by Staff Writer
Poker chips have been around for over a hundred years. And during that time, poker chips have been greatly refined, but their essence remains the same. Poker chips remain a token wagered to represent a monetary value. And from the original, very functional chips, poker chips have evolved to be much more artistic symbols that casinos value as a marketing tool.
History: The game of poker was developed in the mid 1800s, possibly derived from the Persian game of As Nas or the German game Pochspiel. Small objects of value like gold nuggets and coins were originally wagered during poker games, but poker chips were adopted to make wagering more convenient. The first poker chips were commonly made of bone, ivory, wood and paper. Unfortunately, these early versions of poker chips were easily and often forged and snuck into poker games. In the late 1800s, companies began manufacturing clay poker chips that were much more difficult to imitate.
Poker chip types: There are two main types of poker chips made today: clay and clay composite chips. Clay poker chips are the preference of most casinos; however, clay chips are much more expensive to produce than clay composite poker chips, which are also called ceramic chips. The advantage of ceramic poker chips is that they are better for applying graphics to than other chips. Plastic poker chips are also an option, but these poker chips are used almost exclusively by children and beginning players who don't often hold home games.
Manufacturing: Today, almost no chips are 100 percent clay. Poker chips that are referred to as clay are actually compression-molded clay with some other materials added for durability. Clay composite chips, or ceramic chips, are injection-molded resin that feels similar to a clay chip.