Choosing the Right Poker Chip Set for Your Next Home Game!

There are a few necessities when it comes to organizing a poker night. You’ll need some playing cards obviously, and some might even say beer and pizza are necessities too. But whether you’re having a cash game with friends or want to hold a bigger tournament event, a set of poker chips is a must.

  • But what goes into making that purchase?
  • What set will work best for you?
  • How do I determine my needs?

Here’s a complete guide in answer some of those questions and help figure out what chips will work out best for you.


A Look at the Types of Poker Chip Sets

Players looking to purchase a chip set will find plenty of options from design to colours to numbers oftypes of poker chips chips.  Standard chip sets can be found on numerous online sites including Amazon and eBay

For example, a typical, good-quality 300-chip set may feature four different colours (blue, red, green, and black), two decks of cards, and a dealer button.

That set gives players an idea of what they can expect from purchasing an average chip set no matter the number of chips desired. Most tend to come in some kind of handy aluminium or wooden case with a couple of decks of cards and a dealer button. Some often throw in dice for a possible craps game.

As far as sizes of sets, there are usually a few combinations in these aluminium case types of sets.

Here’s a look at what to expect:

  • 200-chip sets – This small set of chips comes with a couple of decks of cards and usually with three to five colours of chips. This set is not ideal for a larger poker game but can be perfect as a travel kit when away with some friends. ($25-$35)
  • 300-chip sets – This smaller set usually comes with three to five colours of chips. This set could be perfect for a smaller cash game or tournament with five to seven players. ($25-$50)
  • 500-chip sets – This chip set is a very popular buying option for many poker players. There are numerous purchase options for these sets, usually with four or five colours included such white, red, green, blue, and black. It is perfect for a larger tournament that may even reach two tables, so it is probably an ideal set for most players’ needs. ($50-$100)
  • 750-chip sets – This even-larger chip set that is perfect for bigger tournaments. These sets usually come in several colour denominations, making a longer tournament much easier for colouring up bigger chip stacks. Players may also find larger sets with 1,000 chips for even grander events. ($90-$120)


Professional Chip Setups

poker chip setAre you looking to make your chip set appear even more professional? An acrylic case with individual chip racks included may hold even more chips and make for an easy way to transport them. Players who want to host large tournaments may want to give these types of cases a look. Using racks also makes stacking and separating tournament starting chip stacks very easy. Colours can also be sorted in individual racks if needed. ($120-$200)

While many may head to the Internet for purchasing chips, several retail outlets also carry chip sets – ranging from large retail outlets like Wal-Mart and Target to outdoors and sporting goods stores.


Types and Compositions of Poker Chips

Previously some of the above will be affected by the specific types of chip you also buy when purchasing a chip set.

There are a few types of poker chips to consider when it comes to composition and quality.

Plastic Chips 

These are the old plastic chips one might find in a 1950s home game. They are extremely light and cheap. They are soft to the touch and not easy to slide around a table felt for the most part.

These chips are still sold but generally avoided by most serious poker players. They are not easy to count when stacking and are also difficult to riffle at the table. These are generally subpar for most poker games.

Composite and Clay Chips 

At one time, poker chips were made of clay and had a much better feel than those cheap plastic chips. Modern chips are not made of clay, but a composite material meant to mimic the touch and feel of those style of chips. They were replaced by clay composite because they’re more durable and not brittle like the old clay chips.

Most chips come in traditional 11.5, or 13.5-ounce weights and are easy to handle – and they make a sweet “plink” sound when they hit the pot. They also stack and can be riffled easily and slide well on a table felt. Their heavier weight than the old, light plastic chips from the 1950s makes them easier to use and manipulate.

These chips are now standard and easy to find. They are some of the most prevalent chips in the market and are mass-produced. A player can’t go wrong in purchasing a decent set of clay composite.

Ceramic Chips 

These are considered a better-quality chip than composite and clay chips. Ceramic chips have a smoother surface and more durability. These chips are manufactured using injection moulding, and graphics are printed directly on the chip as opposed to an inlay or sticker used in lesser-quality chips. Because of this, ceramic chips are much more customisable with more elaborate designs available.

Like composite, ceramic chips slide well across the felt and are also easy to find for purchase with numerous options and customisations available online. However, ceramic chips cost more, with a set of 300 starting around $150. However, these make for a real casino and high-end feel for that next home game or tournament.

Metal Chips 

These types of chips are not nearly as common as ceramic, and clay composite chips and may require a bit of work to track a set down. They do offer a unique look for your home poker room, with colours often including gold, silver, and bronze. They have a solid, durable feel and make a pleasant sound when thrown into a pot.

Gamblers will find these chips similar to the old $1 slot machine token you might have found in a casino before the machines converted to cash-only options.

However, finding them requires some real effort and a keen eye on the lookout on sites like eBay. Some of these types of chips are made of pewter and can become a real collector’s items. 

The Time Life company sold some of these sets a couple of decades ago. They are tough to come across today but make for a unique poker set at your next poker night cash game.

poker chip set pro and con table

Other Considerations

When it comes to poker chips, there may be a few other things to keep in mind WHEN making that chip set purchase.

There are numerous choices to personalise your chip set and poker game -

  • Colours and Designs – Beyond traditional white, red, blue, green, and black, there are also other less traditional colours and designs to suit every taste and desire.
  • Graphics and Logos – Along with many colour choices, poker players can also choose from numerous characters, logos, and graphics on their poker chips. Some can be gambling-specific with casino logos, Las Vegas icons, dice, and playing cards. Others may even be historical and include American presidents, U.S. currency, and even famous members of the mafia.

There are even manufacturers that can customise your own chips with unique logos and colours to suit your personal taste.


Organizing Chips for a Poker Game

Obviously, choosing a chip set will depend on the number of players you typically include in your pokerpoker dealer game. If you are a regular host of a small cash game, a 300- or 500-chip set might be a perfect fit.

Players in a cash game will have a few denominations to use. Each player may start with a $100 in chips, for example, in a traditional  $1-2 cash game.

Players may be given the following:

  • 30 white chips, worth $1 each ($30)
  • 8 red chips, worth $5 each ($40)
  • 3 blue chips, worth $10 each ($30)

Players with bigger chip values and higher stakes games can adjust from there. Chip colours can be adjusted as needed. Tournament poker players can also determine numbers of starting chip stacks keeping colours and chip values in mind:

  • Lower values – Include a couple of colours, usually the most prevalent chip colour (often white in many sets).
  • Mid-level values – These chips are a step or two above those lower values. This setup helps avoid players starting with a massive and less manageable number of chips. It also makes counting out starting chips much easier.
  • Higher-level values – Just a few of these should be included in each starting stack. They represent larger numbers of chips and make getting starting stacks ready much faster. For more on chip distribution, click here.

Players running even larger tournaments, such as a big weekend with friends or a larger charity tournament, may want to invest in larger numbers of chips such as a 750- or 1,000-chip set.

This chip set will help you be prepared for even greater numbers of players than you may have expected.

SeperatorThere are numerous options when it comes to purchasing a poker chip set. Whether you’re planning a three-table tournament or a five-person home cash game, players now have the opportunity to find a low-cost set to meet their needs.

Stack those chips, get out the playing cards, and good luck!

Sean Chaffin is a poker writer who appears in numerous websites and publications. He is also the host of the True Gambling Stories podcast