Flags,’ ‘melons’ and other high-dollar Vegas chips you’ll never see

Do the math. That’s a lot of cash in the Aria high-limit baccarat lounge.
Photo: Rick Lax

Recently I got to tour Aria’s gorgeous high-roller baccarat lounge. Holy crap, they’ve got some serious money stashed back there.

If you play table games in Las Vegas, you know that red chips are worth $5, green chips are worth $25 and black chips are worth $100.

And maybe, if you have a really good night, when you go to cash in your chips, the dealer will convert some of your black chips to purple ones, which are worth $500 each. Or even yellow chips, which are worth $1,000 each. It’s happened to me 10 or 12 times over the years.

But what’s the next level? What happens after the $1,000 mark?

Things get patriotic. The next level up, the $5,000 chip, is known as a “flag,” because it’s white with blue and red accents. If you’ve got a flag on you, be careful not to confuse it with a white $1 chip and leave it as a tip for your cocktail waitress.

Then again, if you’re the type of person who gambles with “flags,” a $5,000 loss probably won’t even blip your radar.

Next level: “melon.” These guys are worth a whopping $25,000 each. Can you imagine how many actual melons a “melon” could buy you? If you shop at Whole Foods, at least a dozen.

Finally, there’s the granddaddy of 'em all. The high-roller lounge doesn’t even keep these guys the main room; you have to go back to one of the ultra-ultra-high-level back rooms. That’s where you’ll find the yellow, orange and gray chips worth $100,000 each.

Take a look at that photo. I count about 60 gray chips in that stack. That’s $6,000,000 … that fits in a clutch. That chip case contains more money than most people will make in a lifetime. And being around it is every bit as intoxicating and wonderful as you’d imagine. Seriously, these things would arouse Stalin.

Sadly, I can’t imagine a scenario in which I’ll actually get to touch, shuffle or riffle chips like this. But I can dream.

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