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The Chip Doctor

by Dr. Roman K. Sobon

The Chip Doctor, May, 2000

The Neophyte Enters the World of Chips and Cheques

Chapter One: The Initial Encounter

I was first introduced into the hobby through a new client of mine …Neal Silverman (and later his colleague Marty Kaplan) – as I entered his very nicely appointed office and could help but notice some rather large and prominent display frames and Lucite enclosed holders, all proudly exhibiting……………


I’ve never come across such a thing. Stamps – yes… Coins – sure…. But Casino Chips?

Who ever heard of collecting Casino Chips? And at that same instance, one of those dichotomous moments of which life seems to hold more and more of, also occurred. While I readily admit that the first impression encountered when witnessing Neal’s framed display of a complete set of the current Harrah’s Atlantic City Roulette Issue (every table, every color, every design) was a puzzling one (I never knew anybody collected these things) …there was also an instantaneous accompanying impression of the displayed pieces…. THIS IS REALLY NEAT !!!!!!!!!!!

The business purpose of our meeting almost took a quick back seat to this new set of stimuli that were bombarding me from Neal’s walls and credenza tops……let’s get through this pesky business conference so I can start to assault my client with what seemed to be 100's of questions that were accumulating within me, waiting for the moment when they could be released into our conversation.

Questions like….

“ What are those things?”

I’ve never seen a collection of casino chips so beautifully exhibited (that’s probably due to the fact that until that instance, I was never aware that people actually collect these strange and at the same time, mesmerizing bits of clay. Nor was I aware of the impact that an artistically arranged collection of chips had on the unsuspecting – albeit adventuresome- observer.)

What other types of chips do you collect?

What kinds are there available to collect?

Where do you get whole sets of these things?

Are there source materials (guides, price books, catalogs, etc.) available for someone who “may” be interested?

How many people do you think are chip collectors?

The truth of the matter really being that by this time…I was certain I had just found a new hobby to feed the “need” I have always had to collect, catalog and display things that were of great interest to me. Ask my ever patient wife and daughters how much wall space and energy has been spent, devoted to gathering a beautiful collection of authenticated Presidential signatures. Signed pieces by those men who signed our Declaration of Independence and last…but certainly not least, our “shrine to the greatest game ever created by mortals…. Golf.”

However…this chip collecting thing was different…. This seemed like a lot more fun, fantasy and whimsy. This was not unlike stamp and coin collecting…but somehow this seemed more in the purvey of adults…. I did not think I was going to run into a room full of pre-pubescent lads all bidding for a particular set of stamps and coins at an auction…as I have often experienced in my previous collecting days. This was the domain of adults…this was the territory one experiences with new friends (fellow chip collectors) sharing new additions to their collection over some fine cigars and single malt scotch.

I knew two things before I asked Neal my first series of dozens and dozens of questions. One, I was a neophyte who was committed to exploring this new world just magically opened to him upon entering this client’s (now also friend’s) office. Secondly (and taking a significant lesson from my stamp collecting days)…. I was going to do this right!!!!!

Next, Chapter Two: The Lesson Begins……

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