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Why Cheap Poker Chips Suck

If you’re looking for an inexpensive set of poker chips, I’ve got a suggestion. Use pennies. Not penny poker, rather just use pennies as markers, or chips. They can represent quarters or dollars or five-dollar bills, depending on your stakes. That’s what we did when we were in high school. They’ve got a lot going for them. They’re cost effective. Unlike quarters, they’re accessible as there is usually an old jar full of them just lying around. And, they’re durable – just try to break one. The only downside is the vulnerability to the occasional unscrupulous buddy sneaking a few into a game, but those types tend to stick out and they usually aren’t invited back.

Pennies are great for kids. In fact, we believe they’ve got a lot more style than cheap poker chips. When you show up for a game and you find out they are using pennies as markers for dollars, you get the sense this is a no-nonsense game. There’s no pretension going on here. This is an understated, honest crowd. In this game, it’s all about the cards. Idiots are tolerated, so long as they bring cash, lose it quickly, and move on.

Poker games with cheap poker chips are often times a whole different story. When you show up for a game and the host brings out a 1970s-style carousel of plastic chips, cardboard-like chips, or knockoff clay chips, you immediately get the sense you’re in for a long night. If you look around, there are good odds you’ll see wood paneling on the walls. Saving a few bucks is one thing, but please pick your battles. Just use pennies. Cheap poker chips are a lot like a cheap suit. Either get a nice suit, or go casual. Everybody can respect the fact that casual is casual. You’re not pretending to be something you’re not. You can’t say the same for a cheap suit. Cheap poker chips are no different.

Poker is a classic game with hundreds of years of rich history behind it. Those who know and appreciated the game know it’s about tradition. They know it’s about camaraderie. They know it’s about excitement. And they know it’s about excellence. It can be a competitive battle of wits among formidable opponents. It can be an intoxicating mix of good friends, good drinks, and fine cigars. Real poker players know the money game is just a scoring system that keeps everybody honest. Real players know it doesn’t matter whether you play for dimes and nickels or for twenty-dollar bills. It’s all about the action.

Poker is most definitely not about a bunch of hacks that barely know the rules, sitting around a wood paneled room playing with imitation plastic chips. It’s not about 2s, 3s, and 9s being wild. It’s not about getting comfortable with the idea that it’s ok to lose your money time and time again, and that you’re just paying for the entertainment value. And it’s not about showing up in your cheap suit.

As far as the chips are concerned, they can either add to the tradition and excellence of the game, or detract from it. If you want to save some coin, use pennies. If you want to add a little style to your game, invest in a set of nice chips. Whichever path you choose, get comfortable with it because poker chips last a lifetime, even the cheap ones.



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