New Chip Finds

The following article was posted by Jim on the old Prodigy Board on November 11th, 1998

Nothing in our hobby creates more excitement among collectors and/or dealers than a "chip find". Chip finds are the adrenalin our hobby craves and needs. Unfortunately these chip finds can also create stress, frustration and a disgust that can drive collectors from this hobby faster than ANY rip off on eBay ever could. The main problem with chip finds generally revolves around WHO found them. If the chips are found by an honest, knowledgeable and hobby caring dealer/collector, as a rule, we as collectors will not have a problem. A price for the chips will be set and maintained with the only contingency being the outside weather.

However, if the chips are found by a dealer/collector who knows nothing about HOW to market and determine value for the new found pieces; or is dishonest, we are ALL in trouble. Placing a value on the new found chip is really not as critical as it first appears. If I have found and obtained ALL the pieces I can now set a price that is both fair and equitable. The price must reflect rarity but at the same time be realistic. When the dishonest or unknowledgeable individual sets the price it is usually to maximize profit at the expense of the collector. Where the real problem develops is WE as collectors are not told the truth as too HOW MANY were found. The original price set IS NOT reflective of rarity but is an artificial creation to serve the "money hungry" desire. As sales drop off or slow down all together, these individuals begin to drop price. They have no concern for the individuals who purchased chips at the higher value. Their only concern is to get as much of a return as possible within the shortest time frame. They continue to drop price until the chip is ruined. Heck, they don't care - they will just move on to the next chip.

Meanwhile, you as a collector who shelled out hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars for this one piece of a "Five Of a Kind" is caught holding the bag. As the bag gets heavy your disgust for the hobby motivates the action to leave and sell your collection. The individual who sold you the chip states "more came out, it was out of my control". Yeah, right!!! You know he is lying but what can you do. You ask for credit towards your next chip purchase but he tells you why should he credit you it was not his fault; and on it goes.

One of the most devastating realities in our hobby is when one finds out he/she purchased a "rare" Nevada chip for a rather hefty price that turns out to be from California. I remember when it happened to me. I was standing in my living room showing this beauty I had just purchased to my good friend Doug Saito. I handed it to him with such care - the same care he showed in taking it into his hands. He looked at it, raised his head and said "Jim, this chip is from California" I thought I would die. Are you sure I asked with a voice indicating to him that maybe, just maybe he made a mistake? I'm sure he said. These were found by Mr. So & So last month - they came out of the California poker room Z. I rushed to the phone and called the individual I bought the chip from. Mr. XYZ I believe the chip you sold me is from California not Nevada. Would you be so kind as to take it back? I'm sorry Jim but our policy is no returns after 30 days. However, that "definitely" is a Nevada chip. I wouldn't worry. Some people are just jealous of our chip finds and tell everyone the chips are not Nevada. You don't have to worry one bit. After all the chip is listed in the reference books as being from Nevada - What more do you want? That evening I sat thinking to myself why would I be so dumb as to spend that kind of money on a chip in the first place? I blamed the chip and not myself for not doing my homework. I swore I never would get taken again by anyone in this hobby. I would do my homework. Learn all I could learn. Ask question after question so I could gather the facts and check them out myself. I also promised myself that when I uncovered a chip being sold as Nevada when it actually came from somewhere else I would tell everyone. I didn't want what happened to me to happen to others. As time went by I talked with other collectors inquiring if they had been taken on "rare" Nevada chips. A rather large percentage answered in the affirmative. I knew I was not alone nor would I be the "only" sucker to admit I had been had. I asked why didn't you speak out and tell others? The main answer was - I didn't want anyone to think I was stupid. This is a reality, no one wants to tell others even though the ones you tell "have been in the same boat".

What are some of the defenses against being "ripped" off in chip purchases and deals? Let me list a few.

1. Communication - A simple word, yet lacking from many chippers. What do I mean? Ask yourself a simple question How many "knowing" contacts do you have in this hobby? I mean really knowing? Please don't confuse knowing with liking, trusting, experience and/or friendly. You don't have to answer, I'll bet. Standard reply - I'm on the BB, there are many collectors/dealers with years of experience. Yes this is true, but experience is not the measure of "knowing". Knowing comes from being involved in a diverse network of individuals who maintain current information involving chip finds throughout the United States. Yes, but my friend wrote the book or helped write the book! True, but this is not the same as having current chip event knowledge. No need to explain further - YOU got the message!!!

How do I get involved with this network? If I have to answer that question may I suggest collecting baseball cards instead of chips.

2. Ego - This factor is one of the most difficult to overcome. No one including myself likes to admit they don't know "EVERYTHING" there is to know about chip and token collecting. We all want to be the one called who is the fountain of information. Get real! I must make a half dozen long distance calls a day to find out nothing is new. It gets expensive to keep current. However, it is worth every cent when I learn new information that keeps me from buying the "great" Nevada chip just found outside Elko. Yeah! Elko, California - if there is such a place. You will debate with the self-proclaimed noted chip authorities. Who will tell you "I have been collecting for ten years I know what I'm talking about, this chip is from Nevada" What he won't tell you is this: This is the 10th time you have caught him selling California for Nevada. Sounds like fun doesn't it? It isn't. The same dumb people will continue to buy from him until they finally get taken for good and quit the hobby. Don't be afraid to admit you don't know. Sounds easy - wait until someone asks you (the authority) a chip question you don't have an answer for. Ah, well, Ah I believe................ Just say I DON'T KNOW and find someone who does. When you discover you made a mistake don't debate the point. Along with the debate will go what is left of your credible reputation.

3. Teach - This is another difficult area for many chippers to do. You will often hear - I am in this hobby for fun!!! I don't like all this other stuff!!! - Well Boobala if it is fun paying MORE for something than it is worth ENJOY. Have a ball and hope your money holds out. The rest of us should "get involved" and relay what we have learned too our community of collectors thereby "teaching" them from our experiences. There is nothing formal or special required. Pick up the phone and spread the word and LEARN. Who knows, you might have a good time - teaching yourself and preventing another collector from making the same mistake you made. In conclusion, always research the chip, the story, the credibility of the seller and above all the quantity available. If you find out later the "seller" was intentionally not honest with you - don't ever buy from that individual again.

Trust what I tell you - you can still have fun being a knowledgeable collector. You don't have to leave your brain at home when you go to a chip show. Be a smart collector and HAVE FUN!!!