Counting chips is important in poker, but it should be done quickly and without slowing down the game. Organizing chips in even stacks can help. “Reducing,” or removing chips from the table, is considered bad etiquette. Cash in winnings only after the game is over.
When playing any variation of poker, you should always have the right to count your chips. After all, no one else at the table will keep track of it, and you certainly don’t want to bet more than you can cover. Knowing when to count chips, however, is part of poker etiquette. While there isn’t an official rule that says you can’t count your chips during a game, there are also a table full of players who don’t take kindly to delays and deliberate stalling.
In poker games like the popular Texas Hold’Em, the relative size of each player’s chips has some bearing on the betting process. For example, those with shorter stacks may need to bet more aggressively than those with higher chip counts. When you count your chips during a game of Texas Hold’Em, it can create a delay in the flow of the game and distract your fellow players. By stacking your chips in a more organized way, such as in even stacks of equal value, you should be able to count your chips at a glance.
A number of poker players will juggle their chips during a game out of boredom or stress, but this is not the same as manually counting your chips. Bad etiquette arises whenever you are deliberately slow counting your chips, especially when it is your turn to bet or raise. A quick visual estimate of your positions should be enough to help you with your betting strategy.
There is another practice that is considered even more offensive than stopping to count your chips. This practice is called “reducing” and is generally not recommended. During a reduction, a player will remove a certain amount of his chips and leave the table briefly. These chips do not return to the table with the player, meaning the player is now left with a shorter stack of chips but not a shorter supply of funds. Poker etiquette generally suggests that players do not cash in their winnings or remove their chips until the game is officially over.
In short, it may not be bad manners to count your chips during breaks in the game, but anything that can slow down the pace of the game should be avoided in fairness to other players.