Chips Ahoy

July 06, 2010 7:08 AM


South Point

CHIPS AHOY: We stopped at the casino chip convention held at South Point last month and were a little overwhelmed by the volume of chips available. The tables at every booth were covered with thousands and thousands of them. Some were neatly organized in drawers and boxes. Others were carefully inserted into plastic sleeves in three-ring binders. Still others were simply tossed into a bin for convention goers to paw through at will.

Put on by the Casino Chip & Gaming Tokens Collectors Club, the annual convention brings together dealers from across the country to showcase their wares and offer items for sale.

The chips came in all colors, from what seemed like every casino that ever existed (both legal and illegal), and in just about any price range. For those new to collecting there were many items offered in the $1 to $5 range, and even a few for under a dollar. In most instances the dollar value printed on the chips had no correlation to the asking price.

We found the 5 cent chips from Normandie Club in California interesting. Apparently they weren’t actually used for betting, but were awarded to poker players for various reasons, such as time at the table. The players could then redeem them for food. But if you wanted to add one of these beauties to your collection, it would set you back $275. (That’s 5,500 nickels!)

In addition to the chips there were many other collectibles, including cards, dice, ashtrays (we know we have an old Sands ashtray), matchbooks, placemats, glasses, shoe polishing cloths, shoehorns, room keys, posters, signs and just about anything a casino could stamp a logo on.

There were also some beautiful exhibits, which were not for sale. They were private collections on display and attendees were able to vote for the one they liked the best.

One collection was a display of casino swizzle sticks. Another was a selection of casino placemats. Carl Osborne had a very interesting collection titled "Jailhouse Gaming." It included old pictures of gaming tables set up in what appeared to be the basement of a jailhouse, along with badges and other jailhouse items.

But for sheer volume and determination, we liked "Casino Slot Cards – A Personal Collection" presented by Jerry Birl. The display included 768 slot cards – each embossed with Mr. Birl’s name – from casinos all over the United States and Canada. In all, Mr. Birl has a total of 1,500 cards in his collection. It had to take some planning to find all those casinos, travel there and register for each slot club card. (Just the thought of packing and unpacking for each of those trips tires me out.)

SUMMERTIME FUN: A nice getaway for locals is Laughlin, Nevada, a short 90-minute drive south. The pace is a little slower there and you may be reminded of the old Las Vegas, and the Colorado River adds a relaxing touch.

Friends of ours stayed there recently at Harrah’s and report that either the machines are looser or their luck was better or maybe it was a combination of both.

Diane sat at an IGT Wheel of Fortune machine for some time playing quarters. Things were up and down, but she was holding her own. Then she hit for 1,000 quarters and knew it was time to look for her husband, Jay.

She found him at the craps table where he had been trying out his method and was happily ahead of the game. He does admit it’s a slow, grinding system and takes a great deal of patience, but insists it’s worth it in the long run.

With money in their pockets they headed back to their room. But the roulette table was on the way so they stopped for a couple of spins. To their delight the session included a win streak of seven or eight hands.

It sounds like they had a great weekend. And, it was even more special because it was their first anniversary. Maybe the "love gods" helped them win.

See you around town.