A chip race occurs in live tournament poker after certain predetermined
levels. The purpose is to remove all chips in the tournament of the
smallest value and replace them with larger valued chips. This makes
the tournament more manageable by reducing all the amount of counting
that occurs in poker. Races are usually preformed during a break
between levels and the tournament clock is not stopped unless the race
takes longer than the time alloted for the break.
Before the actual race, players "color up" as many of the lesser denomination chips as possible. The leftover odd chips are what are used to race. Then the dealer does the following...
- Determines how many chips will be raced for by adding up the value of
all the leftover chips. If necessary, rounding up to an appropriate
number based on the value of the next highest chip.
Ex: There are 9 leftover $25 chips before a race. The next highest valued chip is a $100 chip. The sum of the 9 chips is $225, so the dealer rounds up to $300 because you can't give out $225 in $100 chips.
- Starting with the player in the small blind position in the upcoming
hand, the dealer gives each player one faceup card for each leftover
chip. The cards are dealt all at once to each player, unlike the usual
way cards are dealt in poker.
- The players with the highest ranked cards win based only on the rank of the cards. Poker hands are not formed, so ace-two beats trip kings. In the case of a tie, the rank of suits is used. The number of winners is equal to the number of chips that are being raced for. Each player can only win one chip, never more.
Players typically do not need to be present when a chip race occurs.
If only one player has leftover chips, that player is automatically given a chip of the next highest denomination.
A player can never be knocked out of a tournament by losing a chip race. If a player loses his last chips in a race, the next highest valued chip will be provided.
If you are still confused about the chip racing process, visit our page with chip race examples.
It's worth it to mention that in a large multi-table tournament, the chip race can be very problematic for the tournament directors and dealers. It can assist them greatly if one player at the table buys most or all of the small denomination chips prior to the race. It's much easier to give out a few large chips to one player than giving out numerous smaller chips to multiple players.