It may seem like just a token, a piece of plastic or clay, but it’s what it represents that makes it so powerful. The humble Poker chip is a casino currency that represents the player’s wager. When you play a game of Poker for money, you’ll exchange your cash for tokens. These tokens have no value outside of the casino, but at the table, they can represent $5000, $10,000, $25,000, or even more in Las Vegas casinos, for example. The chips come in an array of colors, which all account for a different value, and Nevada casinos typically use white, blue, and grey chips as $1 values.
Poker chips haven’t always been the standard casino token and over the course of Poker’s existence, they have evolved significantly, and now, at a casino online, you can play with virtual chips. So, to find out how the Poker chip became the iconic and lucrative symbol that it is today, read on, as we uncover its history.
During the Renaissance period, gambling grew significantly in popularity and fervent players of the game would use various items as tokens, to represent a given value. Poker hasn’t always been the game that we’re familiar with today and one of its French predecessors, Quadrille, provided layers with different shaped and colored counters. This was an attractive alternative to using real money during the game as it meant that players could settle their wins and losses at the end of the game.
Maybe you’ve played Poker with sweets before, or some light-hearted chips of your own. Before Poker chips existed, players would also have to source whatever they could to represent their bets at the table. This could include pieces of gold or coins, as, during the 19th century in Western America, the country experienced a gold rush, which saw an influx of high-value counters being used.
The standardisation of the round chip
It wasn’t until the late 1800s that chips made of wood, bone, paper, clay, and even ivory began to circulate, which originally could be any shape or color. As gaming progressed further, it was realized that round chips were best to play with, as they could easily be stacked and maneuvered around the table.
It wasn’t long before gambling houses in America and Europe adopted the round Poker chip as their standard token to play Poker. Most Poker chips today are made from a clay composition, and the first clay Poker chips are believed to have been made by some companies between 1880 and the late 1930s.
You’ve heard of coin collecting and even stamp collecting, but did you know that in the 20th and 21st centuries, chip collecting became a common past-time amongst avid gamblers? Believe it or not, there are huge auctions and events held by venues in Las Vegas, where enthusiasts can go to buy and sell their collectible chips.
The value of a token can vary immensely, but those that are higher in value are typically antique, or extremely rare. The rarest chips can in fact be worth tens of thousands of dollars and on one occasion, a Blackjack chip sold for $75,000! So, before you overlook your Poker chips, take a closer look, they could be more valuable than you first thought!