Stan’s Lists – Chip Tricks

[RR] “Stan, all your lists have been poker skill-related or historical. Don’t you have any fun lists?” Roderick the Rock wondered.

[SS] “They’re all fun to me ;-)”, Stan the Stat half-joked. “Okay, I do have one list that has no real value: Poker Chip Tricks.”

[RR] “They have some value; you could use them to psych out your opponents. Leroy the Lion does a few of them.”

[SS] “Amateur (just kidding; he’s much better than me). But he’s still hundreds if not thousands of hours of practice behind the ‘pros’ I’ve seen on YouTube. I’ve seen our feline friend do simple shuffles, flips, and twirls, but there are at least a half dozen more basic types of chip tricks:”

Type Description
Shuffle Shuffle chips like playing cards
Flip Flip a chip from one end of a stack of chips to the other
Twirl Spin a chip around its diameter
Butterfly Spread out a number of chips between your fingers
Knuckle Roll Flip a chip across the backs of your fingers
Chip Roll/Spin Roll or spin a chip on the table
Floater Balance a chip on a finger while doing other tricks
Muscle Pass Use your thumb muscle to launch a chip from your palm
Bounce Bounce a chip off the table onto the top of a chip stack
Miscellaneous Everything else

Shuffle

  • Basic Version: Chip Shuffle (a.k.a. Chip Riffle)
  • Description: Divide a stack of chips (any even number from 6 to 20 or more) into two piles, then, with one hand, shuffle them back into a single pile like playing cards by applying inward pressure as you lift your fingers from the bottom to the top.
  • Tutorial: Rich Ferguson Chip Shuffle tutorial and TricksWithChips step-by-step instructions for the Shuffle
  • Comments: To learn the Shuffle, you can start with just two chips and work your way up to four, six, eight, and more. It may be easier to learn on a soft surface like a poker table than a hard surface like a desk.
  • Examples: Aerial Shuffle (Shuffle using only the top part of an extra-high stack of chips), Partial Shuffle (start a shuffle but leave the chips balanced with alternate chips sticking out on either side), Air Traffic Control Tower (Partial Aerial Shuffle) and Stephen Au-Yeung Christmas Tree (3 stacks partially shuffled into a tree-shape)

Flip

  • Basic Version: Thumb Flip (a.k.a. Chip Pullover)
  • Description: Start by holding a stack of chips (anywhere from two to six) between the tips of your fingers, use your thumb to roll the outermost chip up your index finger and out of the stack, then push it down at the other end of the stack.
  • Tutorial: Thumb Flip, Finger Flip, and Lookout tutorial and TricksWithChips step-by-step instructions for the Thumb Flip
  • Comments: The Thumb Flip is one of the easiest chips trick to learn to do consistently.
  • Examples: Finger Flip (a.k.a. Dutch Boyd Finger Flip; index finger grabs and lifts the outermost coin; TricksWithChips step-by-step instructions), Lookout (like a reverse Thumb Flip using the index finger), Run Over (Lookout variation), Back to Front (Thumb Flip from the rear to the front; TricksWithChips step-by-step instructions), Thumb Flip Inverse (Thumb Flip + Back to Front), Run Away (Back to Front with an added flip), Thumb Flip Empty (Thumb Flip on the backmost chip, so it spins but ends up in the same place), Pick (index and middle fingers simply lift front chip out and replace in back), Abduction (Pick variation), and Run Around (Pick variation that starts with a partial Thumb Flip on the back chip)

Twirl

  • Basic Version: Twirl
  • Description: Hold a chip between any two fingers (counting the thumb as a finger) and spin 180 degrees or more around a diameter with a third finger.
  • Tutorial: The Twirl itself is too simple for a tutorial but is part of more complicated tricks like the Chip Twirl (a.k.a. Spin and Twirl or Twirl In and Out). flop2river0 Chip Twirl tutorial and TricksWithChips step-by-step instructions for the Chip Twirl
  • Comments: Practicing the basic twirl with any three fingers that aren’t thumbs is great for honing the touch you’ll need for many twirl and butterfly tricks.
  • Examples: Swirl (Chip Twirl where the chip gets replaced in front instead of the middle), J-Factor1 (lift, spin, and replace the back chip), Danish Twirl (lift the front chip, twirl the back chip, and replace the front chip in back), Lift Twirl (finger flip to a float, twirl the 2nd chip, and replace the first chip in the middle), Twirl Lift (drop, twirl, lift, and float the back chip, drop, twirl, and replace the middle chip, then replace the float chip), Scissor Twirl (chip twirl plus a extra spin before replacement; Jakub “MisteroCZ” Machata tutorial), Finger to Finger Twirl (drop and twirl bottom chip, twirl top chip and replace behind), Sub Zero (lift, twirl, spin, and replace back chip), Multi Twirl (Twirl of 360 degrees or more), and Twin Twirl (twirl top and bottom chips simultaneously)

Butterfly

  • Basic Version: Butterfly
  • Description: Start by holding a stack of four chips between the finger tips of one hand, split them into two groups of two, then split those so each chip is spread out between each adjacent pair of fingers.
  • Tutorial: Rich Ferguson Butterfly tutorial2) and TricksWithChips step-by-step instructions for the Butterfly
  • Comments: What makes this trick hard is doing things with your fingers as if they were opposable thumbs. Since you’ve spent your whole life not doing that, you’ll need a lot of practice to get the touch. Easier with newer chips before the edges get too smooth.
  • Examples: Four Chip Roll Down (a different way to get to the Butterfly position and one of several chip tricks that began as a coin trick; Antonio Esfandiari tutorial and Rich Ferguson tutorial), Caterpillar (another way to get to the Butterfly position; slow motion, soundless video), Batwing (4-chip position like spreading wings), Butterfly Reverse, Fat Butterfly (8-chip Butterfly with 2 chips between each finger), Balance (end Butterfly chip by balancing chips on fingertips), Quad (4 chips around one finger), 5 Coin Star, Pendulum (3-chip pendulum-like motion), Bicycle (2-chip Butterfly with spinning wheels), Nuage (6 chips in two triangles), 6 Coin Star (5 Coin Star with extra chip in the middle), Galaxy (9 chips in 2 hands), Caterpillar Star (Caterpillar with a fifth chip), Finger Roll (a.k.a., Wagon Wheel if vertical, Flying Saucer if horizontal, and Cycle Round or Sputnik if complete circle; 1 chip moving between fingers; Stephen Au-Yeung Finger Roll tutorial), Finger Roll Combo (rotate two chips between fingers), and Rich Ferguson Rock ‘n Roll (rotate 2 chips around a finger; tutorial from the inventor)

Knuckle Roll

Chip Roll/Spin

  • Basic Version: Backspin (a.k.a. Screwback)
  • Description: Squeeze down the side of a chip with heavy pressure so that when it shoots out, it has enough backspin to come back to you.
  • Tutorial: Sebastien Brouillard Backspin and Drifter tutorial
  • Comments: Different chips and different surfaces will require adjusting how much spin you use. You can use a chip lying on the table as your surface if that helps.
  • Examples: Drifter (Backspin around a stack of chips), Chip Roll (roll chips down one hand and across the table to the other hand; Stephen Au-Yeung tutorial), Johnny Chan Reverse Roll (hold a stack of 10-12 chips in your palm, push off the top 3 with the thumb then roll them back in reverse order; ChipsWithTricks step-by-step instructions), Roll Around (a.k.a. Stack Roll; roll chip around a chip stack), Top Spin (spin a chip on top of a chip stack), Spin and Stop (spin a chip on the table, and stop its motion by placing a finger on top [best on a hard table]), and Peter Rockne Chip Launching (hold three chips in a stack above one chip that squeezes the upper middle chip out with lots of force and backspin)

Floater

  • Basic Version: Floater (a.k.a. Finger Rest)
  • Description: Balance a chip on a finger while doing other tricks.
  • Tutorial: Like the twirl, the Floater is too simple for a tutorial by itself but is used as part of other tricks.
  • Comments: This is a simple balancing flair used to embellish other tricks.
  • Examples: Antarctica (Float one chip then Twirl a second chip before Floating it on top of the first) and Subway (Float three chips on different fingers after twirling each)

Muscle Pass

  • Basic Version: Muscle Pass (also called Anti-Gravity)
  • Description: Squeeze a chip in the palm of your hand so hard that it shoots upward six inches or more to be caught by your other hand.
  • Tutorial: Antonio Esfandiari tutorial and TricksWithChips step-by-step instructions for the Muscle Pass
  • Comments: Esfandiari says that it could takes hundreds of attempts to get the chip to jump the first time. Practice just to build up your muscles even if you get no results. And it hurts, even for a master like him.
  • Examples: Sideways Muscle Pass and Multi Pass (2 simultaneous sideways passes)

Bounce

  • Basic Version: Bounce
  • Description: Drop a poker chip so it bounces off the table and lands on top of a chip stack.
  • Tutorial: TricksWithChips step-by-step instructions for the Chip Bounce
  • Comments: For a higher bounce, either drop the chip from a higher position or throw it down at the table. Some people call the throw a Bounce and the drop a Dribble Bounce (or Drop Bounce). The harder variations, like the 666 Bounce, are mostly pure luck, so stick with the simpler variations that you can succeed with in a few tries.
  • Examples: Bounce Back (toss a chip and catch it between two chips after a bounce off the table), Fountain (two chips bounce simultaneously between and onto two stacks), Moon Landing (throw a chip onto a stack), Flip Bounce (flip a chip into the air before it bounces), Bounce Twice (bounce over stack then back onto it), and 666 Bounce (same as Bounce Twice but from a toss in the air instead of a downward throw)

Miscellaneous

  • Basic Version: N/A
  • Description: Any other chip trick that doesn’t fit into one of the above categories.
  • Tutorial: N/A
  • Comments: Here’s your chance to invent your own chip trick (and name it after yourself).
  • Examples: Evelyn Ng Chip Sweep (spread a stack of chips out on a table, then sweep them back up; TricksWithChips step-by-step instructions), Mexican Jumping Chip (hang one chip off the edge of one stack and hit down on it with another stack to have it end up on top of the second stack; video where it immediately follows a Bounce), Unwrap Recapture (start with a 3-chip stack, toss the middle one in the air, and catch it back in the middle), Demon Recapture (same as Unwrap Recapture but with a bounce off your leg), Rollercoaster (roll a chip from your hand down your arm, bounce it off your bicep, and catch it between 2 chips), Chip Snap (more annoyance than trick), and Chip Juggling (simple 3 “ball” juggle, but you could do almost any standard juggling trick)4

Footnotes:

  1. The ‘J’ in “J-Factor” stands for “jump”.
  2. The part that’s cut off at the end is the Butterfly Balance: balancing the four chips on the finger tips.
  3. PokerStars referred to the Knuckle Roll as the Caterpillar in an ad, but most people use that name for a Butterfly trick.
  4. Poker Chip Tower Building is not listed here, as it’s more art than chip trick.

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