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Advice on Chip Colors and Breakdowns for Home Games - II

Discussion in 'Poker Chip Advice' started by Matthew, Jan 17, 2007.

  1. Matthew

    Matthew Super Moderator
    Staff Member Lifetime Supporter

    Mar 23, 2005
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    I wanted to write a follow up article to the original “Advice on Chip Colors and Breakdowns for Home Games” published on chiptalk.net back in October of 2005.

    This article is meant to specifically address single table games with no more than ten players. I want to explore two scenarios, a $20 buy-in cash game using 25¢-50¢ blinds and a T5000 tournament with a single re-buy or add-on. This article is meant as advice, and approaches chip denomination amounts in a logical way. My intent is to optimize a set of 400 chips that can be used in a $20 buy in cash game and another to be used as a T5000 tournament. If you have more chips available, by all means use them.​


    I am using a T5000 tournament structure for the example in this article as it can be scaled up or down for the readers use. Again, this recommendation will be for a single table tournament of up to ten players with chips available for one rebuy or add-on per player. Alternatively, this can be a T10,000 freeze out. In this structure I am assuming T25-T50 blinds to begin. Therefore, a T25 chip will be your lowest denomination and the progression will be T25-T100-T500-T1000. Recommended starting stacks are 12 x T25, 12 x T100, 5 x T500 and 1 x T1000.

    The T25 chip will only be used in the initial rounds and will be colored up as it becomes unnecessary. For ten players enough T25s to cover the starting stacks is all that is required. The recommendation for the T25 chip is 120 chips total. The value of all the T25 chips is T3000.

    The T100 chips will be around longer in the tournament but will also most likely be colored up and removed from play. To cover the starting stacks, 120 chips will be required. Please note, when the T25 chips are colored up, six T500 chip will need to be introduced since all of the T100s will already be in play. The starting stack value of the T100s is T12,000.

    Fifty T500 chips will be used in the original starting stacks and thirty chips are required to color up the entire value of the T25s and T100s. Rebuys or the add-on should be done with two T500s and four T1000s. This adds 20 chips to the quantity required bringing the recommendation for the T500 to 100 chips.

    For a 400 chip set this leaves room for sixty T1000 chips. The starting stack requires ten chips and the rebuy or add-on requires another forty, filling it out with ten extra chips.

    • 120 x T25
    • 120 x T100
    • 100 x T500
    • 60 x T1000

    Cash game

    Most home cash games I read about on chiptalk.net are single table games with a $20 buy-in. As with the first article, my intent is to optimize the selection of chips to ensure you have enough to cover reasonable starting stacks and enough chip value to cover the amount of money in play at most home games. Typically, home games use 25¢-50¢ as the small blind and big blind. Obviously, your smallest denomination chip will be 25¢. This type of game therefore requires a chip progression of 25¢ - $1 - $5 and starting stacks of 12 x 25¢, 12 x $1 and 1 x $5 work very well. This gives plenty of quarters to have in play for the entire game.

    Keeping the focus on the quantity of quarter chips required, having ten players dictates 120 chips needed to start. This gets all 25¢ chips initially in play and it is easy enough to make change with another player as necessary in a friendly home game. The recommendation for 25¢ chips is quantity of 120, giving $30 in play.

    Addressing the $1 chips, I again recommend 120 chips simply to cover the starting stacks using all 120 chips. This leaves rebuys using the $5 chips. These 120 chips bring your total in play to $150.

    I recommend a full rack or 100 chips for the $5 chip. The starting stacks take up a single chip and you can use four $5 chips for the rebuys. Additionally, consider later in the game players may rebuy for more than the original $20. With 100 $5 chips, the total available for the game is now $650.

    This leaves room in a 400 chip set for sixty chips. A $10 chip is useful here, giving an additional $600 available. Again, please keep in mind, as more money comes into play, players that get felted may be buying in for more than the original $20.

    In summary, for a 25¢-50¢ game for up to ten players, I recommend 400 chips total with a cash value of $1250.

    • 120 x 25¢
    • 120 x $1
    • 100 x $5
    • 60 x $10


    As many may have noticed, the 400 chip sets I outlined above are very similar. The quantities of the T25-25¢, T100-$1, T500-$5 and T1000-$10 are identical. This allows the tournament denominations to be divided by 100 for use in the cash game. If you're on a budget or looking for your first set of nice chips, consider the tournament denominations with the flexibility to be used for your cash game as well. Most regular readers of chiptalk.net have multiple chip sets dedicated to cash games and tournaments. However, my purpose here was show that with some planning an expensive set of 400 chips can be reasonably utilized for different games for up to ten players.​

    Additional Recommendations

    As always more chips are better and if you have the means for dedicated cash and tournament sets, by all means use them. However, I still recommend at least 400 chips for cash set with the following adjustments. Use a $20 chip instead of $10 and slightly adjusting the quantities to 120-180-80-20 for the four denominations of 25¢-$1-$5-$20. This still allows the 12x25¢ 12x$1 and 1x$5 starting stacks for a $20 buy in plus six stacks of twenty $1s and plenty of $5s and $20s for reloads. This breakdown has $1010 avaiable for play.

    For a dedicated tournament set, it is advantageous to include an extra thirty T100 chips to color up the T25 chips. Adding an extra forty chips to the T500 count to increase their use as rebuy / add-on chips. This leaves room for thirty additional chips in a 500 chip set to which I recommend twenty additional T1000 chips and adding ten T5000 or ten non-denominational chips for a breakdown of 120-150-140-80-10.

    Please note and as a reminder, the above starting stacks and rebuy thoughts are based on 10 players, with more regulars in your game you can easily scale these recommednations up or down. For 25¢ or T25 chips take the number of player times 12 for your starting stack requirements. Do the same for the $1 and T100 for your starting stacks but Include enough extra T100 chips to color up all the T25s and include enough extra $1s to get enough chips in play through reloads. Cover yout intial stacks with the T500, add enough extra to cover rebuys or add-ons. Fill the cash set out with enough $5s and $10s or $20s to cover what you'll have in play and fill out the Tournement set with enough T1000 to have resonable stacks when it gets to heads-up play.​
  2. mattman

    mattman Well-Known Member

    Aug 14, 2007
    Likes Received:
    nice article.....i was debating this very issue.
  3. polar22

    polar22 Member

    Jun 14, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Thank you for your post, it was a good way to optimize every chip rather than buy pre selected chip sets with random amounts. I ended up buying my first set of chips, Paulson 05 James Bonds x400. Since these chips were on the expensive side, it was nice to know I can do 10 person home games with only 400 chips. Although chip stacks are start out small, we sometimes do a T10,000 freeze out when we have a small amount of players.

    Here is the breakdown of chips that I bought:

    125 - $25
    125 - $100
    100 - $500
    50 - $1000

    Thanks again!
  4. poiu

    poiu New Member

    Nov 10, 2009
    Likes Received:
    I recently bought a chip set and went through quite long analysis of the most efficient chip distribution available. Altough this has been probably discussed a couple of times before, I hope to offer some insight to people in similar position. So here goes...

    First of all I had no clearly specified situation I could choose the distribution for. The set had to adapt to both tournament play and cash games, usually one table short handed but occasionally also full ring. Usually a set of 500 chips is recommended for full ring games, but I felt that if possible, I'd be willing to sacrifice some comfort of big stacks, if I could have an easily portable 300 piece chipset which is still playable even in full ring games and works well in six handed games.

    I wanted denominations, but for cash games I'd use 1/2 blinds regardless of actual stakes and scale accordingly. So, denominations in the set would be 1, 5, 25 and 100. I could have also chosen 5, 25, 100, 500 or some other common set of denominations, but to me 1/2 blinds felt like natural choice. Different denominations could need somewhat adjusted distribution but incidentally the distribution I felt suited well for 1/5/25/100 works also for 5/25/100/500 even though multiplication steps are not identical.

    Some assumptions I made:
    * In cash games 10 chips of the lowest denominations per player is playable, 15 is nice and 20 very good. Also about 10 chips of the second lowest denomination is the minimum for playable set.
    * Starting stacks of 100, 200, 300 and preferably also 400 chips should be possible in tournament and cash games.
    * Tournament games include color ups, so some extra chips are needed for that.

    So, to repeat what I earlier said, the goal was to choose a distribution, which is playable in full ring games (10 players) and works well in six handed games. We'll begin with full ring: distribution of 100 1's, 100 5's, 60 25's and 20 100's allows each player a stack of 10 1's, 8 5's (leaving two extra 5's for coloring up 1's) and 6 25's for a total of 200 stacksize. One or two 100's can be added to make stack bigger. Unfortunately there are no extra 25's for coloring up 5's, but I could live with that.

    Exactly same distribution works well enough for full ring cash games also, and maximum buyin of 200 chips (100 bb) leaves all 100's unused for reloads.

    For six handed games I came up with a desired distribtion of 120 1's, 90 5's, 48 25's and 18 100's giving each player 20 1's, 11 5's (four extra for color up) and 5 25's (three extra for coloring up 5's) for a total of 200 chips. This leaves us more than enough hundreds to embiggen starting stack if so desired or for reloads in cash games.

    If we combine the previous two distributions for full ring and six handed, we end up with total of 120 1's, 100 5's, 60 25's and 20 100's, which adds up to exactly 300 pieces. Victory! I've never seen exactly this distribtion used in any set available, but I feel, that this could be very good choice for many people buying a set of 300 chips. If you play mostly full ring tournament games, a distribution of 100 1's, 100 5's, 80 25's and 20 100's might work better giving enough 25's for coloring up 5's, but then you would have to do with 15 1's in six handed games.

    Summary for the lazy: Even a 300 piece chipset is playable in full ring cash and tournament games, if the denominations and distribution are selected carefully. This is good news to people who need to carry their set around or want to spare a few bucks on set purchase. The set I came up with has denominations 1/5/25/100 and distribution of 120/100/60/20 accordingly.
  5. Toby

    Toby Professional gamboler
    Lifetime Supporter

    Feb 27, 2009
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    Would it be poss to move this to 'Chip Breakdowns' alongside the other article Matthew did..?

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