If you own a poker set for playing games at home, you may have wondered why none of the chips has any financial value printed onto them. The reasoning behind this in the first instance was simple – many home games were played more for fun than financial reasons, with either very low or no actual stakes whatsoever.
As home poker games became more popular during the early 2000s, it became good etiquette to at least order the values of your home chips to match those used at a real casino poker table. Whilst there are no hard and fast rules, as such, a great deal of standardization has occurred as major tournaments have spread beyond North America, such that there is now a very common hierarchy in use:
Common Low Stakes Poker Chips, Colors, and Denominations
- White Chip: $1
- Red Chip: $5
- Blue Chip: $10
- Green Chip: $25
- Black Chip: $100
It’s easy to see why just these five simple colors can be more than enough for the vast majority of both home and typical casino games – there are plenty of home games where chips will even be used as simply $0.50, $1, $2, $5, and 10 dollar chips as well, or perhaps some other smaller setup such as $1, $2, $3, $5, and $10.
Higher Stakes Chips, Colors, and Denominations
Things get much more tricky if you are playing something like a seriously high-stakes cash game, however, and on an entirely different level altogether when you enter the world of world-class tournament poker. Dealing with potentially thousands of black chips would be completely impractical, not to mention an entirely pointless use of time for every player sitting at the table.
Just imagine it this way – more than 100,000 players often participate in the Poker World Championships each year. If each player begins with 10,000 worth of chips, that makes a billion chips in play. By the last couple of days of the tournament, only 1-2,000 players remain. Let’s just say 1,000 for simplicities sake, and each remaining player has an average of around a million chips in their stack. That would be 10,000 black chips per player!
This seems like just one more of the multitude of advantages of playing real money online poker – no need to count up endless stacks of chips. No need for a dealer to check and double-check that every player has entered the promised amount of chips – and the nightmare of multiple side pots is all dealt with automatically by computer. Some players believe that online poker takes too much away from the whole point of the game, but this is changing with the advent of virtual and augmented reality technologies, the day when an online game of poker can feel every bit as realistic – including being next to impossible to hide your tells – is approaching faster than you might think!
Additional Denominations Used in High-Stakes Poker
Several additional chips are regularly used for higher stakes cash games that you are very unlikely to find in any poker set sold for the home-game market:
- Orange Chip: $50
- Pink Chip: $250
- Purple Chip: $500
- Yellow Chip: $1,000 (Sometimes also colored in a grey or burgundy-type color as well)
- Cyan or Light Blue Chip: $2,000
- Brown Chip: $5,000
These additional chips suffice until a large tournament reaches its final stages – players will “color up” at the beginning of each day, swapping blacks for purples, purples for yellows, and yellows for browns. Eventually, however, even this is no longer sufficient – in games with multi-million dollar prize pools, the ultimate “chips” come into play.
If you have ever seen the James Bond film Casino Royale (the newer iteration, featuring Daniel Craig in his first outing as 007 and widely regarded as one of the best Bond films of all time), you will no doubt recall the poker scene where Bond defeats Le Chiffre in a pivotal (and frankly ridiculous) scene where Le Chiffre’s four of a kind ends up being defeated by Bond’s Straight Flush.
During this scene, you may also have noticed some very strange looking casino “chips” indeed – these are known as casino plaques and are used only in the highest of high stake games In the venues of Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Monte Carlo, and the like.
A casino plaque is roughly the size of a playing card and, unlike regular chips, tends to feature a design that is unique to the venue where they are being used – sometimes, plaques will even be created on a game-by-game basis to ensure that it is impossible to create these tokens fraudulently in advance.
Casino Plaques will often come in denominations from as little as $5,000-$10,000, though the sky truly is the limit with these forms of gambling tokens – $25,000, $50,000, $100,000 plaques are not unusual, although whether the €250,000, €500,000, and 1,000,000 Euro plaques seen in Casino Royale would ever actually be used is something that only the largest whales would truly know for certain – people who play poker in person at these kinds of stakes have every reason not to discuss such matters!
The History of the Poker Chip
It is commonly believed that casino (and poker) chips are used in place of actual cash because it detaches players from the true amount that they are gambling with each hand that they play. This is likely to be true – after all, there has to be a very good reason to invent an on-site currency with all of the security features required to keep it safe when the government already issues extremely secure forms of payment!