Chip trickery

Mar 28, 2006 2:30 AM

I hope many of you have been working on the poker concepts we’ve been discussing over the past several weeks.

I realize that these techniques require patience and practice so that they can become an integral part of your game.

So, this week, rather than undertake a new strategic topic, we’re going to have a little fun talking about chip "riffling" or chip shuffling, something that many players do while waiting for cards at the poker table.

It should be pointed out that when we had our get-together at Green Valley Ranch, many of the beginning players wanted to know how to shuffle their chips.

Thus, I’m sure it’s on the mind of many of our readers, as well.

Of course, there are many ways to shuffle chips. And there are many other tricks that you can do with your stack, as well.

But for now, we’ll just explain the simplest way to shuffle your stack, so that you’ll at least be able to "appear like" a seasoned pro!

If you’re interested in pursuing more tricks, I know players such as Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari actually has a DVD out that reveals some of his chip manipulation tricks. (They don’t call him "The Magician" for nothing — he’s a very good sleight-of-hand artist.)

For now, we’ll go through the basic steps of shuffling chips. You should start with a relatively small stack, say, six or eight chips, that you will separate into two equal stacks.

The task of shuffling the chips basically requires that the adjoining edges of the two stacks be raised and then pushed together with pressure from the outside.

This can be accomplished in a number of ways (you pick what’s most comfortable for your hands). The following instructions assume you’re using your right hand.

One way positions the thumb on the left side of the left stack, the index finger right between the two stacks, and the ring and pinky fingers on the right side of the right stack.

Then the index finger is used to raise the middle of the two stacks, while maintaining a slight pressure from the outside fingers.

The result (hopefully) is the two stacks will push into each other. As they do so, lift up with your hand while keeping the chips from spreading outward.

A similar method places the thumb and index finger on the left side of the left stack, the pinky and ring fingers on the right side of the right stack, and the middle finger between the two stacks.

This time, use the middle finger to raise the inner edges of the two stacks while keeping pressure from the outside fingers.

As before, the two stacks should loosen and then blend into each other. The trick (and it’s not always easy) is to guide them so that only one chip at a time shuffles. You don’t want big clumps of chips shuffling into the stack.

It will take some practice to master the chip shuffle. But when you do, you can "riffle" to your heart’s content while waiting for that monster hand (or monster bluff!).

In future columns we may discuss other heady topics, such as the proper sunglasses for tournament play, or how to choose the right poker nickname.

It doesn’t get any better than this, does it?

Good luck and good riffling to all.