Arbitrary Value Counters

Daniel Negreanu thinking at the table

One of the world's top poker players, Daniel Negreanu, wrote in a recent blog entry:


Sure enough, Chau was just quitting and Chip Reese, Gus Hansen, and Phil Ivey were playing the same old 4000-8000 mixed game. Of course they were playing with $1 chips. Why $1 chips? Well for one, none of us would ever bring money like that on the road, and secondly everyone in the game was trustworthy. So a rack of $1 chips represented $100,000.

This is a nice reminder that chips, like money, are merely an arbitrary counter for value. Just as one can use pennies, Go pieces, or pebbles to serve as counters in one of James Ernest's fine Cheapass Games, any denomination of chip can serve to keep track of wins and losses in a poker game. The important thing is that your markers are clearly distinguishable and easy to count.

Now, using $1 chips has the disadvantage that a player could sneak extra chips into the game, screwing up the final accounting. This can't happen with chips at par value, because they can always be turned in at the cage for "real" paper money. But when there is enough trust, this disadvantage is more than offset by not having to worry about the security of millions of dollars in chips, both at the table, and in transit from home to game (in this case Vegas to LA).

Part of the glory of it, of course, is the sheer absurdity. I can just imagine the best poker players in the world sitting around a table, fenced off by a velvet rope, monitored by security guards, and deeply pondering each key decision as the piles of 1$ chips mount in front of them.

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So, what do they do, cut

So, what do they do, cut each other cheques once they get home?

I understand that practice against high-level opponents is important, but it seems to me that you're not going to come out a long-term winner playing with your buddies Ivey, Reese, and Hansen.

- Josh, professional poker watcher

Give each other chips when

Give each other chips when they get home, presumably.

I've only played with the players in that game a few time, so I don't know who the live ones are. I'd guess Gus, but if so, that begs the question of how he still has money left.

When my friends and I get

When my friends and I get together to play poker, we use a balanced tertiary system with three colors of chips where not only the color of the chips matter, but also their order and placement left or right from the center 0th power position in front of you in stacks of 1. No more than 1 chip per stack.

white = -1
red = 0
green = +1

When you win you also have to keep the order of the chips from everyone else in place. Also no sneaking any green chips to your 2nd positive column!

When my friends and I play

When my friends and I play we use a balanced tertiary system with three colors of chips where not only the color of the chips matter, but also their order and placement left or right from the center 0th power position in front of you in stacks of 1. No more than 1 chip per stack.

white = -1
red = 0
green = +1

When you win you also have to keep the order of the chips from everyone else in place. Also no sneaking any green chips to your 2nd positive column!

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Blogcritics.org is proud to host this week's nomadic Carnival of the Capitalists, a smorgasbord of penetrating and perceptive peeks into...