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If poker night is becoming a regular event for you and your crew, it’s probably time to invest in a good set of chips, and upgrade from using pennies, paperclips and nutshells to represent your winnings.
Poker chips are easily attainable, easy to use, and you don’t even need to be a high-roller to snag yourself a good set.
What to Look for When Shopping for Poker Chips
How many do I need? 36-50 chips should be enough for a small home game. For an amateur tournament, a 300-500 chip set will cover 6-10 players no problem. It’s always better to round up and have more than you think you’ll need, just in case.
Denominations: Some sets have marked dollar amounts, while others have numbers with no currency attached. It really all depends on the skill level of your players and what you plan to be playing for. While marked chips mean there’s no mistaking the amount, unmarked allows you to set it at whatever you want and change it anytime. But this can be confusing for newcomers too.
Commonly Used Terms to Know:
“Casino-quality” is something you’ll notice gets thrown around a lot, but doesn’t directly mean the exact type of chip you’ll see on a Vegas table (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing). It’s more of a general catch-all term for higher quality, and something that will mimic the weight and feel of a real chip used by the biggest casinos.
“Flashing” refers to the etching around the edges, which gives the chip some traction, and is honestly fun to grind together while thinking out your next move. Most chips will have smooth edges though, and provided there aren’t any chipped off parts of the chips, these tend to stack up easier.
“China clay” means there’s no metal slug which makes a chip a little lighter, and feels like a more authentic casino piece.
“Ceramic” is often just a hard plastic, and tends to have printed graphics directly on it, as opposed to stamped or stickered. The finish on some ceramics is smooth, but be aware that they can sometimes be too smooth, leading to unwanted sliding and spinning when you’re just looking to keep your winnings stacked and organized.
“Plastic” refers here to two varieties: the metal slug-weighted chips, and the 100% plastic very light chips. If you need a bunch of chips for little money, the latter may be the way to go. They’re overall pretty durable, but tend to lose their flatness over time, leading to unstable rocking when stacked. When this happens, a stack of chips can slip out of your hand and spill everywhere. They also lack the weight and durability of some of the heavier makes, and often have a PVC-type odor to them.
Premium chips are “compression-molded” – the look and feel is almost identical to casino-quality chips, and they have a noticeable weight to them. There’s no metal slug, and they’re usually made with heavy metals, such as brass powder, to add to the heftiness. There isn’t a huge selection of these available, and they’ll cost you a little more. But they hold up well, and the graphics are generally inlaid into the chip as opposed to stickers that can peel off over time.
The best poker chip sets come with everything you need to get started, including dealer buttons and decks of cards. Some sets even come with plaques to represent excessively large amounts of winnings. There are also custom-made chips with your own designs available, or used chips from real casinos. Sampler packs are available from some companies, just to get a feel for the chips and see if you want to go all-in on the whole set.
We’ve selected our four favorite complete chip sets here to get your next poker night started off right (drinks and snacks not included).
1. Trademark Poker Chip Set
This seven-colored set features 500 chips, and comes in a cool, felt-lined, silver aluminum carrying case.
Everything you need to host a poker night is here. Other than the chips, this include two sets of playing cards, “Big Blind”, “Small Blind” and “Dealer” buttons, and a set of keys to lock up the box when you’re finished.
All the chips have a nice size and weight, similar to a clay chip that you’d find in a casino, but made of a plastic material. The design is pretty basic and the chips are unmarked, so you can set their value at anything you want, or even put your own custom-made stickers on them.
PROS: A solid set of durable chips, perfect for home games or a poker player learning the ropes. Also works great with other games too like Blackjack.
CONS: The case is surprisingly heavy.
2. Fat Cat Clay Poker Chip Set
Fat Cat started out of a Milwaukee pub as a dart company, and quickly expanded to making various other game pieces that look nice and play well. This chip set is no different. The Fat Cat set includes 500 11.5-gram Claytec striped dice poker chips, in five different colors – all unmarked so you can set your own denominations every time.
The chips themselves are thin but have a good weight to them, and give that satisfying “clacking” noise when put together. The set also includes two decks of playing cards, as well as “big blind,” “little blind,” and “dealer” buttons. It all comes neatly packed in a silver aluminum carrying case, and ready to play right out of the box.
PROS: Thickness, diameter and weight is pretty comparable to real casino chips.
CONS: The slots for the chips inside the case could get bent out of shape, so store your chips with caution.
3. KOVOT 300 Chip Dice Style Poker Set
At 9.5 pounds, this is a slightly smaller set than the top two. But with a total of 300 chips across five different colors, there’s still plenty to make a game happen anywhere.
These chips are made of a hard plastic, but aren’t far off from a real casino feel, and even have a similar weightiness to them as a clay chip.
This set comes with a case, keys, cards, and dice too. This is an ideal set for the casual player, or for a beginner looking to learn the game(s).
PROS: The dice are well-made, large and crafted with a red translucent plastic and easily readable numerical pips.
CONS: Won’t look as polished as a professional set.
4. DA VINCI Professional Casino Del Sol Poker Chips Set
These chips are made of a clay composite with a metal core, and are actually a little heavier than even casino chips. Each one has a marked denomination on a vinyl sticker in the middle, which is inserted slightly lower than the chip’s surface, allowing them to be stacked without damaging the print.
The numbers are big and visible too – even from all the way across the table.
PROS: While not professional-level, these are considered mid-range and are a clear step above the average chip you’ll find in a big box store.
CONS: Although functional and practical, the chip design isn’t very stylish or eye-catching.