I am a casino chip collector. Although I do sell some chips at local chapter
meetings, as a collector, I mostly trade and buy chips. A friend of mine,
also for the most part a collector, has had a table at the Annual CC>CC
Convention for the last couple of years. After he reserved a table for this
year's convention, he learned that he would have to attend a professional
conference in Los Angeles at the same time. He was hoping to get to the CC>CC
Convention by Friday at the latest. Since he needed coverage for his table
while he was going to be at his conference I agreed to share his table. This
way he could have his stuff on display for the whole show and we would be
able to back each other and be able to pursue our collecting activities. I
would, of course, get the opportunity to sell and trade my duplicates at the
show. My friend's plans did not work out quite as anticipated and he found
out just a few days before the convention that he would not be able to make
it to the convention at all. And so I inherited a table and became a chip
I was very optimistic. This would be a lot of fun. I could now get into the
show room with all the other dealers while the collectors were outside. I'd
have first pick of all the good stuff and get tremendous dealer-to-dealer
I did a lot of work to get my chips ready for the convention. I inventoried
all my duplicates and figured out my selling prices based on the latest price
guides. Do you know how much it costs to keep up with all the latest price
guides? I printed up signs and business cards and price sheets. I made sure
all the chips were in nice 2x2's … that were in 20 pocket plastic pages ...
that were in seven 1" binders … all with the current prices. To transport
all my chips to the convention, I bought the largest rolling carry-on suitcase
that the airlines would allow in the overhead compartment. No way was I going
to check this luggage! Preparations all completed, I headed out to the convention.
My flight went smoothly. Arriving at the gate we heard over the plane's loudspeakers,
"Welcome to Las Vegas, where the local time is 11:42 am and the temperature
is 106 degrees." Welcome to Las Vegas in the summer. By the way, I've heard
it said that Las Vegas has 3 months of good weather and then 9 months of summer.
I was carrying and rolling about 60 lbs. of chips, books and supplies around,
along with my laptop and another bag with my clothes. I'm in good shape; I
mean I play tennis 5 times a week. But, I don't care what anyone says, dry
heat is baloney. Carrying all the stuff at 106 degrees, I felt like I was
going to pass out any second. Eventually I made it to the Tropicana. Why are
these casino's so large? I really got my exercise carrying my stuff for miles
and miles. And then, after registering, I entered the show room, as a Chip
The first thing I have to tell you is that, not surprisingly, I found every
dealer I ran into very nice and helpful. They offered to watch my table when
I needed a break and they were eager to lend a helping hand at any request.
After setting up my table, I was able to look around and get a couple chips
I needed. One thing that I quickly learned is that steep dealer-to-dealer
discounts are a myth. I think every chip dealer is also a chip collector.
The mark up on casino chips is not so large that you can get great deals buying
single chips. The big discounts are earned on large transactions. Something
that is way out of my league.
Well not too much time to play, the reception and early bird trading sessions
are about to start. A shower and a change of clothes and I was off to the
reception. I was astonished to find the room filled to the rafters. I got
there about 15 minutes after the reception started and there was no food left,
no beer or soda, only some wine. There were so many friends I wanted to find
and say hello to, in this crowd it was impossible. Luckily a couple of New
York friends saved a seat for me at their table.
On Thursday the Convention bourse floor opened and the long hours went by
quickly. I was selling chips and talking to friends I only get to see once
a year. I had absolutely no difficulties at all on the selling floor. No arguments,
no rip-offs, no hassles, no problems. Whenever a New York friend would walk
by, they would always ask if I needed a break. I took them up on several of
those offers, both to visit the restroom and to check out the other dealer's
tables for chips I needed.
Unfortunately, soon after the show room closed, evening events like the Club
business meeting, the Auction or the Poker Tournament were starting. I really
needed some down time after working all day and missed some events I really
wanted to attend, especially the early morning educational sessions. But with
the jet lag and the long hours in the show room, I needed some sleep. Can
you believe I was using up my vacation time from my real job, in order to
work at the convention?
That's pretty much how it went. Long tiring days and nights, but having lots
of fun. I did spend more on buying chips than I sold, but I am a collector
and not a dealer, so no big surprise.
I learned that it is pretty tough being a dealer. Physically it is very demanding
standing behind your table on the show floor eight hours a day and then participating
in an evening event. Financially, it is also difficult. Figure out how much
it costs to prep for the show, transportation to Vegas and then hotel and
food expenses. To that add $295 to rent a table. You have to sell an awful
lot of chips just to break even. In my case, my low-end stuff sold a lot better
than my high-end chips, so I did not break even. But, since I am a collector
you have to look at it differently. I was going to convention anyhow, dealer
or not. The main reason I went to the convention was to have a good time and
get some chips, so my main objectives were definitely accomplished.
My understanding, from talking to other dealers, is that it is very difficult
to make a living selling chips. The dealers are mainly at the convention for
the same reasons I was: to meet friends, have a good time and add to their
The dealers in this hobby take the major financial responsibility for supporting
the convention. The club gets over $30,000 a year from the dealers for table
rentals at the convention. At the convention, members do not provide any direct
financial support to the Club, admission is free. Collectors should be very
appreciative of this set up. In many other hobbies members are charged admission
fees to attend a show or convention.
Would I do it again? Absolutely! Next time, though, I would really like to
share a table, so that I could participate in many of the activities going
on away from the show floor.