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What used to be "poor man's TRKs"

Blackbeard

Lucky Dipper
Nov 4, 2022
40
272
A few years back at our forst meet up a couple guys were talking about TRK small crowns. I had seen some hype but also seemed like a "secret society" of collectors. I asked one guy "man what is it about TRKs that is so amazing?" He told me "it's not about the feel of TRKs, it is more about the amazing colors!" So I bought a few just to check them out and Man oh man was he fibbing. The soft feel and heavy lead literally define the term "shuffle like butter"

But again late to the game, most of the good chips and sets had been gobbled up and (mostly) locked down for years. Not to mention next level expensive compared to many other options on chips... but another one of those situations where "once you know you can't forget or go back!"

The Pick Hobson chips have the absolutely beautiful neon pink $5, the frac is one of the best chips ever made, and at the time they were the only TRKs that seemed to be moving around. Lacking a $1 like everyone else I headed to Spinettis asking for the best NL quarter pie $1s. Those, the $5s and $25s could be found at the time... the Fracs and Hundos were definitely a bit more difficult.

As I mentioned intrest a chipper reached out that I didn't know at the time would literally become my best friend! @ducktold me he had some run good and wanted to share the chip Karma and send me a little package
20190921_153845.jpg

Again obsessed and all in but also tons of other builds. Balancing the life of a broke chipper I had to make it happen.

In the pursuit of starting a rack of the $.50 yellow beauty fracs in the singles world is no easy task and very expensive, likely taking years but didn't matter how long it took. The other issue was that with the hobby growing in epic numbers and lots of people catching the TRK band wagon suddenly the chips I was finding for $12 - $15 stared running $20 - $25, after a couple years I had gotten up to 67 chips but it seemed bleak finishing the rack and that's when @rifound a huge score of chips including the beautiful yellows.

it was easter morning two years ago, i hadn't really known Danny and he had been ruffling feathers and I had no idea if he would even want to help some random dude on internet forums... standing in the Blatimore Zoo with my family Danny responds "sure Ben, i would love to help you finish your dream rack! Just let me know what you need and what you want to pay!" I literally started crying and Yelled out loud "YES! YES!! YES!!!" Brie says what in the world is going on? "Danny is helping me finish my dream rack!!"

And somehow in just 2 1/2 years my dream rack actually became a real thing.
20210418_111320.jpg

But more than chips, we started a friendship... a guy I talk to almost daily and for hours! It is amazing what this hobby does.

Also whilst hunting the yellow fracs I found the Fushia Overland Dimes, we absolutely love playing circus games with $40 buying and $.10/$.20 stakes. The lack of a quarter in this set meant an open door to adding a dime for micro. But a rack of dimes from 1958... would that ver be possible. Well a few big chunks from a friend and a bunch of singles I also managed to put together another outrageously expensive rack. I found my hundos and managed to finally build what I thought was a trully impossible task!
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All packed up in there forever home!
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Just a regular old Ben pulled off the a playable set of TRKs even years late to the game.
20210528_121303.jpg

Always a hit everywhere they go and definitely forever chips!

That's my TRK story.
 
Great write up Ben!

My TRK story involves you, but before you show up in the story my very first exposure to TRKs came from Pac who sent me some NCC $1s and I had an emotional connection/ reaction to them like no other chip. I knew they were special, almost magical - like a Time Machine.

Fast forward of months of chipping - I always thought I wouldn’t be able to afford TRKs or even have the opportunity to buy some. But one day a classified ad popped up for a “poor man’s TRK set” and that had my name written all over it. So I gathered up all my money, even the change in the couches and took the dive. Ben even included a heavy boy NC brown $100 with the purchase too!
2BBDDDD1-2C26-4045-9B1D-9E44B543403F.jpeg

F58892DA-CA9A-4BA2-9282-56181D80E64B.jpeg

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The package was super delayed and I was sweating bullets waiting for it to arrive a month late if I remember.

Once I got them I knew I was hooked!

Since then I ended up selling the fracs and $5s to go for roulette fracs (thank you Mel, simply incredible to find roulettes in this nice of shape) and pink $5s (thank you Spinettis).

After that Danny figured out some black magic with restoring chips and fixing edges. He graciously helped me out with many more white $1s - cleaning and edging! This service was invaluable and I completely recommend it to everyone.
Before:
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After:
8D8A5DD8-32FB-429A-A470-75D46D36F8F2.jpeg


Oh and the cherry on top was the man myth and legend himself (not so little pickle) Matt holding minty quarter pie $25s for me for over a year until I could afford them (friend price too). I owe everyone for every step of the way.

I don’t have final prOn pics but here’s the lineup:
3E00D8BB-584A-4307-A4D2-2E01C6895976.jpeg


Easily my favorite set I own!

-Dan
 
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Absolutely loved reading your replies so far! :love:

My story is similar. When I first got into collecting chips I wanted to buy ones that looked nice or get chips from casinos that I had been to. When I started I was picking up a few here and there, but nothing in quantity. It actually took quite some time for me to finally take the leap into buying things in quantity and trying to build sets, barrels, racks etc. Going back and looking, one of the very first TRKs I ever bought were the Tropicana $5 and $25 (red version). Little did I know that I grabbed those right at the right time! I haven't seen many after picking those up and someone that most of us know has a VERY impressive 1st edition set. Something that I'll forever wish I could have (maybe someday...)

IMG_0244.jpg


Those two chips and then these chips in quantity would start something that I could never turn back from.

IMG_1488.jpg


Although those 3 1/2 racks that I initially bought weren't that "special", they were the fuel to get my TRK love started. I don't exactly remember what it was about them or it was the singles that I was picking up around that time that got me hooked, but after that I couldn't stop looking at TRKs and trying to find more. I started making history videos about casinos that primarily had TRKs in use because those were the ones that I was most familiar with and went with it. Some of the first history videos I had made were about the New China Club, Cosmo Club, Mapes, El Cortez, Riverside and others. There was just something so special about the casinos that were around Reno at the time in the 50s/60s. TRK was producing some of the most amazing chips in the world (in my opinion) at the time and Reno was THE place to be before Vegas really took off.

Few months into making video regularly and someone we all know again, @DuckPlug, reached out for my address and wanted to send me a gift. I had no idea what it was going to be, but it was so special I'll never forget opening that package. I had the BIGGEST smile on my face and I couldn't believe what chips were inside.

IMG-1930 (1).jpg


After receiving those I've barely bought anything but TRKs. I've bought plenty of "personal" sets, some actual casino chips in quantity in hopes of building something around those chips, but haven't gotten too far. I'm currently working on a handful of projects, but one main project that I'm about half way done with. Hoping to have that done by the middle of next year hopefully. I'd like to have a majority of it done by the end of the year. Just need 2 more racks of $1s in order to have that set more than half way done (about 80%) or so. So I'm getting there. I'd like to start upgrading some of my chips for nicer ones which is something I'll have to put some time and thought into. For now, here are some sets that I've had so far in my chipping journey.

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I still have all these chips except for the MM chips which I gave to a very very good friend of mine who's initials are MM. Perfect fit for him :)

Also got the last picture into play this past weekend which was so much fun. It played so well and just made me so happy.

I've seen many build some of the worlds best TRK sets and I've personally gotten to see some BEAUTIFUL chips in person. I just need to learn how to pull the trigger and say yes when I have the opportunity. Next step, finish this one set I'm working on and then starting upgrading to Nevada casino TRK sets. It's going to take some will power to get some of these chips now, but I think it's possible. I was a little late to the game and I'll just have to live with that. I'm very very happy with the chips that I have now and forever will be. Truly blessed!

- Okku (Oscar)
 
Upvote 0
Absolutely loved reading your replies so far! :love:

My story is similar. When I first got into collecting chips I wanted to buy ones that looked nice or get chips from casinos that I had been to. When I started I was picking up a few here and there, but nothing in quantity. It actually took quite some time for me to finally take the leap into buying things in quantity and trying to build sets, barrels, racks etc. Going back and looking, one of the very first TRKs I ever bought were the Tropicana $5 and $25 (red version). Little did I know that I grabbed those right at the right time! I haven't seen many after picking those up and someone that most of us know has a VERY impressive 1st edition set. Something that I'll forever wish I could have (maybe someday...)

View attachment 175

Those two chips and then these chips in quantity would start something that I could never turn back from.

View attachment 176

Although those 3 1/2 racks that I initially bought weren't that "special", they were the fuel to get my TRK love started. I don't exactly remember what it was about them or it was the singles that I was picking up around that time that got me hooked, but after that I couldn't stop looking at TRKs and trying to find more. I started making history videos about casinos that primarily had TRKs in use because those were the ones that I was most familiar with and went with it. Some of the first history videos I had made were about the New China Club, Cosmo Club, Mapes, El Cortez, Riverside and others. There was just something so special about the casinos that were around Reno at the time in the 50s/60s. TRK was producing some of the most amazing chips in the world (in my opinion) at the time and Reno was THE place to be before Vegas really took off.

Few months into making video regularly and someone we all know again, @DuckPlug, reached out for my address and wanted to send me a gift. I had no idea what it was going to be, but it was so special I'll never forget opening that package. I had the BIGGEST smile on my face and I couldn't believe what chips were inside.

View attachment 177

After receiving those I've barely bought anything but TRKs. I've bought plenty of "personal" sets, some actual casino chips in quantity in hopes of building something around those chips, but haven't gotten too far. I'm currently working on a handful of projects, but one main project that I'm about half way done with. Hoping to have that done by the middle of next year hopefully. I'd like to have a majority of it done by the end of the year. Just need 2 more racks of $1s in order to have that set more than half way done (about 80%) or so. So I'm getting there. I'd like to start upgrading some of my chips for nicer ones which is something I'll have to put some time and thought into. For now, here are some sets that I've had so far in my chipping journey.

View attachment 178View attachment 179
View attachment 180View attachment 181View attachment 182View attachment 183

I still have all these chips except for the MM chips which I gave to a very very good friend of mine who's initials are MM. Perfect fit for him :)

Also got the last picture into play this past weekend which was so much fun. It played so well and just made me so happy.

I've seen many build some of the worlds best TRK sets and I've personally gotten to see some BEAUTIFUL chips in person. I just need to learn how to pull the trigger and say yes when I have the opportunity. Next step, finish this one set I'm working on and then starting upgrading to Nevada casino TRK sets. It's going to take some will power to get some of these chips now, but I think it's possible. I was a little late to the game and I'll just have to live with that. I'm very very happy with the chips that I have now and forever will be. Truly blessed!

- Okku (Oscar)
Love the post Oscar. You’ve put together some amazing sets of TRKs, absolutely beautiful. Anyone who wasn’t collecting 20 years ago was literally late to the game but it’s never too late to appreciate such fine chips.

Not to quack my own beak but I only ever gave away 2 PH sample sets to a couple of new chippers who I thought would eventually have a positive impact on the hobby.
I think I’m a good judge of character. Can’t wait to splash pots in person. ;)
 
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Love the post Oscar. You’ve put together some amazing sets of TRKs, absolutely beautiful. Anyone who wasn’t collecting 20 years ago was literally late to the game but it’s never too late to appreciate such fine chips.

Not to quack my own beak but I only ever gave away 2 PH sample sets to a couple of new chippers who I thought would eventually have a positive impact on the hobby.
I think I’m a good judge of character. Can’t wait to splash pots in person. ;)
We want to hear your TRK journey as well ole Pluggy! Lol
 
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Love the post Oscar. You’ve put together some amazing sets of TRKs, absolutely beautiful. Anyone who wasn’t collecting 20 years ago was literally late to the game but it’s never too late to appreciate such fine chips.

Not to quack my own beak but I only ever gave away 2 PH sample sets to a couple of new chippers who I thought would eventually have a positive impact on the hobby.
I think I’m a good judge of character. Can’t wait to splash pots in person. ;)
Very thankful for you sending that package. Like I said, I'll never forget that.

Can't wait to splash some pots too! It's going to be AMAZING!
 
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Do we know the secret of how they got those amazing colors? @Blackbeard - totally agree, those colors are just amazing.
I have absolutely no idea... my answer is always LEAD! LOL

From my understanding BCC did get the color recipes from TRK before the end. Paulson bought them all so pretty sure the secrets, clay formulas and everything are in a safe we are never going to find.

Lots of folks talk about "figuring it out" find a way to bring back perfection, just like TRK were the masters of seemless transitions from clay to inlay... no one really knows how they did it... and does it really matter?

Trying to remake history would just get us back where we are with the Cards Mold stuff. It is history and meant to be history... this new stuff can't even hold a candle to some of the classics. Inlays for example... look how far we have come with technology,but many of the best inlay designs are 40 plus years old...strange that it is the truth, but those were the "golden years" of chipping.

We can try,and CPC does a hell of a job recreating stuff, but it's just. Not the same and never will be.

I trully wish there were enough original leaded TRk scrowns to go around, breaks my heart to think some chippers will probably never have the chance to even play leaded TRKs, but that's why those that do own them have a duty to felt them, especially at meet ups. Just because you were in the right time and place to score or build a set, remember there are many chippers that may never get thr opportunity to know the magic of Leaded TRKS '
 
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I really miss the hand-drawn, inconsistent fonts and the random color shifts from the process of old. Not that I’m a fuddy duddy, because there are also some incredibly amazing digital inlays out there (especially from our pool of talented designers), but there’s an extra layer of warmth and care that comes from hand-crafted work.
 
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I really miss the hand-drawn, inconsistent fonts and the random color shifts from the process of old. Not that I’m a fuddy duddy, because there are also some incredibly amazing digital inlays out there (especially from our pool of talented designers), but there’s an extra layer of warmth and care that comes from hand-crafted work.
I'm 100% on the same page as you on this. Making those inlays took skill and time to do back then. That's what I call ART!
 
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I really miss the hand-drawn, inconsistent fonts and the random color shifts from the process of old. Not that I’m a fuddy duddy, because there are also some incredibly amazing digital inlays out there (especially from our pool of talented designers), but there’s an extra layer of warmth and care that comes from hand-crafted work.
I’ve always said that “perfection” is accidental. It is my experience in life that the things we tend to try and “perfect” from the get go usually end up falling flat in one form or another because you’ve set your expectations and the bar so high right from the start.

My interpretation of perfection in chips usually pertains to 60s era TRKs mostly from Reno Nevada Casinos. What makes these chips so sought after IMO is a combination of many things for different collectors.
As you mentioned “inconsistent fonts and hand crafted work.” As @Blackbeard mentions the secrecy behind the lead and clay formulas and not quite being able to clone it exactly in todays time.

For me, my love of 60s Reno TRKs is a combination of things. Look at it this way, you only fall in love for the first time once. 60s Reno TRKs are accidental perfection from a golden era in chipping and Americana for that matter.
I’ve always enjoyed mob type movies and many of the casinos from that era had lots of shady type owners and operators. The stories of Lincoln Fitzgerald and Pick Hobson are fascinating to me and remind me of people like my grandmother. This is a picture of her chipping concrete from the Berlin Wall in 1990. It hangs currently in my card room.
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Learning to play cards was mostly taught to me by my grandmother. She was born in the 1930s and in the late 1970s and early 80s when she started teaching me 5 card draw, 5 and 7 card stud, 31 which she called “Cad” and Tripoli, I got excited at the opportunity to win a couple bucks trying to outsmart her and others we may play with at back in those times. As a young boy it felt good to be included in the degeneracy so to speak.
I got to listen to all the stories of my grandmother’s experiences in that “golden era” of Americana that was the same times as when many of these chips were produced.

I fell into collecting chips completely by accident. I’ve always considered myself a “player” first and a “collector” second. My first set of what I consider nice casino type chips was World Top Hat and Cane chips.
It was the color of the $1 chip that originally did it for me, not being a typical white colored $1 chip like in most sets or casinos I’d play in or with.

Putting together my WTHCs, stumbling briefly onto “chip talk” and then that other place, getting a couple barrels of Pick Hobson $25s and eventually a few racks of PH $5s, led me to the discovery of what in my eyes was perfection in a poker chip.
The Nevada Lodge $25. This one chip says “Perfect” to all my poker chip scenes.
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For me it is this chip that led me on an almost 7 year quest to complete a rack and playable set. And it is this completed set that brings all of my poker experiences and appreciations for what I’ve learned, experienced and discovered in chipping, poker and life for that matter, together.
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Working on this set gave me a much greater sense of what perfection for me, actually is.
My guess would be that Leonardo Da Vinci probably thought his painting of Mona Lisa was just another painting at the time.
True perfection isn’t something created but rather it is something “Discovered” IMO.
 
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A few years back at our forst meet up a couple guys were talking about TRK small crowns. I had seen some hype but also seemed like a "secret society" of collectors. I asked one guy "man what is it about TRKs that is so amazing?" He told me "it's not about the feel of TRKs, it is more about the amazing colors!" So I bought a few just to check them out and Man oh man was he fibbing. The soft feel and heavy lead literally define the term "shuffle like butter"

But again late to the game, most of the good chips and sets had been gobbled up and (mostly) locked down for years. Not to mention next level expensive compared to many other options on chips... but another one of those situations where "once you know you can't forget or go back!"

The Pick Hobson chips have the absolutely beautiful neon pink $5, the frac is one of the best chips ever made, and at the time they were the only TRKs that seemed to be moving around. Lacking a $1 like everyone else I headed to Spinettis asking for the best NL quarter pie $1s. Those, the $5s and $25s could be found at the time... the Fracs and Hundos were definitely a bit more difficult.

As I mentioned intrest a chipper reached out that I didn't know at the time would literally become my best friend! @ducktold me he had some run good and wanted to share the chip Karma and send me a little package
View attachment 154
Again obsessed and all in but also tons of other builds. Balancing the life of a broke chipper I had to make it happen.

In the pursuit of starting a rack of the $.50 yellow beauty fracs in the singles world is no easy task and very expensive, likely taking years but didn't matter how long it took. The other issue was that with the hobby growing in epic numbers and lots of people catching the TRK band wagon suddenly the chips I was finding for $12 - $15 stared running $20 - $25, after a couple years I had gotten up to 67 chips but it seemed bleak finishing the rack and that's when @rifound a huge score of chips including the beautiful yellows.

it was easter morning two years ago, i hadn't really known Danny and he had been ruffling feathers and I had no idea if he would even want to help some random dude on internet forums... standing in the Blatimore Zoo with my family Danny responds "sure Ben, i would love to help you finish your dream rack! Just let me know what you need and what you want to pay!" I literally started crying and Yelled out loud "YES! YES!! YES!!!" Brie says what in the world is going on? "Danny is helping me finish my dream rack!!"

And somehow in just 2 1/2 years my dream rack actually became a real thing.
View attachment 155
But more than chips, we started a friendship... a guy I talk to almost daily and for hours! It is amazing what this hobby does.

Also whilst hunting the yellow fracs I found the Fushia Overland Dimes, we absolutely love playing circus games with $40 buying and $.10/$.20 stakes. The lack of a quarter in this set meant an open door to adding a dime for micro. But a rack of dimes from 1958... would that ver be possible. Well a few big chunks from a friend and a bunch of singles I also managed to put together another outrageously expensive rack. I found my hundos and managed to finally build what I thought was a trully impossible task!
View attachment 156
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All packed up in there forever home!
View attachment 159
Just a regular old Ben pulled off the a playable set of TRKs even years late to the game.
View attachment 160
Always a hit everywhere they go and definitely forever chips!

That's my TRK story.
Similar story here. I got a set mostly Hobson, some New China 3 or 4 years ago before prices blew up.
So happy I did it then and didnt wait. IDK if you could piece together a TRK set today unless the WW vaults
get auctioned off.
 
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I feel like one of the last Mohicans jumping in the TRK pool so late. But, when all is said and done, scrabbling around looking for lone chips has been, and continues to be, extraordinarily rewarding. Many folks have helped out along the way... other times I just had to take a deep breath, suck it up, and press the "place bid" to see what happens. I've been able to felt these guys in one arrangement or another and, compared to Paulson's they're so well worth the effort... I just enjoy thinking about who may have used them before me. I suppose minty PH's $5's & $25's probably weren't, but how can you not dig neon? Give me a couple more years, I'll get there! Ultimately... a mixed Reno set, (only 27 Riverside NCV quarters to go). And then a Pick Hobson/Overland set... a little longer to get there but, for those of you who have been following along, it's gonna get there eventually. Ironically the Overland $1's have been even more challenging than the $.50's!
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Just got my first inlaid TRKs (1st picture) in this past week and I'm SO HYPED! Next step is to figure out what $5 I'm going to use and then I think I know what barrel of $25s I'll be using.

My breakdown in mind is:
x200 - $1s (Nevada Club/Nevada Lodge)
x180 - $5s (Overland Hotel $5s or Harrah's Reno $5s)
x20 - $25s (Fitzgeralds $25s, could also use my almost finished barrel of Overland green $25s)

Going to most likely send the $1s off to the Chip Spa for a treatment so they're a bit more up to my standards. That should bring them back to life.

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