Poker Chips are probably the most important factor in creating the right atmosphere and feel for your home poker game.
Although you get varying quality of playing cards, at the end of the day cards are just cards. And although it would be nice to have a tournament standard poker table to play on, pretty much any old table can be used. But you need to get your chips right!
So what is it that makes the difference between good chips and poor chips?
1. Quality and weight.
Quality is something that is hard to define but you will know when you've got a good quality set of poker chips in your hands. It's about the overall feel and weight of the chip (normally 11.5g), a good quality set of chips just feels "right".
The three standard materials used to make poker chips are clay, plastic and a plastic/clay composite. Although there are some reasonable quality plastic chips available, plastic is normally the least preferred option. Plastic chips can be lightweight, "clicky" and can fly across the table unexpectedly. Worst is the feel, they just don't feel like the real thing.
Composite chips are a compromise, not as good as clay but better than plastic. The plastic gives the chips added strength and durability and they will last longer than their clay counterparts. Composite chips can be very close in feel and texture to clay chips. Clay chips are of course the Rolls Royce of poker chips, they feel great and work great. They are just the way chips were meant to be.
We're all big kids at heart and we like our chips to look like they do on the TV! This means that they need to stack properly and not fall all over the place. Clay chips are obviously the best for this, the clay material makes it almost impossible not to stack the chips right. At the other end of the scale lightweight plastic chips fall over constantly and are just not worth the bother - you will get very annoyed!
There are practical aspects to having your chips stacked properly of course, it's not just about posing and looking the part of a professional poker player. First and foremost if your chips are stacked you can see at a glance how much money you have and just as importantly, how much your opponents have. If the chips are lying all over the place you would spend half your time counting them and miss the action at the table. Another reason is table space, if your chips are spread all over the place you are going to need a bigger table!
So where do you buy poker chips? There are a lot of online poker stores out there and most are very reliable and convenient. I don't know about you but I don't have a poker supplies store near where I live so buying online is the only way to go for most people. You could of course do worse than check eBay, the last time I looked there was over 9000 listings under "poker chips".