Friday, September 19, 2008

Collecting Casino Chips

What is it exactly that makes people collect casino chips? Is it the round shape? After all, who hasn't taken a coin of some type and flipped it - heads, tails, heads, tails............that's got to be a universal urge. But chips, I'm not sure.

The fact that you can hold a chip in your hand helps, and it represents money MONEY. Better yet, it represents the quest for more money, more chips - easy money. That one little chip can be transformed into a lot more. Hell, "Tree Top" Jack Straus turned the phrase "a chip and a chair" into reality when he won the 1982 World Series of Poker Championship after being nearly busted early in the tournament.

Straus was down to just one $500 chip before doubling up several times and eventually winning the largest paying single sporting event in history (at the time), some $520,000. That chip must have been magical! And that's how I feel about all the chips I collect.

Every chip I have is special for some reason. Some, only because I like the look of the chip, or because I traded it with somebody special (I have a few ugly chips I like because Bruce Landau or Doug Saito and I haggled over them at some point). Others are from casinos where I played a little poker or blackjack, even winning sometime.

However, the main reason I love casino chips is because they represent the casino itself: the history of the casino and the people who built gaming. When I hold a chip from the Calneva at North Short Lake Tahoe circa 1930, I know who was in the club and running things at the time.

I know Bill Graham or Jim McKay probably authorized that chip, and I know their own history. I know movie stars like Clara Bow played in the club at the time - and could have even touched that very chip. How can that connection not be intoxicating enough to make me wonder - hmmm, what if?

Don't collect chips? Well, there is still time for you to turn your life around. Maybe you already collect old dice, postcards, ashtrays or some other casino memorabilia - and you probably get the same excitement as I do with the chips. Or maybe you don't - there is something so special, so right about chips. Perhaps you should give it a try.

Go ahead, I dare you.

Thanks for reading - AL W. Moe.

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