Poker players today might take the poker chip for granted when sitting down at a table to give it their best in a couple hands. Chips offer a simplistic and fair way to make bets and allows players to calculate how much money a player has available to them on the table. These simple things rarely get noticed anymore, but without them poker was a little less organized then it is today.
Poker betting wasn’t always as simple as it is now. Bets took place in anything that had value, from gold dust and nuggets to cash, coins and other items of value. This made matching bets complicated and could often cause disagreements between players in the middle of a hand. Poker chips solved some of these problems. With poker chips, everyone knew the value of every bet and knew how deep of a pocket the opposing players had.
With the introduction of chips came new problems unfortunately. The first chips were simple wood chips that had designated values. The problem originated when players would introduce phony chips into the mix, unknown to the dealer or other players. This allowed for cheating or ‘free’ money at the end of a player’s time at the table.
Solutions to the problem surfaced in individualized chips for whichever establishment you had decided to play poker at. Chips would have logos or engravings on them to show that they truly were from the establishment you were playing at. They started showing up in a variety of materials as well, from wood to clay and even ivory at some tables.
This leads up to the style of poker chip we see today in casinos. Each chip is weighted and stamped with the casino’s logo. Some of these might find their way home in your pocket and offer free advertising to bring you back to the poker room time and time again. There are little discrepancies as to which chips are real and which are not. The casino has a keen eye on all that play so bogus chips aren’t a problem anymore.
So next time you sit down at the casino be happy that you don’t have a little bag of gold in your pocket to place your bets with. Take notice of the nicely weighted chips presented to you and the convenience they offer to a player. Without this, poker would be a little different from what we see today.