I've been sampling for a bit now. Included in those samples are a small stack of casino worn Paulsons and some mint Key Wests. I don't think the Paulson sample tells me much. The Key Wests are intriguing. The poker chip world is way too vast to just keep sampling whatever happens across my eyeballs. I'm asking for a little help here.
How can I get a good look at decent condition Paulsons in low quantities for non-grail-chip prices?
Would a stack of ten Indiana Grands be something to target? I've got a single decent chip from my Paulson sample set. The classifieds seem to have small quantities of grail chips or hugely expensive sets that don't fit my sample purpose. Is there a cheap-ish high production run of chips that I should target? Is a "wanted" post effective for a guy in my position. I'm all ears.
Don't get samples of anything that wouldn't be in your budget anyway for a full set, unless you just want to have a sample set of them for its own sake. Note that collecting samples can be an expensive, time-consuming, and annoying hobby all on its own (I speak from experience). Keep your budget and your interest level in mind before you get in too deep.
You can get decent-condition Paulsons in small quantities for face value by visiting casinos. If you don't have any casinos with Paulsons near you, look through the classifieds for people selling harvested chips (there's been a lot of them lately!) and PM one of the sellers and ask if they have a few shuffle stacks they could sell you (they'll ask for face value plus a mark-up, and that's reasonable). Vegas has plenty of live Paulsons in the $1 and $2 range that harvesters can pick up, right now Paris and Golden Nugget are big but there's lots of others. You can get THC, RHC, and house molds. Condition will range from broken-in to well-worn; harvesters can cherry-pick to find the best condition (and again will charge a mark-up for this, which is reasonable) and might be able to find a few near-mint-ish ones.
Have you checked out what Apache Poker Chips has? When I started a couple of years ago I got sample sets of a few different types of Paulsons from them, and that was very helpful for my early education. Samples are an investment, though - small quantities of premium chips plus postage aren't cheap, but they're the best way to learn about both the hobby and your own preferences before you sink thousands of dollars into a full set that suits your tastes.