Fake Casino Chips? How to Tell if a Poker Chip is Real or Not

Wherever there have been people or institutions handling people’s money, there have always been those among us seeking to take more than what we’re owed. In the casino industry, this amounts to counterfeiting poker chips and falsifying their value. How can we tell fake casino chips from the real ones? Read on to find out.
Poker chips worth 100, 500 and 1,000.
Published on: 26 January 2021

Breakdown: Casino Chips

Casino chips are your money when playing table games within the walls of a casino. They’re the currency of the casino and only that casino, but representations of real dollar value that can be exchanged when you head out the door into the real world.

They come in a range of denominations, but not all casinos are the same, so it’s always good to get familiar with the chips you’re playing with before you drop a $100 thinking it’s $1. Some casinos out there even have chips as high as $100,000!

As well as value, a casino chip’s weight can change from casino to casino. Although they are almost always made from clay or ceramic, this lack of standardisation in the weight is a way to ensure that a casino’s value is bound to a single casino and discourages the production of fake casino chips.

Of course, the “chips” we are talking about are only found in land-based casinos. The chips used at online casinos and in live casino games are virtual, and so cannot be faked.

Misconceptions and Myths

With these high denominations in play in many casinos, the reward of counterfeiting a casino chip can be massive, and so the temptation is great and indeed, many people try – even U.S. Navy Admirals! However, they all fail thanks in part to some misconceptions out there about the production of casino chips.

Myth no.1: Standard Chip Weight

As we hinted at earlier, there is no such thing as a standard casino chip weight. 11.5 grams is the heaviness that gets thrown around as being the official weight, even by retailers of home poker kits, but that standard weight is a false belief.

As far as faking a casino chip goes, the weight is quite easy to replicate once it’s known, so it’s not very useful as a technique to prevent those counterfeiters out there. However, it is easy and definitely sounds believable, which is why it’s up there as myth no.1.

A man laying down poker chips.

Myth no.2: Special High-Quality Paint

Our second spot for the top myths out there goes to the belief that casinos use a high-quality paint on their chips that is supposedly harder to source for the would-be counterfeiters out there. Casino chips always look good, and that’s what’s led to the proliferation of this myth.

This one doesn’t quite stand up to the reality that yes, counterfeiters might have a harder time to find better paint but they undoubtedly will, in all their resourcefulness. Adding to that, the shine and sparkle of a fresh casino chip isn’t due to a new lick of paint, but a new chip altogether, thanks to casinos regularly taking the old casino chips out of circulation. It’s an image thing.

Myth no.3: We Know All the Tricks

The last and the biggest myth of all is that we can’t possibly know all the casino’s secrets when it comes to how to tell if a poker chip is real – the security features and techniques that would compromise the value of chips are tightly kept under wraps by the casinos, to protect the establishment, but also the player from encountering fake casino chips.

A lot of the tips out there on the internet to make your own fake poker chips and cash in at the casino are garbage and can only lead to disaster. After all, if you can access that information, surely the casino authorities already have and have employed measures to ensure their chip system is as secure as possible.

Anti-Counterfeiting Security Features

While there are plenty of tricks that casinos actually put to use that we are not yet privy to, there are a few known security methods that are a little harder for the average counterfeiter to employ that are more commonly known:

  • Laser printed detailing on the chip
  • UV inks
  • Holographic images
  • Laser etched serial numbers
  • Internal RFID chips

As you can see from the list, these are all special technical strategies that casinos employ to make their chips as secure as possible. The main barrier that counterfeiters face when trying to create a fake poker chip is a technological one, with these cases – they just don’t have the equipment or expertise.

Laser printing technologies are extensively used in the creation of poker chips. The detailing of images and artwork are rendered deeper into the chip, with laser imaging technology, significantly harder to reproduce than etching onto the surface. Similarly, serial numbers are one level of security, boosted by laser techniques.

Other unique and difficult to reproduce visual markers, such as UV inking and holographic images, further lock down the security of a chip, and limit the ability of counterfeiters to be able to create them. Lastly, the internal RFID chip in high-value casino chips adds that last level that makes it near impossible.

Casino’s Want Real Chips

As well as all these technical security techniques, players need not forget that casinos are institutions designed to create value that is specific to themselves, and employ many more security strategies to ensure that, such as omnipresent surveillance and detection of their chips outside the grounds.

Players can rest assured in the strength of the casino establishment to build security into their chips, ensuring that whenever you pick up a chip, you can pretty much guarantee that it’s real. If something seems off, take a walk through the list of security features, and don’t forget to report it if anything seems amiss – casino’s want to ensure that their customers are happy, and will swap any suspicious chips out, so long as you’re not too suspicious!

Frequently Asked Questions

We are asked a lot of questions on poker chip security, and how we can protect ourselves from mistaking fake for real casino chips. We’ve compiled the most common questions about fake casino chips, and listed them below.

How can you tell if a casino chip is real?

There are many security techniques that a casino employs that makes counterfeiting very hard. These are usually invisible to the naked eye, so to be totally sure when you receive a suspicious chip, raise your concern with the casino staff. Of course, you won't come across this problem at the best legal casinos in the UK.

Do casino chips have serial numbers?

All casinos are different, but many casinos utilise laser printing technologies to etch serial numbers not only on the surface of the chip, but in layers beneath. When you play at online casinos, this is not something you need to worry about.

What are real poker chips made of?

Real casino chips are either made from clay or ceramic, giving them a satisfying weight and feel that click just in the right way. Unfortunately, the specific structure isn’t enough to keep bad eggs from trying to counterfeit chips, but if you’re concerned you can always stick to online gambling and check out our best live casinos.

Are casino chips collectable?

As casinos all have their own chips and effectively their own currencies, there are many unique and varied chips out there that are likely decommissioned of their casino value but have a collectable value. Never buy chips online for their casino value - that’s where counterfeiters try to pull the wool over your eyes. Why not devote that online time to playing blackjack?

Can you fake casino chips?

You can certainly try, but you will definitely fail at creating fake casino chips that can pass as the real thing - there are just too many strategies and techniques that the casinos employ and that are out of our grasp and we just don’t know about. Remember that Britain's land-based casinos have lots of security measures in place.

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