The History of Poker Chips

We all have in mind the image of a game of poker in the old west with wide-brimmed hats and wooden tables, and that is where, at the end of the nineteenth century, the first games in New Orleans began, together to the Mississippi River.


At that time to bet, coins or gold nuggets were used, and in a short time they made round discs of different materials of the time, the most common wood or ivory. But because of the ease of replacing these simple discs that anyone could make and cause the house to lose money by changing them, the first poker chips emerged.


These first chips were made with a mixture of clay with shellac until the years 1930-1940. However, they were quite fragile, so little by little they began to make chips with modern materials until they reached the current plastic compounds that imitate their texture and weight.


Since 1950 they stopped making chips 100% clay. The current clay tiles are made with a compound in which a percentage of the tile is a material of the earth (sand, chalk or clay), and whose manufacturing process is an industrial secret that varies slightly according to the maker. This process is also quite expensive and takes a long time, hence the high price of current clay tokens.


The most prestigious brand of clay chips is Paulson, which in Europe is not seen too much but they are used in the majority of US casinos and whose weight varies from 8 to 10.5 gr. In some places you will find that they call “Paulson” chips that imitate them: you will be acquiring a chip of plastic compounds that has nothing to do with materials or manufacturing. Make sure to be Paulson what you are acquiring. Its price is over € 1 each card, if not, it is not that you are finding an offer, it is not Paulson.


The models that are currently marketed are:

  • National Poker Series.
  • Top Hat & Cane.
  • Private Card room.
  • James Bond -Casino de Isthmus.


In the 1980s, ceramic tiles were introduced as an alternative to clay tiles. However, these tiles are not as well, but ceramic simile a composition of more resistant materials, resins and special plastics that imitate perfectly the touch and sound of ceramics. These chips have a cost of approximately half of good clay, with which it is possible to acquire a chip also of high quality at half price. They are used in most European tournaments and even in some US tournaments (although to a much lesser extent than the Paulson’s).


Within the ceramic tiles there are several models, some of them replica of a casino in Las Vegas, as is the case of the Valentino that is the line of sale to the public of the chips of the poker room of the Venetian.


There is a type of ceramic tile called “hybrid ” that has a sheet embedded and gives it a similar appearance to the clay, since the rest of ceramic tiles are completely smooth, and never carry a sticker (it is a crime to hit something on top and destroy its touch and sound).


In ceramic tiles there are also qualities and should range between 0.50 and 0.70 €. If they are cheaper, again what you are acquiring is not a ceramic tile. Also circulate in the market fakes such as the “ETP” that copy the design of the chips used in the circuit of EPT tournaments (European Poker Tour) but they invest the initials because they lack a license. Even for customizations, a good manufacturer will never make a design that mimics that of EPT chips since it is not allowed.


The ceramic tile is also the best quality that you can customize for small quantities, with a perfect finish and a design that will be yours.


There are cheaper chips in the market made of different plastic materials and much lower quality, we will tell you what types there are and how to differentiate them so that you know which card you are buying and if you are using your money well, because in poker as in everything , do not give hard to pesetas. In poker the cheap is always for low quality.


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