Sir, You’re Pocketing Chips, Or, There’s a Weasel in Here Stealing em’ Off the Table.

Experienced players can stop reading right now, maybe? We’ve all heard the terms “Chip Chiselers”, “Pocket Pirates”, “Pack Ratters”, etc. All describe people who knowingly remove chips from play while in a game. The guys that really get me are the regular players that do it, and damn well know the rule. They do it, and if someone says something, they will go into a big tirade on how it’s their money and they can do what they want with it. When they go into this phoney act I usually say, “Wrong.”

I played in a game where a regular player had about a $1000 in front of him, and casually took $700 off the table. I thought he might be going to change it into other denomination chips, or quitting the game. Boy! Was I surprised to watch him go to the cage, cash it in and put the money in his wallet. When he got back to the table I asked him to put the cash back on the table. He told me to mind my own business. That was definitely the wrong answer. I reconsidered my first thought. My second thought was to call the floor, which I did. He was asked to replace the money. When he refused he was booted from the game. Then there are the new players, who don’t know the rules or the problems that can occur when you remove chips from a table stakes game. This fellow had never played in a casino, and was leaving for Las Vegas in a few days. (OK! I know, you all want to know where he is gonna play.) He asked the following question;

OK, I won 3 huge pots and have changed my chips into large denomination chips, now how do I get these large chips off the table. I want to keep my seat, and not cash in, but I want to put money in my pocket. Can I do this and not get eyes from other players or the floor guys? Is it legal?


No, it’s not legal. Every place I’ve ever played will not allow you to take money off the table unless you cash in. Why would you want to do this? It doesn’t make sense to me. A big stack can be used as an intimidation factor against opponents. Why give the impression that you have won less than you have? You want to be viewed as a force to be reckoned with at the table. Players that pull money off the table think they are using some kind of money management system. Money management does have its place in poker, especially in regards to bankroll size vs. the limits you will play. It does not apply to each individual hand or session. You simply want enough money on the table to win the maximum you can from each hand you play. Players that pull money off of a table are fooling themselves, and are bad for the game since less money on the table makes the game appear tight. Large chip stacks make the game appear loose.

Arty’s Opinion

In nearly all games you are expected to leave your winnings in play until you quit the game. The problem is that it has to be enforced by the management, and enforced equally against everyone. This is especially in important in no limit and pot limit games. Lets take a look at some reasons you don’t want to remove chips from your stack. Think about it, don’t you want to have all the ammunition you can use in a highly contested pot? You finally get a monster hand and have to go all in because you pocketed away a few hundred or more in chips. So much for getting the most profit out of that hand. There is another psychological view. If you pocket chips, are you doing it because you are unconsciously trying to keep from loosing this hidden money? You have to ask yourself some deep questions. If you are doing it for this reason you are, with out realizing it, now playing with scared money. This alone will put your game on the skids to disaster. One of the best reasons for not squirreling away chips is that if you do this to the point of making yourself appear short stacked, you will open yourself to attacks from aggressive players. These players would normally play a bit more carefully against you if you had a large stack. They would most likely realize that they could not intimidate you off a hand because your were short on cash, and you could fearlessly hammer them right back with raises. Maybe it’s just me, but I notice that using large stacks for intimidation or as an ego builder seems to be especially prevalent in 15/30 games. I always see guys converting their green and black chips into red so they can build Hoover Dam size stacks. In any case it’s something to think about the next time you get a brainstorm about ferreting chips off the table.

Now go win money.