Who collects Casino Chips and what kind of collectors are out there?

The Chip Spa

Dan Madrigrano
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For my self, I'd have to sat that I am a chip collector. Since the early 1990's I started collecting "Sets" and didn't even realize there was such a thing as chip collectors as I know it today! I grew up with a relative who was in the industry, an uncle that ran casinos in Cuba and moved back to the states in the '50's when that crashed down. He started at the El Rancho upon his return and landed as the Casino VP at the Riviera. My interest in the "Vegas" lifestyle bit me at a young age when my parents would take us to Vegas to visit them and even at 12 the little round clay discs peaked my interest. I would sneak a chip or 2 from the Rivi and thought they were so cool. (Wish I had kifed some more! like $100's)

As time went on and I came of age 21 and could finally participate in this thing called gambling I think it was more about a big stack of chips in hand than what the values were in money (Sickness).

Some friends and I were enthralled with craps at the time and we would plot trips to Vegas to play and decided to "practice" before going to clean the casino out of their chips at the craps table, little did we know, that wasn't a thing! I decided to look for some chips that we could play with at our practice craps table and I discovered the diamond mold solids, wow, were these nice chips, just like the real ones in Vegas!!! ( 😂 ), and like 15 cents a piece, (1987'ish) until we discovered the WTHC chips in Vegas' Paulson store in the early 1990's!

Holy cow boys! Look at these chips, they're the real deal! Inlays, a Vegas molding with the Hat and canes, bright colors, WOW! I had to have a big set of these and get home and build a craps table!!! But wait, these things are 95 cents a chip!!! 95 damn cents a chip!!! I scarped together $1400 dollars over a year to prepare for this trip to clean out the casino and now Id have to part with almost $1000 of it to buy chips that I couldn't cash in! but man o man they were cool! Well, I did it! I was pumped! I owned a set of real casino grade casino chips, lost all the other money I had in our attempt to clean out the house! But I had that set! a real set of casino grade chips to play games at home! This was the unknowing beginning of me becoming a sets collector.

Over the years I found myself always in search of other "cool" chips, you know, the next best shiny object of interest! It was the CDI 98's, but it was always an objective to have a real set of chips from a real casino and to me that was pretty much what some now call "unobtainium" as who would ever pay $5 damn dollars a chip for $5's?? much less 25's 100's or heck 500's or 1000's??

As life took over and work at the family business and marriage with kids took front stage "chipping" went to the way back of the line and only resurfaced after each trip to Vegas but was short lived and went back to the end of the priority list for years.

With the birth of the internet and web sites I found my self usually drawn to sites like Gamblers General store and chip sellers who all had the same things, dice chips, WTHC, CDI and other Paulson chips with crazy denoms like 10,000, 50,000, 100,000!! well those are useless! (after all, murdering chips wasn't even a thing then). After a time (so odd that I never discovered SpinettisGaming back then). Well I had chips, lots of them including coin inlay chips, stacks and stacks! I should have identified the sickness then!

Fast forward to the late 2000's and a site called Poker Chip Forum popped up and that was it, I was hooked and identified the sickness!! Chippers were such cool cats! I made some good friends and some, well, shall we call them rivals? strong personalities? jerks? or even what I had seen called "AssHats", I suppose that I fell into each at times! All this boring text leads me to this question after thousands of characters of text and discussions with so many types of collectors, who does this crazy shit???

My initial reflections say we have:

The Singles collector:
The Sets collector:
The Chip Dealer with a collection of his own.
The chip dealer who buys and sells for profit. (doesn't really collect)
The Profiteer, or as some may call "Flipper" (may or may not collect)
The Fleecer, ( a sub set of the profiteer)
The hoarder
And last but not least:
The Whorder! ( this is self explanatory and encompasses the traits of the Profiteer, the fleecer, and usually the AssHat)
 
I guess another question to ask is:
Are the Paulson and TRK fantasy and private buyer chips in the realm of "Casino Chips"? and, do NAGB or as I refer to them "GPI Scam chips" a whole "other" category?

Well I guess Casino Chips ARE poker chips (Technically?) but all poker chips are NOT casino chips.

I think the motivation and story behind the NAGB's and the way they were brought to completion would be a great story in itself lending to their history and inspiration, that is of course if the inspiration and motivation were other than pure profit. It must be a real let down to feel that you cant share that story in public due to the fact that you aren't willing to tell the amount made (purely for profit protection and no other reason). or the story behind the chips and their meaning if its the non interesting story of how you had to find investors to make something to fleece the "community" out of thousands of dollars on a modern day commodity with some type of false rarity story.

I know of one set of MAGB chips made by Bergs that had a tribute factor to his late dog, now that gives a meaning, I know how it feels to loose a dog and that reminder to him while playing cards is priceless and meaningful. Well till you sell off the overage to someone and the chips end up in a dumpster fire trade thread! Which begs yet another question on the collector type which may be a very small group or even a single person. I'd love to hear what type of collector WW considers himself (told by him, not speculation by us). I believe the stories of self reflection in the hobby are VERY INTERESTING. How one started, where one landed, hobby goals and interests!
The Chip Spa threw 6-faced dice Reason: HARD 10 Total: 8
5 5 3 3
 
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Great write up Danny. I’m not exactly sure as to how I’d categorize myself in this hobby. I sort of fell into it by accident through my card playing days. I’d say first and foremost I am and always will be a card player, the poker table is for me like sitting in the drivers seat or on my back porch, I’m right at home.
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The chipping thing was completely accidental to me. If it weren’t for wanting to run a top notch quality home game, I may have never found myself getting into collecting chips.
When I discovered PCF and other like minded people who enjoyed poker and chips, it just seemed like it all came together.

Guess you could say my obsession or fascination of wagering started at a young age with my grandmother. My parents divorced when I was 6 years old and I ended up spending lots of time at her house.
At grandmas we watched baseball, football and always played cards. One Christmas she got me a kids size pool table and on nice days we’d shoot pool in the front yard.

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As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that my real obsession is living and experiencing a good quality of life. If it’s worth doing or having around, it’s worth it being the best.
 
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Great write up Danny. I’m not exactly sure as to how I’d categorize myself in this hobby. I sort of fell into it by accident through my card playing days. I’d say first and foremost I am and always will be a card player, the poker table is for me like sitting in the drivers seat or on my back porch, I’m right at home. View attachment 5767
View attachment 5766
The chipping thing was completely accidental to me. If it weren’t for wanting to run a top notch quality home game, I may have never found myself getting into collecting chips.
When I discovered PCF and other like minded people who enjoyed poker and chips, it just seemed like it all came together.

Guess you could say my obsession or fascination of wagering started at a young age with my grandmother. My parents divorced when I was 6 years old and I ended up spending lots of time at her house.
At grandmas we watched baseball, football and always played cards. One Christmas she got me a kids size pool table and on nice days we’d shoot pool in the front yard.

View attachment 5764View attachment 5765
As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that my real obsession is living and experiencing a good quality of life. If it’s worth doing or having around, it’s worth it being the best.
Cant wait to interview this cat!!!
 
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"These little round discs" struck a chord with me. I'd think the same applies to coin collectors.
Being from New Orleans, I collected Mardi Gras doubloons, starting at a pretty young age. That taught me something... It's futile. Now, one doesn't HAVE to own the biggest, most complete collection to be serious in the hobby but if you're bitten by the bug, you'll attempt to do that. And for some, that's the thrill of it and you'll never run out of acquisitions to make. But for me there was no end to it. I finally sold off all of my collection.
When I again was bitten by the poker chip bug, I decided from the very start that I would never engage in individual chip collecting. I just wanted a "top notch" playable set to actually use, rather than just look at. I've had sets come and go and having satisfied my goal, I'm back to one set of chips and they are not "top notch". If personal finances were better, I'd get one again. Or if by some miracle, Paulson opens up the old BCC equipment and offers chips to the public, I'd avail myself of that.
I would never knock anyone who engages in collecting individual chips. I've seen pics of collections that boggle my mind. The chips ARE beautiful and have a sense of history to them. And as for compression clays, well that's a craft you just have to appreciate if you know all that goes into it. Wait... I'm talking myself into justifying doing this!
Best of Luck to all you collectors.
 
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I think the motivation and story behind the NAGB's and the way they were brought to completion would be a great story in itself lending to their history and inspiration, that is of course if the inspiration and motivation were other than pure profit. It must be a real let down to feel that you cant share that story in public due to the fact that you aren't willing to tell the amount made (purely for profit protection and no other reason). or the story behind the chips and their meaning if its the non interesting story of how you had to find investors to make something to fleece the "community" out of thousands of dollars on a modern day commodity with some type of false rarity story.
Case in point: The first NAGB that surfaced on the other chip forum, the "cruise ship" chips. I was a long time member on that forum. I was never offered the opportunity to participate in that offering. It seems only the forum owner and the "well connected" or others who were more aggressive in asserting themselves or perhaps "ass kissers" seem to be the ones who were able to avail themselves of that opportunity. Once I learned about that NAGB (after the fact, of course) I made a post questioning why they didn't find a way to make it available to the COMMUNITY. One answer I got was that they had to protect the secrecy of the project to ensure that it wasn't spoiled.
I maintain that it COULD have been done just like any other group buy. All it would have taken was a post by the forum owner or perhaps a trusted member to take orders with no facts other than they were getting mint condition THC chips from a closed casino and the list of denoms available for order. I'd have gladly paid the price they got those chips for (with an assurance that I'd get my money back if the project blew up).
If more people were allowed to participate, I submit that the order count would have been much higher (maybe, maybe not, driving the per chip price even lower).
PLEASE understand what I'm saying is not driven by bitterness. I didn't lose a minute of sleep because I missed out on that opportunity. What I'm saying is that it seems some people were so enamored with themselves for pulling off quite a stunt on GPI, and drooling at the opportunity to buy the chips at casino price that they forgot (or didn't care) about the COMMUNITY. I can tell you that if I were involved in that project, I would have suggested to all others involved to handle it the way I outlined above. Sure, it would have required a "leap of faith" on the part of forum members, but at least it would have been up to the individual and ALL would have had the opportunity to make that choice.
Because that went down the way it did, it became apparent to me that an "Oligarchy" existed on that forum.
I still post there but at least I'm not under any misconception that they are about the COMMUNITY.
 
Case in point: The first NAGB that surfaced on the other chip forum, the "cruise ship" chips. I was a long time member on that forum. I was never offered the opportunity to participate in that offering. It seems only the forum owner and the "well connected" or others who were more aggressive in asserting themselves or perhaps "ass kissers" seem to be the ones who were able to avail themselves of that opportunity. Once I learned about that NAGB (after the fact, of course) I made a post questioning why they didn't find a way to make it available to the COMMUNITY. One answer I got was that they had to protect the secrecy of the project to ensure that it wasn't spoiled.
I maintain that it COULD have been done just like any other group buy. All it would have taken was a post by the forum owner or perhaps a trusted member to take orders with no facts other than they were getting mint condition THC chips from a closed casino and the list of denoms available for order. I'd have gladly paid the price they got those chips for (with an assurance that I'd get my money back if the project blew up).
If more people were allowed to participate, I submit that the order count would have been much higher (maybe, maybe not, driving the per chip price even lower).
PLEASE understand what I'm saying is not driven by bitterness. I didn't lose a minute of sleep because I missed out on that opportunity. What I'm saying is that it seems some people were so enamored with themselves for pulling off quite a stunt on GPI, and drooling at the opportunity to buy the chips at casino price that they forgot (or didn't care) about the COMMUNITY. I can tell you that if I were involved in that project, I would have suggested to all others involved to handle it the way I outlined above. Sure, it would have required a "leap of faith" on the part of forum members, but at least it would have been up to the individual and ALL would have had the opportunity to make that choice.
Because that went down the way it did, it became apparent to me that an "Oligarchy" existed on that forum.
I still post there but at least I'm not under any misconception that they are about the COMMUNITY.
Very interesting read KingZilla and it’s nothing short of much of the same grievances I’ve expressed about NAGBs in the past. NAGBs are not about community what so ever and I’ve mostly been turned off by them and what goes on behind the scenes of them.

I was a relatively new member when the boat chips started trickling into the community and the realization of the accomplishment started to set in. I talked to several members who described feeling exactly as you described, betrayed and let down by what had happened.

At one point, probably less than a year after joining, myself and another good friend were offered the opportunity to purchase a set of the chips by someone who was on the inside of that NAGB for about $2.80 per. They had unfortunately had somewhat of a falling out with the inner circle and no longer wanted their portion of that buy.
Both of us graciously declined the offer. I guess for myself, I really had no interest in owning something that had created so much controversy at the time. My good friend also had similar feelings toward it and also declined the offer.

A few years after the whole boat chip saga and the ChipDonkeys saga that occurred because of similar feelings as you describe, my same friend and I were invited to be in on another NAGB that was being organized by someone we both had become much closer with.
My friend and I felt like because it was being organized by people we had come to really respect, we wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to own new THC Paulsons for $1.65 a chip.

Ultimately that project ended up being a failure and never happened. The biggest disappointment to me about the whole thing was this, one of those inner circle organizers at the time I really considered a good friend.
That same person had described to me feeling exactly as you had described above about the whole boat chip saga. I kindly asked if I could offer the same opportunity to a couple newer members who I had become really close with at the time and slowly being seen as very respected new chippers.

That question was presented to the four members in charge of the current buy and 3 of them had no problem with bringing in a couple more whom I was more or less vouching for.
The member who I considered my closest friend was the only NO and so I never was granted the opportunity to get these other members in.
I let it go on the surface but deep down I was very insulted and a little taken back by that experience.
I couldn’t understand what I felt was such hypocrisy on the part of this member who at one time felt so betrayed themselves but was now doing what I considered the exact same thing.

I went along and quietly kept my feelings to myself but inside I completely started regretting my own decision to be a part of this.
When the project ultimately failed, I guess you could say a big part of me was happy that it failed.
But man what a let down I felt by someone who I greatly respected at that time.

I’ve tried to let much of all that go but I still find it so difficult getting past the hypocrisy of it all and the members who seem to acquire this holier than thou mentality over these things.
Guess you could say I’m still on speaking terms but I feel like that relationship is just now cordial at best.
Between seeing the boat chip saga unfold and my own experiences with NAGBs, I can honestly say I’m not a fan and will NEVER own any set of chips that has the NAGB label attached to them.
There is nothing community what so ever about an NAGB.
They are now run mostly for profit and I’d venture to say somewhat of the opportunity to stroke some’s ego’s.
It’s the side of chipping that makes me question at times being apart of any of it at all.
 
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DuckPlug:
Interesting info on your experience. I feel you man. But I'm an old guy and a long time in the "community". You've got to let that stuff go. As I said, I'm not bitter over it. It's better to just consider it "another lesson learned". I proceed but as I said "with no misconceptions that that place is not really about the COMMUNITY". Perhaps that will change. I know that's a pretty naive statement. But you never know if someone may have an epiphany, and do something decent.
Furthermore, it's almost 0% that GPI would use the BCC equipment and offer chips to the public again. But with the use of more composite chips in casinos and possibility of "digital chips" being used more, maybe they'd consider doing it.
 
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I'd also state that as far as NAGBs they may NOT want more chips out there, so they limit who can be included. When profit is the main goal, the less of something out there, the higher the premium they can demand for it. They can demand all they want, THIS GUY will never pay those prices, no matter how bad I may like to have something.
 
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I'd also state that as far as NAGBs they may NOT want more chips out there, so they limit who can be included. When profit is the main goal, the less of something out there, the higher the premium they can demand for it. They can demand all they want, THIS GUY will never pay those prices, no matter how bad I may like to have something.
And its not even "modest" profit!! Its price gouging! They don't limit the size of the order either, after they're free wheeling which doesnt take long I'm sure they hold back some of their "rare" chips for another day and even more profits. Tiger chips are a classic example. Sold out sold out sold out, oh wait heres some, oh and heres some............ on and on
 
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You've got to let that stuff go.
I agree with you and respect your wisdom on this very much KingZilla. For me, easier said than done and I wish lots of times I could just find the off switch.

I’m one of those types that nothing is ever “ALL GOOD” to me just because it’s being told to me that it is.
When something is truly “GOOD” in life, no one has to sell that to you, it’s obvious! And if it isn’t “GOOD,” it’s just BULLSHIT!

I should get better at letting a lot of things go KingZilla but I’m not quite sure I was ever taught how. I feel like what I hold onto drives me to be better, not only for me but for my true friends and family who I care for.

And yeah, I tell my self it’s just stupid chips and yet I still struggle with even that excuse. :unsure: :ROFLMAO:
Appreciate the thoughts and wisdom KingZilla.
 
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I agree with you and respect your wisdom on this very much KingZilla. For me, easier said than done and I wish lots of times I could just find the off switch.

I’m one of those types that nothing is ever “ALL GOOD” to me just because it’s being told to me that it is.
When something is truly “GOOD” in life, no one has to sell that to you, it’s obvious! And if it isn’t “GOOD,” it’s just BULLSHIT!

I should get better at letting a lot of things go KingZilla but I’m not quite sure I was ever taught how. I feel like what I hold onto drives me to be better, not only for me but for my true friends and family who I care for.

And yeah, I tell my self it’s just stupid chips and yet I still struggle with even that excuse. :unsure: :ROFLMAO:
Appreciate the thoughts and wisdom KingZilla.
Thank you. You are not unique in those feelings. No worries. You seem like a nice person so I'm sure you'll get there. I will say that if you find yourself in a position to get in on a NAGB, I see NOTHING wrong with doing so. It's a personal decision you have to make (if you think you're paying a fair price, etc.). I'm not in a position to lecture anyone on anything but if I have any insights that are helpful to someone, then that's GOOD.
 
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DuckPlug:
Interesting info on your experience. I feel you man. But I'm an old guy and a long time in the "community". You've got to let that stuff go. As I said, I'm not bitter over it. It's better to just consider it "another lesson learned". I proceed but as I said "with no misconceptions that that place is not really about the COMMUNITY". Perhaps that will change. I know that's a pretty naive statement. But you never know if someone may have an epiphany, and do something decent.
Furthermore, it's almost 0% that GPI would use the BCC equipment and offer chips to the public again. But with the use of more composite chips in casinos and possibility of "digital chips" being used more, maybe they'd consider doing it.
My purpose for mentioning GPI making chips available to the public again is to say that IF that happened, it would inflict serious damage to the NAGB profiteers.
 
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