The End of Chipping History — ?

allforcharity

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There are many, many sellers on eBay who price their chips at much higher than our "chipper market" value, and there are some that price them very, very low. If you're not in the subculture, you won't the current value.
 

MrCatPants

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Maybe they have more disposable income because of chipping. All those mint PCA’s they bought for a buck that they can sell for $4, etc?

I have no idea where the new chippers are all coming from. I remember looking into Paulsons back around the poker boom years, read they were a buck a chip, and decided dice chips were fine. Why did I decide to take the plunge a decade later when they’re harder to get and prices are higher? No idea.


Only because I fit this description, but I've seen several others with a similar story, we all got into poker just before the big boom/around the big boom in college. Now our kids are old enough where we have disposal income and time to host again - and so new chippers are just chippers who were on life hiatus.
 

RichMahogany

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Taghkanic

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There was a recession. The largest since the Great Depression. Some people were dumping everything just to keep their home. Some were dumping everything because they lost their home and had no place to keep poker chips.

That’s an interesting point. And I’m not the kind of person who thinks that those who got ridiculous mortgages they weren’t qualified for deserved to lose their homes. Nor am I someone who thinks it is would be just desserts for people who drive up chip prices to absurd levels to get some kind of comeuppance. That said, the phenomena exists, and inflation does make it harder to collect, unless you have an unlimited budget. However one views the economics, politics or sociology of such stuff, I think it worth trying to understand the full picture. The web is a factor, though surely not the only one.


I'm not discounting that the internet can make anyone with a little inclination to do some research as knowledgeable as the lifetime collector.

Democratization of knowledge seems like a good thing overall. But a downside of the internet is that some people just don’t bother to learn stuff anymore, because hey, you can always just Google shit. Some don’t even learn how to learn a skill. I am not going to start pretending that I or anyone around me is going to stop trying to get good deals. By definition, almost any good deal is -EV to one side.

A lifetime of study, research, observation and otherwise honing skills should have some rewards. Like, for instance, when a coder creates scripts to monitor auction and estate listings, identifies a potential score, drives an hour out of town, and lands 3,700 chips for about 10-15% of their true value. Kudos to that guy. He was under no obligation to tell the seller, “You’re asking $320. Listen, these are worth maybe three grand or more... Let’s split the difference. Here’s $1,500. Naw, make it $1,750. That seems fairer.”

If you are a numismatist, and notice a 1913 Liberty Head nickel in your change at Starbucks (value: nearly $4 million), do you have some obligation to hand it back to the clerk, or manager, or the CEO of Starbucks? Or is that just the fruit of your years of labor? That might qualify you for sainthood... or a straightjacket.


But really, if your biggest gripe is not being able to take advantage of someone's ignorance for your own profit - you might just want to reassess what kind of human being that you really are.

Rather than treating this comment as a needlessly hostile and a gross exaggeration, I must agree with this point. That is why, when I am at a poker table, holding a big pair against a fish who loves to chase gutshots, I always bet super small. Not to give the other guy correct pot odds to call would make me a terrible person. And it is not in the DNA of poker players to do anything exploitative.

Mod edit: removed political content.
 
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DMack

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Democratization of knowledge seems like a good thing overall. But a downside of the internet is that some people just don’t bother to learn stuff anymore, because hey, you can always just Google shit. Some don’t even learn how to learn a skill. I am not going to start pretending that I or anyone around me is going to stop trying to get good deals. By definition, almost any good deal is -EV to one side.

Mod edit: removed political content.
 
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w00zie

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Dennis, great to see you are still around here! Just a thought as addition to your post:

The OP says a lot. But there have been many other factors and happenings which have changed the landscape of chip collecting.

Dennis itself and Jim from The Chiproom are two very good examples of what an impact a single person/company can have on a market. That is especially true for a niche market like chipping.

Think about how Jim buying all these chips from closed casinos has changed our hobby...
 

Taghkanic

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Mod edit: removed political content.

Please move the political discussion to the political section, guys!

Jeff
 
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Hobbyphilic

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But I do kind of think the chip “industry” and community of buyers and sellers has now reached some maturation/saturation point, where finding good deals is going to just get harder and harder.

Yes, it is a bad buyers market, but a great sellers market. So I agree with your analysis that the poker chip market has matured and there is less opportunity for buying below market value or arbitrage. Beyond that we get into college level economics and I don't have the stomach for that right now.
 

dennis63

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Another factor that should be noted here, I think.

The production of high-end poker chips relies upon a very small "basket" of ingredients -- a short list of things the producer needs in order to mix the clay from which they create the chips.

This leaves the base production cost of the chips open to larger changes when the price of one of the ingredients changes drastically because of problems with the supply, or the supply chain.

We've seen both in the past few years.

In May, 2013, Mike Dambauch told me that one of the key ingredients common in all clay casino chips (ASM and GPI / Paulson, everybody) had increased 50 percent overnight due to a severe shortage. I want to say it was a powder ingredient made from some plant or something common in South America, and bad weather had essentially wiped out that year's supply.

No, it was not cocaine, though that would explain the addictive characteristics of casino chips.

When this happened, the manufacturer's cost to make chips at the factory shot upward.

Add the absurd increases in shipping / freight that we've all seen, and remember that the producers have to pay shipping for their ingredients, and you get another reason why prices have gone up.

There really is a "base cost" for all the ingredients of a clay casino chip. That base cost is the same for all manufacturers (GPI, CPC, others.) So GPI gets a pass when we talk about the high price of custom casino chips because they don't sell to the retail market. If they did, their chips would cost at least as much as CPC chips... maybe more.

We all wish we had three or four companies knocking out great chips, competing with one another for our business. We all wish the prices could be what they once were a decade or two ago.

You could say the same thing about classic cars, watches, anything. And wouldn't we all like to find that "once-in-a-lifetime" deal on the perfect set of chips, the most beautiful classic '57 Chevy, or the Omega Speedmaster that Neil Armstrong wore walking on the Moon?
 

noblecountydanny

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The driving factor in the real casino chip market has been Jim at the chiproom or the lucky few of us that stumble across a set. Jim has been less active than in the past. He gets a decent set in and he can sell them sight unseen and get rid of most of the set. Then we trade or sell to each other to set a market value. With rare exceptions including the star chips. The prices have reached a level that I am eyeing custom sets as opposed to competing for the limited sets available.
 

Taghkanic

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You could say the same thing about classic cars, watches, anything. And wouldn't we all like to find that "once-in-a-lifetime" deal on the perfect set of chips, the most beautiful classic '57 Chevy, or the Omega Speedmaster that Neil Armstrong wore walking on the Moon?


Excellent and informative post all around. And yes, I am saying that, except in the instances cited above where there’s some kind of asymmetry (knowledge, financial situation, generosity, apathy) between the two parties in a transaction.

You’ve reminded me of a friend (who FWIW is a truly terrible poker player) who used to make a ton of money from a venerable family business started by his dad. He was an extremely loose spender (e.g. holding lavish champagne parties, putting way too much money into his house, etc.) and did not pay attention to the clear warning signs in his industry which should have told him to evolve, or sell before the bottom fell out.

Long story short, he went bankrupt and lost everything but the stuff he had accumulated during his loose spending days: a big cellar full of expensive wine, some fancy furniture, artwork, a vintage Mustang in perfect condition, etc. To raise cash, he sold this stuff off either to friends or via an auction house. A neighbor got a truly beautiful 100-year-old pool table in perfect condition for about 15% of its value off him... I had expressed strong interest but he “forgot” and “got impatient” and sold it for much less than I would have paid. Though chagrined to be selling stuff for pennies on the dollar, he was as undisciplined about liquidating his remaining assets as he was when he was making hundreds of thousands of dollar annually without hardly lifting a finger.

Few people felt particularly bad for this guy, because he had been so ostentatious and careless with money before. I actually loaned him a few hundred bucks when he hit rock bottom, fully knowing I’d never get it back even if his finances recovered... It was more to honor some shared history, and also to get him to stop hounding me. Cheap at the price.

Point being: There were real deals to be had from this guy. I didn’t buy much from him except knick-knacks—we don’t have similar taste. No doubt it was exploitative to buy higher priced items from him, in a sense, except that he had (a) eagerly dug his own hole and (b) didn’t seem to care even when things fell apart. (He fought the lenders over a foreclosure and managed to stay in his house for free for nearly a decade, until a court finally ruled against him.)

Now he goes around reminiscing about how rich he once was, and seems to derive almost as much pleasure from that as he did from being wealthy... As far as I can tell, he lives off his military pension, social security and the modest proceeds of his liquidation, and ultimately does not really seem more or less happy than before.

Unfortunately, he owned no vintage poker chips.
 

Taghkanic

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So, FWIW, I recently missed out on a really sweet deal on Paulson solids (another member snagged them at under $1 each in some nice colors, while I was on my mower mistakenly thinking the auction ended later).

But I was able to negotiate on eBay what I think will prove a pretty decent deal on about 900 other Starbursts in desirable colors... desirable to me, anyway.

The seller had two separate lots listed (in original cases) with starting bidding prices totaling $1,300, and buy it now prices totaling about 2 grand.

I contacted the seller with some questions (I noticed a few appeared to be overprints, and wanted a count) and then offered about $1.30 per chip if he would combine the two lots and sell me both as a unit.

Now, $1.25 isn’t a true bargain for these, but they appear to be in excellent condition, and in colors I need to fill out a cash set and add to a tourney set. I will have extras leftover after consolidating these, and will probably resell the cases, and thus will be able to defray some of that cost and hopefully bring things down to a net of about $1/each.

So no, of course, chipping history is never over. But it can require more effort, often, than say five years ago to get what you want at a reasonable price.
 

allforcharity

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Glad you got those two big Starburst offerings. I would say the lister was shooting for the moon, and you managed to talk him down to roughly current market price.

I recently did the same for a batch of "illegal" ASM solids. Seller wanted $0.75 per chip, but after 6 weeks of no other offers, we managed to negotiate to $0.45 per chip, which is what I would consider within about 10% of current market value on bulk purchase.
 
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