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Casino Chip Error - Grand Casino (Gulfport, MS)

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Upon entering the U.S. Air Force in 1987 I was sent to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, MS, for my initial training. The 17 week course began in October and was easy enough. I enjoyed the mild winter temperatures, rounds of golf, and weekend trips to New Orleans and Pensacola. I thought it was great, but others would complain, saying, "There's nothing to do in Biloxi except golf."

Fast forward to 1996. Once again I find that I'm headed back to Keesler AFB for another training class starting in January. This one was only 7 weeks long. Biloxi had changed a lot in those 9 years. Casino gaming was approved in 1992. The intent was to limit gaming to the coast along the Gulf of Mexico and to riverboat casinos. Several floating barges permanently moored in Biloxi and neighboring Gulfport. The largest by far was Grand Casino Gulfport, a Caesars property. The 3 story barge was enormous and contained restaurants, a nightclub, and a casino complete with slot machines, table games, and a poker room.

Classes ran from 6am to noon followed by lunch and a round of golf. Now people complained by saying, "There's nothing to do in Biloxi except golf and gamble." What are these people looking for? I decided to play poker every evening that I could. The comps were generous and I got a free buffet every night: seafood gumbo, prime rib, and bananas foster were my diet with the occasional boiled crawfish thrown in there. I also started to keep a record of my gambling then (and continue to add to it these 20 years later). The games were usually $1-$5 spread limit 7-card stud. I don't remember, but there may have even been $1-$4-$8-$8 Texas Hold'em too. At the end of my time in Biloxi I had played 37 nights and ended up a whopping $49 winner. I'd like to think that I gained a lot of poker experience during those weeks while trying not to gain a lot of weight from all of those free buffets.

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We called it "recreating" back then.

Now, to the point of the story. Grand Casino Gulfport used the standard clay "hat & cane" chips from Paulson. The chip was white with 4 sets of royal red-yellow-orchid inserts (also called edge spots). Since these low stakes games were played mainly with $1 chips, players had stacks and stacks of cheques on the table in front of them. With all those hours waiting to pick up a hand, you might start to stack your chips with the inserts lined up -- making long stripes down your stacks. Have a look and you'll notice that some players do this today -- usually the tell of a very organized, disciplined, ABC player. I found myself passing the time turning the chips so that I could line up the inserts in my stacks.

One night, I came across a chip that just would not line up no matter how I turned it. A had a closer look and noticed that one of the sets of inserts ran yellow-royal red-orchid. The yellow insert was not in the middle! Out of curiosity I pointed it out to Dierdra, the room's very attractive redheaded floorperson. Interesting, but not much more, so I decided to keep the chip thinking that this type of error must not be common. Hell, it was the first one of its kind I'd seen in weeks of play. The house rack $1 chip is pictured on the left and the $1 error chip on the right. Notice that the insert pattern at the 3 o'clock position is out of order.

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Standard house chip and error chip.

I later learned that this type of insert error is rare. In fact, my $1 Grand Casino Gulfport chip is the only one know to exist with this error. I had sold a different, more common type of error chip from their sister property, Grand Casino Biloxi, to a fellow casino chip collector for $100. I'd value this chip in the $200-$250 range.

Similar insert errors have been found elsewhere with inserts misplaced, missing, or the wrong color. The $1 Mapes chip should have a black, red, blue and green insert, but the error has 2 blue and no green inserts. The $1 Terrible's chip is missing its pink insert.

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$1 Mapes chip and error chip with two blue inserts.

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$1 Terrible's and error chip missing pink insert.

So, the next time you're passing the hours in your favorite poker room, have a look at your chips and see if you've got an insert error in your stacks. You never know -- it just might be worth something. If you run across this, or any other type of error, let me know and I'll help you assess its rarity and value. Good luck at the tables.