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Gambling Chips: Use and History

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Go to any casino in the world (both online and the real ones) and you will be asked to buy ‘chips’. Now, if you are a newbie, you may wonder what does that word mean. If you are familiar with the typical casino jargon, you will buy your portions and move on to play the games. There is a common misconception among common people that the gamblers go the casinos with their pockets full of real cash bills and they spend their money on the tables. But have you noticed in those 007 movies those stacks of coin-shaped multicolored (blue, red, green etc) discs or cards when Mr Bond plays in the casino? You got it right, those coins and cards are collectively called gambling chips.

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Chips or checks are universal gambling currency. Gambling machines do not directly deal with real currencies. The chips come in different colors indicating different denominations. So the interested player needs to buy chips against real money. For example, if you want to start playing with $500 then first you need to buy chips worth $500. So it is like you have come to a new country and just exchanging currencies. After you are done with your gambling sessions, you have to cash in the chips you have in your hand for real money at cashier’s desk. Remember, the chips are valid only inside the casinos. They have no value in the real world.

The history says that during the 17th century, small gold pieces, gold coins or nuggets were used to act as ‘chips’. Those were the most primitive forms of chips in the history of gambling. Gradually, such chips made of different materials like animal bone, paper, ivory, wood also came into being. A combination of shellac and clay was also used to create ancient chips. The first registered manufacturing of chips happened during 1880 to 1930. Few companies commercially manufactured chips of 1000 variants with the clay composition mentioned above. Back then the prime color of casino tokens were white, blue, red and yellow. With the passage of time, chips made of ceramic or special plastic formula also appeared in the market designed with the latest technologies.

The design process technology of gambling chips is considered to be one of the most significant gambling secrets. Each casino has its own distinct types of gambling chips. Although, generally, manufacturing one single chip is pretty costly and takes a good amount of time. The printed graphics of the chips which are fondly called ‘inlay’ which are fixed on the surface in way that one cannot detach them without destroying the chips.

Even if there is no such thing as a standard color scheme; white, red and blue are the most commonly used chips across major casinos. The common denominations of poker chips range from as low as $0.50 to $5000 or more. In world poker tournaments, this denomination goes up to $250,000.

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