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Basic Types of Poker Chips

Author: Daphne Greene

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Poker chips are small, but the success of a poker game depends on this accessory. Understanding the differences between the basic types of poker chips is important because it will help you decide which type of chip is right for you. The different types of poker chips vary from plastic, composite and clay and thousands of designs are available as well. Many poker players are curious about the basic types of chips and what makes a poker chip better or worse than the rest.

Letís start answering these questions by explaining that plastic chips are the most inexpensive ones. These functional chips are thin and can be had for about $4 for 100 chips. The styles and colors are limited and the durability is questionable but the chips made of 100% plastic are a great option if you want to organize a casual game. Besides, these poker chips are lightweight, as well as replaceable and compact, which makes them great for travel.

There was a time when stacking plastic poker chips was not possible, but now the system has been improved by brands such as Bicycle, allowing the chips to interlock. Again, using plastic poker chips will not impress your home game opponents but using them on any trip is a great idea. Some disadvantages of these types of chips are that counting them from any distance is very difficult, measuring up the stack of your opponents is almost impossible and the price of these poker chips makes cheating a lot easier.

Diamond poker chips are a significant improvement considering the small price increase compared to plastic chips. Diamond chips weigh 8 grams and add a casino feel to any game. The material of these chips is a composite resin and wider varieties of colors are available. The chips cost roughly $8-$10 for 100 chips. The quality of the diamond chips varies between distributors; most of these chips are imported into the United States, mainly from China and Taiwan. Thereís practically no clay in this composite mixture, and even though the injection point of the resin is visible you will not feel it.

The textured surface of most diamond chips makes them easy to handle. Most of the brands of these chips donít have slim and round edges but the matte finish gives a decent look to the chips, which is appreciated when trying to organize inexpensive games. The diamond poker chips are cheap and you can find them easily, which means that not too many serious poker games will use them but smaller home poker games or well monitored games can be played with these chips. The value and durability of the diamond poker chips is great, casual home poker games or dorm room games are the perfect occasions to use these chips.

The most common composite poker chips are the familiar chip designs that have been used in many home poker games across the country and in videos, book covers and marketing photos for tournaments. The composite poker chips weigh 11.5 grams and some people consider them the new plastic chip; however, the differences are more than evident: the look of the composite chips is smooth and glossy, and when these chips are stacked the edge spots make them attractive.

The composite poker chips have a wide variety of chip faces and the ability to personalize the game becomes endless because of all the customization options available. The composite poker chips are a high-quality product that facilitates heat stamping and labeling, and the $12-$15 for 100 chips price is still relatively low. These chips are made of a metal disc that is surrounded by a mixture of clay and resin.

The 11.5 gram weight comes from the metal insert, lending a feeling of quality and authenticity and giving a more distinctive sound to the chips. Unlike the textured diamond poker chips the feel of a composite chip is smooth and thereís a much more discreet injection point for the composite mixture which creates a more complete casino experience. Overall, composite poker chips are the dominant chip for home poker games because of their durability, price, chip faces and customizations available.

Clay poker chips are the most popular ones, since the look, feel and sound of these chips is inimitable. Capturing the casino experience at a home poker game without clay poker chips is impossible; however, these chips havenít been available for home games for very long. These days imported clay poker chips are available as alternatives to the more expensive clay chips from U.S. manufacturers. These imported chips are as durable as the domestic chips but the quality of design and aesthetic is not the same.

The most common type of clay poker chip for home poker games is the 13 gram Casino Clay chip. A metal insert is used in these chips to provide a substantial weight but the disc is enveloped with clay and not resin, which results in a chip with deeper tone, richer texture and softer feel and finish - clay poker chips never lose luster. Chips used in casinos generally weigh only 10 grams and have a label with the card roomís name. Since thereís no metal insert these clay chips are usually considered ďceramic chips.Ē

Most clay chips are not made of pure clay anymore; this material has been replaced by composites that are known for delivering better security, economy and results in most of the largest casinos in the world, while the new materials let players enjoy the feel of clay chips. Donít be obsessed with clay when deciding which set of poker chips is right for you, remember that clay is a common substance that can be found in the ground Ė it is not very valuable, it is not gold.

Some people believe that if a poker chip is not made of clay then this chip is not the best. This idea has to change: in the past 75 years not too many casinos have used true clay poker chips. Nowadays the composite materials provide more durability, strength and handling, facilitating a more vivid screening and labeling. Buying 100% clay poker chips does not necessarily mean that the person will get a superior product.

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