I can't believe this hasn't been brought up before. I played the game by the book the first time. I then brought out my poker chip set and changed things up to nearly universal acclaim, at least from my group.
Players are given ten points worth of chips to begin the game. The cardboard dots are no longer "worth 1 point" but just tell who has placed what bet. Players can play one or two bets and can bet whatever points they have on hand. Winners are paid at bet times odds. Players who run out of points get two points and must build a stake from there.
I have played more than one game where a final score of 100 won't get you on the medal podium and one where nobody had more than the starting stack of ten points.