How to buy poker chips.
December 9, 2005 6:58 PM   Subscribe

I want to buy my friend a set of poker chips for Christmas. What should I look for?

I would like to spend $200-300 and have them monogrammed with his initials. Should I look for solid clay chips? 11.5 or 10.5 grams? Can I buy them at a reputable website?
posted by BigVACub to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total)
Solid clay chips have a distinctly different feel than the plastic chips with the metal core (the more common, and less expensive, alternative). They are much nicer, and if you can find some within your budget, they would be a great gift.

11.5 gram chips are what I'd recommend, especially if the recipient is familiar with actual casino chips.

There are a number of good websites online where you can purchase them. My only other tip would be that if you're going to get a set, don't buy the $1 and $5 chips...start at $50, and go up in value from there. Most people prefer playing with the higher denominations if there's no actual money behind them.

Then again, if there IS money behind them, then go with whatever you think the games will commonly be. Start with the lowest chips being the typical blind, and go up from there.
posted by griffey at 7:13 PM on December 9, 2005

You can never have too many chips. I spent $100 with the nice clay chips. It'll probably cost you about the same.
posted by geoff. at 7:36 PM on December 9, 2005

Oh yeah, 11.5 grams. griffey had it all.
posted by geoff. at 7:37 PM on December 9, 2005

I don't have much to add, but a friend of mine bought a custom set from an online poker supply house. He was able to order up the quantities and colors he wanted. He got 500 in three colors which best suits our group's style of play (most standard sets of 500 seem to have five colors which we didn't want). They are 11.5g clay chips, and he spent about $110 including nice aluminum case and shipping. If I recall correctly, a custom monogram wasn't that much more, maybe $150 total. Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the site, but I can find out it you want when he gets back from vacation.
posted by friarjohn at 9:49 PM on December 9, 2005

I would not start at $50... In fact, a $50 chip is rather uncommon/strange.

Common denominations:
White - $1
Red - $5
Blue - $10 (though sometimes $50)
Green - $25
Black - $100
Purple - $500
Yellow - $1000

Most sets will come with white, blue, green, and black chips. You can check out eBay to see what varieties are out there, but I would recommend going to a site like chiptalk and perusing the site/forums for more info about chips.

All-clay is best, and can be had reasonably cheap-ish if they're not custom. custom chips, on the other hand, may run you as much as $1 per chip or more.

If you're willing to spend $300, though, a $300 set of roughly 400-500 nice custom chips is remotely close to possible. You could easily, however, spend just $100 or so and get 500 decent looking chips with gold foil monograms.
posted by twiggy at 9:52 PM on December 9, 2005

Definitely no more than 3 denominations. People like to play with a lot of chips, and no one likes making change and counting chips all the time. If you mostly play limit games I'd say maybe only 2 denominations.

I know you mentioned you wanted custom ones, but man, I've seen some great deals on slightly used chips. I play at a few regular home games and a lot of those guys buy a decent set of chips, and then after a while get some really primo ones. So recently, I saw someone sell 1200 NICE chips (11.5 gram, clay, good condition) for 15% of face value. 1200 chips is really a great amount to play with. Enough for 2 tables, easy, or enough for one table to have 2 denominations.

My wife bought some decent ones off ebay. Whatever you get and whereever you get them, get clay or clay composite chips only. No plastic, NO METAL INSERTS. These chips don't feel and sound as good (they click when you drop them into the pot).
posted by RustyBrooks at 10:24 PM on December 9, 2005

If you are going to get chips you are going to have to get at least 600 chips. It's not likely that there will be just three players. And if you are going to get chips as a present get good chips. As in clay. Don't fret about weight, no one worries about that when all-in is called.
posted by Botunda at 10:42 PM on December 9, 2005

I asked a realated question about poker chips. I would advise not getting denominations printed on them, so that they can be adapted to big and small games.
posted by kenaman at 6:35 AM on December 10, 2005

Round. They should definitely be round.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:43 AM on December 10, 2005

I just bought a monogrammed set of poker chips for my boyfriend's birthday. Before actually buying them, I did some reasonably extensive research on the selection online. The most important thing I learned from reading message boards and, strangely, some retail websites is this: There is no *right* poker chip for everyone. You have to consider: how often he/she will play, how many per game*, and if the difference in clay vs composite will really be noticed (obviously a different feel, but clay is far more expensive than composite and both are significantly better than drugstore plastic chips.
Now's a good time to tell you that if you want them monogrammed like the first one here, you have to get composite; the clay chips would just break if they attempted to 'hot press' them. You can, however, get a label printed, like this, but, of course, that can run up the price to around $1 a chip [maybe/probably more].

As for color: I'd stick with the usual combination of five. You didn't say what game would be played and I always think it's best to have flexibility. Here's a good guide of the colors and values. I agree with kenaman; don't get the denominations printed.

That said: we bought 500 11.5 g chips in five colors (we chose how many and what color), that we had monogrammed on one side for about $100 from these guys. Because we both the chips in a set, they came with a case, two packs of cards, and five dice. I ordered on Sunday and they arrived Tuesday morning. Excellent quality, couldn't be happier.

*botunda's link is a reasonable determinate, but in our games, 500 chips is enough for at least seven, but YMMV.
posted by Flamingo at 8:34 AM on December 10, 2005

Good advice from Kenaman. More flexibility w/o printed denominations.
posted by sixpack at 9:12 AM on December 10, 2005

Thanks for the advice everyone! My friend is a beginner, so I bought him a 500 set of composite's with his initials on them as Flamingo suggested. No denominations as several pointed out.
posted by BigVACub at 3:57 PM on December 10, 2005

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