Buying chips - ok or pure evil?

For full disclosure purposes: I have no commercial affiliations with Replay Poker or any of the staff. I have not given advance notice of what I am about to write here with anyone from Replay Poker. I am not advocating that anyone make a purchase of any kind from Replay Poker.

Over the past several months I have enjoyed playing here and participating in these Forums. Both states I live in prohibit playing online poker for cash or prizes so my options for online play of any sort are limited to social/free poker sites like this one. Prior to coming here, I played on the WPT site, where I had won a substantial quantity of chips over the course of 2 years. However, on December 31st 2016, at 11:59:59, all those chips simply disappeared as WPT shut its free site down. I had never purchased any chips there and never felt the need to. That was my 1st experience with online poker of any sort and I simply built my bankroll up from the ground floor. Still, even though I knew the chips were worthless in the real world, it stung seeing them all disappear like that. I earned those chips and wasn’t thrilled with them just being taken from me like that. I cant imagine how the people who paid for them must have felt.

The subject of buying chips has been brought up directly and indirectly in these Forums pretty frequently for the time I’ve been here. Most of the time it is addressed from these 3 points of view:

  1. The site is rigged to force people to buy chips

  2. Only imbeciles would pay money to buy play chips

  3. Purchased chips should not count towards player rank since they were not earned

I would like to offer my perspective on this because I think it needs to be said and I also think Replay Poker cannot address it directly because they have an obvious interest in the issue. Since RP can’t rebut some of what is said, most of it remains unchallenged. I am going to challenge some of it though because, as a player, I have an interest in seeing this site prosper and grow. As a member of this community I also want to speak up for people who may not feel comfortable doing so themselves.

Lets go through these 3 topics 1 by 1.

1) The site is rigged to force people to buy chips - I wish we could drop this one but it seems to come up over and over. I cannot and will not vouch for the program, RNG or auditors because I have no 1st hand knowledge of any of them. All I can relay is what I know from experience and that is the fact that properly run casinos make more from running honest games than they ever could by cheating the players. I had the good fortune to spend a lot of time with the late Dennis Gomes (CEO of Aztar) when I started out analyzing casinos. The man was a genius but even he made mistakes in terms of promotions, marketing, design and so on. The one thing that he (and any other legit casino operator) never even thought about messing with was the integrity of the games. You can mess up with the types of games you run but it is certain death for an operator to be found out as having run a crooked game. RP isn’t really a casino but I believe the premise is the same. I have no reason to believe otherwise.

2) Only imbeciles would pay money to buy play chips - This is foolish and frankly insulting in so many ways that I barely know where to start. First of all, no matter whether you buy them or not, the site we all play on is supported by the people who buy chips. These Forums are supported by people who buy chips. In what world do people think its appropriate to use this site’s own resources to dissuade others from doing business with it? If you feel that strongly about it, start a blog or whatever else you want to do but please don’t do it here. Would you go to someone’s party and stand out in the hall telling the other guests that the hosts are cheats and horrible people and that they shouldn’t do business with them? This is more than bad manners and I would hope people would stop doing it.

Second, buying chips is a matter of personal tastes and utility functions. People are buying entertainment here, no different than buying a video game or tickets to a concert or people who pay for the privilege of jumping out of a fully functional airplane. There are plenty of things I don’t understand why someone would pay money for, most notably for me a NASCAR race. Then again, I’m from NYC so I get to see all the multi-hour left hand turns I want for free on a daily basis. Regardless of any of our preferences, there are others who would find some of what we spend money on to be a waste. All voluntary transactions are based on mutual benefit. If someone wants to spend their money here on chips, it is because they get enjoyment from it. Good for them, good for the site and good for everyone who plays on the site for free.

3) Purchased chips should not count towards player rank since they were not earned - I 100% agree. I don’t think this ranking system is a positive in any way shape or form. I totally get why players who earned their way up the ranks from 0 feel slighted by players who simply come in and buy the chips. “Hey, if it took me a year of hard work to earn these chips, how come the guy who got here yesterday with a credit card gets ranked higher than me?” In my opinion, that is a valid and logical argument. I bought chips today. By the current ranking system, I just got better than a thousand other players with the click of a mouse. That’s ridiculous. No such thing happened. I did not get better nor worse from the purchase, and that was the other big point I was trying to make.

This post is a freaking novel and I apologize for that. I hope people can have an honest discussion about the topic and about the issues related to it. Buying chips does not make you a good player nor does it mean you are a poor player. Its what you do with the chips you bring to the table that matters. Again, I am not trying to take away anything from people who earned all their chips. I think its awesome and having done that myself for 2 years, I understand why people are both proud of their achievements and protective of what those chips represent. I hope that as an offshoot of this topic, a better ranking system will be devised.

I am happy to answer any and all questions. I’m hoping not to get too much hate over this as I don’t mean to insult anyone or attack their positions.


BRAVO,well said and totally agree! Was wondering though,what happens to the ranks we all have if they change the system?

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This is the conversation I would really like to have. I have thoughts, as do many other players, and I’m sure RP has thoughts of their own. It would be great if people collaborated with the RP team to come up with something both meaningful to the players and beneficial to RP as a company.

Here are my thoughts on chip-rank: The only thing chip-rank measures is the amount of visible bankroll a player currently has. It does not differentiate between bought and won chips, nor from daily bonuses, promotional bonuses … It does not show whether a player may be willing to rebuy or really much of anything of meaning as far as I’m concerned. However, I do see where people are both used to it and attached to it for reasons of their own. I would therefore suggest a 2-track path.

I would allow players to choose whether or not they want their bankrolls visible or not. Personally, I would never go to a casino or card room where my bank account balance was on display for everyone to look over. I believe this type of information is proprietary to the player and only the player can make a decision about sharing it with others. I would very much like RP to institute an opt-in/out policy right away, whether or not a new system is being considered or worked upon. Let people who wish to display their bankroll do so but allow others to remain private.

I think this would solve a lot of problems both from the player side and probably help the business as well. It would allow the players who like the current system to continue to use it but also give the players who do not want to share their information publicly the freedom to remain private about such matters. I am curious to see what other players and RP thinks about this idea. I would hope it could be implemented rather quickly if agreed to and then more detailed conversations could be had about what the best ranking system to use going forwards would be.

I cannot help but think that this topic is pretty irrelevant to much of anything…

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I agree with all that, except the “bought chips shouldn’t count.”

You might note that this is a reversal of my previous position. Why the change of heart?

Well, not counting them is virtually unworkable.

Say you go broke and buy 250,000 chips. You then take them to a high stakes table and go allin on one hand. You win, and now have 500,000 chips. How many of these should count towards ranking?

You did win them, even though 250,000 of them were bought to begin with and don’t count. But wait, if not for those bought chips, you wouldn’t have the other 250,000 either. Should none of them count? Should they all count?

And that’s an extreme example. What if, over the course of a few weeks, you won 50k here, lost 50k there, won some, lost some, won some, lost some. Now how many of your chips should count towards ranking?

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SPG - really glad you are weighing in on this. You are one of the people who seem to know the site best and from everything I see, have spent a lot of time and energy into making it a better place for everyone. Its great to have people in any conversation who can keep an open mind about a subject.

As to separating the bought chips from the earned chips, I agree that it is unworkable to separate them out. This is why I am advocating for a system based on something other than chips altogether. While that is going on, I am also suggesting that players should have the option of either keeping their ranking and chip balances public or of opting out and having that information private. If you want to be ranked by chips, then of course your balances need to be displayed. If you don’t want to be included in the public rankings, then your account balances should be private.

You have obviously played for a long time and have a mind for seeking advantage. Is knowing another players bankroll something you could and would exploit? Of course it is. Therefore it should be up to each individual player whether they want that information public or not.

Chips shouldn’t count at all toward a player’s ranking. Place of finish against the field should determine rank. Obviously its not quite that simple.
I suggest a ranking similar to pro golf. Golf and poker are similar in that their are various strength tourneys throughout the year and some players play more tourneys and some play less.
They rank on a rolling 2 year system that weighs the big tourneys heavier. They also weigh the most recent tourneys heavier.
I would designate certain Replay tourneys as “Ranking Tourneys”. These could involve entries of 2K, 5K and 15K chips. I would rank based on finish position with the higher buy-in tourneys being weighted heavier. You could have monthly leader boards and an overall leader board but nobody would be eligible for the overall board until they had played in the new system for, say, 3 months and had played a minimum number of tourneys, say 50.
I would also weigh recent tourneys heavier than old tourneys in a rolling 2 year ranking.
Bankroll would mean nothing.
Bonuses, free chips and bought chips would mean nothing.
Only poker performance relative to your opponents would matter.

You could have different systems for SnG’s and rings.
Bankrolls could still be displayed but I agree with Warlock…that should be a player option.


Keep in mind that the system I’m advocating doesn’t reward people who play more tourneys once you reach the minimum.
If Warlock plays 50 15K tourneys and I play 500 15K tourneys, he still outranks me if he has a higher average finish relative to the field.

But, you can’t sit on a high ranking because as time passes your old finishes are weighted lighter than everyone’s similar finishes in recent tourneys.




Nice post, I am glad to see it. I certainly agree with most of it. I played here for about 6 months or so and really like the sight so decided to support it. Made one purchase of chips for $252.00 I didn’t need them as was building just fine, but want to support the sight. Now about half of my chips came from that purchase and I won the other half. I will probably buy again in a year or so to keep supporting site. I would never say anything negative about people who buy. They are helping keep the site running. And even if they are playing and losing in the bigger tournaments, they are just supporting that tournament.
In the WS of poker you have many of the best players in the world. You also have a ton of dead money. Lots of people who really like poker and $10.000.00 is not considered much for a few hours of fun. Part of the reason the pot is so big.

I really don’t care if the boughten chips are considered in the ratings or not.

I don’t see anything rigged at this site at all so far. Seems to be run very well.

I would disagree with you about the integrity of casinos though. There are all kinds of irregularities in most of them. The top executives usually would not even know it or condone it. Usually involves lower lever employees. Dealers, floormen, etc.
I play in a lot of casino tournaments and am very watchful. Tournaments are better than open play in this regard.

T.R. King company went out of business a few years ago. They were a large manufacturer and supplier of chips, dice , etc for Casinos for many years. A friend of mine bought thier company manufacturing records a couple of years ago. It is very interesting reading. They were still making loaded dice for a few casinos in the 80’s

I enjoyed your post.

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Good Morning Warlock,

I greatly appreciate your very thought provoking post. Double thanks for bringing purchasing chips out from the shadows and into the light; it is just what the doctor ordered. I agree that the site isn’t rigged, that there is an assortment of reasons why people buy chips, and think that the ranking of players should not be based on chips, bought or earned, but instead upon skill and selected scoring. In particular, I think there already exists a scoring mechanism in place at Replay Poker that can be tweaked and we will have an incredible ranking system (more about that in another post on Ranking).

I’d like to add a thought on how a player should be able to purchase chips.

One could purchase a 1.5 million chips and by the end of the day could lose most of it. Instead of doing it on a one time basis create a one year subscription plan whereby a player can purchase the chips over the period of a year.

Who would do this you ask? Well, the player who doesn’t need chips but feels he or she should support the site is the first person who comes to mine. Another person may be somebody who wants to buy a gift for a friend or loved one.

Maybe the site should have different sized subscription packages.

The bottom line is I think that there are two primary ways to support Replay Poker for the incredibly wonder service it has provided us with so many hours of enjoyment. You can support the site by gifting money in exchange for chips and you can support the site by donating time by volunteering.

Thank about it.



great topic.

i agree with all of your points, but as sun also said it would be really difficult (if not impossible) to not count the payed chips into the ranking. for example: you hold 100K chips and bought 1M. to use proper bankroll management lets say normally you would use 5k, to make it easy assume you double it, so you have 105K now. but instead of 100K you have 1100K. so instead of 5 you use 50K. also assume again you double it, you have now 1150K, of which 150K is earned. so even since all the chips are earned because of the buy you have 150K instead of 105K earned. so what normally would take 10 times to get you now get it in 1 time, this is what it would make it very difficult to add this.
besides of this problem, if it was doable i would fully agree on this with you with this.

as already is mentioned, there are more things then only chips to make a good player. don’t know if it helps but since the amount of chips isn’t the only thing that matters to be a good player, maybe use a formula that uses multiple important things into the rank, this way bought chips take much less value.

i have just made my own idea of it, see here: another player ranking calculation

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Seville - thanks for the post and for the insight. Your come to the discussions with a ton of information and experience. Having owned a card room, you probably have a perspective that is unique among RP players. I don’t know what type of room you ran but I’ve been playing cash games for a long time and when I found a well run club here, I stayed with it, The guy who owns it is sharp as a tack and so on top of everything that goes on in his games that I sometimes wonder if he has clones of himself.

If I could just nitpick one thing from your post:

Wherever there is substantial money, there will be people looking for shortcuts to get to it. Whether that is a lower level employee or a world class player like Phil Ivey, people seek advantage, legal and otherwise. I would differentiate the establishments themselves from every other actor though. Its one thing for an employee or player to try and game the system and a very different thing for an operator to intentionally try to run a crooked game. Whatever incremental money they could take in from doing so is insignificant compared to total revenue and the risks are so high that it wouldn’t be rational behavior to do so as an institution. Just my thoughts.

As always, best to you on the tables and everywhere else.

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Scratch, you can also support the site by simply playing on it. One of the primary draws for online cash sites is the availability of games. In that world, sites have paid prop players to get games going and keep them going. I don’t think RP can do the same thing since there is no money exchanged from site to player here. However, by simply playing, everyone contributes directly to the site through rake and indirectly through increasing the pool of players online at any given time.

Thanks for the kind words and the thoughtful response, as always.

Added content - you can also support the site by posting through the forums, answering player questions, sharing strategy and advice and so much else. Just being a decent human being on the tables is a contribution.



Yes, the chips you win should all count. Here is why. If you started at 0 chips, and bought 250k, bet it all, and lost it, you should effectively be ranked based on a -250000 bankroll. That way there is an equitable consequence of frivolously risking any chips, whether they are bought or not.

IMO, buying the chips shouldn’t automatically increase your rank. They should just give you a leg up on having a larger bankroll to play with.

What about daily bonus chips? Should they count? It doesn’t take a lot of poker skill to log in and collect a bonus.

If bought chips don’t count and daily bonus chips don’t count, there would be nothing left that does count.

don’t think bonus chips would matter much anyway, except for the lowest players.
but if you look purely skill based i think that would be indeed the best possibility, but won’t give much harm either.

the formula i made (posted a link a few posts earlier) would made daily and bought chips much less of a problem for the ranking. (the chip multiplier idea can even be removed to get rid of both things almost entirely but would go at the cost of skill points based on big amounts of chips so that is not recommended). while everything skill based would still count (even much more things then only chip totals)

I would leave things as they are, because you don’t gain much by changing it and would upset a lot of people if you did.

However, it would be nice to see the other players’ complete stats. It’s hard to boil everything down into one single “ranking” number. Let us see the stats and we would have a much better idea of a player’s skill level.

i get your point, and i don’t know if there are that many that wouldn’t like it but thought since i hear a lot of people who told they like a change i thought i also give it a try hoping it will help.
if it might help maybe they can use it. if not no harm done ;).

i would also like your idea, more stats of players would defenitely help in many ways.

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