By: Jason Lake
Every collector has a white whale to chase down. It could be the 1918 US “Inverted Airmail” postage stamp, the 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle coin, Action Comics #1, or the T206 Honus Wagner baseball card. But what about poker enthusiasts who collect casino chips? What heavenly disks do they dream about finding for cheap at garage sales and flea markets? Here are five candidates to put on your checklist.
Golden Goose $5
This chip actually comes from the blackjack table – the only blackjack table at the Golden Goose, which opened on Fremont Street in 1975 and closed in 1980. For that matter, the table itself was only in operation for a few months in 1976-77. Only one of these checks is known to have survived; in 2014, it was sold at the Casino Chip & Gaming Token Collectors Club Convention for $75,000.
Lucky Casino $5
At the same convention, another collector snapped up one of two known specimens of the Lucky $5 chip for $52,500. The Lucky Casino was another short-lived operation on Fremont Street, running between 1963 and 1967. Before that, it was the Lucky Strike Club (1954-1963), and before that, the Frontier Club (1935-1953).
Sands Hotel $5
Chips from the Sands might be the most sought after in general. This hotel and casino was the place to be in Las Vegas, becoming extra famous when Ocean's 11 was filmed there in 1960. Alas, the Sands closed in 1996, and eight years later, a $5 chip in near-mint condition was sold at auction for a then-record $33,000. Another one in rougher condition sold for $26,290 in 2010. It's believed there are five of these chips in “circulation.”
The Showboat on the Boulder Strip was the first resort within Vegas city limits, running from 1954 to 2000, then surviving four more years as Castaways. In 2008, Sandy Marbs went on eBay and auctioned off her $1 chip – one of only two known in existence. The opening price was $2.25; Marbs wasn't aware the chip was valued as high as $15,000 by collectors. In the end, it sold for $28,988.88.
The iconic Hacienda (with the neon horse and rider) ran for 40 years between 1956 and 1996, before being replaced by Mandalay Bay. One of their $5 chips ended up in a yard sale, then was sold in 2001 for a cool $15,100. Only one of these chips is known to exist today, but who knows, maybe there's another one at that yard sale just around the corner.
Five Most Sought After Casino Chips
By: Jason Lake