DIFFERENT STYLES OF POKER CHIPS
Poker Chips come in all different types, styles, weights and materials. Deciding what chip works best for you is a matter of personal preference. If you are a gaming enthusiast, you likely already know a thing or two about poker chips. But hopefully this guide below will have a little something to learn for all of you.
What are common poker chips made of?
Clay Poker Chips
The use of "Clay" when describing poker chips can be very misleading. In reality, you cannot find a poker chip that is made of 100% clay. They have not used full 100% clay since Las Vegas gained popularity in the mid 1900's. Today, most "Clay" poker chips are made of part clay and other parts synthetic blends and composites. They are usually proprietarily developed and stand up to the rigors and handling of today's players and casinos. One of the higher desired "clay" poker chips for the home market is the Paulson poker chip brand. Paulson produces poker chips for a large number or casinos around the world. "Clay" poker chips have an almost gritty feel to them, and make an mistakeable sound we like to call the "clack."
ABS Composite Plastic
The majority of poker chips on the market made for home or casino rentals are made of a cheaper plastic composite material. This style of poker chip is usually made of a compression or injection molding process. Over the last few decades, many manufacturers have developed these chips further by adding metal inserts inside of the molding to give the chips a feel and sound of your normal high quality chips. Most ABS composite poker chips today are manufactured overseas. There are few U.S. based companies that provide these types of poker chips and allow you do do a full color custom design or graphic on the chip. You can even integrate security measure into the chip, which is great for casinos and casino rental companies.
Ceramic Poker Chips
Ceramic poker chips are a great second option to "clay" poker chips. Ceramic poker chips are usually made of composite resins and/or plastics that are produced with heat and pressure much like you would think of other ceramic products being produced. These chips are a cheaper option compared to customized clay chips and they can be printed in full color all the way to the edge and actually on the edge. They usually are produced with the option of a matte or glossy finish. Ceramic poker chips make an unmistakeable "clank" sound when the hit each other. Some casinos elect to use this type of chip instead of the "clay" option.
What poker chip weights can I select?
Casino Grade Poker Chip Weight
There is still somewhat of a misconception out there on poker chip weight. There is no exact standard of a poker chip, and one weight is not superior over another weight. Authentic casino grade poker chips are usually in the range of 8 to 10 grams per chip. The usual ceramic casino grade chip is right around 10 grams. And just because something weighs less, does not mean it costs less of course. For casino grade chips that can be purchased for home play, expect to pay over $1 per poker chip. Lines such as Paulson, usually run from $1 to $1.25 per chip. These casino grade chips should be marketed as "clay" or "ceramic" poker chips. See above for information on "clay" and "ceramic" poker chip descriptions.
11.5 Gram Poker Chips
Somewhere over the last decade, 11.5 gram poker chips have become some type of standard perception of a real casino chip weight. That is simply not true. 11.5 grams just happens to be a common weight of many of the home use selections out on the market. It also seems to be the standard of most tournaments. Most chips that are not casino grade as listed above are produced with a composite plastic, and sometimes have an added metal insert to increase weight and also create a real sound when clanked together. You can buy composite poker chips from any weight from 7 grams all the way up to 14 grams. The ideal weight is of your own personal preference. Don't be fooled into thinking that 11.5 grams is the standard of a real poker chip.
Varying Weights and Colors
The market is now flooded with many composite poker chips, but often you will find the same poker chip selections from many retailers. You can select from poker chips that weigh 7 grams, 8 grams, 10 grams, 12 grams, 14 grams and some in between. Keep in mind, there are also many suppliers that sometimes produce knock offs of the knock offs. Always purchase from a trusted name online. Just because a chip is cheaper, doesn't mean you getting a "good" deal.
Also be aware that poker chip weights can have some variance when dealing with composites. For instance, we once weighed a composite chip that was listed at 8 grams, to only find it weighed about 6.3 grams on a high grade scale. The cheaper the chip, the better likelihood of variance.
That also is something to think about when choosing your color selections. Different batches of poker chips can and will have varying color hues. If you plan on "building" a set over time, many times you may find that the next batch you order may have a darker or lighter hue than your first order. There is no way to exactly match one batch to the other given the production process of plastic molding. Keep that in mind. It may be beneficial to order your complete set at once, to lower the chance that your poker chips are coming from two separate batches.