Chips or Cheques?

Casino personnel usually refer to chips as "cheques," which is of French origin. Technically, there's a difference between a chip and a cheque. A cheque is a chip with a denomination printed on it and is always worth the value of the imprinted denomination. Chips, however, don't have denominations imprinted on them and any color can be worth any amount as defined by the dealer. For example, in a poker tournament, the dealer may define white chips as $1 and blue chips as $10; whereas in a roulette game, the dealer may define white chips as $0.25 and blue chips as $2. Another example, the cheap red, white, and blue plastic chips you buy at Wal-Mart for your Friday-night poker game are called "chips" because they don't have denominations imprinted on them.

When you plop your money down on the table and hear the dealer say, "Cheque change only," he's simply telling the boxman that a new player wants to exchange cash for chips (cheques), and that the cash on the table is not in play. Cash plays in most casinos, so if you put a $5 bill on the Pass Line just before the shooter rolls the dice and the dealer doesn't exchange your cash for chips, your cash is "live" and "in play." When the dealer says, "Cheque change only," the boxman knows that your cash is not in play.

Technically, in live craps games, we play with cheques, not chips. Occasionally, a player will approach the table, drop a $100 cheque, and tell the dealer, "Cheque change." It's fun to act like a newbie and ask the player, "Hey, I'm new to this game...what's a cheque?" Most of the time, their wacky responses will amuse you.