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The Big and Small of It

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The Big
We've all seen those "Frisbee" 500,000 and 1,000,000 WSOP tournament chips on the ESPN broadcasts. You've probably even handled a few oversized $1,000 chips in the pit or at the poker tables. These large chips are something of a novelty. They certainly stand out in the crowd. But did you know that a few casinos have produced oversized $1 chips?

The standard casino chip has a diameter of 39mm. Oversized chips have a diameter of 43mm. Casinos generally order oversized chips as a means of providing an additional layer of security to their high-value chips. Let's face it, it's a lot easier doctoring a $1 chip to look like a $1,000 chip, but not so if the $1,000 chip is a lot larger. So, aside from this reason, why would a casino make a larger chip and where would it be used? The answer is baccarat where the typical player is Asian. These oversized chips lend the game a greater sense of exclusivity and air of refinement.

Only 4 casinos have ever produced an oversized $1 chip. All 4 were used in their baccarat pit. The first is from the MGM Grand in Detroit, MI. It's pictured below next to a standard $1 chip from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, NV. Notice the custom MGM Grand Baccarat mold.

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MGM Grand oversized $1 baccarat chip alongside a standard $1 casino chip

Next, let's look at the 3 oversized chips from Las Vegas casinos. Below are the $1 baccarat chips produced by the Aladdin for use in their London Club exclusive gaming area, Palms Casino, and the M Resort. The Aladdin was transformed into the Planet Hollywood, so this chip is now obsolete. Both the Palms and M casinos no longer use these oversized chips in their baccarat games. This may be due to the fact that many of the $1 chips were taken as souvenirs and reordering a small quantity was cost prohibitive, or that these exclusive chips were only used to promote the game during the initial weeks after the grand opening. Whatever the reason, these chips are no longer in play.

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$1 baccarat chip from the Aladdin, Palms, and M Casino

While oversized chips make great card protectors and are unusual conversation pieces, obtaining one today can be pricy. The alternative -- using a $1,000 house chip or harvesting a 500,000 WSOP tournament chip can be much more costly.

The Small
We've learned that the standard house chip is 39mm, but there are some chips smaller than the average. A number of 36mm chips were produced for a licensed blackjack variant called STREAK Blackjack. Rules of STREAK Blackjack:

STREAK is a patented variation of blackjack where the player may place one or more optional wagers that the player will win two, three, four, or five consecutive blackjack hands. STREAK may only be played on tables equipped with the STREAK signage, STREAK table layout, and a STREAK lammer for each player position.

Prior to the start of each round of blackjack, in addition to the standard blackjack wager, each player is afforded the opportunity to place one or more STREAK wagers by placing a wager on one or more of the designated STREAK spots, numbered two through five located at each player position.

If a player has placed a STREAK wager and wins the blackjack hand, the dealer shall place a STREAK lammer on top of the STREAK spot labeled "2" indicating that the player is going for a second consecutive win.

If a player wins the next consecutive blackjack hand and has a STREAK wager on number "2", the dealer shall first pay the blackjack wager, then pay the STREAK wager and then advance the lammer to the "3" STREAK wager spot, indicating that the player is going for a third consecutive win.

With each consecutive winning blackjack hand the dealer shall first pay the blackjack wager, then the STREAK wager and then advance the lammer to the next highest STREAK wager spot until the player either loses a hand or wins the last of the pending STREAK wagers, thereby completing the STREAK pendency. At such point each player's lammer is returned to the tray at the end of the player's STREAK wager spots.

STREAK wagers shall be paid in accordance with the following pay table:

2 Consecutive Winning Hands 3 to 1
3 Consecutive Winning Hands 8 to 1
4 Consecutive Winning Hands 18 to 1
5 Consecutive Winning Hands 38 to 1

Below is a photo of a STREAK chip from Casino Magic in Biloxi, MS, next to a standard sized chip from the now closed Biloxi Belle casino.

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STREAK Blackjack chip alongside a standard $1 chip from the Biloxi Belle

Several other casinos offered STREAK Blackjack in which similar 36mm chips were used. (STREAK is no longer offered, so these small chips are very difficult to find.) The full list included:

Casino Magic, Biloxi
The Palace Casino, Biloxi
The Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic City
The Trump Marina, Atlantic City
Trump Plaza, Atlantic City
The Claridge, Atlantic City
Caesars, Atlantic City
Casino Morongo, California

The STREAK chip shown was included among 100 chips I purchased from a collector. At the time, I had no idea what it was or any indication of its value. It was smaller than the rest in the lot, a bit of a curiosity, so I thought it might be worth something. After extensive research I learned that few STREAK chips existed and was able to sell my chip for $220.

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Casino Magic STREAK chip and Players Card

That's the Big and Small of it. Casino chips sometimes come in different sizes that the standard 39mm chips we've routinely handled in the poker rooms. Each chip has a story. If you have a chip and would like to know its story, and if it's worth anything, just let me know and I'd be happy to help you.

Updated 01-19-2017 at 01:11 PM by alpha1243

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