Poker Chip Sets – Compare 3 Types Before Buying

Poker Chip Sets – Compare 3 Types Before Buying


Poker chipsets come in 3 main types of materials. ABS, composites and clay. There are also sets of different sizes, from 100 to 1000 chips, and many variants of the design. If you’re thinking about buying your own set of poker chips and you’re confused about which one is best for you, read on. Let’s take a look at each type and the pros and cons of each.

Let’s start by excluding the cheap plastic poker chips from department stores. I’m assuming you’re already familiar with these and are looking for a more professional feel. They are made of thin plastic with small grooves around the edges to make them stick together in a stack, and usually come in red, white and blue, and don’t resemble the ones you’ve seen in casinos.

Real poker chip sets have chips that are much thicker and heavier than the cheaper ones. They have a variety of poker-themed designs with casino-sounding names like 4-aces, Double Royal Flush, and High Roller. The graphics are very complex and interesting images depicting everything from decks of cards to dice. Some have no graphics at all, but have impressive designs and different colors printed on the edges, called “edge dots”.

Most poker chipsets have additional accessories such as dice and dealer buttons and come in aluminum or hardwood cases. Aluminum cases of the past had some problems due to the weight of the chips. At about 20 pounds, the stress was too much for them and they had problems with hinges and handles breaking. Most of the cases available today are hardened and much improved over earlier examples.

Now let’s talk about the chips in this set of poker chips. Here are the three types of materials that make up the chip and the pros and cons of each so you can make an informed decision.

ABS Chip: Compressed hard plastic that can withstand a lot of abuse. These chipsets are the cheapest, but often the flashiest. Hard plastics are much easier to print than clay and can be hot-stamped for customization or have graphic images printed directly onto the chip.
The main advantage of this is that the chip does not need a label to stick a graphic image onto the chip that can peel or scratch over time. A metal insert is molded into the chip to provide the heavier weight favored by poker players. Most, if not all, of these chips are made in China and weigh around 11.5 grams.

Advantages – Highest durability, lowest cost, graphics can be printed directly onto the chip. Ideal for customization.

Disadvantages – The plastic makes it smooth and doesn’t stack well. When pushing the stack over the table, it tends to tip over. The metal insert makes a metallic ping sound when the chips hit each other, so it doesn’t sound like a casino chip. They also have a very plastic feel to them and they bounce more when hitting the table.

Uses – This is a great starter set of poker chips or a great gift and looks great. It is also great for large tournaments and charity events that require a lot of chips at a low cost.

Composite Chips: A mixture of clay and plastic reduces some of the disadvantages of ABS chips. The actual clay content is not disclosed by the manufacturer. These are generally more plastic than clay, but still an order of magnitude more expensive than ABS and slightly more expensive. A graphic image is usually printed on a label affixed to each chip. They also have metal inserts to provide heavier weight as before. It usually weighs 11.5 g and is made.

Pros – It’s less slick than ABS, so it builds up better, but not as good as clay chips. They have colorful labels with very interesting and attractive designs.

Disadvantages – Labels may peel off edges when wet or used. They can also scratch over time. The metal insert produces the same pinging sound as ABS.

Uses – Makes a great set of starter poker chips as they are fairly inexpensive, especially in the low end like dice or suit designs where there are no labels but only impressive edge designs on the chips.