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Thread: The Story of the Showboat $1 Casino Chip

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    Bronze alpha1243's Avatar
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    The Story of the Showboat $1 Casino Chip

    In 2008, Mrs. Sandy Marbs was widowed and living on Social Security. She had recently discovered eBay as a way to earn a few extra dollars. She had been clearing items from her house and creating auctions on eBay for a few months now. The knickknacks sold for $5-$30 and she was happy with the additional income they provided. One of the items she decided to sell was an old $1 casino chip from the Showboat Casino in Las Vegas. She and her husband had visited Las Vegas 47 years earlier and, for some forgotten reason, they had kept the chip. Her husband then tossed it in his jewelry box where it sat all this time. Sandy posted a number of other auctions that week, as was her habit. The starting bid for the $1 Showboat casino chip was $2.25.

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    (both sides shown)

    To her surprise and delight, she soon received offers to buy the chip immediately if she would end the auction early. Luckily, she had also been contacted by a casino chip collector advising her to just let the auction run its course. Sandy turned down offers of $1,000, $4,000, and even $5,000 for the chip. As with many eBay auctions, all of the serious bids come in at the last minute. When the auction ended on May 4th, Sandy was shocked to see that the $1 casino chip that had been forgotten in her husband's jewelry box for 47 years had fetched $28,988.88. This was the highest amount ever paid for a single $1 casino chip. Only 2 of these $1 Showboat chips are known to exist.

    It just goes to show that you never know when one of those casino chips that followed you home in your pocket and now sits in a desk drawer, collecting dust, may be worth something someday. While I was not the buyer of the $1 Showboat casino chip in this story, I did watch the auction unfold on eBay that week. If you have any casino chips and are curious as to their value, just contact me and I'll research it for you. While the vast majority are only worth $3 or so, there are those old Las Vegas chips, full of history from the days when the mob ran the town, whose value might just surprise you as it did for Mrs. Sandy Marbs.

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    Bronze The Shrink's Avatar
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    Here are a few $1 chips I've collected from Vegas over the years. Most of them are still being used except for the Palms and Gold Coast which don't have poker rooms anymore (although they're probably the same chips as the floor games). I'm not sure where I got the Playboy chip. It might not be from Vegas.

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    Bronze alpha1243's Avatar
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    Shrink - A few comments about some of the $1 chips in your collection:

    The Playboy is a generic chip manufactured for home games and offered in a variety of colors -- all without denomination.

    The Palms saw the cash potential of the casino chip collector market and, starting in 2001 when they opened their doors, produces 4 varieties of $1 chips each year from 2001-2006. These ceramic chips were all produced by Bourgogne-et-Grasset (now owned by Gaming Partners Int'l), thus the tiny BG logo on each chip. Each year was dated and came in 4 varieties: with Ace, King, Queen, and Jack backgrounds on the reverse of the chip. Flip yours over to see which you have. While their poker room is closed, they still use $1 chips on their table games. If you look through them the next time you're at The Palms, you can probably find the other years in all 4 varieties. Their practice of producing so many unique $1 chips has led to their being 38 different $1 Palms chips -- an enormous amount for a property that's only been opened for 15 years. Compare that to the Gold Coast which has been in business for 40 years and has only produced 3 different $1 chips.

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    TI also has a few different varieties of $1 chips in play. The chip you have was produced in 2006 specifically for use in the poker room. This injection-molded chip is more durable than the traditional clay chips used for their table games. In the pit they have 2 clay varieties -- one with a large inlay (the center design of the chip) and one with a smaller inlay that features the manufacturer's classic hat & cane logo. Like the Mirage house chips, the blue from the clay was problematic in the poker room.

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    The Mirage produced your chip in 2013 for use in their poker room. Their standard house chip is blue, and the dye from the clay tended to stain player's hands, so the poker room ordered these beige chips. To further indicate that they were used for poker, the word "POKER" appears under the Paulson hat & cane logo. The interesting thing about these chips was that errors were made during their production. The word "POKER" was omitted on one or both sides of some chips as in the example below. This error increased the value of these chips to between $20-$40, depending on their condition. Once the error was discovered, casino chip collectors swarmed the Mirage poker room asking the cage for racks of $1 chips to sift through. This disturbed the poker room to the point that the cage was instructed to go through the $1 chips and remove any errors in the hopes of ending these non-poker players from causing a ruckus. It was successful as the practice stopped once the word spread. I suspect that a regular poker player at the Mirage might be able to ask for one of these chips from a knowledgeable cage employee and receive an error chip today, but who knows. The error chips might have even been destroyed. As a result, prices further increased. In fact, one such chip is on Canada's eBay right now with a ridiculous starting bid of $999.99. Flip your chip over and hopefully you'll discover that you've got one of these rare error chips.

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    As you've already noted, all of the chips are currently available on the tables in their respective casinos. Their value is only $3 each, and that's only because the seller has to ship the chip to the buyer, so postage and mailing materials are included in the $3 selling price. Thanks for sharing your casino chips and I hope you found my reply informative.

     
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  4. #4
    Bronze The Shrink's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alpha1243 View Post
    Flip yours over to see which you have.
    I have the queen variety.

    Quote Originally Posted by alpha1243 View Post
    Flip your chip over and hopefully you'll discover that you've got one of these rare error chips.
    No dice. I actually had 3 Mirage chips and they all say "poker" on the back.

    Quote Originally Posted by alpha1243 View Post
    Thanks for sharing your casino chips and I hope you found my reply informative.
    Thank you! Very informative. You sure know your stuff.

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