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If poker night is becoming a regular event for you and your crew, its 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 dont even need to be a high-roller to snag yourself a good set.
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. Its always better to round up and have more than you think youll 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 theres no mistaking the amount, unmarked allows you to set it at whatever you want and change it
Casino-quality is something youll notice gets thrown around a lot, but doesnt directly mean the exact type of chip youll see on a Vegas table (and thats not necessarily a bad thing). Its 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 arent any chipped off parts of the chips, these tend to stack up easier.
China clay means theres 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 youre 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. Theyre 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. Theres no metal slug, and theyre usually made with heavy metals, such as brass powder, to add to the heftiness. There isnt a huge selection of these available, and theyll 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.
Weve selected our four favorite complete chip sets here to get your next poker night started off right (drinks and snacks not included).
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 youre finished.
All the chips have a nice size and weight, similar to a clay chip that youd 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.
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.
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, theres still plenty to make a game happen anywhere.
These chips are made of a hard plastic, but arent 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: Wont look as polished as a professional 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 chips 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 youll find in a big box store.
CONS: Although functional and practical, the chip design isnt very stylish or eye-catching.
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