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Holiday Guide: How to pick the right poker chips

30 November 2006

An essential gift for your home-game honey or an aspiring poker professional is a nice casino-style chip set for his or her weekly game. There are literally hundreds of options, ranging from custom clay composite chips to the cheap plastic variety.



If you have the money, go for the best. The closer you come to way casino chips sound and feel, the more your home game experience is enhanced. But if money is a concern, a nice set of casino-replica chips can still be purchased at a reasonable price.



My recommendation - avoid the extremely cheap versions if your gift target is any type of player. While plastic chips are better than no chips, cheap flimsy versions take down the quality of a home game and may make the players at your table feel like the game is unimportant. For the $20 to $30 extra dollars in cost, you're get more than triple the value.



For more on cheap-chip-avoidance, visit http://www.buypokerchips.com/v/poker-chips-cheap.htm.



Chip Guide



Most serious poker players are looking for chips that resemble casino tokens. Casinos use specific guidelines when they purchase chips, mostly to prevent people from copying their chips and bringing their own to the table. Therefore, it's impossible to buy actual casino chips. BUT – you can come close.



Here are the guidelines most casinos follow:



What the chips are made of:



While most chips are described as being made of clay, they're actually made of a mixed substance called clay composite. Pure clay chips don't last very long and rarely used. Metal and acrylic additives are the most common, adding weight and durability to your chips. Just make sure your chips are mostly clay and you'll have the right mix.



Weight and size:



All casino chips weigh between eight and 12 grams, but the most common weight is 11.5 grams. I recommend 11.5 grams because heavier chips feel better at the table. Standard chip diameter is 39 millimeters.



Color:



Casinos have several color options to clearly identify chip denominations. Your set shouldn't be any different. Four to five colors is average. Essential colors include white, red, green and black. Other colors can be customized.



Amount:



More is always better. You can always have extra chips in a game, but if you don't have enough, there's a problem.



Here is chips guideline for regular home games:



3-4 Player: 300 chips

4-6 Players: 400-500 chips

6-8 Players: 500-700 chips

8-10 Players: 1000+ chips

Tournaments: Varies depending on starting stacks and number of entrants



My Picks:



Custom Chip Sets



The benefit of a custom set is the ability to choose colors and add an image or name to the chip. This is great for home game players because they can proudly display their personalized chips to their friends.



High-End:



Nevada Jacks: www.customizedpokerchips.com



Price: $395 for 500 chips or $.79 per chip (minimum 300)

Size: 39 millimeters

Weight: 11.5 grams

Make-up: High quality clay composite



Advantage:


Customize chip appearance to include a person's name or favorite poker slogan and a hand-picked image.



Low-End:



Amazon: www.amazon.com



Price: $59.95 for 300

Size: 39 millimeters

Weight: 11.5 grams

Make-up: Clay composite



Advantage:


For a relatively low price, get chips with three custom initials printed on the face.



Non-custom chips sets



If you're looking for just a regular set, your goal should be high-quality chips at an affordable prize. With hundreds of options at your disposal, you can get more chips for less by being a smart shopper.



High-end:



www.buypokerchips.com



"Modern Clay" Style Poker Chips

Price: $499

Amount: 500 chips

Weight: 11.5 grams

Size: 39 millimeters

Make-up: Clay composite



Advantage:

If you have the money, these chips are solid casino replicas. You choose how many of each denomination you want.



Low-end:



www.amazon.com



Casino Quality Double Suited Chip Set

Amount: 500 chips

Price: $54.95

Weight: 11.5 grams

Size: 39 millimeters

Make-up: Unknown



Advantage:

A set at an affordable price. Amazon ships quickly so the chip case will arrive quickly.



Target



Ultimate Dealer Kit

Amount: 500 chips

Price: $49.99

Weight: 11.5 grams

Size: 39 millimeters

Make-up: Unknown



Advantage:

Available at Target stores nationwide, this is a functional set at a very low price. The amount of chips is perfect for your average home game.


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Best of Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane

Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.
Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.