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Clay Poker Chips are Relics of the Past

The huge popularity of poker as a home game has created a burgeoning market for poker chips and other accessories. Thanks to mass production technology, precision engineering and the use of mineral and synthetic composites, poker chips have become more durable and affordable by the poker loving public. Clay poker chips are heavily favored over acrylic chips not only because they stack well, but because they also look, feel and sound so much like the ones used in casinos.

In reality, clay poker chips have ceased production since the early 50s and even casinos have stopped using these because pure clay is obviously not a very suitable material for casino use because of its brittleness. The use of synthetic material combined with mineral elements such as silica and clay produced a composite that is virtually resistant to wear and tear but has retained the "feel" and texture of clay poker chips. Because of this, composite chips are usually called clay poker chips or casino grade poker chips as some vendors preferred to call these. The truth of the matter is that the proportion of the composite chips used in today's casinos is a closely guarded secret to prevent forgery. Casinos spend large amounts of money to produce hard-to-replicate game chips with unique edge spot color combinations, ultra-violet markings on the inlay and some are even embedded with radio tags.

Because of this, there is little factual basis for the claim of many vendors that the two kinds of poker chips available in the market are the composite and clay poker chips. In reality, what is available in the market are just the composite and a metal embedded acrylic imitation because the clay poker chips have been phased out decades ago. These imitations are much cheaper, but do not stack well because of their tendency to warp over time or when exposed to temperature extremes.

Composite "casino grade" poker chips that are passed off as clay poker chips, come in a standard diameter of 39 millimeters and weight not more than 10 grams. Acrylic imitations, however, are a millimeter larger in diameter and at least one and a half grams heavier than the casino grade chip. While most home poker players would have difficulty distinguishing the casino grade poker chip from the acrylic imitation, casino dealers and long-time casino poker players could easily detect by ear the familiar clickety-clack rifling sound of the casino grade chip from the high-pitched metallic sound of the cheap acrylic imitation.

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