Sunday, May 14, 2017

The $2 Chip Makes an Unwelcome Return

I come here today to talk about the worst thing in poker today—an absolute blight on the game, something the threatens the very future of the game.

I am talking about the use of the $2 chip in a 1/2 or a 1/3 game.

Wait, wait, wait.  I'm not serious.  I'm just being a smart-ass.  The $2 chip is not the worst thing in poker.  It doesn't threaten the very future of the game.  It's not that bad.

Now don't get me wrong.  It is bad.  It's wrong.  It's inexcusable.  But it's not anywhere near as bad as, say, the Designated Hitter Rule is to baseball.  We all know that the use of the DH is the greatest travesty in all of sports, in fact, in all games of any kind.  No reasonable person could argue that.  If you would like to argue that, don't bother, because I don't believe in arguing with unreasonable people.

How bad is the DH rule?  Well, it is exponentially worse than allowing the button straddle in poker and having the action start on the small blind.  Yes, it's just that bad. 

But I digress, we aren't discussing the DH rule here.  We're discussing the use of the $2 chip in a low stakes NL poker game.  And last month, during my trip, I encountered a poker room that used the dreaded $2 chip.

Before I continue, I have to make one thing clear.  In this post, I will not mention the name of this particular poker room.  I have a very specific reason for not doing so, which I can't reveal.  However, I will say this:  If you check back through my Tweets, you can see the room I am talking about it.

The thing is, this is a poker room that used to use the $2 chip, then they stopped using them, and it was only when I was in there last month that I realized they had brought back the $2 chip from the grave.  And that's why I felt obliged to tweet about this recent development.

I have a little bit of background knowledge about this, because, after all, I am "robvegaspoker."

This particular room has undergone a few management changes in the recent years.  Thus when I first played there, three-four years ago, I noticed the $2 chip in play.  Then they brought in a new room manager.  I was actually assigned to interview the new manager for publication.

I am not shy about expressing my concerns about poker room rules and policies with the management folks I deal with.  I'm happy to report that often these managers ask for my opinion about tournament structures, promotions, limits, etc.  I have no problem giving them my feedback.  And also, I have no problem giving my opinion on stuff like this even when they don't ask for it.

I'm never a jerk about it, but let's just say most of the poker room managers and tournament directors I work with in Vegas know how I feel the min-cashes in their tournaments being inadequate, to give one example.

So I was interviewing the new manager, and he was telling me about his plans for the room, how he envisioned improving the room, changes he was going to make.  While he was talking about this, I thought of the $2 chip.  I just very casually mentioned that it was something he might want to look at.  I swear I did this without comparing it to the DH rule!

His response surprised me.  I don't have the exact quote.  This was an issue I brought up mostly for myself, and didn't really think it belonged in the published interview, so I didn't include it.  But he made it very clear in no uncertain terms he totally agreed with my position on the use of the $2 chip.  This is a paraphrase, from my admittedly not great memory, but he said something to the effect of—The $2 chips are all gone from the XXXX poker room—or very soon will be. The way he said it, it was very clear his opinion of the $2 chip was at least as negative as mine was—if not more so.  He didn't say "good riddance to them," but he may as well have.

Since that time, I've returned to the room many times, and never saw a $2 chip in play (I believe they still used them for the rake, which is fine).  But not long after that, the manager I interviewed took on additional responsibilities within the organization he worked for, and eventually the day-to-day management of this poker room fell to another individual. I worked with the new person for a year or two and only in the last month or so did I learn that he was transitioning to another department in the organization.   I was given another person to work with to keep information on the room up-to-date.

This was only a few days before I went into the room to play and discovered the return of the $2 chip.  I asked one of the dealers how long ago they started using the $2 chips again, and he said it's been a couple of months (there was happily no sign of them when I was last there in December). So I can't be sure if the chips were brought back by the very newest person in charge over there, or the person I'd been working with for a couple of years made the change near the end of his tenure.

Or—and perhaps this is the most likely scenario—the decision was made by somebody in gaming above the poker room, and the poker folks had nothing to do with it.  Wouldn't surprise me at all.

Anyway, the reason I felt compelled to do this post is that after I sent that tweet bemoaning the return of the $2 chip to this room, I got some push back from a couple of my twitter peeps, basically asking me what the big deal was.  Both of these fine fellows are poker dealers.  Of course, you know me.  I couldn't possibly respond in the length of a tweet.  So I gave a joke response—that my dislike of them is purely scientific.  "They are unlucky."

So here's the real answer.

They suck.

No actually, I guess there's more to it.

They're unnecessary and they suck.

Actually, I've already written a bit about this topic, a post you can find here.  Now I have to point out, the room I was talking about in that post—the one that was using the $2 chips which pissed me off—was the Monte Carlo poker room.  And I hasten to point out that recently the Monte Carlo closed their poker room.  So a room that used the $2 chips recently closed their poker room?  Coincidence?  I think not.

No, I'm kidding. The room closed because the property is rebranding and they powers that be obviously don't feel the new theme requires a poker room.  But still...why would any other poker room in town take that chance?  Hmm....

Anyway, in response to my post of several years back, I heard from the inimitable Poker Grump who of course informed me that he had griped about the $2 chip years before.  So I'll refer you that post, which you can find here.  Seriously, you should go read it because Grump is a better writer, a better poker player and a better ranter than I am—and is much more concise (no great challenge there).  He really lays out the case against them exceedingly well. I really should just end this post here with that link but no, I can blather on a bit further.

Now one of the problems with the awful things that they often too closely resemble another denomination chip.  Most often (like at the late Monte Carlo), they very closely resemble the $1 chip, making it hard to confirm stacks, and making it easy to tip a dealer or a waitress too much.  One of the twitter peeps I referred to above even implied that they might have purposely made sure every pot they pushed included a $2 chip or two in the hopes that they would get an extra buck tip out of it.  I find that totally unacceptable.  Hey, if a dealer gets an extra buck tip because the player is generous or otherwise thinks he or she deserves it, that's great.  But if I have reason to believe a dealer is purposely trying to deceive me into giving them an extra buck, I can promise you, that dealer will never get a tip for me ever again.  I mean, I could win the bad beat jackpot for $500,000 and they'd get stiffed.

However, at this particular room, the problem was that the $2 chips actually resembled a different denomination—the $25 chip.  Yeah, it was pretty similar.

This is a relatively new development—that you even see a $25 chip in a 1/2 or a 1/3 game.  A year or two ago, almost all poker rooms allowed $100 bills to play at the table.  But in order to satisfy Federal Regulations, most stopped using them.  So that created the need for $25 chips and in some rooms even $100 chips.  I doubt there was much confusion when this room used the $2 chip years ago because the $25 chips hardly ever were seen in the low stakes games.  Now the $25 chips are quite common.

Sure enough, while I was in this game, on two successive hands, the same player bet incorrectly because of the confusion.  The first time, he put out a $25 chip thinking it was a $2 chip, and made a huge raise preflop that had only been limped up to that point.  He tried to take it back but he wasn't allowed to.  No one called him. Note:  I don't remember the exact situation, obviously if he just put a $25 out without saying anything it would be a call, but I know that in this case, it was technically a raise—I think he used another chip too.  Maybe he was trying to call a straddle?  The other time I think he reversed it and put out a $2 chip when he wanted to use the $25 chip and more confusion reigned.

Sure you can say he would learn to be more careful and that it was only a couple of hands.  But a) what if that was the hand where potentially it had a big impact (unbeknownst to us because it didn't play out) and b) what possible benefit could the damn $2 chips have that could offset even the occasional screw up?

Aside from betting....imagine sitting on the other side of the table from someone, seeing greenish chips in his stack and not being sure if they are $25 chips, or $2 chips, or some combination of both?  It's a nightmare.

I must admit, I kind of found myself nearly going on tilt just from seeing them back in a room from which I knew they had been banished, properly, years ago.  I didn't play there very long, I couldn't stop thinking about how much I hated them.  And yes, like Grump, I used every opportunity to get rid of them whenever they were foisted upon me.  Unlike Grump, I came very close to just immediately returning them to the dealer and asking for singles.

As I pointed out in my prior post, I could certainly see using the $2 chip in some games—actually they'd be good in a 2/4 limit game, or maybe a 4/8 limit game.  But in 1/2, 1/3 or 2/5 no limit, they are just needlessly confusing, for all the reasons Grump points out in his post.

And so, rather than being even more redundant than I've already been, I'll just leave it there.  Read Grump's old post.

Case closed.


  1. Completely agree on the $2 chips, but aren't $3 chips approximately 72.589% more awful? I don't know if they still do, but the 1/3 game at the Wynn used $3 chips. No one knows how to bet the amount they want if it's over $20 or so. It was maddening when I played there.

    1. Well, I've played at Wynn a few times recently, including two weeks ago and I've never seen them use a $3 chip in play. Didn't see them years ago the few times I played there either. They may have used them for the rake, but not in play that I ever saw. Of course, now that they have a $5 max rake, they don't need them for the rake, they just drop redbirds.

      But I've always maintained that the $3 chip would be useful for a 3/6 or maybe even a 6/12 limit game. Never saw that but I wouldn't object at all to it.

      Thanks for the comment, Dave. I hope you are doing well.

  2. i'll say it for you, the "Roman themed" casino, and i agree the $2 chips suck.

    Going back for Collosus?, hope to see you at the Rio.
    We bought one way tickets, staying till we run out of $$, lol.
    GL sir,
    Big L

    1. Thanks, Big L.

      I'm not going to be in town for Colossus. Only so much time I can spend there and I want to be there in early July. So I am coming in on June 9 (at least as currently planed). Hopefully you'll win enough money to still be around!

  3. pretty sure the ONLY reason for the $2 chips is the dealers all threatened to riot if they werent used. the wynn quit using $3 chips in NL yrs ago. nice to see Grump (and most others agree). the only reason people on my twitter didnt, is because they dont like my political beliefs, so i get lots of BS online

    1. Interesting point, Tony. I suppose some of the dealers may have wanted to bring them back but I doubt that's the reason the did it. But who knows?

  4. I come here today to talk about the worst thing in poker today—an absolute blight on the game, something the threatens the very future of the game.

    I thought this was another post about having to pay for parking, lol.

    1. Haha. But paid parking doesn't affect poker all over, just in Vegas (at least for me, parking is still free at every SoCal room I've been to). And paid parking is ruining Vegas casinos and gambling in general, not just poker.