molded plastic chips, especially any 'official casino weight' chips, as these are heavy slugged crap. I will say it again: you DON'T want a heavy chip.

    Since many chips come in identical injection and compression molded versions, the only reliable source of compression molded chips that I am aware of is through chiptalk.net and their sponsors, PGI, and Apache. Even then I would always ask if the chips are compression molded because both PGI and Apache also sell injection molded versions, which you want to avoid. If you go to anyone else, ask, and if they sound like they don't know what you are talking about, they are probably injection molded. Both PGI and Apache have in the past run massive group buys to import these compression molded chips by the container load from China. Anyone else selling similar chips more than likely are just reselling chips from PGI and Apache. I could be wrong, but better safe than sorry.

    Some of my compression molded chips. Similar looking to clay chips, but still don't have the razor sharp edges of mint clay, and more uniform looking. The spots visible on the edge are 'squished' from the compression just like real clay chips, and somewhat random though still more uniform than clay. Injection molded chips are identifiable because all the spots should be exactly the same, without the 'squish' effect. Note: some manufacturers know this and actually make injection molded chips with a fake 'squish' effect but if you compare chip to chip you will see that every spot is still exactly the same.

    Compression molded:



    Can you believe the balls of these guys, with their fake 'compression molded edge spots'?

    Injection molded crap:



    Blank compression molded:



    With my custom made stickers applied:



    My compression molded Pharoah's set:



    So you can either go with a premade set or order blanks and have stickers made. Since these are run in the thousands at a time, you are limited to the selection of colours and spots available.

    These will run you .40-.65 per chip.

    A few to consider would be the Championship Poker Series, Milano, Pharaoh's Club, Desert Palms, and Dunes commemorative chips -- these are available from PGI, ApachePokerChips or TheChipRoom, and they are all Chiptalk sponsors. A few links:

    Championship Poker Series
    Milano
    Pharaoh's Club & Casino
    Desert Palms
    Commemorative Dunes Hotel & Country Club

    You can also get custom-labeled china clay chips for about the same price as custom ceramics -- Palm Gaming (PGI) is probably your best source if you go that route.

    Custom Poker Chips :: Custom Clay Poker Chips :: PGI Compression Clays - Palm Gaming International - Custom Clays | Custom Ceramics | Custom Poker Tables | Laser Engraving


    If you want chips right now (Oct 2014) these are the ones to get. It a preorder price, since they are still on the slow boat from China.

    Championship Poker Chips, Clay Poker Chips, Poker Chips For Sale



    As you can tell, these are plastic, compression molded knockoffs of the current Paulson made, WSOP chips. They even designed a 'castle and arrow' pressed into the chip to make them similar to the 'top hat and cane'. There is the tourney set above and a completely separate cash set, which may be important for security reasons to you.

    Anything else is crap, pure crap. Don't buy. Cheaper is not better. Trust me.
    Last edited by moose; Mar 07,2019 at 03:16 AM.
    To Bet or not to Be(t). That is the question. - Billy (Big Slick) Shakespeare
    RC III, XI, XIV - Champions!

  3. #3
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    Post of the year!
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    Excelling at mediocrity Milo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moose
    Cheaper is not better. Trust me.
    If you glean NOTHING else from these posts, Kristy, know that THIS is absolutely 100% GOSPEL TRUTH. Even an Atheist would agree with me on that.

    Upgraded to ceramics when I ditched my Dice chips because they were cheaper than the casino chips that come up for sale on Chiptalk. Then I bought a rack of President's Casino chips just to have some. I bought "mint" chips as a HU set, and was hooked. The colours, the feel, the edges . . . oh those sharp, crisp edges.

    I now have 6 different sets, and I am STILL looking at going custom. If I had the money I would have purchased the ASM chips that AJ purchased about a year or so before he died. They are beautiful chips and the set works as well for me as it did for him. **sigh**


    BUY QUALITY.
    Man does, woman is.

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    $$$ GTA Poker's Avatar
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    I just rent the chips and then give them back to the casino
    $$$

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    Excelling at mediocrity Milo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTA Poker View Post
    I just rent the chips and then give them back to the casino
    And, one hopes that you are "giving back" more chips than you rented each and every time.
    Man does, woman is.

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    Renting chips

    Rather than buying $1 chips, just get a couple of racks of Paulson whites at the casino.
    Looking for poker buddies. PM me.

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    Super Duper Player kwsteve's Avatar
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    Great post, Moose. What is your opinion on BCC chips?

    Will casinos allow you to just walk out with racks of chips, or do you have to use stealth?
    Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/kwsteve

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    $$$ GTA Poker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Milo View Post
    And, one hopes that you are "giving back" more chips than you rented each and every time.
    Historically, but not recently
    $$$

  10. #10
    alces alces moose's Avatar
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    BCC was bought out by Paulson and no longer exists.

    BCC in the past made some incredible sets and also some terrible sets with extremely poor customer service to boot. If you find a good set you like for a good price I would snap them up because BCC chips will never be made again.

    I have removed over 1000 chips from casinos over the years. Mostly they don't care because they make a profit on every chip that walks out the door. However fractionals you may have trouble taking since they are losing money if they disappear. Also the Nevada Gaming Commission is cracking down on commemorative chips that are never meant to hit the felt - so the $8 Chinese New Year chips are mostly gone.

    My last trip to Vegas I actually went to the Ballys cage and specifically asked for mint chips and they sold me chips that were so dead mint, they actually gave them to me still in the white cardboard box that they shipped in direct from Paulson.











    Last edited by moose; Oct 11,2014 at 01:26 PM.
    To Bet or not to Be(t). That is the question. - Billy (Big Slick) Shakespeare
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    Full PFC Member 800OVER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Milo View Post
    Even an Atheist would agree with me on that.



    BUY QUALITY.
    Confirmed
    We can all use some extra redundancy.

  12. #12
    Average sized member The_Awesome's Avatar
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    Moose... you have too many chips. But thanks for the awesome post
    Mike Sexton is the reason I won't buy a 3D t.v.

  13. #13
    Sorry sir, I have 6 Aces! Card Dead's Avatar
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    Great post - excellent read.

    Thanks for sharing your obvious wealth of knowledge about poker chips. Very helpful to those of us in the market for chippies!
    I'm trying to be the person my dog thinks I am.
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  14. #14
    Excelling at mediocrity Milo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Awesome View Post
    Moose... you have too many chips. But thanks for the awesome post
    Go home, Awesome . . . you're drunk.
    Man does, woman is.

  15. #15
    Average sized member The_Awesome's Avatar
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    Boy oh boy Moose is Mrs Awesome ever pissed with you. I started out with a $200 budget to get what I needed in chips for both a cash game and tournaments. I ended up with a 650 chip tournament set of Trademark Paulson's Tip Hat and Canes as well as a 740 cash chip set of Venerati. Also grabbed 20 trays and a poker genie lol.
    Mike Sexton is the reason I won't buy a 3D t.v.

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