A Dollar Coin from Mohegan Sun Opening

Ultimate Guide to Casino Chips

The poker chips that you buy for your home games are far from real casino chips. Real casino poker chips are uniquely made for each casino or company. We will be looking at real casino “poker” chips in this Ultimate Guide to Casino Chips.

Remember, chips are real currency IN THE CASINO. Chips tend to make gamblers forget the cash they represent.

Ultimate Guide to Casino Chips

Ultimate Guide to Casino Chips

What Were Casino Chips Made Of?

In the early 1800’s, Poker players would use any small valuable object imaginable. Jagged gold pieces, gold nuggets, gold dust, or coins were typical. However, players also used “chips” primarily made of ivory, bone, wood, paper, and a composition made from clay and shellac.

Several companies between the 1880s and the late 1930s made clay composition poker chips. As forgery became a threat to the gaming industry, casinos used a combination of ABS plastic and clay. A casino’s “chips” would have variations in sizes, colors, designs and textural imprints for poker chip denomination.

For the most part, clay is no longer used. Clay chips would fade with time. Ceramic chips are now used to prevent the inevitable deterioration seen with clay chips.

What Are Casino Chips Made of Today?

Casino chips today are made via compression molding. Earthen materials used today include sand, chalk, and even the kind of clay that is used for cat litter (bentonite – the ingredient that allows the “stuff” to clump).

Although it varies by manufacturer, the engineering process used in the making of real casino poker chips remains a trade secret.

Are All Casino Chips the Same?

For the most part, chips are similar from casino to casino. However, certain things may differ from one casino to the next. For instance, it’s a myth that casino chips weigh exactly the same. Poker chips used by casinos vary in weight starting at 8.5 grams all the way up to 10.6 grams. Usually a dealer can tell a different weight from the house chips, in addition to color and design.

ColorsUltimate Guide to Casino Chips.

Ultimate Guide to Casino Chips

Colors for most table games (Roulette being the exception), include:

  • White or Blue chips are one dollar.
  • Red chips are five dollars and are called nickels.
  • Green chips are twenty-five dollars and are called quarters.
  • Black chips are one hundred dollars.
  • Purple Chips are five hundred dollars and are called Barneys.
  • Orange chips are one thousand dollars and are called pumpkins.

Yellow chips are used in some casinos, such as Borgata, as a $20 chip for games such as Pia Gow Poker.


The trade secret of production is relatively expensive and time-consuming. It includes the process of indenting the chips individually and printing graphics using inlays with plastic films. The indents or edge spots of a casino poker chip are never painted on. A clay removal process is used in which specific areas  are removed and replaced with a different color of clay (or ceramic).

Another means of security is color hue. Even though all casinos might use green $25 chips, the exact shade is distinct and can be hard for counterfeit casino chip makers to match.

Ultimate Guide to Casino Chips

Certain casinos construct their chips with RFID tags embedded in them in order to prevent counterfeit or stolen poker chips from being used. Additionally, RFID tags are used by some casinos to monitor betting size patterns from guests, as a means to profit. For the higher value chips, casinos typically use tracking devices such as RFID tags embedded in the chips themselves.

5 Quick Facts About Casino Chips – According to John Marchel of Casino Times

Because eight (versus 7) is considered a lucky number in Chinese culture, chips denominated with 8, 88, and 888 are common in casinos catering to Chinese clientele.

Several casinos have issued “limited edition” designed chips commemorating various events. While players keep them as souvenirs, it’s also a nice profit for the casino.

Ultimate Guide to Casino Chips
Sinatra Opened Fox Theater in 1993 at Foxwoods. Commemorative Chip one year later.

In Las Vegas, the Wynn and Bellagio casinos have $100,000 denomination chips.

Golden Goose casino in Downtown Las Vegas opened in 1975 and closed in 1980. When one of its $5 chip showed up in the mid-1990s and was valued over $3,000 at auction.

In Las Vegas a dealer’s chip tray in a high limit table will include as much as $1.5 million chips on a weekend, a little less on week days.

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