A Chip Off The Old Block

By Christine
November 8, 2021

Ever wondered why we play cards with those funny little discs? Next time you’re trying to do a few tricks with yours while the cards are being dished out, you can impress your opponents with some poker chip facts.

That’s right. We’re going to tell you some fascinating things about the world of poker chips. Then we promise you’ll never look at those little satisfying circles in the same way again.

What were the earliest poker chips?

In our first of many poker chip facts, let’s head back to the early days of poker back in the 1800s. In those days, poker was a less organised affair than it is today. And the types of “chips” people used really reflects that. If you were saddling up for a 19th century game, you could expect to use anything from gold pieces, nuggets or dust to pieces of bone, ivory, wood or paper.

When did poker chips begin to be manufactured?

As the popularity of the game grew and it started to become a little more standardized, businessmen started to think of ways to make money off it. And one of those ways was to make proper poker chips.

From the 1880s onwards, companies began to manufacture clay chips in a rainbow of colours. However, the most popular colours were always white, red, blue and yellow.

What are poker chips made of?

A lot of people think cheap poker chips are made of plastic, whereas classy poker chips are made of clay. However, clay chips aren’t actually all that durable. So even chips marketed as clay are never 100% composed of that material.

Clay chips are composed of clay, as well as sand and chalk.

How are poker chips made?

Making a poker chip is expensive, time consuming and highly secretive. Trade secrets guard the exact process of each company, but we have an idea of what’s involved. First the clay chip is pressed into its basic shape. Then you painstakingly cut small pieces out where you want color. Then you must cut another piece of colored clay and stick it into the tiny gaps to create a pattern. Sounds like a lot of work? Well it is.

If there are special graphics on the chip, it’s printed on paper, which is then coated in plastic. To adhere it to the chip, it’s put on in a special mold, heated up and compressed. Even if there’s no graphic, the chip still needs to be heated and compressed to make it durable.

Noticing that there was definitely a need for a cheaper type of chip, a new innovation burst on the scene. Although these chips look and feel like clay, they’re in fact plastic resin that replicates clay. So the average punter won’t be able to tell the difference. That’s why these days, they are pretty common in casinos. And they’re also popular for people to buy for use at home too, since they’re so much cheaper and still feel nice to use.

Weights of chips can vary depending on where you play in the world. The minimum weight in a poker room or casino is usually at least 8g and at maximum about 16g. However, in the United States, each chip usually weighs 10g.

Had your fill of poker chip facts? Then maybe it’s time to hit the felt

We all know the easiest way to hit the felt is to go to an online poker room. They’re open 24/7 and you don’t have to worry about dropping your poker chips on the floor there. If you’re on the hunt for a new one after learning all about those poker chip facts, we’ve got a few leads. And a few bonus codes. Just check out the table below and pick the site that takes your fancy.

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