One of the most common questions that people have when choosing a poker chip set is, “How many chips do I need?” While there is not necessarily a magic number for the numbers of each denomination to use, here are some useful guidelines for how many chips to purchase.
The first question you should ask yourself when buying a set is how many people are you going to be hosting? Do you have a weekly game with 3 buddies, or do you want to host a 10-man tournament? The number of chips that you use per person is completely up to you. As a general guideline, you should have no less than 40-50 chips per person, though we recommend going with 75-100 chips per person if you can.
There are several reasons for this; the first reason being that you want to avoid your players constantly having to bank each other, which means trading larger denomination chips for smaller ones.
The second reason is that you always want to have enough extra chips to account for late arrivals and rebuys-- eliminated players that want to buy back into the game. It is common practice to have a “rebuy period,” in which players who are eliminated early on in the game can buy a new stack of chips to re-enter the game. This helps to eliminate having to look at your friends' long faces for an entire evening after they wipe out early on in the game and is a key reason that you want to err on the high side, especially with a tournament style of play.
The third reason is that players simply like to have a nice sized stack of chips in front of them. With the popularity of tournament Texas Hold'em on TV these days, everyone wants to recreate the experience they see on ESPN at home, but it's hard to do that with a stack of 25 chips in front of you.
For games of:
2-3 people, we recommend 250-300 chips
4-5 people, we recommend 350-500 chips
5-6 people, we recommend 500-650 chips
6-8 people, we recommend 650-750 chips
8-10 people, we recommend 750-1000 chips
10+ people, add from above
If you are going to err in either direction, it's best to buy a few extra chips because you never know when your weekly game may grow by a person or two, and having a nice big stack of chips to play with only adds to the fun. Running low on chips can be a pain, so our biggest rule of thumb… you can never have too many chips!