Texas Holdem Chips, Equipment and Shuffling

Texas Holdem Guide to Chips, Equipment and Shuffling

Poker has always been a popular game. In the beginning players would use all different forms of currency while playing. Items such as gems, ore, gold, food, and livestock were used by players to raise the stakes of the game.

As the games popularity grew the need to have a single currency to be used in the game became evident and so the poker chip was born. The first to start using the poker chips were riverboats and small card rooms. They would exchange the chips for money for anyone who wanted to play the game. They would charge a small fee for the exchange and the player was guaranteed to leave with the amount of money he had in chips at the end of the game.

The first poker chips were made of clay. These chips were put into production at the end of the 1800's. As technology grew so did the construction of the poker chip. Since their introduction they've been made from such materials as acrylic, plastic, and even some exotic chips were made from ivory.

The modern day chip found at the Texas holdem tables is made primarily of clay if it's to be used while playing at a table and metal if it's to be used playing in the slot machines. In today's world where gambling is growing and places like Las Vegas and Atlantic City have so many gambling establishments it's important for them to have a set of chips that can only be used at one place. Each casino usually has a specific design and some even have microchips made into their chips. That way only their chips can be used at any game so they are guaranteed their money.

Poker Chip Denominations

Basic Holdem Chip Colors and Values

  • White = $1.00
  • Red = $5.00
  • Blue = $ 10.00
  • Green = $25.00
  • Black = $100.00
Full Color and Values

  • White, $1
  • Yellow, $2 rarely used
  • Red, $5
  • Blue, $10
  • Grey, $20
  • Green, $25
  • Orange, $50
  • Black, $100
  • Pink, $250
  • Purple, $500
  • Yellow, $1000 sometimes burgundy
  • Light Blue, $2000
  • Brown, $5000

Poker Chip Rules in Casinos

When you buy into a game at a casino, you're exchanging money for poker chips. Each game is different so the way the chips are distributed depends on the game you're playing. When you buy into a Texas holdem poker tournament, you might receive $3,500 in poker chips, but the buy-in for the game is only $100. The $3,500 in chips holds no cash value, so you couldn't go exchange the chips for cash.

In poker tournaments, you're playing for a piece of the prize pool. The $100 buy-in goes into the pot and the total pot is distributed to the top finishers. The number of people who share in the pot and the percentage they earn depends on the tournament.

However, if you're playing in a holdem cash game, the poker tokens hold a cash value. So if you buy $1,000 in chips, it will cost you $1,000. The poker chip value will match the cash value. And you can head to the cashier and swap your casino chips for cash at any time.

Casinos use different poker chips for cash games and tournaments, so they don't risk losing money by handing over cash for tournament tokens that aren't worth anything.

Within a casino, poker chips, the ones with cash value, work just like cash. You can use your poker chips to pay for anything on the property –such as, a buffet dinner, something from the gift shop, or tips for the waitress; it just depends on the casino and their rules.


Hand Shuffling

The objective of a correct card shuffle is to change the order of cards in the deck. Today we have a large scale of card shuffles. Some shuffles are common and others are fancy. It also depends on the country where you're playing. For example in Europe the most widely used shuffle is the Overhand shuffle. The Riffle shuffle is common in the USA but in Europe this shuffle is considered fancy and many people can't do it. It also depends on the quality of cards you can get in certain areas. Some of the most common shuffles are explained below.

The Overhand Shuffle

This is probably the most common method of card shuffling today. To successfully use this method here is how it It's done. Start with the shuffle cards in your right hand; hold the deck with your thumb on one short side of the deck, index finger on the long side and middle and ring fingers on the short side opposite your thumb.

Then with your right thumb slide the cards from the top of the deck held by the left hand to the right hand. The right index finger should be bent to lay on the short side of the deck. The other three fingers are a bit curled under the deck. The right hand is moved closer to the left hand and the right thumb locks by applying pressure on the top car) a few cards from the top of the deck. Then the right hand moves back and the locked cards are drawn from the top of the deck to the left hand. This procedure is repeated until all the cards are in the left hand.

The Table Riffle Shuffle

Another common shuffle you see in all casinos is known as the Table Riffle. Here is how it's done. First thing to do is place the deck flat on the table with the longer side facing towards you. Cut about a half of the cards and place them next to the rest of the cards so the short sides of both stacks touch. Put your right hand on the stack on the right so that your thumb is in the left corner of the deck on the side facing towards you, your index finger should be on top of the stack in the middle of the short side close to the edge and the rest of the fingers are on the longer side of the deck opposite to you. The left hand is placed on the left stack in mirror symmetry with the right hand.

Now raise both thumbs a little and at the same time put little bit of pressure on the top of the deck with your index fingers. Release the cards from both stacks with your thumbs while rotating both your hands so that no cards are held by your thumbs. Now you have to put both stacks together. Now curl your little, ring and middle fingers and place them at the short sides of the stacks, your index fingers on the long sides of the stacks opposite to you and the thumbs on long sides of the stacks facing towards you and now insert the stacks together and square the deck.

When you start practicing you probably won't be able to make a perfect riffle but after a few days of practice you'll be able to do a decent riffle shuffle.

The In-Air Riffle Shuffle

Many people know how to do the riffle shuffle on the table but they often don't know how to make it without it.

Start with the deck in your left hand and hold it with your little, ring, and middle finger on one short edge of the deck and with thumb on the other. The index finger is placed on top of the deck apply pressure with your index finger on the top of the deck and riffle about half of the deck with your thumb on your right hand. Now move your left hand up and with the little, ring and middle finger raise the stack held by the right hand to the right hand's thumb. Now you should be holding about half of the cards in each hand with fingers matching.

Close your hands and riffle the stacks with your thumbs. Now you can simply put the stacks together and square the deck. You can also do a flourish to put the stacks back together known as a wave. If you want to wave the cards, hold the riffled stacks by your index, middle, ring and little fingers on the free shorter sides of the stacks. Now curl these fingers and put the thumbs on top so the cards which will create a shape like a arch. If you straighten the fingers the cards will start to fall down. This way the stack will be inserted together with ease and smoothness.

The Faro Shuffle

To use a Faro Shuffle you need to follow these instructions. This type of shuffle is not as easy as the others and may take a while to get down. Start by holding the deck in your left hand with the tip of your thumb on one of the long edges, your index finger on the short edge and the rest of your fingers on the long edge opposite to your thumb. Then you take about a half of the deck with your right hand. When you take the cards away you have to hold them with your thumb on the long edge, the index finger slightly pressing the top of the stack and the other fingers near the long edge opposite to the thumb.

Now comes the hard part of the shuffle. Now you have to weave the short edges of the stacks together. This takes some time to learn. It's better to bend the stacks a little before you insert them together. After weaving the stacks you can simply finish the Faro shuffle by squaring the deck or by using the waterfall flourish.

Shuffling Machines

Hand shuffling is becoming a thing of the past in casinos and poker rooms. Almost all casinos in operation now use mechanical or computer based shuffling machines. These machines are not fool proof but they're more secure for the casino.

They have the ability to lower the rate of card counting, avoid inside jobs where an employee works with a player to guarantee wins, and hand shuffling is not as accurate, so these machines have seen a huge growth over the years.

Shuffling machines come in two main varieties: continuous shufflers, which shuffle one or more packs continuously, and batch shufflers, which shuffle an entire single pack in a single operation. The first ever mechanical shuffling machine was introduced in 1878 by Henry Ash. His device was a box with an open top where the operator would place the deck. The operator would then slightly shake the box to make the cards fall through a comb at the bottom of the box. About half of the cards would fall into the lower compartment while the rest was still in the upper compartment. The operator would take these upper cards, pack them together and do the same with the lower cards. The two packs would be placed upon each other to form a new deck and the operation could be repeated for better shuffling. Since this first try, the machines have grown with technological advances.

Today's card shuffling machines are very simple to use. You just press the button and it shuffles the deck of cards in seconds. It's possible to shuffle two decks at the same time as there are2 slots at each side of this device for them. Many variations on shuffling machine technology exist today. A huge number of various card shufflers use one of the next mechanical approaches: escalators and belts. The oldest shuffle machines widely used belts and mini elevators.

For the most part these machines were a mechanical unit and their technology was prone to miss feeds, jams, and occasional breakdowns. Another technique used is mechanical fingers. The mechanical finger simulates the process you take to riffle several stacks together. During these actions those fingers are very prone to misalignment and cause jams while riffling. Many decks of cards may be ruined by this technique so it's no longer in use.

The third technique is card transport elevators. The disadvantage of this technique is wear and tear on the cards because of the gripping and elevating. Another disadvantage of this type of machine is it size. Although the shuffling machine has become a common site in most casinos they're not completely error free but their pros outweigh the cons so they're here to stay. They've become so popular they've even started finding their way into homes of diehard players around the world.

Poker Tables

A poker table is a table specifically designed for playing card games, usually poker. It's often covered with baize, which is a type of felt, or speed cloth, a Teflon coated fabric that helps the cards slide easily across the surface. Some tables that are used in professional games have many different editions. From those you can buy and have for your home games.

Some of the features found on professional tables are pocket cams which allow for those watching to see the players hole cards, others have a indented spot for the dealer so that all the players are sitting in a U around the dealer, the table may have a rail where there is padding for the players to rest their arms on, or they may have what is called a race track.

The race track is a section of wood between the rail and the playing surface where the player can place their chips and sometimes they even have cup holders made in for their drinks. The center of a professional table will usually have a logo or some type of name that is associated with the casino or tournament it's being used in.

Three main types of poker tables exist:

1Oval shaped tables
2Round tables
3Table tops

The oval is a full sized table that seats up to 10 people. The only downside to this table is that it may be difficult to deal to the players sitting at one end of the table if you're sitting at the other end.

The round table is what most people buy to use in their homes. These tables seat either 6 people or 8. This table is lighter and shorter and, therefore, more easily movable than a full sized table. If you're playing with more than 6 players you should really switch to an oval table. When people are sitting at a table for 3 hours to play a game of Texas holdem poker, they want a little stretch out room.

With a round table the more players you get the less room each player has which doesn't give them enough room to handle their cards, let alone have a drink or keep track of their chips. Table top tables are placed over a table to turn a non-poker table into a poker table. These table tops tend to be flimsy and can still be very much overpriced.

If you're planning on having a regular poker night you should just go ahead and spend the money on an actual table as you will not be saving much by buying a table top.

One more option to choose from when looking at poker tables is electronic tables. Electronic tables are available but they're not an option for home use. These have been on the market for close to ten years but have not become popular and are not used very often.


Texas holdem games use a wide range of equipment including poker chips, tables, and a way to shuffle the cards. Now you should be familiar with popular holdem chip denominations, shuffling techniques, and tables.

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