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Before you start - chip distribution
Nothing works without chips
Without chips, there won't be much to your home game, since there will be nothing to play for. For maximum enjoyment in a tournament, you must take several things into consideration when deciding on chip distribution.
In this article you will learn about:
For three common tournament variants, we have prepared a printable practical overview in PDF format, which takes into account the game length and the number of players: Overview: Chip distribution and Blindstructure
How many chips do you need?
For a normal game of poker at home (6-10 players), it is recommended that you have a suitcase with 500 poker chips.
For less than 6 players, you can use 300 chips, but remember that at some point you may want to invite more players or try rebuy tournaments. It is therefore not a bad idea to get a larger suitcase straight away as they don't cost much more than a small one.
In a commercial suitcase you'll normally find between 3 and 5 different chip colors. This is so that the values of the chips are easy to distinguish.
Particularly for longer poker games, where the blinds become relatively high, it is useful to have more than just 3 colours, so that you can exchange chips later (see Chiprace).
How many chips each?
|HOW MANY CHIPS EACH?
At the beginning of a tournament, every player should have at least 50 big blinds. With fewer chips, the blinds quickly become too high to play reasonable poker.Naturally, you can start off with more chips: you could do this with approximately 100 big blinds. An important aspect is how long you want the tournament to last - the more chips each player starts with, the longer the game.
|COLOR-UP - CHIP EXCHANGE|
As the blinds rise, it is often helpful to trade the small value chips for those with higher value or you'll end up with a lot of "small change" in front of you.
For instance, you begin with blinds of 500/1,000. Every player therefore needs some chips worth 500. When blinds reach 5,000/10,000, these chips will simply become annoying and should be exchanged for a 1,000 chip, or ones of even higher value.
If you have a tournament with rebuys to organise, you shouldn't distribute all the chips, but keep some out of the game to begin with. First, you should consider how often each player may rebuy chips. If you play with unlimited chips you'll need more than if you play a game with just one rebuy + add-ons.
|FOR UNLIMITED REBUYS
With pro-players at the table you should have enough chips for two rebuys and an add-on. It might be the case that some players go broke and rebuy more often, but some will do so just once or not at all.
|LIMITING TO 1 REBUY + 1 ADD-ON
Here you logically need enough chips for only 1 rebuy and an add-on. These ones should be available since you have to assume each player will both rebuy and add-on.
|HOW BIG SHOULD THE REBUY AND ADD-ON BE?
A rebuy is usually just as big as the starting stack. The add-on can be just as big, but it can also be bigger, for instance 1.5x the starting stack.
|HOW LONG SHOULD THE REBUY PHASE LAST?
You should allow rebuys for as long as it is worthwhile. This means for as long as someone who has just rebought to be able to continue in a reasonable way. If the blinds are 2,000/4,000, it wouldn't be worthwhile for someone to rebuy a stack of 10,000 chips, since he will probably go broke very quickly with just 2 ½ big blinds.
Now you know how to distribute chips at the start of a tournament. Remember that it always depends on how long you want the tournament to last: the more time you have, the more chips each player should receive. Less than 50 big blinds is not practical, since the tournament is then reduced to mere gambling and has little to do with poker.
For three common tournament variants, we have produced a printable handout tabulating the required information. This will help you with chip distribution and blind structure and it can be found as a PDF file here: Overview: Chip distribution and Blindstructure
The next article deals with the blind structure, i.e. when to increase and by how much. You can find this article here: Blind structure - how the blinds increase
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