Best Poker Chips: Top Poker Chip Sets for Home Games

Hosting an Awesome Poker Game at Home: Poker Chips

An age-old saying goes like this: "The guy who invented gambling was brilliant, but the guy who invented chips was a genius."

The reason behind this saying is that chips remove from gambling the real world of money. Gamblers tend to have short memories. Once they purchase chips, they quickly forget their real-world value, making losses on the green felt seem relatively painless — at least until they go to cash out.

Home poker has largely embraced this concept. Games that used to be played with silver change and paper money are now often played with the best poker chips. If you're hosting a home game, you may well be considering the purchase of some cool chips

A Typical Run of the Mill Poker Chip Set

The best poker chip sets contain:

  • A set of 500 poker chips
  • Poker chips in three or four colors for different denominations
  • A deal button
  • A Big Blind button
  • A Small Blind button
  • Two decks of French cards

Poker chips for the home like this should be enough for your typical game of one to two tables. Finding the best poker chips for home games depends on your tastes and budget.

Below is a summary of what's out there to help you find the perfect chips for your game. To get a good sense of your options, I suggest you check out the online stores specializing in poker supplies.

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Cheap Poker Chips: Plastic Chips

Plastic Poker Chips

At the very lowest end of the chip market are the very lightweight, 2-gram or so, thin plastic poker chips that many of us played with as kids or in high school and college. They are typically sold in packs of 100, often in red, white, and blue.

These chips are available in nearly every large pharmacy and grocery store, usually in the same area where they sell packs of playing cards. They'll cost you $2.50 to $3.95 or so. If you look around, you might find them in the dollar stores, but they will be low-quality.

Best Plastic Chip Sets You Can Buy

You can buy plastic poker chips online, too. In these cases, these are your best options:

These cheap plastic poker chips are acceptable in a pinch or with young or inexperienced players who have never been to a public poker room or casino. But they feel and sound so much cheaper than you find in a casino or poker room that they may be inadequate for your more serious players.

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Imitation Clay Poker Chips

One step up, and what I first bought in the early '90s when I started playing in casinos around the United States, are solidly colored, imitation clay poker chips.

These poker chips for home games are made of heavy plastic weighing 8 grams a chip or so. Excellent imitation clay poker chips for home games are often marketed as "super diamond chips." They can be purchased online for between $.06 and $.10 per chip and sell in "sleeves" of 25 single-color chips.

Best Imitation Clay Poker Chip Sets

These are the best poker chips of this kind:

These imitation clay poker chips are perfect for your home game, especially if you are running multi-table tournaments and want to afford a lot of chips for relatively little money. Since they lack any striping, spotting, or design, some players might not prefer them. But I've used mine in large tournaments and home games for 25 years and never had a complaint (at least not to my face).

Clay Composite Chips

Best Poker Chips: Top Poker Chip Sets for Home Games 101
Clay composite chips

Slightly more expensive, and by far the most common chips sold to poker players today, are the metal-filled, clay composite chips, with many different designs, strips, and spots. Clay poker chips are usually sold as part of a chip set, including an inexpensive aluminum carrying case.

These can also be purchased in sleeves of 25 from some companies but are typically sold in units of 500 or 1,000 as part of a poker chip set for playing cards at home. These clay composite chips come in an extensive range of prices.

The 500-chip sets, for example, can be purchased online for anywhere from $39 or so up to $300 (not including shipping), based on the chip's quality, design, and weight. Each chip weighs anywhere from 11 to 14 grams.

Examples Of The Best Clay Composite Poker Chip Sets

Pick one of these if you are looking for the best poker chips and want a top chip set for your home . You can't go wrong with any of them.

I've noticed that the clay composite chips tend to be of unacceptably poor quality at the very bottom of that price range.

I once purchased a 1,000-chip set for $90 and paid $45 to ship them (they're heavy, and shipping is generally expensive). The chips arrived with 20 red chips equaling the height of only 19 white chips. They had many other defects in them as well. I had to send them back for a refund — and got stuck with one way of the shipping costs.

If you are ordering these metal-filled chips, I recommend you order no cheaper chip than the ones selling for about $150 for 1,000.

Customized Ceramic Poker Chips

Best Poker Chips: Top Poker Chip Sets for Home Games 102
Customized ceramic chips

The next step up is the Ceramic poker chips that sell for about $.40-$.75 or so each. These are the chips you find at the World Series of Poker and in Las Vegas casinos; they are the cream of the crop.

Nevada Jacks is the most popular brand of these chips. These also come in sets of 500 or 1,000.

An excellent ceramic poker set of the best home poker chips are known for their brilliant colors and sharp detail. These are the best poker chips to buy. They are not metal filled and don't make the metal clanging sound when they bump together. Players rave about them.

The most expensive, regularly produced variety of chips are the casino-quality clay chips made by the Paulson company, typified by the Top Hat and Cane design. These chips cost roughly $1.25 a chip, or from $1,100 to $1,400 for a set of 1,000.

Best Poker Chip Set Packages if Money is No Object

If you want your home poker chips to be like those in a casino and don't mind paying for them, these are for you. The best ceramic poker chips for playing at home are:

There is another option to consider. Some chip manufacturers will customize your chips with your design. These can come as a "hot stamped" imprint, as a printed label that is permanently affixed to the chip, or in the case of ceramic chips, the design can be built into the chip itself. Prices for this option vary widely, so shop around if this interests you.

Poker Chip Cases

Best Poker Chips: Top Poker Chip Sets for Home Games 103
Chip case

Remember, you'll want a case to store and transport your poker chip set. There are a few options in this department as well.

The most common are thin aluminum or vinyl attaché cases

These are most frequently made with room for 500 chips and a few extra spaces for cards. Chip cases also accommodate 250, 350, 750, and 1,000 chips.

They sell for between $20-$50 and can vary some in quality, though it's usually next to impossible to tell from the pictures which ones are more sturdily made. Look for reinforcements in the corners.

Also, the 1,000 capacity case, when full, will be too heavy for some to carry around easily.

You might be better off ordering two 500s instead. There is also a 2,000-chip case that comes with wheels for easier transportation. If you run tournaments or move your game from place to place, you might be tempted to get it, but I don't recommend it. From everything I've read and heard, it is not built with sufficient sturdiness to survive much use. Tales of handles and wheels falling off upon first use are a legend.

Poker Chip Cases Perfect For Regular Use

There are a few other case options. One is a clear lucite chip case. It is built for 1,000 chips, stacked in racks of 100 each, and sells for about $50.

This is very useful if you run tournaments and want to quickly have your chips organized for simple distribution to a large group of people.

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It's also incredibly sturdy, easy to stack, and doesn't dent, scratch, or deteriorate from regular use (unlike the aluminum and vinyl cases described above). It's what I use, and I highly recommend it.

Finally, for those who care about how your chip cases look, there are some charming wooden storage boxes. They tend to be cube-shaped, come in a dark finish, and have shiny, small metal handles, one on each side of the box.

They aren't easy to carry, so it would be awkward and inappropriate if you transported your chips regularly. But they appear the part when sitting on a shelf. They sell for about $50 separately, but like all other chip cases, they are often included in the price of a chip set.

Other Poker Chip Set Recommendations

I would immediately rule out the cheap plastic poker chips and the cheapest metal-filled chips. Beyond that, however, there isn't much difference in how your poker-playing guests will react to the chips.

I've played in home tournaments with the best ceramic poker chips, and with Paulson's. They were beautiful to hold. But while I noticed how they looked and felt, no one else seemed to care. I've found that poker players are typically so completely engaged in how much they are up or down that the style of their chips is the last thing they care about.

Which Stores Sell These Items?

That being said, you might care about that and might take great pride in having a stunning set of chips that remind you of those you play with at a casino. One last item to consider is that only a few brick-and-mortar stores sell a wide variety of poker chips (The Gambler's General Store in Las Vegas is a great exception).

Amazon, Target, Walmart, and a few other retail chains may have boxed sets for sale, but the chips themselves will still be hidden. That means, for the most part, you'll probably be looking online at an image — not the real thing — when you contemplate buying them.

Therefore, before you buy a complete set of chips, especially an expensive one, you either purchase or ask the company to send you some sample chips for free. That way, you can confirm these are suitable for your needs. Catalogs, computer screens, and the like don't do a chip justice. You'll need to see, hold, and use the chip itself. Sure, it may set you back $5 or $10 to get a small sample set of chips from the manufacturer. But that's a much less costly option than ordering chips you don't want and having to return them.

Poker Chips FAQs

How many chips do you start with in poker?

The number of chips you start with, known as your starting stack, varies per tournament. Usually, online poker tournaments' starting stack are in the region of 100 to 200 big blinds.

What color is a $5,000 chip?

There is no industry standard regarding the color of chips. However, $5,000 cash game chips tend to be either dark brown, or red-white-and-blue. $5,000 tournament chips also vary, although the World Series of Poker tends to use bright orange for this denomination.

What are poker chips called?

People call poker chips all sorts of different names, including betting tokens. Other names for chips, depending on their color, include bananas, flags, pumpkins, and melons, the latter being worth $25,000!

How many poker chips to start with?

It is entirely your choice regarding how many poker chips to start with. The blind structure of your tournament and when you want the game to finish determine how many chips you should start with. Try to ensure that players have a mixture of different denominations to help keep the game flowing.

How much are poker chips worth?

Casino chips and cash game chips are worth the value displayed on the chip itself. Tournament chips have no monetary value.

How many poker chips per person?

It is up to you to decide how many chips each person should have at the start of a poker home game. If everyone starts with 10,000 chips, try not to just give everyone two 5,000 chips, but a mixture of the different values instead.

What is the best poker chips set?

The best poker chips are those that are of casino quality. Check out out article above for the best ceramic chips you can buy if money is no object.

What poker chips should I buy?

Your budget will determine which poker chips to buy. Sets can be bought for as little as a few bucks, right up to a couple of dollars or more per chip!

Learn More About About Making the Perfect Home Game

Ashley Adams has been playing poker for 50 years and writing about it since 2000. He is the author of hundreds of articles as well as Winning 7-Card Stud (Kensington 2003). It's fair to say he knows a thing or two about poker, live poker especially. We asked Adams to provide our readers with an insight into the various sets of poker chips you can buy for your poker home game that mirror those in Las Vegas, and he duly obliged.

This article was originally written by Ashley Adams in August 2016. Last update: February 2023.

Photos: "Ready for poker," Laura,
CC BY 2.0; "Poker Chips," Indi Samarajiva,
CC BY 2.0; "Poker XII," Bastian Greshake, CC BY-SA 2.0; "New custom ceramic chip set," BigMikeSndTch, CC BY 2.0; "Poker anyone?" uzi978, CC BY-SA 2.0;.

  • Thinking of buying a poker chip set for your home game? Advice about which chips are best for you.

  • Plastic? Imitation clay or clay composite? Customized ceramic? Some tips about home game poker chips.

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