I'm planning on playing in a live NLHE tournament soon, and I was wondering what the procedure is for requesting, for example, ante chips? Let's say the ante is 500, and I have an average-sized stack, but for some reason I have no ante chips left -- do I tell the dealer that this is the case? Or should I just place another chip with a higher value than the ante, e.g. 1000, and then will the dealer take the 1000 and give me back a 500 (ante) chip?

Conversely, let's say I end up with very many low-denomination chips, e.g. a stack consisting entirely of 1000 or 500 chips instead of a mixture of 5000, 1000, and 500 chips, am I allowed to exchange, for example, twenty 1000 chips for four 5000 chips?

Thanks for any help.

  • Dealers are generally really good at helping you get the right denomination chips for the current blind levels. It definitely makes their job easier when they don't have to keep making change for your antes and bets! Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 22:02
  • You're worrying about minutiae and need to focus on the tourney. Worry more about playing clear, focused poker and the rest of things (like chip values) will fall into place just fine. Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 17:21

2 Answers 2


Regarding the issue with the ante: yes, the dealer will give you back a chip of 500. (S)he will take it either from the current pot or ask another player to make the exchange.

But only put the 1000 chip in if you don't have anything smaller to pay for the ante. As long as you have the required chip denominations, use them.

As for exchanging chips: yes, it's possible. What I usually do is look at other players' stacks and, if one of them has a lot of chips of certain denominations and I need a few, then I'll ask that player for an exchange. They usually agree since it makes no difference to them. This, however, depends on the rules imposed at that tournament. If you're unsure if something like this is allowed (for example you didn't see anyone else do it), then I suggest asking the dealer if it's ok.

Also, keep in mind that, the tournament staff will usually and occasionally go at each table and exchange the chips for each player. For example, if the blinds are 10,000 / 20,000 with a 2,000 ante and you still have chips worth 100 (which are pretty useless at that stage), then they'll come over and take them away, giving you chips with higher denominations in return.

Good luck at the tournament :) .


During a cash game I agree with the above, generally speaking as fair practice.

However, during tournament play I believe it is utter folly to exchange chips with other players for any reason; especially when there are tournament directors and dealers directly assigned to you, specifically purposed for this task.

  • 1
    Totally disagree. Count your chips. Verify the correct amount was exchanged. Do what you can to make the game go faster and smoother. When the dealer has to make change all the time, it slows the game down for everyone. Plus if someone asks you for change and you have the change but refuse to give it? It makes you look like a tool. Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 2:54

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