Collecting Casino Chips – Some Friendly Tips

Collectors have quite a fame on the internet. Almost every niche has its fans, and you will find people collecting almost anything. Sometimes this hobby can become a prudent long-term investment, because collectibles increase their value the rarer they become – but at other times, you end up as the weird dude with a room full of Beanie Babies and no life savings. In that context, casino chips are one of the best things to collect – they have distinct colourful designs, don't take a lot of space, and don't require you to burn a fortune. And most importantly, this is one of the easiest and most rewarding hobbies for casino enthusiasts like us! Here are several things you should know if you are thinking of taking up casino chips collecting.
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Why Casino Chips?

Fun Fact 1 Casino chips appeared more than 200 years after the first casino opened for business. Before that, people used all kinds of things when gambling – including golden nuggets.

Why not? This is a gambling blog, so don’t expect us to rant about postage stamps or Mario figurines. Casino chips are a great memento for any gambling fan out there. Many collectors find their passion during poker games – as you may have seen in the movies, chips are an important part of the game, both as a tool for bluffing and for relaxing your thoughts.

However, no matter what your favourite game is, you can climb on board. Chips are easy to acquire, and casinos usually use distinct colouration and logo which give the collection a nice look. Some people collect casino chips with an eye on the secondary market; there is relatively large interest towards specific chips on eBay, and little means of acquiring them unless you visit the casino itself.

What Denomination Should I Collect?

Fun Fact 2 When mass production of casino chips began in the end of the XIX century, there were chips made of ivory, clay and even bones.

If you still haven’t started your collection, the biggest question for you is what denomination of chips you should be collecting. Our advice is to stick to the low $1/£1 denominations. Those are easy to get, as there are less strict regulations about them – and they don’t require a large investment. Most casinos even offer special commemorative chips which will give your collection quite a unique outlook. Some people prefer to gather £5 and £10 chips, or even go for the larger £25 and £100 denominations, but this requires way too much money, and can sometimes lead to trouble with the casino – see below.

How Do I Get Casino Chips?

Fun Fact 3 Modern day casino chips are made from a composite that includes clay but is much more durable. There are also ceramic chips that are very popular for home games.

The best way to acquire chips is by visiting specific casinos – this gives the little tokens a nice sentimental value too. You have to be careful and always check with the dealer when you can take chips off the table, and whether you are allowed to keep them or not. During poker tournaments, for instance, you are forbidden from taking off any of the chips.

There is also a lot of anti-forgery technology embedded in most chips, so some casinos might be loath to part with them even if you offer to pay their value in cash. The best thing to do is to ask about the internal rules at the cashier when you are entering the casino – they will also tell you if they have special chips for collectors on offer.

Enormous Chip Collection

How to Recognise Chip Quality

If you are more interested in selling and/or buying casino chips online, you should learn about chip quality. It is important to list it correctly, and to learn how to recognise it by eye. Most collectors pay special attention to the edge of the token, the inlay (that’s the sticker/label in the middle), and to the hot stamp (the dry print with the casino name). Collector clubs grade casino chips according to their condition:

  • New (N) – Never used in play. There should be no signs of wear, scratches, dings or nicks.
  • Slightly Used (SU) – slight signs of use are allowed, it should still retain its luster and have excellent inlay quality.
  • Average (A) – chip that has been in use for a month or year. The edges would be slightly rounded and sporting some nicks, while the inlay will be starting to show defects.
  • Well Used (WU) – larger defects are to be expected in all elements. Parts of the stamp and inlay might be worn-off, but still readable.
  • Poor (P) – the edges would be rounded like car tiers, and there might be deep scratches or missing inlay.
Fun Fact 4 Casino chips are harder to forge than actual money. Modern day casino chips often include unique serial numbers and even embedded microchips.

Aside from that, there are also damaged chips sporting severe defects, canceled, which are no longer in use, and modified which have production defects. As you can imagine, pristine quality is not always a guarantee for a higher price – some people prefer to collect worn-out chips, while others hunt the rare series spotting production defects. Casual collectors usually don’t care about chip quality that much, but you should still check what exactly is on offer if you are shopping online.

Other things that collectors keep an eye on are the manufacturer, the material, the issue, the colour patterns, etc.

How to Look after Your Collection

Fun Fact 5 The most expensive single chip ever sold on eBay was worth around $30,000. It was of a $1 denomination.

Casino chips are fairly easy to collect – you could put them in a small box and forget all about them. But then again, this would take away half of the pleasure, wouldn’t it? A display case is always a sound investment, or you could go the extra mile and put something together yourself. A simple square design with cut-outs to put the chips in would generally be good enough, and you can hang it from your wall. For larger collections, you can either take several cases, or display simply your best chips, while keeping the others in a larger storage solution. When you proudly display your collection, you should make sure to keep it away from direct sunlight or fluorescent light.

Fun Fact 6 The most expensive poker chip ever designed was worth $450,000. It was made out of 22-karat pink gold, and encrusted with diamonds.

Before stashing the chips away, it would be a good idea to clean them a little. Scientific reports show that casino tokens aren’t exactly the cleanest thing in the world.

After a night out gambling it is always a good idea to wash your hands and disinfect any new chips you have brought home. A cloth and some alcoholic solution is usually all you need. You must be careful not to damage the stamp and the inlay so be careful when you are rubbing them and don’t go wild with stronger detergents, there is really no need.

Don’t Forget to Enjoy Your Hobby!

The best part about collecting casino chips is that it is usually a result of playing casino games that bring us pleasure. If you love visiting different places and experiencing new things, then trying out the local casinos is a must in both the USA and Europe. Just as gambling, it is important to do things with moderation, and only as long as they bring you joy. If you are collecting casino chips in only one denomination, it is very easy to keep track of how many money you have invested in your hobby, and if you take good care of your collection, it will bring you fond memories for years to come – just as a photo album, actually. Anyway, while it is not really appropriate for real casino chip collectors, you can also see the the best live dealer casinos that you can play at. No chips are to be taken, but the fun is granted, in case you are not really in the mood to go to the nearest gambling venue. The atmosphere is just like on a real table and we can say this by experience!

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