Casino Poker Chip Weights
11.5 grams IS NOT the standard weight of
Let me repeat that. 11.5 grams IS NOT the standard weight of casino chips.
Neither is 13 grams.
This is the single biggest misconception poker chip buyers have, and
it’s hard to blame them with all the confusing information out there.
In fact, many poker chip retailers are even confused about this. The reality
is that every chip in a Las Vegas casino today is between 8.5 and 10 grams.
Authentic clay casino chips are between 9 and 10 grams, with slight variations
from color to color due to the different color densities. Authentic ceramic
casino chips are pretty much right on 10 grams.
The interesting thing is that weight is only one of numerous factors
that consumers need to consider when buying chips, and probably not even
the most important. Feel to the touch, natural sound when riffling thru
chips or splashing the pot, and the slipperiness of the chips are all
important factors to consider. Even if your budget dictates that you can’t
entertain the idea of getting authentic casino chips from the same manufacturers
that make chips for casinos, you can still strive to get chips that approximate
actual casino chips in terms of sound, feel, texture, and weight. If you’re
on a budget, consider
our Venerati chips. If you want actual casino chips, try our Protege
Clay line, or our Archetype
Why all the confusion about 11.5 grams?
To the best we can tell, the confusion over chip weights stems from the
widely available plastic interlocking Bicycle poker chips that dominated
the consumer poker chip market up until about the turn of the century.
These red, white, and blue chips were very inexpensive and also very light,
like only a few grams a piece.
While there are numerous and substantial differences between Bicycle
chips and real casino chips, the most easily described difference is the
weight difference. So when the low-cost Chinese manufactures entered the
poker chip market, they rightly identified the markets desire for heavy
chips “just like the casinos use”. But they were targeting
a much different quality market than actual casino chips as they were
competing solely in the consumer market with Bicycle chips which sell
for $5 per 100 chips or so. To produce them inexpensively while still
heavy, they made them out of plastic with metal slugs, and ended up with
a chip that was 11.5 grams. The 11.5 gram number became the stamp of authenticity,
verifying that these weren’t the lightweight plastic interlocking
Bicycle chips. So to the market, 11.5 grams just came to mean “not
the cheap-feeling lightweight chips”.
When the poker boom began in 2003, the market was inundated with these
11.5 gram chips. They were everywhere. More importantly, actual casino
chips available to the public (chips made by the same manufacturers that
make chips for the casinos) were, and still are today, only available
at a handful of places in the entire world. They were very expensive and
target just a very small segment of a much larger consumer poker chip
market. The casual buyer wouldn’t even know they were available.
Still, consumers wanted chips “just like in the casinos”,
so that’s what many shady retailers started pitching the low-end
chips to be. The pitch became, “11.5 gram poker chips, just like
the casinos.” Pretty soon almost every retailer out there who carries
poker chips is pitching the same lie. And thus it became a widely accepted
norm. Even today, most poker players will steadfastly swear that real
casino chips are 11.5 grams.
The ironic thing is that it’s very easy to prove exactly how heavy
casino chips are. Just carry one out of a casino and weigh one. Of course,
aside from a few poker chip collectors and aficionados, it doesn’t
make much sense for someone buying a $100 set of poker chips to take the
time and effort to weigh a actual poker chips, especially when you’re
weighing grams which requires a hard to find specialty cooking scale that
may cost $40 itself. For every one person that does weigh real casino
chips, there are a thousand people that read that real casino chips weigh
11.5 grams. Add to that the fact that consumers really want to believe
that they bought a set of chips “just like the casinos,” and
it only cost them $100. It’s a lie they want to believe. So the
The great lengths some companies will go to dupe the public
To further add to the confusion, it’s possible to make an 11.5
gram poker chip out of many different types of plastics and/or composite
materials. Some materials are fifty times as expensive as others. Never
mind that 11.5 grams isn’t even the real casino standard. Nonetheless,
all the consumer wants to hear is that the chips are 11.5 grams and they’ll
buy. Pretty soon, hundreds of millions of 11.5 gram chips made out of
the cheapest materials available are being sold in stores around the world.
As the saying goes, you can fool some people some of the time, but you
can’t fool all the people all the time. When people start realizing
that they’ve been duped and their chips are nothing like real casino
chips (which is very easy to prove by just carrying a casino chip home
and comparing it), they get a little pissed off and vent. This venting
naturally gets published all over the web. Suddenly, poker chip retailers
have to spin a new tale or face the wrath of consumers. The easy scapegoat
becomes metal inserts and “clay composite” materials. As the
widely held perception is that all casino chips are clay and they don’t
have metal inserts, suddenly the logic becomes that real chips are anything
that’s heavy, made out of some kind of clay, and doesn’t have
a metal insert. As flawed as that logic is, it again is another lie that
consumers want to believe. Having already wasted $100 or so, they desperately
want to believe that they can still get a set of actual casino chips for
just another $100. They’ve just got to weed thru all that 11.5 gram
Two new layers of propaganda get added to the mix.
First, as consumers are starting to educate themselves a bit about real
casino chips, they start asking retailers for “clay chips”.
Since 99.9% of retailers don’t have clay chips, and can’t
figure out how to source them (because there are only a few somewhat closely
guarded manufacturers in the world), they figure a good solution is to
just start calling their chips “clay composite”. It’s
the same chips they sold before, just with a different marketing slogan,
plus it’s a vague enough term that it could mean almost anything,
so they go with it. Some of them even go with heavier chips like 13, 14,
or 15 gram chips to differentiate their chips from the 11.5 gram debacle.
A second group of the market takes on the metal slug issue and comes
out with a chip that doesn’t have a metal slug in it. Never mind
that it’s just a different type of plastic and nothing like an actual
casino chip, as long as it doesn’t have the metal slug its provides
a nice tale to spin. The audacity of some of these companies is remarkable.
I’ve heard they actually aired TV ads purporting how their chips
are the “Real deal” and go onto explain how to spot a fake
by the metal insert. It’s truly unbelievable.
So how do you tell?
With all the confusing and conflicting information out there, it’s
challenging. First off, if they say something like 11.5 grams, just run.
That’s a telltale sign, and an obvious one. All chips in casinos
today are somewhere between 8.5 grams and 10 grams. If it’s not
in that range, it’s not from a real chip manufacturer. At the same
time, that doesn’t mean that it is a real casino chip if it is in
that range. It’s only one of many factors.
Unless you know chips pretty well, it’s difficult to delineate
all of the other factors of authenticity, which include factors such as
feel, sound, material construction, molds/engravings, graphic detail,
and more. The best method is to directly ask the vendor which casinos
in Las Vegas these chips are used in. Unfortunately, they can lie I suppose,
but you can usually find a chip from that casino on the web and compare
the images at least. Our
Las Vegas Chip Image index may help.
Probably the most telling sign is the price of the chip. If they are
not in the range of $1 to $1.50 per chip, they’re probably not authentic
casino chips (from the same manufacturers that make chips for Las Vegas
casinos). There is no way around it. As much as you might like to, you
are just not going to find an authentic casino chip set of 500 chips for
$100, just like you’re not going to find a new luxury car for $5000.
Identifying an authentic casino chip:
- Find a chip in the real weight range (8.5 to 10 grams)
- Buy from a reputable dealer
- Plan on paying $1.00 to $1.50 per chip
- Ask what Las Vegas casinos the manufacturer makes chips for
Select your favorite authentic casino chip from among our high-end lines
including the Protege
Clay line and the Archetype