There is no universally standardized color scheme for poker chip values, and schemes not only vary nationally and regionally, but even from venue to venue, or by event type within a single venue.
Chip colors found in home sets typically include red, white, blue, and sometimes green and black; however, more recently a wide assortment of colors have become readily available, particularly in lower-cost ABS plastic chips. Common additional colors are pink, purple, yellow, orange, and grey. Newer designs in home chips include three-color designs where a three-step molding process creates a chip with unique base, secondary, and detail colors. As chip sets are tailored to the buyer, the values of various colors vary widely, with less traditional colors either used as very high values such as $500, $1,000, $5,000, and so forth, common in tournaments, or as special “fractional” values such as $2 or $0.50, common in low-limit games.
In casinos, uniform chip colors and sizes are sometimes specified by the local gaming control board for consistency. For example, regulations in New Jersey and Illinois specify similar uniform colors. Notably, Nevada has no regulations regarding color, which is why Nevada casinos may use white, blue, or gray as $1, though $5 and greater are almost always consistently colored. All US states where gambling is legal require that casino chips have a unique combination of edge spots for identification, the name and location of the casino and the chip’s value, if any, impressed, printed, or molded onto the obverse and reverse of the token.
In 19th-century America, there was enough of a tradition of using blue chips for higher values that “blue chip” in noun and adjective senses signaling high-value chips and high-value property are attested since 1873 and 1894, respectively. This established connotation was first extended to the sense of a blue-chip stock in the 1920s.
$2.50 chips (colloquially referred to as “snappers” by chip collectors) are mostly used for blackjack tables, since a “natural” (a 21 on the first two cards dealt to a player) typically pays 3:2 and most wagers are in increments of $5. However, the Tropicana Casino and Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and others, have used $2.50 (pink) chips in $7.50 to $15 and $10 to $20 poker games.
$20 chips are used mostly at baccarat and pai gow poker because a 5% commission charged for all winning banker wagers at baccarat and winning wagers at pai gow converts evenly. Bets of $20 are not uncommon in traditional table games such as craps and roulette; a $20 chip, for example, places a $5 bet on each of the “hard ways” in craps and is preferable to passing a stack of chips or making change.
Because eight is considered a lucky number in Chinese culture, chips denominated 8, 88, and 888 (e.g., $8 in the US) are common in casinos catering to a Chinese clientele, often as a promotion for the Chinese Lunar New Year. They will sometimes contain an image of the animal associated with the year and are issued in a variety of colors.
Low-denomination yellow chips vary in value: $20 in Atlantic City and Illinois (which also uses “mustard yellow” $0.50 chips); $5 at most Southern California poker rooms; $2 at Foxwoods’ poker room in Ledyard, Connecticut; Running Aces Harness Park and Canterbury Park, both in Minnesota; and at Casino del Sol in Tucson, Arizona; and $0.50 at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Blue chips are occasionally used for $10, most notably in Atlantic City. In Las Vegas and California, most casinos use blue or white for $1 chips, though many Las Vegas casinos now use $1 metal tokens in lieu of chips.
Chips are also available in denominations of $1000 or more, depending on the wagering limits of the casino. Such chips are often yellow or orange.[clarification needed]. Casinos in Nevada, Atlantic City, and other areas that permit high wagers typically have chips available in $5000, $10,000, $25,000, and more; the colors for these vary widely.
Denominations above $5000 are almost never encountered by the general public; their use is usually limited to “high limit rooms” where bet sizes are much greater than on the main floor. Casinos often use gaming plaques for these denominations: These plaques are about the size of a playing card, and must be marked with serial numbers. The greatest value placed on a plaque to date is $10 million, used at the London Club in Las Vegas.
Televised poker tournaments and cash games sometimes use bundled paper bills for high denominations, though the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour use round chips exclusively with denominations up to $250,000; tournament chips, however, are not redeemable for cash.
European casinos use a similar scheme, though certain venues, such as the Aviation Club de France, use pink for €2 and blue for €10. European casinos also use plaques rather than chips for high denominations, usually in the €1000 and higher range.