This post is all about casino chips. Someone once said, “The guy who invented poker was bright, but the guy who invented the poker chip was a genius.” Ever wonder about that little round wonder, the casino chip? …..I have. If you think about it, casino chips are the universal symbol of money. Gambling made it possible. Here are a few questions that led to some interesting facts about the evolution of casino chip.
1) Why were chips ever used in casinos?
When gambling became widespread in the 18th century, one difficulty was that people who gambled had different types of coins or valuables for wagering. To solve this problem some gambling venues offered gamblers substitutes like pieces of ivory, bones or clay. In the USA, the humble origins of the modern day familiar casino chips were born out of necessity. The game of poker first developed in the mid 1800’s along the Mississippi and other saloons and bars throughout the West.
2) Were fake or forged casino chips found in the early days?
Yes. Gamblers began to forge substitutes. As a result, gambling establishments began to brand their own chips. The only surviving relic of casino plates is the large plate (check) with a printed value. The problem continued, so casinos responded in the same old way – each casino created specially designed, hard-to-replicate chips that were unique to their venue. Chips became standardized in size, but the materials used for them, such as clay or expensive ivory, still varied widely.
3) What are today’s chips made of?
Manufacturers now use high-pressure techniques combined with a mix of composite to produce chips. To hinder forgery the casinos even include a microchip in their chips
4) Can I use one Casino’s chips in another casino?
Hardly ever, so it’s always best to cash out before you leave. In Las Vegas, it’s common to see casino chips with the name of two different casinos printed on them – one on either side is the standard. Check with the pit boss or poker chip cashier first to make sure they are usable.
5) What do the different colors mean?
In most casinos, the color of the chip represents the denomination of the chip:
- white – $1
- red – $5
- yellow – $20 (sometimes used at tables for commission wins tables such as Pai Gow Poker)
- green – $25
- black – $100
after $100, colors can vary, but here are the most usual
- purple – $500
- orange – $1000
6) Do casino chips ever change or are taken out of distribution?
Casino chips are occasionally cancelled (taken out of circulation) by casinos. Reasons this is done are (1) the casino goes out of business (2) the casino changes its name (3) the casino changes its chip design. Advanced notice is required by law when casinos change their chip design to allow people a chance to cash in chips. Genuine casino chips are usually cancelled in one of three ways:
- a drill hole
- notching or clipping the edges off
7) Why do casinos use chips?
The primary reason casinos prefer chips over cash is because chips add a little mental separation between the gambler and his valuable money. It’s a little easier for you, the gambler, to place a big bet because it’s just chips….basic psychology. The other two reasons are:
- It is easier for surveillance to tell what is going on with chips. On camera from a distance a $20 bill and a $5 bill look very similar, but a red chip and a green chip look nothing alike. In a game like roulette where many many people are betting on a single layout, the different colors allow the dealer, surveillance and security to know who each bet belongs to.
- Since chips equal cash for many people, sometimes people will take home the casino chips and just never cash them in. Less money paid out by the casino = more money for the casino.
Casino Chips Collecting
Casino chip collecting became increasingly popular during the 1980s, as evidenced by the sale of chips through several casino and collecting newsletters. Bill Borland’s Worldwide Casino Exchange (early 1980s) had a casino story each issue and dozens of old chips for sale. There are many different ways to collect casino chips. Because of the amount of chips available and the increasing price of some, collectors have begun to specialize. A collector might choose to collect every chip from a certain casino or one from every Las Vegas casino.
As for me, I like to collect pens – yes, casino pens.
That’s all for now.