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The Story of the $25 Sammy Hagar Hard Rock Casino Chip

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The Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas has long been known for hosting some of the world's top musical groups at The Joint, their 4,000 seat showroom. To commemorate these special appearances, the casino will produce a series of limited edition casino chips. These chips are highly collectible and, to accommodate the demand from casino chip enthusiasts and dealers, the Hard Rock will publish release dates when buyers can purchase a limited number of chips fresh out of the box. This is usually done at a designated pit game table where a representative from the casino cage oversees the transactions. Because production quantities are limited, and these chips appeal to both casino chip collectors and music fans, chips can sell out in a single day without ever seeing table play.

On May 17th, 2002, Sammy Hagar and his band was schedule for a 2-night engagement at The Joint, and the Hard Rock was ready as they commissioned limited edition chips to mark the occasion with the usual quantity of 5,000 $5 chips and 250 $25 chips.

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$5 Sammy Hagar chip (front and back shown) Qty 5,000

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$25 Sammy Hagar chip (front and back shown) Qty 250

The next day the chips were to be made available to the general public. As instructed, buyers lined up at the roulette table with cash in hand hoping to walk away with their maximum allotment of five $5 chips and one $25 chip. Buyers will oftentimes bring friends or "hire" patrons in the vicinity to stand in line with them so they can buy more than their allotment. Anyway, here's where the trouble started. There were no $25 chips to be had. Most of the 250 chips were handed out to Sammy Hagar and his entourage, others given to high rollers, and the few remaining chip were put into circulation on the tables. Not only were collectors furious, but with dealers unable to fill orders, the demand for this particular chip skyrocketed on the secondary markets. After all, the Hard Rock has issued over 210 limited edition series to commemorate dozens of groups and their list reads like a Who's Who across the years. Their first series was done for The Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1995 and continues today with Rascal Flatts in February of this year. Below are just a few of the other $5 chips that the Hard Rock produced in that span:

The $25 Sammy Hagar chips eventually made their way to eBay where they routinely sold for upwards of $1,500. Auctions were rare, further adding to the inflated price. Collectors did not want to have a hole in their collection, no matter what the cost. Ten years after their release, sales stabilized and prices dropped -- either because hard core collectors had already purchased one of these rare chips, or collectors, fed up with Hard Rock's mishandling of this chip release, quit collecting Hard Rock chips all together. Whatever the reason, in 2012 there were two individual sales on eBay that fetched $449 in January and $406 in September. But ever-optimistic sellers can sometimes be seen trying to part the unaware collector from their money. Just last month someone posted a $25 Sammy Hagar chip on eBay with a starting bid of $1,475 -- no bids were placed.