When people hear the word “chips,” they start salivating – either because they think about food or potential poker winnings.

Poker chips, with their multitude of colors, are a staple of both land-based and online casinos (look no further than Gxmble for a clear example). But what do these colors signify?

Understanding poker chips’ color coding and values is the first step to becoming a poker expert. It doesn’t matter whether you’re playing in a high-stakes casino game, a competitive tournament, or just a casual game with friends, learning about poker chips can take your game to the next level.

What Are Poker Chips?

A poker chip is a special token that signifies the amount of money a player can wager. Instead of collecting and counting different coins and paper money, poker players use these chips.

Standard poker chips typically have a uniform size and weight. The standard poker chip size is about 39 millimeters in diameter and 3.3 millimeters in thickness. In terms of weight, they usually range from 8 to 11.5 grams, with the most common weight being around 10 grams.

This standardized sizing and weight ensure consistency in play, whether in a casual home game or a professional casino setting. The heft and feel of the chips contribute to the overall experience of the game, adding a tactile element that is an integral part of poker’s appeal.

The History of Poker Chips

Before the advent of poker chips, players in early poker games used any small valuable objects they had on hand. This could include pieces of gold dust, coins, and even gold nuggets in some cases. However, the lack of standardization made it challenging to ascertain the value of each player’s stake accurately.

The introduction of clay chips in the late 19th century marked a significant evolution in the game of poker. They were easier to stack, count, and manage compared to the varied objects used previously.

By the 20th century, poker chips had evolved significantly and started resembling the pieces we see today. The development of new materials such as ceramic and plastic allowed for greater durability and a wider range of designs.

Modern chips often come in a variety of colors and designs, each denoting a different value, and are used in casinos and home games alike.

Standard Chip Values in Cash Games

In most cash games, poker chips follow a fairly standard color scheme that helps players tell at a glance the value of chips on their hands:

  • White or blue chips: Usually the smallest denomination, typically valued at $1.
  • Red chips: A staple in most games, generally valued at $5.
  • Green chips: Commonly representing $25.
  • Black chips: Often seen in higher stakes games, valued at $100.
  • Pink chips: Sometimes used for $2.50, particularly in blackjack games.
  • Purple chips: These are usually valued at $500.
  • Yellow chips: Often representing $1,000.
  • Flag chips: These are typically worth $5,000 and are exchanged for use in large buyins.

Tournament Chip Values And Colors

Tournament chip sets can vary more than those in cash games and don’t have a dollar value. Instead, they refer to the special tournament currency.

  • Green chips: Often used for 25-value chips.
  • Black chips: Commonly for 100-value chips.
  • Purple chips: Usually representing 500-value chips.
  • Yellow chips: Often used for 1,000-value chips.
  • Orange chips: Typically for 5,000-value chips.

Keep in mind that these are not uniform and some tournaments may offer completely different color variations. Make sure you’ve familiarized yourself with these denominations before you sit down to play.

Poker Chips as Souvenirs

The practice of taking poker chips home from casinos is an interesting aspect of gaming culture. It’s a practice intertwined with the allure of the game and the memories it creates.

For enthusiasts and tourists alike, a casino chip is more than just a piece of clay or plastic; it’s a tangible piece of the casino experience. It’s not uncommon for people to collect chips from different casinos they visit, creating a mosaic of their gambling adventures.

Many casinos allow players to keep chips as souvenirs. This policy varies from one establishment to another, and it’s always best to check with the casino. The chips hold value within the casino but generally have no monetary worth outside it. For many players, these chips become keepsakes, reminiscent of their gaming experiences.

Keep in mind that tournaments have far stricter rules regarding the removal of poker chips. If you’re careless enough to pocket some chips, you may be subject to fines or even get banned from the poker room.

Home Games: Setting Your Own Standards

When hosting a poker night at home, you’re free to disregard any conventions and assign your own values to the chips. A standard home game set might include whites, reds, blues or greens, but nobody will stop you from including black and yellow chips for larger denominations.


Word of advice: make sure that all your friends are clear on the values assigned to each color. You don’t want any mixup or bitter feelings.

A common distribution for a starting stack in a home game might involve a healthy mix of $1, $5, $10, and $25 chips, depending on the stakes and style of play you’re aiming for.

Tips For Navigating Chip Values

If you’re new to poker, it’s best to follow some of the basic rules of playing:

  • Know the standard colors: Familiarizing yourself with common chip values helps estimate pot sizes and make quicker decisions.
  • Stay alert for chip scams: In casinos, be vigilant against counterfeit chips and scams. Always check chips when cashing out and report any suspicious activity.
  • Cashing out: When you’re ready to cash out, organize your chips by color for easy counting. Most casinos will exchange chips for a cash voucher.

Also, make sure that you’re having fun and not playing out of spite or to chase losses. Nobody likes playing against someone who has a chip on their shoulder (no pun intended).