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Tropicana Las Vegas First Edition Set

Discussion in 'Poker Chip Gallery' started by 41pickup, Mar 7, 2015.

  1. 41pickup

    41pickup ChipTalk.net Supporter
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    My journey to a First Edition Tropicana Las Vegas Playable set
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Photo bucket Link to more pictures:
    http://s885.photobucket.com/user/41p...0edition%20set

    This is a bit long winded , so I apologize. I always read when everyone wants the story of how a cool set came about. I figured that I would answer that up front.
    As many of you know, most great journeys were not planned. After going to Vegas for 18 years and never collecting a chip, my local poker playing friend shared with me that he was playing his home game with real casino chips . Having collected coins as a kid , I was easily converted to chip collecting. With the help of TKE4life / TheDeezer and David P / afterthefact ( chiptalk and pcf ID's), I started collecting. I can now praise / blame them for this. They informed me that real casino chips were cool, but a Vegas casinos had more appeal and were more valuable. This is especially true now that all Nevada chips are destroyed when a casino closes or they change chip design. As many of you know, Paulson is now the standard, but once upon a time TR KING made awesome chips as well. TR KING has become my favorite as a result of this quest.
    My Uncle had always believed that the Tropicana was a suburb of heaven before he passed, so I decided to build myself a Tropicana 2nd Edition set. I knew it would not be cheap, but I decided to give it a shot. I began making a few calls. I came across a unique Palms Casino Tournament set that I wish I still had. I acquired that set as a result of striking up a relationship with a gentleman on the chip board that knew about some mystery chips I had bought on Ebay. I was a new collector , excited and willing to write a check equal to a few months rent for the chips. He sold them to me .


    Palms Tournament set
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    They had not even been delivered to my house before I had struck a trade with a long time chip set collector on the West Coast. He wanted the Palms set and he was willing to trade me equivalent value in Tropicana 2nd edition chips. As part of that conversation, for some reason I asked , if he had any first edition chips. He said that he had three racks of yellow $5 chips he had acquired when he bought the 2nd editions. Long story short, I traded the Palms set for 1300 Tropicana second edition chips and 300 first edition chips. I figured I was done.

    The chips I traded the Palms set for

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    The Yellow first edition chips looked as dirty as you would ever see. It took forever to clean them up.

    Yellow First edition with one clean & one dirty rack

    [​IMG]

    After getting them clean, I was now on the hunt for a first edition set. I put out a few feelers on the chip board to see if quantity of first edition chips existed. I was quickly informed by old time chip collectors that my quest for the first edition set was impossible as there was not enough of those chips in existence. I started cataloging all the singles that I saw on chip talk and the chip board. I decided that I would buy singles if I had to. My plan was to try to flip some chips to help fund this crazy Endeavour. Not too long after I started my quest David emailed my with a guys info that had posted on the chip board that he had some Tropicana chips for sale. After a few conversations, I realized this guy had the mother load of Second and third edition chips. Rumor has it , in 1979, the CFO of the Tropicana stole a bunch of chips and two roulette wheels when they sold out to the Ramada. That was the last days of the Mob in Vegas. I am told that he intended to cash the chips in, but found that the chips had already been changed out when he returned. This evidently left him with a stock of cool chips that stayed hidden for decades. This gentleman had obtained them in a bulk buy from a guy on ebay. My new contact's finances were in need of a shot in the arm due to some personal stuff he had going on. I purchased basically all of his 2nd edition chips as well as few third. Just recently I found out that he was also the original source of the $5 first edition chips I had traded for. I guess he was patient zero of sorts. The two wins in this purchase were getting Tropicana chips at a really fair price and a full rack of white $500 Tropicana chips. These are Paulson chips , built were the first issue of the $500 chip at the Tropicana.

    The rack of $500 chips All the Trop chips from Both sellers

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    At this point I had some inventory to sell and a start on my First edition set. I periodically sold some chips and started my hunt for the First editions. I became a CC&GTCC member. I realize that many set collectors avoid the club as they mostly talk single chips. Most old time club members do not have the same appreciation for the playable set as many on chip talk or poker chip forum do. That being said there are many cool guys that have the sets stashed away that the set collector would slap their mother for. Their approach is to keep quantities unknown and sell singles. It works, but makes assembling great sets very hard once the original owner sells out.
    I began buying single First Edition chips off Ebay and the chip Board. I had spent quite a sum as many chips were over $100 each . One day I found one old time collector with 14 chips of various denominations. Shortly after, I broke the news to my daughter that she was now going to community college because daddy had raided her college fund . I started making calls and emails to the CC&GTCC membership inquiring about Tropicana first editions in any quantity. I received a bunch of responses of " I wish I had some" . One day I received a call back from a guy that had purchased some chips directly from TRKING before they closed. TR King would keep extra chips to replace damaged chips for the casino. Fortunately this fellow had 14 $100 chips and 16 red $25 chips left from that purchase. Over time, They all became mine. After that, I broke the news to my daughter that college was now on her dime.

    The first quantity of $100 chips

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    I made my way to the CC&GTCC annual convention last year. I spent two days buying every single First edition I could afford. The three that I let go were over $200 each. I just could not make that happen.
    Chips bought at the CC&GTCC convention

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    The past few months had been fairly slow regarding acquisitions . One purchase here and there was the norm off of Ebay. I checked in with the fellow that had supplied the large quantity of $100 and Red $25. I told him that if he ran across any, to let me know. Out of the blue , a few months later he called. He had a partner in chips some 20 years back. They had not spoken in roughly 15 years. The partner is now in his 80's. They had recently spoken and that guy reminded him that he was also involved in purchasing the remaining First Edition chips that TR King had on hand as replacements. He had 220 mint red $25 chips and 60 mint $100 chips. This was what I needed to create a truly playable set. After much negotiating and missing a few mortgage payments, I purchased the Red $25 chips.
    [​IMG]

    I did not need the $100 chips, as I had acquired 20 in various ways, but I could not resist. In my humble but accurate opinion, the first edition $100 chip is the best looking chip ever made . We negotiated over a two month period to land the rest of the $100 mint chips in my set. To my knowledge, I do not believe that there is a surprise quantity out there of the first edition chips. If I am wrong on that, I will have still had a blast on this treasure hunt. If I am right, I think I may have one of the more rare sets around. Thanks for reading and please read up on the great history of the Tropicana with the links below.
    [​IMG]



    Hope you enjoyed the story,
    Lee

    http://www.a2zlasvegas.com/hotels/history/h-trop.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropicana_Las_Vegas
     
    #1
  2. toad94

    toad94 Well-Known Member
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    Hard core pr0n right there. I've never seen anything like it!

    I can't tell from the picture, but is the black/yellow quarter-pie (next to the gray $100) also a $100? I didn't see it in the chip guide. Pretty sweet chip all on its own.
     
    #2
  3. ukas

    ukas Well-Known Member

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    Wow. Amazing journey. Real gem of a set. :)
     
    #3
  4. ovo

    ovo World Series Chump
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    you always come up with great sets, nice job
     
    #4
  5. ChaosRock

    ChaosRock Well-Known Member

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    Outstanding set!!! And great story to boot!

    I urge you all to check his photobucket... Many more awesome pics there...

    Trop + TRK, hard to beat, really...
     
    #5
  6. 41pickup

    41pickup ChipTalk.net Supporter
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    The Black and Yellow $100 is from a money clip they gave out as a promotion . The Grey $100, I believe was a secondary chip.
     
    #6
  7. David P

    David P Well-Known Member
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    What an awesome peice of Las Vegas history you have there!

    I'm very happy to see this set come to fruition even though it was thought to be impossible.

    I highly doubt this set will ever be close to duplicated ever again.

    Now to fill out that rack of $1's!
     
    #7
  8. Dwight87

    Dwight87 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for sharing your epic poker chip collection and story. You sir, have the ultimate set of TR Kings!
     
    #8
  9. David P

    David P Well-Known Member
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    Still amazed at this set. More amazed that there were not more comments on it as it is a very awesome, historical, bad ass set :)
     
    #9
  10. Puggy

    Puggy Well-Known Member
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    So cool. An awesome set. I have always admired the dedication of you guys who put up these kind of sets. Congratulations.
     
    #10
  11. JFCJ

    JFCJ Well-Known Member
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    Set is the King of Kings!
     
    #11
  12. gmunny

    gmunny #21
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    Awesome set! Congrats!
     
    #12
  13. TKE4LIFE

    TKE4LIFE ChipTalk.net Supporter
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    I think there is not a set that really can compete. I know more pictures will come but in my humble opinion the rare set ... the famed Tropicana and the sheer force of wheel to hunt down all of these is amazing.... it goes to show what a nice bank roll and a will to amass a set can do to someone who loves chips like we do. Hats off to you 41 ...... this is truly a set for the ages
     
    #13
  14. Marhault

    Marhault Well-Known Member

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    I wish I had the money, patience and determination you had in making this set. Its incredible. I love the story about the mobster stashing the chips away to try and cash them in for profit after the casino changed hands...that's the kind of story you can't put a price on....incredible..
     
    #14
  15. BMFD

    BMFD Well-Known Member

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    Incredible chips and story. Wake Forest....man they are only 30 mins away from me. Can I drop by and see them sometime? I'll pay an admission fee.
     
    #15
    TKE4LIFE likes this.
  16. <°)))><)

    <°)))><) ChipTalk.net Supporter
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    It's amazing! Wonderful!
    You made me cry :)
     
    #16
  17. TKE4LIFE

    TKE4LIFE ChipTalk.net Supporter
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    Please post more pics. I look at this thread to often not to see more :)
     
    #17
  18. Jeff

    Jeff Super Moderator
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    Wow. Thats a lot of Trops. The hunt is so much fun!

    Plus if you buy them over time, it doesn't seem so expensive!
     
    #18
  19. softchewy

    softchewy Well-Known Member

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    Wow.. amazing... the real question is do you actually play with them :wink:
    I would have stopped at the 1300 Tropicana second edition chips, but only because those are some of my favorites.
     
    #19
  20. ACL1904

    ACL1904 Well-Known Member

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    I find myself coming back to this thread hoping to find more pics! Truly an awesome set!!
     
    #20

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