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Official Casino Poker Chip Weights

11.5 grams IS NOT the standard weight of casino chips.

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 line.

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 myth perpetuates.

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 propaganda.

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:

  1. Find a chip in the real weight range (8.5 to 10 grams)
  2. Buy from a reputable dealer
  3. Plan on paying $1.00 to $1.50 per chip
  4. 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 line.

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