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History of Casino Chips

Casino chips are one of the most iconic and recognisable items relating to casinos, although their existence came centuries after the first recorded casino even opened. Today there are two different types of chips you can find, the casino chips you find in the brick and mortar casinos and their plastic counterpart that is usually part of a home casino kit from a shop. The future of casino chips is not clear as online casinos become more popular, replacing the need for physical casino chips.

The first casino was the “Riditto” casino and it was opened in Venice back in the 17th century as the first legal gambling venue, although gamblers would use cash for nearly 200 years when playing casino games. The “Gold Rush” in the American West saw prospectors begin to use odd bits of silver and gold as replacements for cash, but with this came more problems. As poker became increasingly popular and widespread in gambling halls and saloons, paying out winnings became more confusing. It was at this point that the gambling establishments began to use pieces of bone or ivory as tokens as a more uniform token to bet with, making it easier to calculate winnings.

Unfortunately due to the use of more common materials like bone and ivory, problems had begun to arise in the gambling establishments as it was easy for people to create forgeries. In order to prevent people from creating replicas, the chips that were used started to become branded, which allowed them to be distinguished from the fakes.

It was in the 1880s that a whole new industry was born as manufacturers began to produce the standardised circular casino chip that is similar to today’s version. The early versions were clay composite chips that were compressed with shellac, chalk or sand and were used up until the 1930s. Eventually colours were incorporated into the chips to allow for different values to be easily distinguished from one another, making it easier to understand how much the players are betting on each round.

Since then the casino chips have become more modern, with the composition being made up from many different materials, usually compressed with clay. As casinos have become more prominent and become more branded, as have the casino chips, with each casino usually having their brand on their chips. The chips have also become more technologically advanced as they are likely to contain something that allows the casino identify them as one of theirs. Such identification includes the use of microchips and serial numbers and this has made them far harder to replicate and forge, so much so that they are harder to forge than official currencies.

Although most commonly associated with games of poker, casino chips can also be used in casinos for games like blackjack and roulette. The colour denominations for the different chips helps the croupier to quickly work out how much has been bet and how much needs to be paid out.

With online casinos becoming more popular, only time will tell if brick and mortar casinos with their iconic casino chips can survive.

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How to beat the casinos with their own money – literally!

No – you didn’t read the headline incorrectly. With a little patience and discipline you can take advantage of on-line casinos generosity and beat them, quite literally, with their own money.

There are hundreds of casinos paying their trade on-line. It’s pretty much a standard feature of every one offering new customers a monetary incentive to open an account with them.

These monetary incentives are generally either a:

  • fixed amount of money – for example $100
  • match bonus – the casino matches the amount of your initial deposit
  • percentage amount – they’ll add a percentage amount on top of your initial deposit

Some of the new account incentive offers are very good indeed. Obviously, the casino is adding the money to new account holders to attract new business, with the belief that the average players will gamble and eventually lose much more than the incentive they’ve received.

Sound business sense from the casino – right?

Not necessarily – the clever casino player can turn the tables and the odds in his (or her) favour by playing “perfect blackjack” for example.

The bonus incentives come with strings attached – the casinos are not silly enough to allow you to withdraw your bonus money straight away – you have to play it through a few times first, so you might lose it!

Each casino has its own terms though a typical example is that they may require you to wager the bonus amount e.g. 20 times. So if they’ve given you $100 as a new account bonus you would have to place wagers to the cumulative value of $2000.

By playing “perfect blackjack” you really can walk off with your initial stake intact and a sum on top courtesy of the money the casino has given you.

The house edge (percentage the casino might expect to win) from blackjack is variable, depending on conditions, but generally in the region of 5%. In other words the casino expects to win $5 for every $100 a player bets.

However – by applying basic blackjack strategy (“perfect blackjack”) you can reduce the house edge to 1% or even less.

Now – back to the $100 new account bonus and $2000 wagering requirement example above. You’ve deposited $100 and got your free $100 making $200 in your account. Under the terms of the bonus incentive, you have to wager $2000.

By utilising basic strategy you reduce the house edge to 1% – thus on average you expect to lose 1% over the course of meeting the wagering requirements (2000 hands assuming flat betting $1 per hand). Each hand you play counts towards the wagering requirement.

1% of $2000 is just $20 – you can cash out with £180 left in your account. You’ve still got your initial $100 and you’ve taken an extra $80 from the casino literally out of their own pocket. Repeat the process at other casinos and you can rack up a tidy amount of money.

Some casinos even give monthly bonus incentives so you have the opportunity to take some money every month!

You won’t win every time – sometimes you’ll bust out and lose, other times you might win more than the above example. But by playing blackjack with the application of basic strategy it is entirely possible to literally beat the casino with their own money.

I personally use this technique and make money doing so. It’s possible that you can do the same – but if you give it a try, please never, never gamble with money you cannot afford to lose.

Good luck at the tables!