Why Players Should Do Chip Tricks at the Poker Table

General strategy discussion.

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Why Players Should Do Chip Tricks at the Poker Table

Postby Lawyn1981 » Sat Dec 16, 2006 5:38 am


Definition:  Chip Flourishes (Chip Tricks), handling chips in a fancy manner.

Poker is fast becoming America's favorite form of entertainment.  Hold 'em tournaments are broadcast daily on TV.  You and I are able to peek into the pros hole cards, as well as see the way they handle their chips.  Some don't flourish at all, but others, work with the chips in a manner that reveal their thousands of hours spent on the green felt.  They riffle shuffle their chips.  They delicately finger the chips...extracting one, turning it over, and replacing it.  They bet their chips with a flair.  The colorful tricks include running a chip across the knuckles, spinning a chip on the table and making it return, and rolling out a stack of four chips so that a chip is gracefully placed between each finger.  They impress us with their chip acrobatics.  And it's second nature...they aren't even thinking about it.

There are several reasons why players do chip tricks.  Here are a few.

1.  TABLE IMAGE:  I've read pros suggest that players should project an image that they are a "madman" or "unsure of themselves"....when in reality...they are not.  Throw your opponent off.  Appear the opposite.  This does have advantages, but I just can't get myself to do it.  When I sit down at a table I want everyone to know that I grew up with a deck of cards in my hand, that I'm a "player", and that I know what I'm doing at the table...all the time.  Performing chip tricks helps me stand out and gives me a bit more control of the table.  
     I can opt to look like a poker veteran, and unleash my collection of chip handling techniques.  Or if I want to look like a beginner, I can simply choose not to do anything fancy.  

2.  RELIEVE STRESS:    Just as some people twiddle their thumbs, bounce their knee, or tap their fingers, flourishing can be a means to physically dissipate nervous energy.  Poker can be a stressful game in several ways.  One is the nervousness one feels at the beginning of a tournament.  This is easily decreased by some chip shuffling.   Poker is a sedentary game and there aren't many physical ways to "blow off" a bad beat or major chip loss.  A player can get out of his seat and walk a few steps, he can verbalize, or pick up a drink.  There's not much else to do.  Golfers can walk off their frustration.  Baseball players can fling their helmets and bats into the ground after striking out.  One way to "let off steam" for a poker player, is to work the chips.   Moving your fingers and handling the chips, is one physical means to lessen stress, and take your mind off the last hand.

3.  INTIMIDATE OPPONENTS:  I've seen beginners fold solid hands being intimidated by players who look like "seasoned" poker players (many do twirls, rolls, flips, and other fancy fingering of chips and cards).  The psychological factor in poker is far more important than in other card games.  If you look like you grew up playing poker, you will have your raises respected more.  You will find opponents laying down hands because they think you have the winning hand.  The confidence you display, and the way you handle your chips & cards, effects other people's decisions and play.

4.  EARN RESPECT FROM DEALERS AND FLOORPERSONS:  I don't look like a beginner, and I am more likely to be noticed and remembered. I'm looking to maximuze my comps and courtesies!  
Sometimes a dealer may get "testy" with a tourist or one who is new to the game.  I'm not put in that category.
Over the years, I've seen a variety of borderline situations at the table, where the veteran player gets the better shake.  My flourishing puts me in the"poker                       veteran" category.                                                                                      

5.  STAY AWAKE: During long tournaments, keeping my fingers moving helps me be a little more awake and aware of what's going on.  There are some boring stretches to poker, and handling my chips helps me stay alert.

6. FOCUS:  Handling the chips keeps me focused on the game.  My hands are physically on them, and I'm mentally attached to the cards at play.  The purpose of the game is to gain chips, and there is no better way to remind me of this than to finger the chips.

7.  HELPS TO WARD OFF CHEATS:  Someone who performs chip tricks and handles cards with a flair does not look like an easy mark.  He is thought to be well versed in proper poker shuffling, cutting, dealing procedures, and protocol.  He is one who is more likely to be aware of card "mechanics", collusion, and other scams.  I am less likely to be the "mark", and any cheat will think twice before trying to pull one on me.  For them...there are easier prey in other seats.

8.  OTHERS WOULD LIKE TO DO IT:  Every person at the table would like to be able to perform tricks with their chips.  It takes some initial practice but once you learn it, you learn it for life.  .  Make sure you have them second nature before sitting down and gambling.  If you have to concentrate on the tricks, and take attention away from the cards at play, you'll be hurting your game.  

9.  THE PROS DO IT:  No matter what sport or game, everybody wants to emulate the professionals.  They are the stars, the successful.  Do as the pros do!


Tom Golabek is an award winning magician, and plays the poker tables of South Florida and Las Vegas.  He has produced a step by step instructional DVD on how to perform a colorful collection of poker chip tricks, and card handling techniques.  It can be found at www.pokerchipsvideo.com
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