Cash Game New Member's Optimal Chip Break Down (3 Viewers)


Full House
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May 11, 2021
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So you've likely posted that you're looking for 500 chips for you're home game. - How did I know? Lucky guess ;)

Often when people post, they leave out important information, that would help with more accurate advice.
Consider making sure you've answered the following questions in you're post.

Specifically what game do you plan to play, NLH, PLO, Fixed or spread limit?
What is the expected average buy in?
What is the expected amount of re-buys per player?
What stakes do you plan to play (blind structures)?

How did you arrive at 500? Did you roll 2d6 x 100? Did you see a set on Amazon and thought, I bet those overseas manufacturers did a case study on the amount of poker chips needed to have a game and crafted those .12 chips just for me!

I'm going to ask a favor of you, if at the end of reading this, it's caused you to reassess you're approach to how many chips you need, please add a '+1' reply.

Okay the secret sauce - How do I figure out how many chips I need?

Its a calculation:

blinds + art + flavor = bank + emotion

Ta-da! Thats it.

The questions above will guide you to your needs, these days the cool kids like 100-250 BB as the range for buy-ins. Its considered 'deep stack'. The bank, this is the total amount of money at any given time that your chip set needs to accommodate. So from time to time people may lose their initial buy-in and would need another, this would be a re-buy, it would seem typically, players would be most likely to buy-in about three times.

Lets use an example of a common stakes game, .25 / .50, to give a run down of how to calculate the bank needs.
.50 (big blind) x 200 (number of big blinds) = $100 x 3 (initial buy-in, and two rebuys) = $300 x 10 (assuming Holdem (players)) = $3000

So how do we translate this into a chip set? Well this is where the art comes in, some of it is going to be experience playing / hosting, and some of it is math.
Lets start with some basics, well we need a chip that is less than $1, lets call this the fractional chip, frac for short. For now (foreshadowing) lets go with .25 as our frac. and lets just agree on a boring chip denomination - .25, $1, $5, $20/25, $100. Lets see how we do with arbitrary chip count of 500.

This is an often-made mistake, too many fracs. Also keep in mind our target Bank is $3,000


So we can see by the 2 examples in the table above, 500 just won't cut it. Maybe if we reduce the buy-ins to just 1 buy-in for 10 players ($1000).

You make a great point, the larger denoms will quickly get us to our bank goals, welcome to yourself sustainment, can't wait to see how close to that 500 chip count you get to, you're just a few realization steps from 600 :LOL: :laugh:

Lets talk about a few flavor options, maybe you like a ton of fracs or maybe you want to be as efficient as possible, here's an interesting option, if you change to .50/.50 you can get away with less fracs. Personally, I prefer the .25s and I run as lean as I think possible, which is 60 x .25. The Pros go with a non-denom frac, so they can adjust it depending on which game they spread.

PLO on the other hand will play larger than NLH so you may need a bit more bank, or maybe you just want more bank than what you actually need just in case the game breaks through the bank one night.

I've 'stress tested' what I think is efficient in my .25/.50 (PLO) game. I didn't get there overnight, and I've had a lot of help from this forum. This is my actual break down I use for my game, it serves me well. I will note that I have more than this in chips.

.25 x 60
$1 x 180
$5 x 300
$20 x 20
$100 x 5

Would I suggest this? not really this is my custom order, this would be more on par for a generic breakdown .25/.50:

.25 x 100
$1 x 200
$5 x 300
$20 x 20
$100 x 5

Should you do 200 fracs? No, you shouldn't unless you absolutely love to have too many on the table, it will slow down the game, is that a big deal, nope. I will also note here these are single table numbers, and this is all an example, a guide so you can map out what your needs are.

Okay so let's recap:
Stakes / Blinds - the structure in which the bank will be based off.
'Art' - a realistic baseline of amount of chips, and the value based on the denoms, some experience helps
'Flavor' - quirks / presences on chip ratios and the affects of different options on the game play
Bank - the amount of currency in play that the chip set needs to support
'Emotion' - plus / minus the emotional appeal of chip amounts, I have both $20s and $25s; another aspect is a capped buy-in or match stack

Well, did I get a +1? Happy chipping, don't forget to use the search function and find the 1.5 million posts asking about this topic, there are other great post you can also find using the link in my signature (landscape on mobile)

- Machine
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I agree that people tend to go too heavy on the fracs, 100 is really all that's needed. My only quibble would be with the suggestion of 300x$5. I truly don't think you ever need more than a barrel (if that) of any given denomination per player. You can easily keep your set at 500 if instead of 100/100/300 you went 100/100/200/80/20. That changes your bank from 1625 to to 5125. 100/160/160/80 gets you to 2985 which is also quite adequate for .25/.50 imo, and a better balance of chips.

Of course, the real answer is to play some games and then figure out what's good for you and your players. Some games are very loose with their rebuys, some may see less than one rebuy per player. Some players love having stacks and stacks of chips in front of them, others want the most efficient spread they can get.
You can easily keep your set at 500 if instead of 100/100/300 you went 100/100/200/80/20. That changes your bank from 1625 to to 5125. 100/160/160/80 gets you to 2985 which is also quite adequate for .25/.50 imo, and a better balance of chips.
Spoilers!! This is exactly where I’m trying to lead the readers.
My only quibble would be with the suggestion of 300x$5.
I get them all in play month over month, and with a capped buy-in. This is where the art or flavor comes in, it will be different from game to game, ymmv
If I'm hosting a game with my custom chips, I hope to get at least most if not all of the denominations into play at some point. .25/.50 NLH game everyone starts with fracs/$1/$5's, and before the end of the night I've gotten a bunch of $20/$25's into the mix and maybe even a single $100 chip. I typically host 2 tables for cash as well, but here is my go-to breakdown

Players starting stacks ($100 buy in)
.25's = 8 each
$1's = 8 each (2 tables) or 13 each (1 table)
$5's = 18 each (2 tables) or 17 each (1 table)

This works out to (at minimum):
.25 x 160
$1 x 200
$5 x 340
$25 x 80
$100 x 20
Total Chips= 800
Total Bank= $5940

I could see a 1 table setting working with 500 chips, but I think my smallest cash set is 600 chips.... and now that I am hosting 2 tables I almost always order 1000 chips. Having more chips on hand just in case is always worth it, though I agree with the OP that you don't really need a ton of fracs or $100's unless your game supports having a lot of those denoms.

Tournament sets require calculations and minimum number of chips. STT is 460 chips.

Cash sets are useless with less than 1500 chips. No matter what your stakes are, the denominations are just scaled for them. But 1500 chips is official PCF quantity.
Built my first set with:

200x $5
150x $25
100x $100
50x $500

For 5c/10c no limit hold em cash games, typically 5-7 players, with some wiggle room to do small tournament styles.

In the end we never played tournament style, only cash games, and we had far more $5s than needed, and not quite enough $25s.

So the advice in this thread is pretty spot on. More chips in the middle of your target stakes range is best.
when I have .25-.50 games, I try to make sure people at the table respect the stakes. I accomplish that with a $40 initial buy in. I think a $100 initial buy-in (with the necessary number of $5s that would entail) encourages people to play above the stakes. Players allowed to reload at any time up to 75% of big stack (or $40, whichever is greater). If there is someone new at my game and starts opening for $10 at a .25-.50 game, that person will not get a return invite. Again, my goal is to have a fun night playing and respect the stakes; not get next month’s rent. As such, I generally have about a rack of quarters on the table; maybe 150-175 $1s, the rest $5s as needed. Occasionally, a few $25s may come into play, but that is pretty rare and may reflect that I have a full table of players who are all staying late.
Make it easy on yourself. I recently moved my .50/$1 game $100 max buyin to $1/$1 $120 max. Everyone gets a barrel of $1s and a barrel of $5s. Got rid of the .50s. Cashing in and out is much easier ….especially cashing out. All reloads are in $5s. If the game gets big, I may throw a few $25s on the table.

Keeping the minimum number of chips needed in play makes for a better game to manage. If you play in the casino you will notice they cash you in by default that way. Cash in for $300 of a $1/3 game and you will get all $5s. You make change at the table. They won’t give you $1s you ask.

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