How Poker Chip Collecting Became A Popular Hobby

A collectible is any type of item that has value or is of interest to a collector. The trend to collect interesting things is not new and is not restricted to humans. However, in recent decades, the interest in collecting memorabilia – sports or otherwise – has become big business. The internet is filled with websites dedicated to the needs of the average collector ranging from items to purchase online to tips on how to identify something of value. 

Sometimes a collector will collect items just for personal interest or historic value. Anything related to poker is an example of this including rare decks of playing cards, books on poker and other card games, vintage photographs, posters and prints, cheating devices and poker chips. If you are considering a collection of poker-related memorabilia, a great way to start is with poker chips. 

A Little History on Poker Chips

Poker chips are believed to have evolved from other items used as markers to place bets. These items may have included match sticks, pebbles, cash and maybe even diamonds. In the United States, modern-day poker chips took their appearance from coins but are slightly larger than coins. It is believed that since coins are easily recognized as having a cash value, poker chips were naturally designed to appear much the same.

What Poker Chips Are Made From 

This is another interesting historic evolution that has seen poker chips made from cardboard, clay, ivory, bone, mother of pearl and plastic. Because there have been so many different types of materials used to create poker chips, some kinds are considered more collectible than others. In fact, the collecting of poker chips has fallen into one of several different categories.

Collector Category – Ivory Chips

These particular types of poker chips date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s and are considered the most desirable to collect. Ivory poker chips were typically sold by the gambling supply houses that were commonplace during that era. One of the reasons why ivory poker chips are so collectible is that there were so many different styles of them produced. 

Ivory poker chips ranged from the basic, plain-looking chip that had color bands around them to denote what denomination each chip represented to the very fancy type. Fancy ivory poker chips were highly decorated with extremely intricate designs. The design work on many extended to the detailed numerals on them. These poker chips go up in value in relation to various reasons.

The ivory poker chips that contain more intricate scrimshaw work (carved designs), the higher the value they hold. Also, the denomination on the chip will be a factor where ivory poker chips that represented $100 would be worth more than $5 chips. Sets of ivory poker chips in their original cases will fetch the most from a collector. Values constantly change but individual chips can cost up to $100 or more and sets in original cases, which are commonly called “ivories,” which can be worth thousands of dollars. 

Collector Category – Casino Chips

Casino chips are a big part of the poker chip collecting world. In a way, they are much like collecting matchbooks as several casinos have come and gone in the past few decades or changed names. These factors impact the value and collectability of casino poker chips. This also means that you can purchase collectible casino chips for just about any price range from a few dollars to several thousand.

Las Vegas Casino Poker Chips

Probably the top end of the casino poker chip collecting scale is held by the casinos based in and around Las Vegas. Chips from the earlier gambling establishments would be the most sought after and would include such casinos as the Dunes, Boulder Club and Flamingo. If you were to have any poker chips from Las Vegas casinos, you would have a great start to your collection. 

Other Casino Poker Chip Venues

Still with value, but not as much as the chips from Las Vegas casinos would be any from elsewhere in Nevada. These would be of lesser value but still worth collecting. This would be followed by any poker chips produced for private gambling establishments from anywhere else in the United States. Have a collection of Indian Casino Poker Chips from various casinos located on First Nations land? You could have a category of poker chips that may appeal to certain collectors who value them more than the other collectible categories.

Other Casino Poker Chip Collectibles 

Then there are other types of casino chips that have value. An example of this is metal inlay chips. These have seen a leap in value in the past decade. Whatever you choose to collect is what interests you the most and if that means just $1 chips from as many casinos as possible, that will still make an interesting collection. Plus, $100 chips are harder to find and are more expensive as a result.

A Fun Hobby That Can Be Worth A Few Dollars

Just like coin or stamp collecting, poker chip collecting is a fun hobby that can be worth a fair deal of money to the right collector. If you keep your focus on this being a fun pastime, you won’t get distracted by the amount of money your collection could be worth to another keen collector. Or you could just skip the collecting part and purchase your own poker chips from GiftWits.

The Hobby You Can Always Bet On

In conclusion, poker chip collecting became a popular hobby simply because of the history of gambling and the various tools used to implement that activity. Ivory poker chips are the most collectible of the bunch followed closely by poker chips from any of the casinos – mostly from the past – in Las Vegas. Something is interesting about poker chips that have been around for several decades. If only they could talk – imagine the gambling stories they could share. For a beginner, collecting poker chips is a fascinating and fun hobby to enjoy.