Poker Chip Values, Denominations & Distribution

Guide to poker chip values and denominations by chip color as well as for poker plaques. Learn about how to distribute and spread chips in poker.

So you’ve decided to take your home game to the next level and buy some proper poker chips. But what denominations should you assign to them? What are the most common poker chip values by color?

Poker Chip Values By Color

Basic poker sets will usually come with four or five different colored chips, but there are many more colors used in casinos. There’s no central authority that sets the standard Texas Hold’em chip values and colors, but the table below sets out the most common.

Chip ColorStandard ValueDenomination
White ChipSmall Blind1
Red5x White5
Blue2x Red10
Green2x/2.5x Blue, 4x/5x Red20/25
Black4x/5x Green100
Purple5x Black500
Yellow5x Purple1000
Orange5x Yellow5000
Dark Green5x Orange25000
The different values of chips in poker, by color.

Although you will find some variation between sets and casinos (and bear in mind California has its own unique color-coding scheme) you won’t go wrong using these poker chip denominations for home games.

A common point of contention is the Green chip – is it 20 or 25? You will also find people and casinos that use blue chips for the lowest denomination, but usually they won’t have a ten. You can live without a ten by using two red chips.

Ultimately, it’s up to the organizer and really comes down to personal preference – unless your chips come with the denominations printed on them.

What’s important is that all the players understand what values the chips represent. The last thing you want is a dispute after a bet has been made!

poker chips value and denomination by color
Values and denominations of poker chips by color.

Poker Plaque Denominations

Poker plaques are even less consistent in their color scheme than poker chips. Casinos use them for the highest denominations – usually over $25,000. Obviously there aren’t many cash games where players will need these, but they do get used in tournaments. Other casinos use oversized poker chips instead of plaques.

However, you will find that poker plaques are available with much lower denominations – some as low as $20 or $100 dollars. These should really be considered novelty items. But there’s no reason you can’t get a few plaques for your home games if you fancy emulating the high-rollers!

Plaque ColorStandard ValueDenomination
Varies5x previous5000
Varies2x previous10,000
Varies2.5x previous25,000
Varies4x previous100,000
The different values of plaques in poker.

Poker Chip Value Distribution

When you set up for your home game, it’s usually best to keep it simple with as few denominations as possible.

Four different poker chip denominations is usually plenty. A basic poker chip set will usually contain four or five colors – often white, red, blue, green and/or black.

The smallest denomination will need to be the size of the small blind – usually half the size of the big blind.

When it comes to distributing the chips to each player, a rough rule of thumb is the 4-3-2-1 rule. For every four of the smallest chips in each player’s stack, there should be three of the next smallest, two of the next and one of the biggest.

It’s not important to get it exact, but the important principle here is that you want to have a lot of the smaller denominations and only a few larger denominations.

You might find that the 4-3-2-1 rule means that players have to make change from each other a lot. A more optimum ratio is probably closer to 10-7-3-1 – although that’s not as easy to remember!

You’ll need around 40 chips per person. So if you have a 500-piece set you can distribute the chips for ten people like this so that they each have 100bb (remember that the lowest denomination is the small blind, or half a big blind):

ColorDenominationTotal Chip CountTotal ValuePlayer’s Chip CountPlayer’s Value
White12002002020
Red51605001475
Blue10601000650
Green25201250250
Totals440800042200
Example poker chip distribution for a game with ten players

This leaves you 60 unused chips – mostly of the larger denominations, which you can use for rebuys or making change. If you have a five-color set, you might find that you need to use the spare color to subsidize the white (lowest denomination) chips.

Cash Game Chip Values

Casinos tend to use the common chip values for their cash games, no matter what the stake level. What changes is the colors of chips used – which is dictated by the size of the small blind.

The lowest stake commonly found in live poker is 1/2, where the big blind is 2 dollars and there’s usually a maximum buy-in of $200-300. Not much need for $1000-denominated chips there – but you will need plenty of $1 chips so players can pay their blinds.

Conversely, a higher stakes game with blinds of 10/20 will usually have a minimum buy-in of $800 and no maximum. There’s not much use for $1 chips in a game like this.

When it comes to your home cash game poker denominations, you should always tailor it based on the blinds – and make sure everyone has enough low value chips to pay them.

You’ll need the smallest denomination chip to be the size of the small blind. You should have at least three or four denominations – but any more than that and it slows down the counting.  

One important aspect of cash games is that players can rebuy up to the table maximum whenever they want – this means you’ll always need a large reserve of chips ready to distribute. Of course, in a friendly game you can get by using an IOU system – but when things get a little more serious then make sure you have enough chips to cover these eventualities!

Poker Tournament Chip Denominations

Poker tournaments differ from cash games in a number of ways, but the most important when it comes to working out poker tournament chip values is that tournament blinds are constantly increasing.

This makes things a fair bit more complicated than the cash game. The blinds usually start low – perhaps 25/50 – but end up at 25,000/50,000 or higher! This means a tournament will need many more colors of chips than a cash game.

Blinds of 25/50 are low for tournaments, but would be very high for cash games. 25/50 is a commonly used starting blind in tournaments, but that doesn’t mean you need to use it. If you have non-denominated chips then it’s probably easier to stick with it – but if not you can tailor your starting blinds to the chips you have.  

There are plenty of websites that will calculate the optimum blind and chip structure for your home tournament.

No matter what blinds you start with, after a certain point they will get so high that “coloring up” will be necessary. This is where the organizer removes the lowest value chips from the table, exchanging them for the equivalent value of higher value chips. This can happen several times over the course of a tournament.

If you want to allow re-buys and add-ons, then you will need a reserve supply of chips. Unlike cash games, tournament players can usually only rebuy/add-on for set amounts and a certain number of times, so you will have a better idea of how many extra chips you will need.

How you distribute your chips will also depend on how you want to structure your tournament. Do you want a deep-stacked game that lasts all night, a fast-paced turbo where the players start with only 25bb – or something in the middle?

The following table gives some example starting stacks for different types of tournament:

ColorDenominationShort Stack (25bb)Standard Stack (100bb)Deep Stack (300bb)
Green25121620
Black1002610
Purple500147
Yellow1000025
Orange5000001
Totals152843
Example poker chip distributions for a tournament with ten players, with 25/50 starting blinds

Poker Chip Values – FAQ

Answers to the most common questions about chip values, denominations, and distribution in poker.

How much are white poker chips worth?

White chips are usually the lowest denomination poker chip, and most often valued at $1. But you can use them as any denomination you like – so long as all the players agree.

How much are plaques worth in poker?

Poker plaques are reserved for the bigger denominations – in Casinos they’re usually used for values over $25,000 but you can get plaques with lower denominations for use in home games.

What are the poker chip values used by the World Poker Tour?

The World Poker Tour uses the chips of the casino they are in during that part of the tour – so usually the chip values will be the commonly used ones in the country they are in. The first blinds are 50/100 and players start with 30,000 chips (300bb).

What are the lowest and highest standard chip denominations in poker?

The lowest standard denomination chip in poker is usually the $1 white chip, and the highest chip commonly used is the yellow at $1000. Any higher than that and most casinos tend to use poker plaques. But some will have higher value chips. And microstakes chips are available for amounts less than $1.

Do you need more poker chips in a cash game or a tournament?

Cash games tend to need more chips than tournaments, because in cash games players can rebuy up to the table maximum as much as they like – so the organizer needs a big reserve of chips to allow for this. Tournaments can allow rebuys, but these are usually limited.
 
In cash games, players also need plenty of lower denomination chips so they can pay the blinds every round. In tournaments the blinds are constantly increasing so after the first few rounds there’s not much use for the lowest denomination chips and the organizer will need to “color up”.

Should you use real money instead of chips for cash games?

In the early days of poker, people used real money to play cash games instead of chips, but chips are much better. You can use pennies as chips though, if you have a jar you’ve collected. Matchsticks and dried beans are also good substitutes.

How many poker chips do you need for 2 players?

You can probably get away with playing two-player poker with just 25 chips each – so a set of 50 would be enough. But more chips is usually better, and you usually want at least 40 chips per person.

How many poker chips do you need for 6 players?

You will need around 240-300 chips to play with 6 players, because you normally want around 40 chips per person. You want many more lower value chips than high value ones – and the lowest value should be equal to the value of the small blind.

How many poker chips do you need for 10 players?

You will need around 400-500 chips to play with 10 players, because you normally want around 40 chips per person. You want many more lower value chips than high value ones – and the lowest value should be equal to the value of the small blind.

Is there a list of official poker chip values and denominations?

There is no official list of poker chip values and denominations because there is no central poker authority to set it. There is a commonly used color scheme you will see a lot – but ultimately the organizer decides.

There are no official poker chip values, but there is a widely used standard color-scheme. If you stick it to it, you won’t go wrong – but you can always make up your own! What’s important is that all the players understand the chip value system you’re using.