Poker chips come in different sizes, colors, and overall quality.
If you’re seeking to host a casual poker game and need a physical prop to function in a pinch, some novelty poker chip sets are priced well under $50 and can be found at a number of major retailers. For more serious (or more regular) poker games, quality poker chips that can resist the everyday wear and tear of constant poker playing can easily run into the hundreds of dollars.
But did you know that some of the priciest poker chips ever can cost millions?
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most expensive poker chips (and chip sets) ever made – including one designer set that retails for over $6,000,000!
Geoffrey Parker Luxury Poker Chips
Founded in the late 1950s, Geoffrey Parker put his designer stamp on luxury book binding by utilizing the finest materials of the day, offering bespoke customer service, and assembling products in-house.
Now managed by Geoffrey’s grandson Elliot, the brand has since become a renowned designer, manufacturer, and distributor of luxury gaming products: from backgammon boards and poker tables to multi-game storage furniture and poker chips.
The Geoffrey Parker line of luxury poker chips range in retail value from approximately $20,000 to $6 million USD, and have been featured on Channel 4 London’s “World’s Most Expensive Presents” series. The brand offers a “subtle matte alligator” poker chip set as well as a product that includes around $6,000,000 in precious metals.
Purchasing toggles for poker high roller’s include a “pay in full” or pay a “50% deposit” options. Delivery times for these custom luxury poker chip sets are about two months, depending on each client’s customization needs.
Construction materials for Geoffrey Parker poker chip sets range from clay and Swarovski crystal to sterling silver and 18 karat gold (a blend of 75% pure gold and 25% metal alloys).
The poker chip case and lock colors can likewise be tailored to a customer’s needs.
Given the very high price for the Geoffrey Parker luxury poker chip sets, providing a true customer review of this product remains elusive. Despite some high stakes poker games around the world that boast millions of dollars in player buy-ins, convincing a single poker player – or group of high rollers – to splurge on the high end chip sets (for the sole purpose of doing a true customer review) may be too much to ask for even the least thrifty high rollers.
Be that as it may, the Geoffrey Parker brand is worth checking out if you’re legitimately interested in purchasing “the most expensive” retail gaming product known to humankind. Customizable checkers, chess, Monopoly, backgammon, and other card playing boards are also sold by the company via its official website.
Gold Poker Chips
Gold poker chips (and gold plated poker chips) are available on today’s market from a number of distributors and designers. Here are a few things – from a precious metals point of view – to keep in mind before purchasing a poker chip set made of gold.
For starters, the actual chips will NOT be worth their weight in gold, at least when compared to current market prices. This means that the “melt value” on any commercial product – including poker chips – will likely be inferior to the actual retail price.
Customers who purchase items forged out of precious metals are often paying a premium due to the artisan effort that went into making the product. Relative to some other metals, gold is quite “soft,” which is why it may be somewhat rare to encounter pure, 24 karat gold used exclusively to make something that will be used and reused with some level of frequency.
It is very common for manufacturers to mix a certain amount of gold with harder, less pricey alloys in order to come up with a product that is more durable. By measure, 18 karat gold is 75% gold and 25% alloys; 14 karat is a 7-to-5 ratio of pure gold to other metals, and 10 karat gold is a 5-to-7 ratio.
Also, “gold plated” just means that the outer portion of the product is covered with a thin layer of gold while the rest of the product is made from harder materials. And obviously, gold in color (or gold in the brand name) does not necessarily mean that the poker chips are made with any actual gold.
If you’re looking for a poker chip set that will need to endure everyday wear and tear of a regular poker game, then metal chips may not be your best option. The “purer” the gold percentage is relevant to the amount of harder alloy metals used, the more susceptible the final product will be to nicks, scratches, micro divots, and other imperfections.
Silver – as a substance – is even softer than gold is, which means that silver chips will show their age more rapidly than gold will. As you will learn with a quick Google search, precious metals are prone to scratching regardless of their density or “hardness.” This includes poker chips that may be entirely or partially made out of gold, silver, platinum, or palladium.
If you’re looking for a one-off novelty item that is made of a precious metal, then buying a single poker chip (or poker chip necklace, etc.) may be a reasonable option.
Ivory Poker Chips
Ivory poker chips are popular among collectors, while the material itself was once commonly used for vintage, in-person gaming sets ranging from poker chips to intricate chess pieces.
As you may have heard, there are modern-day restrictions on the use of ivory as it pertains to the hunting of elephants – so most of the collectible ivory poker chip sets were made over a century ago, before the restrictions were put in place.
In more recent times, the harvesting of ivory sources ban has extended to the walrus, certain species of whales, warthogs, the hippopotamus, orcas, and even narwhals.
If you’re looking for a single poker chip or entire chip set that is marketed as more eco-friendly, sustainable, or politically correct, then there is a substance referred to as “vegetable ivory” that is extracted from palm tree seeds.
As one might imagine, the premium (relative to the cost of raw materials) on ivory poker chips and other gaming accessories can be significant.
While over-hunting or over-farming may place downward pressure on the wholesale price of ivory and other precious metals or crystalline substances, exclusive procurement and licensing rights will have the opposite effect – and elevate the “final product” retail prices of customized, molded, mined, sculpted, or reworked game pieces and other tokens accordingly.
Super Diamond Poker Chips
When it comes to actual utility, Super Diamond Poker Chips are in a class of their own – especially for smaller, less formal poker home games. What’s more, Super Diamond poker chips come in a wide variety of colors as well as different weights (usually 8.5 to 11.5 grams per chip).
These poker chips are comfortable, can endure everyday wear and tear over thousands of hands, and are available for around $25 per set of 100.
This means that you could purchase eight rolls of Super Diamond poker chips – eight separate colors – and spend approximately $200 for an entire set.
There is one caveat though: Super Diamond poker chips are typically sold WITHOUT actual value denominations printed on them. If you’re running a serious, regular, or other home game which may attract new players, then you’ll need to have the values of each chip color clearly posted (probably in multiple spots) within your gaming area.
Note that having a customized printing job done on these chips may cost your more (for the specialized work) than the actual chips themselves.
Perhaps one exception to being able to use Super Diamond poker chips (that don’t have a value denomination printed on them) in a more formal home game setting would be for smaller values.
For example, if you’re only using ONE color of chip and explain to all players that the chip is worth fifty cents (or some other small monetary amount), then the Super Diamond chips can become a huge convenience even for more serious games. Still, there’s really no substitute for casino-quality poker chips that are labeled with the corresponding monetary values.
Clay Poker Chips
Clay poker chips have become the benchmark for quality, casino-style tokens that are durable, heavier than most plastics, and can incorporate radio frequency (RFID) and other technology into chips that have a higher monetary value.
Many poker players have become accustomed to shuffling chips, and this sound is one of the most prominent that a new poker player experiences when visiting a card room for the very first time. The difference in sound between the shuffling and stacking of plastic versus clay chips is also something that can be immediately distinguished by poker players who visit casinos on a regular basis.
Of course, clay chips do not last forever, and casinos routinely replace even the highest quality of chip sets once they have been used over a certain amount of time or number of hands.
If you’re in the market for a poker chip set made out of clay, you’ll find many high quality options available online along with a very extensive variety of options. Most of these chip sets will cost somewhere in the hundreds of dollars, although it is not that uncommon for some of the premium or designer clay poker chips sets to be sold at retail for more than $1,000 USD.
In order to make a clay poker chip harder and more durable, manufacturers may mix sand or chalk in with raw material.
Ceramic Poker Chips
Ceramic poker chips can be more durable than their clay counterparts, but have a distinct sound along with a smoother surface.
While overall utility may vary per any poker player’s opinion, ceramic chips have a bit less “grip” than clay poker chips. However, the ceramic material will generally last for a longer amount of time when compared to clay.
Plastic Poker Chips
Plastic poker chips are usually the cheapest chips on the retail market, and can be found online as well as at major supermarkets like Walmart and department stores located within shopping malls.
Plastic poker chips are more of a novelty item and aren’t generally used for serious poker games, but they can still make for a fun and entertaining one-off poker game when higher quality poker chips aren’t readily available.
Most plastic poker chips will not be labeled with a denomination amount, so once again, players and home game managers will need to communicate well ahead of time precisely just how much each chip color is worth.
In emergencies, when no chips are available at all, poker enthusiasts can also use a number of substitute poker chip props to take the place of actual chips.
Summary: The Most Expensive Poker Chip Set
If you’re willing to spend millions of dollars, you really can’t go wrong with the Geoffrey Parker designer poker chip set… at least in terms of splurging an obscene amount of money for a poker or other gaming prop that is custom built and made out of precious metals and other luxury materials.
As far as practicality is concerned, the most widely accepted poker chips in terms of quality are those made of clay, which have a monetary amount already printed or labeled on them. Otherwise, as stated above, you’ll need to go through the process of designating a monetary amount of each chip color (while also ensuring any “colorblind” players can clearly distinguish between all the different colors).
Sometimes, you can have an extremely fun and social poker game without worrying so much about the quality of the actual poker chips. In other circumstances, the overall quality of the poker chip set you’re using could make all the difference in fostering a professional gaming environment for your home game or card room.