An age-old saying goes like this: “The guy who invented gambling was brilliant, but the guy who invented chips was a genius.”
The reason behind this saying is that chips remove from gambling the real world of money. Gamblers tend to have short memories. Once they purchase chips, they quickly forget their real-world value, making losses on the green felt seem relatively painless — at least until they go to cash out.
Home poker has largely embraced this concept. Games that used to be played with silver change and paper money are now often played with the best poker chips. If you’re hosting a home game, you may well be considering the purchase of a cool poker chip set.
The best poker chip sets contain:
A set of 500 poker chips
Poker chips in three or four colors for different denominations
A deal button
A Big Blind button
A Small Blind button
Two decks of French cards
A poker chip set for the home like this should be enough for your typical game of one to two tables. Finding the best poker chips for home games depends on your tastes and budget.
Here’s a summary of what’s out there to help you find the perfect chips for your game. To get a good sense of your options, I suggest you check out the online stores specializing in poker supplies.
Cheap Poker Chips: Plastic Chips
At the very lowest end of the chip market are the very lightweight, 2-gram or so, thin plastic poker chips that many of us played with as kids or in high school and college. They are typically sold in packs of 100, often in red, white, and blue.
These chips are available in nearly every large pharmacy and grocery store, usually in the same area where they sell packs of playing cards. They’ll cost you $2.50 to $3.95 or so. If you look around, you might find them in the dollar stores, but they will be low-quality.
You can buy plastic poker chips online, too. In these cases, these are your best options:
300 Poker Chips in 10 Colors
100 Poker Chips by RINCO (Red and Blue)
600 Poker Chips by U.S. Toy Co. (Red, White, Blue)
These cheap plastic poker chips are acceptable in a pinch or with young or inexperienced players who have never been to a public poker room or casino. But they feel and sound so much cheaper than you find in a casino or poker room that they may be inadequate for your more serious players.
Imitation Clay Poker Chips
One step up, and what I first purchased in the early ’90s when I started playing in casinos around the United States, are solidly colored, imitation clay poker chips.
These poker chips for home games are made of heavy plastic weighing 8 grams a chip or so. Excellent imitation clay poker chips for home games are often marketed as “super diamond chips.” They can be purchased online for between $.06 and $.10 per chip and sell in “sleeves” of 25 single-color chips.