Advocating For A Better Chip Museum and Explaining Set Collecting to the Chipboard (1 Viewer)

leo822

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Under the advisement of a few people here I was asked to post my long winded post on Chipbaord on PCF. Much like Jerry Maguire it was just something I wrote in the middle of the night after a discussion with a couple people about sets and finds. Being from both camps, but definitely skewing towards the singles side, I find myself torn as I see merit in both endeavors...even when one limits the other. I think we can all agree that the Club and MOGH over there is an absolute mess. After raising over a quarter of a million dollars and a decade to work on it....this is what they consider a museum.

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Pie cases strewn about in the least visited casinos in the city like the El Cortez. It looks like something a middle school class would have put together. But to be honest I'm tired of pointing out the obvious and have taken my own steps to document and archive the chips and memorabilia that I enjoy collecting and that is California. I'm just a guy who does it because he loves the history and chips. They have hundreds of thousands of dollars and a Board of Directors...and THIS is what they have come up with? People say it's easier to tear down than to build when I criticize them so fine screw it, I'll do it myself. I'll design a website. I'll be my own curator acquiring pieces that people will want to see. I'll do the research and interviews and present them in a fun and interactive way. If my project is not well received so be it. I will have done my best and had a blast doing it. Some of you know I helped Armin with a California chip website that sell his chips and access to his guide. Like I explain in my CB post...it's just a guide, not a live market index. He does his best and that's all you can ask of someone. There is a ton of info there about chips and why some are tougher to find than others. I'll be sneak previewing my own website soon which will be a California Museum as well as place to sell chips to help support the project. I hope you visit and check it out. Here is what a page will look like.




Anyhoo, here was my post on CB. Please remember this was written for the CB crowd who have no idea about set collecting and don't understand the current collecting landscape. Insert the Jim Carrey Typewriter Gif and I have no doubt this thread will devolve into another chipped beef discussion....lol...but that's what makes PCF so fun. No filters.

E

PS - I ran a contest to see if anyone knew what they displayed essay was from and of course @gmunny snapped called it within a minute and scored a cool chip. Nice Greg!
PPS - Come see me at the convention and get your very own Devilish Dave's $2 chip...which will actually be worth something on my site and enter you in some giveaways.





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As many of you know the phenomenon of set collecting (buying chips by the rack to put into play at a home game) has really changed the hobby in the last 5 or so years. Whether these chips are put into play or sit in the closet of a hoarder somewhere, the result is still the same. These chips are likely to never re-enter the hobby again as singles. This has had a gigantic effect in the pricing and availability of chips. A very good dealer friend of mine told me this would happen years ago and I laughed. I’m not laughing anymore. As people zero in on their favorite casino set they would like to build, they are artificially pumping the prices up as they accumulate the chips they need, and as a result reduce the inventory available for those who collect singles. Chips from The Pick Hobson's Riverside, Grand Casino, Circus Circus and others have skyrocketed in price…in some instances overnight. A collector trying to build a rack of Circus Circus $1 chips is the reason you saw the price SOAR from $6 to $45 in just a month or so. But why do some people pay exorbitant amounts for some chip runs…and could care less about the rest of the chips from the very same casino? Let’s examine the modern collector.

When I was a kid I used to collect beer cans. I wanted to have a different one from every country and territory. But as my collection grew I realized something. I really dug a lot of the cooler looking cans and really never looked at the boring plain labeled ones…regardless of what exotic location they may have been from. Had I known some history about the brewery or about the production of that particular can then maybe that would have changed, But if it was just a plain can with a boring label then I just said “well that box is checked off” and never bother with the can again. Well that same sentiment is what a lot of the modern collectors feel when they hunt for chips. They don’t NEED to have every chip from every casino…regardless how rare. It’s all about the QUALITY and the ART of the chip…and less about it’s rarity or unfortunately even it's history. Are you sitting on binders and binders of “Limited Edition” chips from great casinos? No one will buy them but they will pay $20 for a common $1? from the very same casino? That’s because most of the new collectors are mold-centric when it comes to what they will collect. Mainly it’s Paulson Hat and Cane and TR King Scrowns (and large crowns to some degree) The older leaded versions hold particular favor with them. Pretty Inlays or Intricate Hot-Stamps command a premium. Rich colors and fancy edge spots even more so. Chipcos and L Molds take a back seat because they aren't sharp or pretty enough in their eyes. “But there is so much HISTORY in chips!” “Why would they just buy the pretty ones?” Well that comes down to one thing. Lack of education in the hobby.

Too much emphasis is currently put on value and not enough on the stories behind the chips. I myself love California chips because every room has a story. I’ve spent the past 5 years trying to document every story and every owner interview I could find. If you collect CA chips I have probably bothered you. Sorry. People like Doug Saito, Jamison Pike, John Johannes, Jim Colbert, Armin and Butch and many others have been doing this for years and the hobby is lucky to have them and their info. To me it’s what brings the chips to life and in my opinion will be the saving grace of the hobby. For example, many of the California chips are just initials. Either initials of the club or initials of the owner. So to the average collector a hot-stamped chip with the letters AH would not mean much. There’s not much on the Chipguide (though that is finally changing) other than it is from the El Condor Club in Bakersfield. But if you know your CA chip history the chips are cool in what they represent. The El Condor was a bar in Bakersfield that added a cardroom in the early eighties named The El Condor Casino.
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After a few years the owner of the cardroom decided he wanted out and sold the club to a local poker player in town named Alan Hance. I spoke with Alan and he relayed the story to me. “ I bought the cardroom and all of it’s chips in a package deal and opened up the following night. But I started noticing that soon after we opened the chip amounts and the cash amount in sales were off by exact amounts of a $100 or multiples of $20…almost nightly. It was not dealer theft but that the bank of chips was actually increasing. Someone was introducing chips into the game, meaning I was shorted chips from the original deal or they were stolen. Regardless, I called Paulson and said I needed new chips and in a hurry. They said that new custom chips would take too long but that they could do a custom hot stamp chip in the same colors if that would work. I said yes please send them over ASAP” His initials AH became the new logo for the chip and the older chips were destroyed according to him.

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So the chips you find nowadays with the very cool and colorful inlay are probably the chips that were held back or stolen from him…and the AH chips are his initialed replacements. That story alone turns an otherwise boring initialed chip into a cool piece of memorabilia with meaning. So instead of bypassing that chip in a dealers binder I might ask “How Much?” instead. Now that is a good question. What is a current chip worth and why?


Price Guides are just that. A GUIDE. Not a current market quote or an absolute value meter…it’s just a guide. It has tons of information on all the different denominations and what the author believes is their current value. Whether that value is correct is truly subjective. But at the very minimum it will give you info on what denominations of a series are more rare than the other and why. For instance Armin Pfaender’s CA guide will tell you that a lot of the Office Club chips from Porterville show damage from a fire. So if you did not know that, and found a pristine shiny one, you may have passed on it instead of snapping it up because it is a condition rarity. When I met Armin he used to print out his book at Kinkos and that thing was massive. By moving it online he now has the ability to update info on the fly...offering his subscribers the best info he can give. In my opinion this is the beginnings of an ideal system. An online guide of sorts that is able to be updated in real time and perhaps by users who can input latest auction sales or trends. My friend Travis Trail was a proponent of this years ago but it never got any traction. I think the time is now for such an idea. But again the modern collector has changed the game.

Say a large horde of a particular casino or cardroom was recently found. Let’s call it Devilish Dave’s Casino from Titeville California. Woohoo the older collectors would say! Only a few examples have ever been seen from there and now there are racks! In the old days these chips would have made their way into the hands of many collectors through trades and purchases of singles. If 306 of the rare $2 chip were found…well then that’s 306 collectors that might have a new shiny Devilish Dave’s $2 chip in their collection. But now here comes the set collector. He loves that $2 chip because it’s a small crown tri-moon with vibrant colors. He decides he wants to have racks of them for his 1/2 game. So he offers to buy the 3 racks at a very nice price for the finder of those chips. Leaving the Dealer with just 6 singles. So while yes there was a horde found…realistically only 6 chips may find their way to the singles market. They are not RARE because 306 were found, but they are definitely SCARCE to the collector. And in the open market there will be little difference between the two. It is rare for a set collector to break a rack to sell singles… but it has been done. If you are buying chips you need to do your due diligence and determine why you are paying that price. Previous recent sales are a great way to do that with Ebay and Chip Chat Auction searches...even Worthpoint if you don't mind the high price. Their auction searches for Ebay go back up to 20 years I believe.

So what’s the point of this long winded post? That we as a hobby NEED to establish a MUSEUM sooner than later to get people engaged over chips and their history and not just their pretty edge spots. A museum does not have to be in brick or mortar. It just has to be a place where information is gathered and displayed. It could be virtual or perhaps even in a mobile unit. WAY TOO MUCH emphasis in the hobby is placed on Price Guides, Auctions, Trading Sessions, Dealer Needs etc… What we need is a concentrated effort targeted at documenting all the stories and history that reside in the heads of the older collectors and in the annals of historical documents. Bring these chips to life and not just worry about what they are worth according to a select few. The hobby will take care of its self if you educate the collector.

E





 
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ReallyGoodUsername

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Extremely well said and on point per usual E! Thank you for taking up this project and please let me know if and how I can help.

Thank you also for sharing the info on the El Condor Club. It’s a great example of how a chip’s history has value, separate from just its appearance. I always love to hear these stories but admittedly often don’t go searching for them myself.
 

Rieguy

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Great write-up, thanks.

What scares me is milling and murder.
Not a knock on anyone, but this is why it seems to me that non-US chippers are more likely to murder chips than US chippers, at least proportionately. The historical aspect is a distant second to the vibrancy of the chip itself, since they're less likely to have much connection, if any, to the casino(s). That said, with the sheer number of US chippers there is a ton of chip murder happening anyway, just have to hope it is not on historical/rare chips.
 
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PocketAces

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Great write-up, thanks.


Not a knock on anyone, but this is why it seems to me that non-US chippers are more likely to murder chips than US chippers, at least proportionately. The historical aspect is a distant second to the vibrancy of the chip itself, since they're less likely to have much connection, if any, to the casino(s).

I actually think a lot of us enjoy collecting a little bit of US gaming history. I went as far as buying chips to save them from milling. That’s how my BOH collection started.

Anyway back to OP, great post E! I’m definitely guilty of having cornered the singles market to build a set of Silver Saddles. Sadly it’s the only way sometimes :( let’s keep those stories coming! Tell me the Camino Casino wasn’t a complete sh*thole :ROFL: :ROFLMAO: I know the history behind the Silver Saddle Cardroom is an interesting one…
 
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leo822

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Building sets definitely hurts the availability of singles for collectors...but at least they're getting used and there is some solace in that. Heck I feel bad for chips in my airtites knowing they'd be happier on the felt with their kin. lol
 

upNdown

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Building sets definitely hurts the availability of singles for collectors...but at least they're getting used and there is some solace in that. Heck I feel bad for chips in my airtites knowing they'd be happier on the felt with their kin. lol
You joke, but so much of the experience is tactile for me - people need to feel that clay! I get angry when I see airtites.
 

liftapint

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What scares me is milling and murder.

Me too. I think a resource to get the history out there, could perhaps help with this?
I am truly sickened by some of the chips that have been murdered.

Wanna murder NAGB chips? Fine. But murdering chips from Vegas and Reno card rooms....disgusting.
History lessons, to the rescue!

(edit: I'm a hypocrite)
 
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ReallyGoodUsername

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Me too. I think a resource to get the history out there, could perhaps help with this?
I am truly sickened by some of the chips that have been murdered.

Wanna murder NAGB chips? Fine. But murdering chips from Vegas and Reno card rooms....disgusting.
History lessons, to the rescue!
I can see it now "Mel's Chip Rescue Center - Est. 2022". Where can I donate?
 

Josh Kifer

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Me too. I think a resource to get the history out there, could perhaps help with this?
I am truly sickened by some of the chips that have been murdered.

Wanna murder NAGB chips? Fine. But murdering chips from Vegas and Reno card rooms....disgusting.
History lessons, to the rescue!
I'm glad Karl's chips are NAGB chips not from Nevada..... Mill em up!
 

Chawks45

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Great insightful post, and I love the history angle.

One of the primary reasons I went after a Tropicana set was because of the KC mob ties to the hotel and casino with a skimming operation in the 1970s before the FBI caught on. To me, it's always neat whenever there's a historical aspect to an item with local ties. Also loved that "The Godfather" - one of my all-time favorite movies - shot some scenes at the Trop.

Keep fighting the good fight, @leo822.
 

liftapint

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I'm glad Karl's chips are NAGB chips not from Nevada..... Mill em up!

Good point. I bought them already milled. But you're absolutely right.
Fuck it, murder them all. Who cares.

(edit: Now that I think about it....I may have commissioned their death. Now I feel bad. I do think that all the murder will be very sad to look back on, years from now, when so many original casino chips are gone. I guess I'm a murderer too. LOCK HER UP)
 

CrazyEddie

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Is there something standing in the way of you making a better museum, or of helping to improve the current one?
 

CrazyEddie

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What we need is a concentrated effort targeted at documenting all the stories and history that reside in the heads of the older collectors and in the annals of historical documents.

I'm always quite skeptical of people who say "What we need is..." rather than "What I'm doing is..."
 

leo822

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CrazyEddie

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Let’s examine the modern collector.

They don’t NEED to have every chip from every casino…regardless how rare. It’s all about the QUALITY and the ART of the chip…and less about it’s rarity or unfortunately even it's history. Are you sitting on binders and binders of “Limited Edition” chips from great casinos? No one will buy them but they will pay $20 for a common $1? from the very same casino? That’s because most of the new collectors are mold-centric when it comes to what they will collect. Mainly it’s Paulson Hat and Cane and TR King Scrowns (and large crowns to some degree) The older leaded versions hold particular favor with them. Pretty Inlays or Intricate Hot-Stamps command a premium. Rich colors and fancy edge spots even more so. Chipcos and L Molds take a back seat because they aren't sharp or pretty enough in their eyes. “But there is so much HISTORY in chips!” “Why would they just buy the pretty ones?” Well that comes down to one thing. Lack of education in the hobby.

[over-reaction deleted; my apologies]
 
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leo822

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Wow dude you really misinterpreted my post. Educating the collector just means giving historical perspective to chips so they can be better appreciated. I have nothing against set collectors as I am one as well. Have a Blessed Day.
 
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Josh Kifer

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Wow dude you really misinterpreted my post. Educating the collector just means giving historical perspective to chips so they can be better appreciated. I have nothing against set collectors as I am one as well. But yeah Fuck You Too
Hahahahah. That is the best retort ever.

Literally the opposite of this... And it's the video I post here once a month.


I'm crying laughing right now on a sick day. And coughing. I love both of you.
 
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