Monday, December 27, 2004


How Much Are My Poker Chips Worth?

So I'm seeing a lot of traffic from people searching for "how much are my poker chips worth?" and "how much is a red poker chip worth?" so I guess I'd better put some notes up here about poker chips' standard denominations based on colors. I'm here to help my visitors, after all.

First off, your poker chips can be worth anything you and the other players in your home game agree to. But I recommend sticking with the standard values, because it will make things less confusing for you and your poker playing buddies.

The most common colors of poker chips and their standard values are listed below:

There are other colors of poker chips in use, but you'll probably only see them rarely. If you see them in a casino or at a buddy's house, and you need to know what they're worth, no one's going to give you a hard time for not knowing what the chips are worth.

Friday, December 24, 2004


Low Chicago and High Chicago - Stud Poker Variant

We played a lot of Low Chicago and High Chicago in our home games back when I had an apartment in North Dallas. Chicago poker is simply seven card stud with a couple of minor variations. In High Chicago, the highest spade in the hole splits the pot with the winner of the hand. In Low Chicago, the lowest spade in the hole splits the pot with the winner.

It's a pretty common and pretty simple variation on 7 card stud, and it's a lot of fun, especially when you're catching the ace of spades or the 2 of spades. In fact, if you're a rock, then you might consider waiting until you have a high or low spade in the hole before even playing, although most of the home games I've played in haven't been very tight at all. Which makes this strategy even better.

Just to sum up the strategy for Low Chicago and High Chicago--if you don't catch a spade when the cards are dealt, fold it up. Even if you wind up with the best hand, you'll still wind up splitting the pot with the person who has the spade. And don't think you'll play it through to the end, catching the spade on the last 'down and dirty' card. The odds just aren't good enough for you to make and call all those bets during the betting rounds.

Thursday, December 23, 2004


How Many Poker Chips Do I Need for a Home Poker Game?

Been reading my referral logs, and I saw that someone found this poker blog by searching for how many poker chips do I need for a home poker game, so I thought I'd write about that a little bit. Heck--it's a good question. If you don't know how many chips you need, then you don't know. So here's some thoughts.

First of all--don't buy the plastic poker chips. (I'd be surprised if any readers of this blog would even consider it, but you never know who'll turn up here.) Plastic poker chips suck. It seems like a silly distinction to someone who hasn't played poker, but the fact is that lightweight, cheap plastic poker chips don't have any significance. They don't way anything, you don't feel them in your hand, and they're harder to take seriously. All of which leads to a lack of relevance and a lack of reverence.

Buy clay poker chips. You can get them almost anywhere on the internet now, including eBay, and they're available at nicer game stores. I've even seen decent sets of clay poker chips for sale at the drugstore. (Which is where I bought mine.)

You'll need no fewer than 500 chips of different colors. (And more is better. In fact--you can't have too many poker chips, IMO.) You should have about 150 each of red and white chips, and 100 each of green and black chips. Some sets might have different colors, but these colors are pretty standard. White chips are typically worth $1. Red chips = $5. Green $25 and black $100. Make sure everyone knows what the different colors are worth when they buy in.

So there's the short answer: you need 500 chips to host a home poker game. And while you're at it, buy some decent playing cards.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Teens Playing Poker

Will Teens Know When to Fold in the Popular Poker Craze?

Interesting article today in the Christian Science Monitor about more teens playing poker, which included lots of quotes from members of the National Council on Problem Gambling. Lots of hand wringing about what an awful effect the national popularity of poker is having on our youth. The article also mentioned that a lot of people seem to forget that poker (and gambling) can be an addictive behavior.

I have big problems with the whole 'addiction' mentality. There are so many organizations in existence right now who want to protect me from my own behavior that it's downright scary. I can understand a physical dependency on drugs or alcohol. I even understand that there is such a thing as compulsive behavior and mental illness. But there are far too many people in this world who like to over-indulge in whatever their vice is (be it sex, alcohol, drugs, or gambling) who want to blame it on some kind of illness.

This isn't a popular attitude to take, but I think people need to pull their acts together and start taking responsibility for their behaviors. We have a victim mentality in this country like never before. Heck, a woman is sueing Wal-mart because they sold her daughter a shotgun. Guess what! It's legal to buy a shotgun in the US, in spite of all the well-meaning but ill-advised attempts to stop such a thing.

It sounds like I'm rambling or ranting, and maybe I am, but gee whiz. We're talking about poker for goodness sake. It's not that big a deal. Yes it's a game of chance. Yes there's a skill element. But these people who want to prevent people from playing poker would be better off encouraging people to play poker better and stay away from lottery tickets. Lottery tickets are the real problem in this country--they're specifically aimed at lower income America, and they have a worse payback percentage than any other gambling game available. If you bought $1 million worth of lottery tickets, you'd have $500,000 in winnings the next day. If you reinvested that $500,000, you'd be left with $250,000. And if you kept that up for a full month, you'd have no money left before the month was out.

And people want to complain that poker is bad for kids? That it's going to lead to drinking and (heaven forbid!) sex...

People need to get real. Teens are going to do things. And sometimes they're going to do things like play poker or have a drink or get laid. Some of them will do it sooner, and some of them will do it later. Our job as a society, and as parents, should be to give them the real scoop on the possible consequences of their behaviors.

Saturday, December 11, 2004


Four of a Kind

Last night I played two tables of pot limit Texas holdem at Party Poker. ($25 buy in.) Did pretty well. For me, the trick when playing pot limit is the better implied odds that come from playing pot limit. It took me a few games to understand this, but the pot tends to build much faster in pot limit than it does in either limit holdem or no limit holdem. In limit holdem, the pot is pretty much only going to grow at the limits set in the betting. And in no limit, people are always running others out of the pot by making big bets.

But in pot limit, you can get in pretty cheap, but then turn around and make a big raise or someone else will make a big raise, and a lot of times I'll wind up with a caller or two that shouldn't be in the hand because they felt like they were pot-committed.

Anyway-I played two tables for a couple of hours, and the only big pot I played in was the one where I hit four of a kind, four's. Went from $22 to $54 immediately.

Sorry I haven't blogged much lately. I haven't played much poker lately either, so I haven't had much to write about. I have been playing a lot more ring poker and a lot fewer tournaments lately. After my trip to Vegas my confidence improved a lot.

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