Before You Buy Poker Chips

Here's What You Need to Know

Black man rolling poker chip across poker table
Duncan Nicholls and Simon Webb/Getty Images

We don't know about you, but we prefer playing poker with chips rather than cash. Even putting aside the safety issues, chips feel better in your hand, look better stacked in front of you, and sound better clicking and clacking into the pot. But not all poker games are equal and neither are the poker chips they use. Before you buy a poker chip set, you're going to want to know a few things about them, as well as the game you're going to use them on.

How Many Poker Chips to Buy

Depending on the size of your game, you're going to need to stock up on different amounts of chips. We recommend:

  • 200 Chips for 3-4 players
  • 400 Chips for 5-6 players
  • 600 Chips for 7-8 players
  • 800 Chips for 8-10+ players

You may end up with more than you need, but it's always better to have too many chips than too few.

What Denominations (Color)?

Most cheap chip sets have too many colors. Follow the casino's lead and only have four at the most. No matter what level you play at, this color scheme and worth will work:

  • WHITE - 1 unit
  • RED - 5 units
  • GREEN - 25 units
  • BLACK - 100 units

It's the same as most card room's color scheme, which makes it easy to remember, and makes the transition from the casino to the home game—or vice versa—easier as well.


There are three types of materials most poker chips are made of. The fanciest kind are known as clay poker chips, though truly they're made of a combo of clay and other materials, and are the standard casino diameter of 39 mm. They have a nice heft and weigh from 8 to 11.5 grams apiece. If you want to provide your players with a special experience, you're going to want to shell out the extra cash and get these chips. You can even go the extra mile and get custom designs on them. While this definitely starts to get expensive, it nearly completely negates the possibility of people introducing chips into your game.


The second kind of poker chips is made of a metal core surrounded by plastic and weigh either 8 or 11.5 grams. These metal-core composite poker chips are the closest match to what you'll find in most casinos these days and are a good, durable choice. If you're looking for your game to be professional in all ways, (except the rake, of course), then this is the choice.


Finally, you'll find plastic poker chips. They aren't as substantial as the other two kinds of chips and are usually filled with more colors than are useful, but they are a lot cheaper and in the end, they do get the job done. You can find a kind of plastic chip that's better than the ones you can pick up at toy stores and department stores, but if you're just starting out, we'd recommend beginning with the cheapest ones and saving your money for when you can buy metal-core or clay chips.