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Race Off

Racing Off the Odd Chips - Raced Off

by Shirley Rosario
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Race Off
Race Off - The process of eliminating the smaller denomination chips during a tournament when they are no longer needed.


During tournaments (usually during break time), the smallest denomination chips (that, as levels and stakes rise, are smaller than any minimum bet) are exchanged for larger denomination chips in order to keep the amount of chips in play manageable and easier for players to count out, etc. For example, in the beginning of a Hold’em event, $5 chips are commonly in play for $5 and $10 blinds ($10/$20 and $15/$30). They will usually be “raced off” however once the levels reach a minimum of $25/$50 blinds, and replaced by $25 chips, as there is no longer any need for a lower denomination.

Racing off begins with each player placing any “odd” chips of the lower denomination that can’t be evenly exchanged up to the next higher denomination in front of them on the table. For example, if a player has eight $5 chips left, he can exchange 5 of them for one $25 chip and has 3 odd ones left “to race”. The amount of odd chips in front of all players at the table determine how many higher denomination chips are being “raced for”. Players then get one card dealt to them for each odd chip they have. The highest cards receive the higher denomination chips, spread evenly. Thus, if there are ten odd $5 chips (totaling $50), two new $25 chips will replace them on the table. The players with the two highest cards dealt will each receive one $25 chip.

This system was designed to give each player a fair chance to win a larger chip based upon the amount of fractional value they had. A player with two small chips receives two cards and therefore is twice as likely to win the race as a player with one small chip receiving only one card.

Another way to remove the smaller denominations of chips in tournaments is called chipping up. The first step in the “chip up” method is the same as the first step in the “race off” method. The dealer buys up all of the smallest chips, in increments of the next chip size up. For instance, if the $5 chips were being eliminated, the dealer would buy them up in $25 increments. At this point, the only small chips left in play will be fractional amounts of the larger chip. This is the point where the two methods diverge. Normally when chipping up, each player with  at least half the value of the next higher denomination chip would receive the bigger chip and those players with less than half would receive nothing. For example, if a player had $15 or $20 he would receive one $25 chip in exchange for his smaller ones. If a player has $5 or $10 then he would receive nothing.

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(c) Shirley Rosario

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