"Best" currency denominations

I’m thinking of getting poker chips for use as currency for Euro-style boardgames (the supplied paper money is often lacking in quantity and/or quality)

But this really isn’t a gaming question. I’m trying to figure the “best” currency distribution.

US coins are 1/5/10/25/50/100
US paper money is 1/(2)/10/20/50/100

For the purposes of this thread denominations over 100 don’t matter.

In a game thread someone pointed out that 10 really isn’t much better than two 5s and so does it this way : 1/5/25/100

I define “best” as having the least denominations without having “too much” of one denomination to get any total.

Binary 1/2/4/8/16/32/64 would have nore more than one kind for any total, but too many denominations.

For some reason “e” sticks to be as a possible optimal base so you would have
1/3/9/27 for denominations - no more than 3 of any one to get every value from 1 to 100 - but this would be too wierd for most people.

Mods: I think this may have a math answer, but move to game room if you think best.

Casinos, who have been doing this for a very long time, typically go with $1 (sometimes just in the form of a dollar coin)/$2.50 (helpful in paying off 3:2 bets in blackjack, or odds bets in craps sometimes)/$5/$25/$100/higher.

Your table limits will influence your decision.

As for relative distribution, you’ll probably want to have more of the chips that are close to the table minimum bet, fewer of the higher chips.

How do casinos outside the US do it? Reflecting familiarity with local currency might be a factor, too.

When we play poker, our chips rank as follows:


Works pretty well for us. YMMV

I’ll second this as well, except that I use cents instead of “dollars”. I’m a cheapskate. :smiley:

I once built a craps pit in order to learn to play better/teach my friends to play. I got pretty good at instantly figuring payout odds . . . and the key to this was to pre-figure out what you would do in the case of an “off math” bet. If I had a 3:2 payoff, I’d give the guy a white chip ($1.00 on our table) and a couple of spare quarters in a cup, for his dollar bet.

What I’ve also done is set up a spreadsheet with a “base value for color” (basically, your most numerous chip’s worth) that would compute out X white, Y, red, and Z black for a $20.00 buy in if white is $1.00. If White was $0.25, the chip counts would change. That’s easy to do with a spreadsheet–I can send you an example if you want. Just PM me.

I learned a lot trying to deal/play/teach: I’m the most disorganized organized criminal. I’ll never be invited to run a mafia poker room. :smack:

Given that the U.S. and Canadian dollars, as well as the pound and the Euro, price out at roughly the same order of magnitude, my experience has been that all use similar chip breakdowns (for instance, all have five and 25 and 100 unit chips whereas I have never seen a 10-unit or 50-unit chip anywhere). However, this means you have to be conscious of what currency you’re actually playing in, as losing that green (25) chip in Canada hurts a lot less than in the U.K.

The only other baseline I have is recollections of playing in France before the Euro came in. I seem to recall 500 franc chips.

Casino dealer here.

1/5/25/100 works very well.

5 singles = 5
5 nickels = 25
4 quarters = 100

If you need nigher denominations either grab some 500 values, or casino chips are made to stack anyway so it’s pretty easy to stack them up.

Another retired casino guy here.

I agree the Vegas way works very well: 1, 5, 25, 100, 500, 1000, 5000.

While you might occasionally see $2.50 chips on Blackjack tables, it is much more common to see 50 cent coins.

New Jersey casinos (and some others) sometimes use $10 chips on some poker games. In Las Vegas they don’t play $5/$10, they play $4/$8 and $6/$12 … makes the pots look bigger and thus stimulates action in the game.

The OP mentioned “Euro-style boardgames” – I’m not sure what that means, but Euro coins and notes are issued in a 1/2/5/10/20/50/100 pattern. That fits a binary progression reasonably well into a decimal system, and tries to make calculations as easy as possible.

(But perhaps I’m biased, because Australia has used the same pattern since 1966 when it left LSD.)

I lot of my British friends here in America complain about 25c as a denomination. They are used to 20 pence coins, which is just as sensible a choice (maybe even more sensible). Figuring things like 63c befuddles them for a second because they expect to deal with the tens place first (3x20c=60c) but can’t. The US system is actually a bit silly in this regard, since the first thing you have to do is shift up to a 25c, 50c, or 75c baseline. (2x25c+2x5c+3x1c, assuming no 10c piece here.)