I saw this question on a forum some time ago, and I was quite shocked at the amount of uncertainty in the answers people gave. I can’t say I blame them, anyway. Anyone who frequently travels by plane would know how frustrating it can be when you’re stuck in Airport security check. So, will travel with a set of poker chips get you in trouble? Let’s see.
Can you take poker chips on a plane? Yes, it’s totally legal to carry poker chips on a flight. Poker chips are not contraband in the USA or any other country for that matter. Your only concern should be whether or not your chips would be too much weight. You may have to pay for extra charges if you’re carrying above the weight limit.
Poker chips do not carry any threat on a plane or anywhere else. If you’re hoping to take your chips with you on a trip, there’s no reason why you should not. However, you will need to consider a few things before packing up your chips.
Do you Have to pay Extra to Carry Your Poker Chips on a Plane?
One of the fears people have about taking their chips on a plane is how much extra it’ll cost.
On its own, flying with poker chips won’t attract any extra charges. Yet, you’ll have to be wary of the weight of your poker chips.
If your chips increase your luggage above the weight limit, you may have to pay more to travel with it.
Depending on the quality of your chips, they usually weigh anywhere between 7.5 to 14grams.
If you’re carrying quality chips and in bulk, chances are you might need to prepare for extra charges as chip weight is directly proportional to its quality.
Getting Past Security Checks
While security checks can be frustrating, you don’t have to be worried about the outcome. They’ll check your chips for explosives and all other necessary procedure just to be sure everything is in place.
From my personal experience, I’ve not spent more than 10 minutes having my chips checked. So, it really isn’t a problem. If you’re buying the chips as a gift for someone, it would be wise not to wrap it. Since the security would want to see them, there’s no real need to wrap them up in some fancy material just yet. You can always do that when you’re off the plane.
Now, this has been my experience while traveling with poker chips. Other people have reportedly had a difficult time with the TSA. According to the experiences of other people, here are two significant risks you may face with the TSA.
- Theft: Many players have reportedly had their chips or personal belongings stolen by TSA. While it’s well documented that individual TSA agents steal while they go through passenger bags, the whole system has since had a revamp, and there are fewer reports of stolen belongings. Yet, you should know that this may be a possibility.
- Money laundering: If you’re carrying chips that are worth more than $10k, you’ll need to declare your chips, or it might be seized. The rules from the US customs and Border protection states that while people can travel with any amount of money on them, they need to declare their cash or instrument with monetary value.
This applies to poker chips as well. Since poker chips are basically casino currency, you’re expected to declare chips in excess of $10k when traveling with them. If you fail to do so and your chips are seized by TSA, you may need to get a lawyer to get you them back.
Using Poker Chips Outside Casinos
It’s common knowledge that poker chips are predominantly used inside casinos, but what about when you take them out? You can’t use them to purchase items, but you can certainly take them home as souvenirs.
If you like, you may also decide to keep your chips and exchange them for cash on another day. Poker chips can only be exchanged for money inside a casino. While chips are no different from currencies inside a casino, you can’t actually use them as a legit currency outside of the casino.
However, back in the early days of poker, chips were treated like the real currency. People were able to pay for groceries, get a haircut, or pay off debts with their chips. With things getting out of hand, the use of chips outside casinos was abolished, ensuring that you had to exchange your chips to money to use your winnings.
Types of Poker Chips
Poker chips are predominantly alike in size and shape. The difference lies in color and how they are made. There are four major types of poker chips. They are plastic, composite, ceramic, and clay.
- Plastic: In the order of chip quality, plastic chips are very much down the list. These types of poker chips don’t come in many colors. They are available in local and online stores and won’t cost you much to get. Plastic chips are commonly found in house games, and anywhere people play casual poker.
- Composite: If you want to make a step up from plastic poker chips but still want something that’s cheap, composite chips are a perfect choice. They are made with a combination of clay and plastic. There’s also a piece of metal inserted to give it a bit of weight. In terms of quality, composite is slightly better than plastic due to its better materials.
- Ceramic: If you want poker chips with better quality than those mentioned above two, ceramic chips are an excellent choice. They are made from ceramic polymer and come with printed denominations. You can decide to have images or custom values printed on them. Ceramic chips are light and smooth when felt.
- Clay Chips: If you need casino quality chips, clay is hands down the best on the market. They are also the most expensive chip type you’ll find. Although they are not made solely with clay, they are considered to be pure clay.
Whether you’re traveling within the US or internationally, taking your poker chips along shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you don’t want your luggage searched, you can simply pack up your chip on another bag. That way, they can easily be examined by TSA.
If you’re carrying a large number of chips, you may likely be charged for extra fees. Other than that, you shouldn’t have any problems traveling with poker chips.
How do you know quality poker chips? Quality poker chips are made of clay or ceramic. They weigh anywhere between 8 to 10 grams. They are smooth when felt and light-weighted. Most of them have microchips embedded to prevent counterfeits. These types of chips are usually more expensive than lower quality chips. Also, low-quality chips are most likely to have lighter weight compared to chips of higher quality.
How do Casinos detect fake poker chips? Casino chips are designed in a specific way that makes it hard to counterfeit. They feature high-resolution artworks, UV markings, and custom combinations that make them unique. The amount of security embedded in each poker chips increases with higher denominations.
Are there High-Value Chips? Yes, high-value chip denominations are ranging from $5000 to $25,000. These types of chips are reserved for high stake games featuring rich or established pro poker players. Casinos can create any kind of chip denominations they want as long as the gaming commission approves it. These high-value chips are usually found in private games.