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Tournament Time: What Is the Proper Poker Tournament Chip Setup?

A player looks at their cards during a poker tournament.

TL;DR: Setting up poker tournament chips involves easy steps to ensure a smooth game. With standard chip values and strategic distribution, players can easily manage bets and blinds. A 500-count set is sufficient for most home tournaments, with adjustments needed for larger events or rebuys. 

Main points: 

  • Tournaments simplify poker chip setup with a clear view of chip needs. 
  • Standard chip values include white ($1), red ($5), blue ($10), green ($25), and black ($100). 
  • Distribute 20-30 chips per player, with more lower-value chips for ease of play. 
  • You can adjust chip values and quantities as needed, as long as you keep the per-player distributions equal. 
  • High-quality chips improve the game experience. 

It’s almost time to start your poker tournament! How will you distribute chips from your poker chip set? How can you ensure chip values align with the blinds and make it easy for players to place their bets?  

The good news is that a home poker tournament setup — and most poker chip setups in general — aren’t too difficult. Keep reading to learn about poker tournament chip setups. 

Poker Tournaments and Chip Setup: What You Need to Know 

Tournaments are easy for chip setup because you know the maximum number of chips you’ll need for the game before it starts.  

All players have the same number of poker tournament starting chips. And, because you’ll set a limit on rebuys or not include them at all, you’ll have a complete picture of your chip needs. 

So, what’s the proper chip distribution for a poker tournament? Here are our recommendations, assuming you’re playing a hold ‘em-style game. That is, a game with community cards face up on the table, shared by all active players. 

Setting Poker Chip Values 

For most home tournaments, using five distinct poker chip colors is plenty. You can play plenty of tournaments with just three or four. The standard values for these chips are: 

  • White Chips: $1 
  • Red Chips: $5 
  • Blue Chips: $10 
  • Green Chips: $25 
  • Black Chips: $100 

Remember, you don’t need to match the chips to the actual payout amount, but you certainly can. If you change them, just be consistent with their values. 

Distributing Poker Tournament Chips 

You want to have more low-value chips available because players will need more of them. Lots of low-value chips makes it easier for players to pay their blinds, especially when those blind levels are low early in the tournament. 

You also want to avoid players having to frequently make change and slowing down the game, as Home Poker Tourney explains. 

So, how many chips do you need per player to play poker? There’s no single right answer, but here’s a good starting point:

  • Provide 20-30 chips per player. 
  • Use 3 or 4 different chip values. 
  • Provide more smaller-denomination chips and fewer higher-denomination chips. 

Here’s what that suggestion could look like for a six-player tournament with starting blinds of $1 (small blind) and $2 (big blind). Remember, this is just one of many options that will work: 

  • Total chips held by players at beginning of tournament: 156 
  • Chip distribution per player (26 chips total, 4 different chip values)
    • 16 white chips ($1) 
    • 6 red chips ($5) 
    • 3 blue chips ($10) 
    • 1 green chip ($25) 

The total value of those chips add up to $101 per player. Remember, that’s totally fine in a tournament! You can adjust the values and even use more chips, as long as everyone gets the same amount and it’s easy to pay the blinds as well as generally keep the game moving. 

Following these guidelines, a 500-count poker chip set will give you plenty of chips. Of course, a larger tournament and tournaments with rebuys require more chips. And you’ll always need to take making change and coloring up — exchanging low-value chips for high-value chips as the tournament progresses and surviving players build deep stacks — into account. 

Need Poker Chips? Chips and Games Can Help! 

High-quality chips mean you have one less thing to worry about during your tournament. If you’re looking for the best poker chip styles and sets, look no further than our poker chip sets page

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