The poker chips that you find in a home or private game among your family or friends are very different from the ones you would find in a casino in Atlantic City or Las Vegas. Among the various different types of chips, the ones used in home settings are mass produced, plastic versions. They were introduced as imitations of the original clay poker chip varieties that were developed for use in casinos from the 1880s to the 1930s.
The clay chip sets that have been traditionally used, and which are still used in some places even now, weren’t made entirely of clay except at the very beginning. It was soon discovered that the clay-only chips broke too easily, so the makers began creating them from composites, of which the most common one now is a clay-ceramic mix. It’s very unlikely that you’ll find this type of chip in a home set, however; as these would most usually be casino poker chips.
Some recent developments in poker chips also involve something like composites; the core is made of metal, with injection-molded plastic added over top. There are now even completely metal chips where colors and patterns are set into them by utilizing chemical or electronic processes. When one of these partially metal or all-metal chips has color, stamping and a pattern added, it may be hard to distinguish it from the older, more standard casino chip. But certainly the metal chips are more likely to be found in casinos, rather than in a home poker set, because of the expense.
Among the various kinds of poker chips, the ones most common today are those made of cheap plastic that you’ll find in home sets, and the most widely used professional casino versions, which resemble the original clay composite chips, but tend now to be made with a hard, injection-molded resin. Both these and the clay composites are made with formulas that are often specific to an individual casino, and will usually come with several security features, including marks that show in UV light, or radio frequency ID tags. The plastic home versions may distantly resemble these, but the casino poker chips will always be the authentic deal.
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