How to Play Poker Without Chips

How to Play Poker Without Chips

There’s no reason to let a lack of chips stop you from playing a game of poker. Many alternatives are at your disposal if you want to run a live poker game, but don’t have traditional poker chips available.

As long as you have a deck of cards, you can almost certainly find something to take the place of poker chips. Let’s take a look at few things you can substitute for poker chips:

How to Play Poker Without Chips

You can use just about any countable small object as a substitute for chips in a poker game. A few of the best alternatives to poker chips include:

  • Play Money – Whether it’s Monopoly money or from another board game, play money provides perhaps the best substitute for poker chips. The denominations are already printed on play money, making it an optimal alternative for keeping track of pots.
  • Board Game Pieces – If you’re go-to board game is Scrabble instead of Monopoly, you can use Scrabble tiles as your poker currency. Pieces from other board games work just as well. You can assign money values to various board game pieces, or just count each piece as one unit.
  • Food – Like board game pieces, small, dried food can work as a stand-in for poker chips. Dried beans, corn, or seeds (if they’re on the larger side) can be used as poker currency.  Be careful about using M&Ms, Skittles, cookies, or potato chips as poker currency. These kinds of food items can create quite a mess, as player’s hands become sticky or greasy after a time.
  • Office Supplies – Paper clips are probably the top choice if you’re going to use office supplies as poker chips. Office supplies are particularly useful if an unexpected poker game breaks out at work. Other office items that can be used include rubber bands, post-it notes, and tacks. 
  • Spare Change – Spare change might seem like the most obvious substitute for poker chips. The only drawback is that you’re limited by how much spare change you have laying around.

What if I Can’t Find Anything to Substitute for Poker Chips?

If all else fails, you keep track of the tally at a poker game with pen and paper. Many other card games keep score with this tried and true method, and it works perfectly fine for poker in the absence of a poker chips substitute.

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About the Author
Geoffrey Fisk

Geoffrey Fisk

Freelance writer and poker player based in San Diego, California.

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