Let's say you're in a tournament and they are taking away the small denominations of chips. For example, if the blinds are 10,000 / 20,000 with a 2,000 ante and you still have chips worth 100.

While it is obvious what happens if you have exactly twenty chips worth 100 to be exchanged with a single 2000 worth chip, what happens if you have less than twenty 100 chips?

For example, what happens if you only have nineteen chips worth 100? Will the tournament replace those with a single 2000 worth chip, essentially overcompensating you by 100? Or would they completely take away all of your 100 chips and leave you with a loss of 1900?

How about when you have only a single 100 chip? Would they just take that away, leaving you with a loss of 100? What if that's the only chip you have left? Are you automatically eliminated since they're pulling all of the 100 chips? I understand that 100 chips at this level is very insignificant, but it just seems unfair that you are losing out on chips for essentially no reason other than convenience, or being eliminated. Someone may, theoretically, double through enough times with a single 100 chip and make a comeback.

I've never played poker in real life, so I have never ran in to this, but I am curious: what exactly happens in these situations?

2 Answers 2


Typically, you "race" for the chips. Players get a card for any chips left over. Those chips are then colored up and are paid out based on high card.

You cannot be eliminated this way. If you don't have any chips left after the race, you'll get one chip.

From Robert's Rules of Poker (Section 15 Rule 8)

The lowest denomination of chip in play will be removed from the table when it is no longer needed in the blind or ante structure. All lower-denomination chips that are of sufficient quantity for a new chip will be changed up directly. The method for removal of odd chips is to deal one card to a player for each odd chip possessed. Cards are dealt clockwise starting with the 1-seat, with each player receiving all cards before any cards are dealt to the next player. The player with the highest card by suit gets enough odd chips to exchange for one new chip, the second-highest card gets to exchange for the next chip, and so forth, until all the lower-denomination chips are exchanged. A player may not be eliminated from the event by the chip-change process. If a player has no chips after the race has been held, he will be given a chip of the higher denomination before anyone else is awarded a chip. If an odd number of lower-denomination chips are left after this process, the player with the highest card remaining will receive a new chip if he has half or more of the quantity of lower-denomination chips needed, otherwise nothing.

The TDA Rules (General Procedure #23) are similar, but less detailed.


BowlOfRed's answer is the strictly correct way this is done, but I've seen poker rooms where the convention is to give a new chip to any player with remaining odd lower-denomination chips. So, if they were coloring up to eliminate the $100 chips and replacing them with $500 chips, if you had between 1 and 4 odd $100 chips, you'd receive 1 $500 chip to replace them.

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