Fun Poker Chips and Physical Bitcoins

Earlier this month, I pointed out a few popular collecting approaches to the physical bitcoin category, including building a Lealana typeset. This week, I wanted to point out another approach that includes collecting by coin style—specifically the “poker chip” style of physical bitcoins. This type originally debuted as a fun, familiar, and often very affordable way of participating in the physical crypto category. Usually composed of a clay composite or plastic material, they are found in bright colors with vibrant designs and a wide range of denominations.

Perhaps the most famous poker chips are from the Satori series. Released in Japan in 2016, the Satori series was intended to generate awareness about the bitcoin technology in a fun and accessible way. Satori is named after the Buddhist term for “awakening” or “enlightenment,” referring to the life-altering potential of cryptocurrency and digital money. It was launched by brothers Motonori Kan and Yoshi Kan, executives at the Japanese importing company Raimu Inc. They intended to create an affordable cryptocurrency token that would “spread the understanding of bitcoin among Japanese people” and yet be too impractical for illegal markets like the drug trade or terrorism. The Satori poker chips were originally distributed in 25-coin rolls with consecutive serial numbers; certain numbers or number ranges remain very desirable—similar to what is seen in the U.S. currency category. The very first example we sold brought $2,400 in our June 2022 sale and set a price record that has not been surpassed.

Taking this format to new levels of production quality and popularity are the poker chips from the BTCC series. The issuer BTCC was founded in June 2011 as BTC China and it was the first Bitcoin exchange in that country. Based in Shanghai, by October 2014 it had become the world’s second largest Bitcoin exchange by volume; it was officially rebranded as BTCC in 2015. It remains the longest-running cryptocurrency exchange in the world. It was co-founded by famed bitcoin entrepreneur Bobby Lee, who is also well known for his U.S. based company Ballet that produces credit card-style cryptocurrency cold wallets.

The BTCC poker chips were first issued in 2016 in six denominations ranging from 1K to 500K “bits”—or millionths of a bitcoin. Each denomination is color-coded and represents a fraction of a bitcoin including white 1K (0.001 BTC), red 5K (0.005 BTC), blue 10K (0.01 BTC), green 25K (0.025 BTC), black 100K (0.1 BTC), and purple 500K (0.5 BTC). Most were offered as part of six-coin sets containing one of each denomination, though customers also had the option of ordering custom configurations or bulk 20-chip rolls. Given the wide range of denominations and associated rarity, the BTCC poker chips remain incredibly popular among both sophisticated bitcoin collectors and those just dipping their toes into this category. The most commonly encountered are the white 0.001 BTC chips which have sold for $2,400 in our auctions, while a rare purple 0.5 BTC chip sold for $22,800 in our August 2023 sale.

In addition to these two significant series, there are other producers that have issued poker chip style coins alongside other traditional crypto coin formats. Most notable are the Christmas-themed poker chips from the Alpen Series and the metallic poker chips from the 1HoDLCLUB series, which includes varieties struck in 1-ounce and 1.44-ounce of .9999 fine gold!

We are now in the process of finalizing our March 2024 Crypto Auction, which will feature a wide range of poker chip types, in addition to many blue-chip rarities from the Casascius and Lealana series. For questions about the March sale or to order a copy of the catalog, please feel free to reach out to me at Our firm will also have staff attending two numismatic conventions in early January 2024: the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) show in Orlando and the New York International Numismatic Convention (NYINC) show here in New York City. We will be accepting consignments in all categories at each show, so please let me know if you would like to arrange a meeting with someone from our team.

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