Colour up in poker means to exchange smaller chip denominations for larger ones. This helps to prevent players from having overly large chip stacks containing low value chips. Since this doesn’t affect the overall amount of big blinds in chip stack, players may colour up at any time. 

In this guide we’ll learn the following - 

Why Do Poker Players Colour Up?

Colouring up prevents players having overly large chip stacks containing lots of low value chip denominations. This might happen after a big cash game winning streak or towards the later stages of a tournament where there are less players remaining.

How Does Colouring Up Work in Tournaments?

As the field gets smaller the average chip stack gets larger. The blinds and antes also increase towards the later stages of a poker tournament. Colouring up occurs at regular intervals (often at the start of a break) in order to ensure there are no overly small chip denominations in play. The smallest wager required in any game is the size of the ante, so it doesn’t make sense to have any chip denominations smaller than this.

What Would Happen if a Poker Player Never Coloured Up?

The game would still proceed as normal, but in a tournament context players might find themselves using handfuls of chips simply to pay the blinds and antes. It also might be difficult to easily see how many chips an opponent is playing if the large numbers of small denomination chips started to conceal some of the larger value chips. Either way, there would be a lot of extra chips to keep track of which could hinder the smooth flow of gameplay.

What is the Difference Between Colouring up and Cashing Out?

Colouring up should not be confused with cashing out which means to remove chips from play. When a player colours up, the value of his stack in big blind remains exactly the same, he is simply replacing a selection of low value chips with a smaller number of high value chips. Cashing out a partial amount of the chip stack is usually against the rules of most games anyway.

When Can Poker Players Colour Up?

Since colouring up doesn’t affect the number of big blinds in a player’s stack, colouring up can be done at any time simply by asking the floor. Making such requests might often be unnecessary in tournaments however since the entire tournament will be requested to colour up at set intervals as the blinds and antes increase.

Final Thoughts

Colouring up in poker is a standard part of the game. It’s designed to make things easier on the players and doesn’t carry any special strategic significance. Why not improve your knowledge of poker chips with this complete guide to poker chip values and colours?

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