The anatomy of a chip can be basically broken down into the Base Color, the Inserts (number and color), the Mold, and the Inlay (see image below, ).
In this first example, the Base Color is green, there are three pink and three white inserts, there is a hat and cane mold, and there is a black inlay with the casino logo.
The Base Color is the primary color of the body of the chip. Interestingly, the Base Color can sometimes be hard to determine if no particular color seems to be dominant on the chip.
The Inserts are injected into the body of the chips (they cannot be scratched off) and are some color(s) other than the Base Color.
The Mold is a pattern that is imprinted onto both sides of the chip – typically around the edge outside of the Inlay. There are many different mold types. This chip above has a “house mold” – in imprint of the casino’s (house’s) name or logo.
Finally the Inlay is located at the center of the chip and usually contains the casino’s logo and the chip denomination. Some Inserts are solid through the center of the chip while others are paper or plastic decals that are glued onto either side of the chip. Some chips even have metal (aluminum, brass, etc.) inlays with the logo/denom stamped into the metal.
Dozens. Check out Robert Eisenstadt’s Mold Design Project for a thorough listing of different molds with pictures of each. This is an excellent reference site for identifying obscure molds.
ChipCo produces several different chip finishes – Linen, Recessed, Satin, and Slick. Read about the differences at The Chip Guide FAQ.
The famous and popular “Hat and Cane” mold comes in a few different varieties – normal, “Long Cane Version” and “Reversed Hat and Cane”. Read about the differences at The Chip Guide FAQ.
The Diamond mold comes in at least two varieties – “Right On Top” and “Left On Top”. Read about the differences at The Chip Guide FAQ.
Interestingly, Jay Sands adds “Careful (Will)… the diamond mold is an incused mold with solid diamonds. The LOT and ROT designations refer to 6-suits and Die4Suits molds, which are not incused… they refer to the way the diamond suit is constructed from its two triangle pieces.”
The fonts used on chips come in many different styles – two of which are “with serifs” and “no serifs”. Read about the differences at The Chip Guide FAQ.
Illegals are chips that are/were used by casinos that operated illegally in their state/jurisdiction. These chips are fairly uncommon as a result of their nature. Pictured below is an illegal club chip from the Hollywood club in Toledo, OH. (image courtesy Bryan Jimison)
Stackable chips are chips that, when stacked together and viewed from the side, create an image across the edges of the chips
A Hot-Stamped chip, or Hot Stamp for short, is a chip that has the casino’s logo and/or denomination stamped onto it in a metal (typically gold) foil or ink. The stamping process involved heat for the foil/ink transfer and thus the chip is appropriately termed a “Hot Stamp” (see image below, courtesy Bryan Jimison).
A Dovetail chip is a chip that was made from two separate pieces of clay and “dovetailed” together. The name is presumably derived from the resemblance to the carpenter’s dovetail joint (see image below, courtesy Bryan Jimison).
A Limited Edition chip. An LE chip is typically produced in limited numbers for a special occasion or event. LE chips have been made for holidays, concerts, motorcycle and car rallies, horse races, chinese lunar new years, and grand openings just to name a few.
Technically, to qualify as an LE, a chip must say “LTD” or “Limited” and have the number of chips produced in the production run.
LE’s are typically coveted because of the limited number of chips issued and because they typically are more attractive aesthetically than the average house chip. Although there are some collectors who choose specifically not to collect LE’s because they believe they’re produced solely for collectors and only a small percentage ever hit the tables.
Incused refers to the type of mold of the chip. Incused is when the pattern (mold) is pressed into the surface of the chip as opposed to being proud of (or above) the surface.
Brass-core chips are chips that have a plastic injection molded over a metal core (see image below, courtesy Bryan Jimison). They’re controversial because during 2001, the CC>CC became aware of the production and existence of counterfeit brass core chips. Read all about it on their Brass Core page.
“Win Cards” is a promotional program offered by some casinos. It is usually offered as a benefit of joining their Slot Club. The Win Card Chips are No Cash Value chips that can be exchanged at certain tables for cheques (regular cash value chips).
This is best illustrated with the following example of the Excalibur’s Win Cards program. All steps listed reference the picture below.
- Complete the Slot Club application (A)…
- to obtain the Slot Club card (B) and Win Card application (C).
- Complete the Win Cards application (C)…
- to obtain a certificate receipt (D)…
- which can be exchanged at the casier’s cage, along with $10, for a Win Cards Package which contains items 1 – 7.
- The Win Card chips are used on even money bets as a $1 bet. When you bet one and win, it is exchanged for a live $1 cheque, which you may pick-up and cash in, or continue to play.
- In this example, the package also contains three Win Cards which explain how to play Blackjack, Roulette, and Craps. It also contains a “tip” chit which you may give to a dealer who it turn can redeem it for a $1 tip.
No Value chips are chips that have no value printed on the chip, are not intended to have a value, and are not used in casino gaming. In fact, they may not even be produced by a casino. Marketing, advertising, and “business card” chips are fine examples of No Value chips. Below is a picture of a No Value chip produced by the CCGTCC. (image courtesy Bryan Jimison)
No Cash Value chips, on the other hand, are chips that do have values printed on them, but are reserved for tournament play and are not redeemable for the value printed on them. Think of them as funny-money. In tournaments, you might have an entry fee of $50, and you might received $5000 in No Cash Value chips for play in the tournament – of course, you couldn’t immediately return them to the cage and expect to receive $5000 cash in exchange. Below is a picture of a No Cash Value chip.(image courtesy Bryan Jimison)
Commemorative and LE, or Limited Edition, chips are commonly confused. Often we collectors refer to any commemorative chip as an “LE”. However, there is an important difference between the two.
LE chips must have “LTD” or “Limited” and the number of chips produced in the production run printed on the face of the chip. This assures the collector that no other identical chips may be produced at a later date.
Commemorative chips on the other hand, may be produced to commemorate an event or date, but may not be designated as limited to a specific number of chips. Therefore, the casino could choose to re-produce another run of those same chips at a later date.
“Snapper” is a nickname for a chip with a face value of $2.50. They are commonly used in Blackjack to pay off 150% Blackjack payouts. The nickname is derived from the snapping sound that the chip produces when pulled from the chip rack.
CJ H&C chips are distinguishable from other H&C chips by the extraordinarily shiny surface inside the hat. It is generally agreeable that you must compare a CJ H&C next to another company’s H&C to first see the difference, but once you’ve seen it, you’ll be able to spot a CJ H&C from across the room.