Poker is a popular card game that is played in casinos, card rooms, and homes throughout the United States. When you are hosting a poker game, whether it is a cash game or a tournament, you will need to know how to determine the chip amounts and how many chips to give to each player. Although there are guidelines about chip denominations that you should follow, the value of each chip is up to you.
Separate four chip colors. They typically are white, red, blue, and a wild card color such as black, yellow, or gray. Use the white chips for the smallest denomination, red chips for the next denomination, blue chips for the next denomination, and the wild card chips as the highest valued denomination.
Determine the big blind amount. Divide the big blind amount in half. This amount is the game's small blind and the denomination for your white chips. For instance, if your big blind will be a $1, then your small blind is 50 cents, making your white chip worth 50 cents. Make the red chip $1, the blue chip $5, and the wild card chip—we'll call it black—$10 or $20, depending on the size of the buy-in.
Give each player enough white chips for three rounds of small and big blinds. It helps to round up to the nearest dollar amount, so the ideal amount in this case would be 12 white chips, which would amount to $6.
Give the same amount of red chips as white chips and round up to the nearest $5 increment. In this case, you would be giving players 14 red chips.
Fill in the rest of the buy-in with the blue $5 chips, and black chips. This depends on your buy-in. If, in this case, your buy-in is $40, you should give each player two $5 blue chips and a $10 black chip. If your buy-in is $100, then give players four $5 blue blue chips, and three $20 black chips. This is somewhat about your feel for the game. If there is going to be aggressive play, make your wild card chips a larger denomination than if the game was more conservative.
Separate four chip colors. They typically are white, red, blue, and black. Use the white chips for the smallest denomination, red chips for the next denomination, blue chips for the next denomination and the black chips as the highest valued denomination.
Determine the total amount of chips each player will get when they buy into the tournament. A good rule of thumb is 25 times the first big blind. So if each player will get $5,000.00 in chips, the first big blind should be 200.
Determine the value of each color of chip based on the total amount of the tournament and the amount of the first small blind. For instance, if the first big blind is $200.00, then the first small blind will be $100.00. If that is the case, make the white chips worth $100.00 a piece.
Distribute enough $100.00 white chips and $200.00 red chips to each player that they will have enough for the first round of betting when the blinds are at the lowest point. This is up to you and the tempo and size of the tournament. Typically, however, players will need three or four of the smallest denomination chips.
Make the red chip value twice as much as the white chip, make the blue chip value at least double the value of the red chip, and the black chip double the value of the blue chip. After the white and red values are determined, the blues and blacks should be in increments of $500.00. For instance, if the white chip is worth $100.00, make the red chip worth $200.00, make the blue chip worth $500.00 and make the black chip worth $1,000.00.
Give each player at least one of the largest chips. In the case of a $5,000.00 chip tournament, with the small blind starting at $100.00, it is recommend to give each player five $100.00 white chips, five $200.00 red chips, six $500.00 blue chips and one $1,000.00 black chip.
Brendan O'Brien is a professional journalist in Milwaukee, Wis. He has worked for several news organizations, newspapers such as the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" and trade magazines during his career of more than 15 years. He is currently a freelance writer who works for several publications.