Jeton Poker Chips

August 27th, 2011 Poker

Jeton Poker ChipsBefore plastic poker chips were invented, and way before the advent of virtual ones in online gaming, players used small coins or tokens called jetons. They were originally used as calculation tools on a board, similar to the abacus. Their use in gaming came when people started using them as substitutes for money. Eventually, as one would expect, they were replaced by modern-day plastic chips which were cheaper to mass-produce.

Chips are still called jetons in some circles, especially in Europe (the term originates from French jeter, to throw). Today, jeton poker chips usually refer to European-style gaming sets made of high-quality materials, such as light wood, pearlized plastic, or even mother of pearl. Fancy packaging is also common; the pieces may come in a polished wood case and include high-grade playing cards. This explains why they tend to be more expensive, although like any other chip they have no intrinsic cash value. Poker “purists” may insist that jeton pieces must be made in Europe, although this isn’t always the case.

By contrast, casino chips tend to be compression molded–they are commonly referred to in the business as clay chips. This construction allows for easier printing and tagging, as well as easy maintenance. It also allows them to incorporate security features such as RFID tags, which isn’t common in jeton poker but pretty much standard in American establishments.

Because of regional variations in rules, jeton chips may also follow a different value scheme. Traditional poker chip sets include red, white, and blue chips, as well as the occasional high-value black ship. These range in value from $1 to $100. Larger sets can include yellow, pink, green, purple, brown, and light blue chips, whose values can go up to $5,000. In European casinos, high denominations–often starting at EUR1000–may be represented by plaques rather than jetons. Some places use pink chips for EUR2 and blue for EUR10, and other such specifics.

Jeton chips may also refer to individual poker pieces that are no longer in use, but are kept for their historic, symbolic, or cultural value. They may have come from defunct casinos or been created for specific occasions, such as anniversaries. Some are oversized to reflect their denomination–a chip can be worth $20,000 at some casinos. Poker aficionados can pay a premium for these pieces; some are so valuable that they are only sold at auctions, although these are rare.


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