Chip Counts, Starting Stacks, and Chip Denominations

Previously I posted some information detailing the types of poker chips you can buy. Today I'm going to cover how many chips you should buy, how many different colors (and how many of each color), and how many chips you should start people out with.

First, here's a loose breakdown of the chips you'll need depending on the number of players.


  • 200 poker chips for 2-4 players.

  • 300 poker chips for 4-6 players.

  • 400 poker chips for 6-8 players.

  • 500 poker chips for 8-10 players.



You should start seeing a pattern above. For most tournaments, a good starting stack is about 25-50 poker chips for each player. Obviously no two tournaments are the same, so you'll want to consider your blind schedules as well as the style of play you're looking for. Basically, you want people to feel like they have a good amount of chips, but not too many that stacks get too big too soon as players get eliminated. This could mean starting everybody with 100 chips or more or perhaps as low as 20.

Of course, you don't want to buy chips of all the same color as that'll limit your options when it comes to chip values. For smaller tournaments (2-6 players), three colors should be good. For larger tournaments you may want to add another color or two.

Below are some common color breakdowns. The numbers listed are the ratios of each color that go in order of lowest denomination to the highest. For instance, 4/3/2/1 would mean 200/150/100/50 chips for a 500 chip set.


  • 4/3/2 - A good three color choice as it gives you a good breakdown of higher and lower denominations.

  • 2/2/1 - With this breakdown you're given an option as to which color should be the lowest as well as making it easier to combine colors for the same value.

  • 4/3/2/1 - This allows you to have a good amount of each color while also making sure you have more of the lower denominations.

  • 4/2/2/1 - This common color breakdown gives you a good amount of your lowest denomination while giving you an option to change your second and third denominations.



Again, the above amounts are to be used as a general guideline. There is no "correct" amount, just make sure you have at least three colors and make sure you spread out the amount you have for each color. Your first thought may be to have the same amount of each color, but this could limit your options as you wouldn't have enough of the lowest denominations to make change and to balance out the higher value chips.

As for the denominations, you should usually try and increase the value of each colored chip by a 4 or 5 times the value of the the previous. For example, a 4/3/2/1 color breakdown of chips would probably work well with the values being $1, $5, $25, $100. Sometimes people don't like working with chip values that raise so much, so you can go with $1, $2, $5, $10 as well. The key is that you want to keep the values fairly even so that when blinds raise you'll have a good amount of the right denominations to handle it. Another route for small tournaments is to just make all chips worth the same. This makes it easier to distribute and track chips, though you'll probably need more chips than normal to handle the small denominations.

As with just about everything else, you're going to want to get a feel for your home games and find out what will work best for you and your friends. Key points too keep in mind is to have at least three colors and to have a different amount of each of those colors. From there, you can fine tune denominations and starting stacks.

Comments

  1. David Said:

    If I am expecting between 10 and 20 rotating players a week for cash game poker. How many chips would I need?

  2. Danilo Said:

    i have a set of 200 chips. 75 white, 50 red, 25 green, 25 blue and 25 black. how many chips should every person have and what values for a 4-player game? what do you recommend? i just got the chips,so please respond.

  3. martin Said:

    if you want to allow a potential re-buy in of half the original starting stack, then I would recommend having the green chips as 20's, white chips as 10's, the reds as 5's, blues as 2's and blacks as 1's, this would give you 1575 in chip value. Then each player can start with 250 chips ( 4 x greens, 10 x whites, 11 x reds, 5 x blues and 5 x blacks. ) this would leave 575 chips remaining to allow all players to buy back in for half the stake. I would recommend starting with blinds of 2 and 4.

  4. martin Said:

    also for no more than 8 x players at a time, then I reckon you should need no more than 5000 (0000!)chips, which can be acheived with 200 x chips of 5 x different values.

  5. Alex Said:

    Hi! I have a set of 200 chips, but i only have 3 colors 100 white, 50 red and 50 blue. I usually have 5 players . What do you recommend? Thanks

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