How much are you buying in for?



Buy-ins are an important part of anyone’s game. A player I’ve known for a while saw me sitting at a table, waiting for a game to begin.

He’s usually there for one of the daily tournaments and occasionally plays cash games. I asked if he planned to get in the game at my table and he said no and joked that he wouldn’t want to play if I was going to be in the game.

When I gave a puzzled look, he said, “It’s because you always win.” I told him nobody always wins. He said, “Yes, you do. Every time I see you, you always have the most chips.”

A-ha! That explained it. I gave the perception of being a consistent, winning player because of the amount of chips in front of me.

And that’s exactly what I want to accomplish, the perception that I’m a winning player.

I always buy in for the maximum in a no-limit game and at least five times the minimum for a limit game. Here are a few reasons why I think this is important:

• If you’re perceived as a winning player, you’re ahead of the game. Who are the players you attempt to make your money from? The weaker players, right? Who are the players you least want to be heads-up against? The better players, of course.

• If you start with more than enough chips, you’re less likely to have to go into your pocket to buy more chips. Having to do that would give the impression you’re a weaker player.

• How many times have you sat at a table where you don’t know any of the players? Do you start to make inferences by who has the most chips in front of them? The least?

• You have a better chance of making a bluff or semibluff work if you’re perceived as a winning player.

Right about now you may be thinking, “Don’t most players notice that I unrack a lot of chips when I sit at the table?”

Well, some do, but most aren’t paying attention. And I suspect those that initially do notice this forget about it not long after the first hand is dealt.

And, of course, someone joining the game later would have no idea about my buy-in.

And here is the clincher: Out of the blue, a player recently said, “I think Willy is the player who usually leaves with the most chips.”

Yes, it was a nice compliment, but a more accurate statement would have been, “Willy usually walks away with a lot of chips because he buys in for the most chips.”

So, start buying in for least three or four times your usual amount. It’s a “perception” thing.

— Willy Neuman is a prop player at Ft. McDowell Casino in Arizona in the winter, but plays at Hollywood Casino in Aurora, Ill., most of the year. Email him at

Ante Up Magazine

Ante Up Magazine