Las Vegas casino poker chips are the best chips around, but they are not all the same. Rumor says that there is an official weight limit on chips which is not true. When shopping for chips online, you will see them offering chips that weigh as much as 12 grams, at higher prices, but the simple fact is that a the average gram weight of a casino chip is less than ten.
The variation in the chip weight depends on the material it is made from, the design that is used, and the amount of ink needed for it. No two casinos use the exact same composition for molding chips, and the are produced only by a very small number of companies, all from the United States, that are bonded. The blend used is well protected, to prevent chip forgery.
Using their own composition formula, Las Vegas casino poker chips are injected into a mold that has a design which has been copywrited, in a manufacturing set up that is as secure as the mint. The formula uses a synthetic polymer acrylic material, with a center that is laminated. While weighing in at close to ten grams, the size is the same at all the casinos, measuring about one and a half inches in diameter, or thirty-nine millimeters.
The three manufacturers that are generally used by Las Vegas casinos are Paul-Son, Chipco, and Bud Jones. They all use different manufacturing processes. The technique used by Paul-son is a compression mold system, using extreme pressure to fuse the colors into a solid piece. with uneven stripes of color on the very edge of each chip (if you play poker in Vegas, you have, no doubt, seen players trying to stack their chips by evening out the stripes on the edges of each chip!).
Injection molding is used by Bud Jones. The patterns, pre-formed letter, and denominations are joined and solidified by injecting plastic material around them. They also sometimes use metal inlay chips.
Chipco is the newest of the three main manufacturers. They use ceramic material that is injection molded in one piece. You can recognize these chips by their full-color graphics, and designs on the rim. They are the only one of the three that prints numbers and letters on the actual rim of the chip.
Recently, the casinos started issuing commemorative chips for certain events. The MGM Grand put out a chip for the George Foreman fight, the Tropicana issued one for the Kentucky Derby, and Caesars Palace celebrated George Burns hundredth birthday with one. These chips have the same value, and play as any other Las Vegas casino poker chips at the tables, but most people that get hold of them take them home as collector's items. If you see one, and you want it, grab it fast!
Since poker became the "big game" in Las Vegas, many people are buying chips for home play. An interesting way to do it is to literally buy them from the casino and take them home with you. Use them for your home games, and if you ever stop playing, or need the money, cash them back in at the casino you got them from for full value. Don't worry about the changes a casino may make, or even the possibility of a casino being sold or closed down. This would only make your Las Vegas casino poker chips even more valuable!