I look forward to the upcoming changes you are making and willingness to change with the times. I thought I would write my thoughts and talking points here for further discussion. These are just my opinions and not meant to disparage or demean anyone or thing in the hobby. I love collecting chips and if we can somehow bridge the gap between the new and older collectors it is good for everybody.
The Internet and Collecting - There is no denying that the internet has changed the hobby forever. I assume what made the conventions and local meetups so great in the past was seeing and trading chips you had never ever seen before. But now you can see just about any chip ever made by going online and viewing them on The Chip Guide and then purchasing them online with a simple search on Ebay or any other chip vending site. So the coolness factor of having a chip not many people have seen is lessened to some extent and the desire to travel to said conventions and meetups is surpassed by the ease of buying/trading/selling online. It is this fact that has curbed membership and interest in the hobby to some extent but there is no denying there is a "new" breed of collector becoming more prevalent at the show...and that is the poker playing chippers.
The New Guys - This "new” collector was brought to the hobby by hosting or attending poker games in local halls and private homes, and the natural progression from playing with cheap injection molded chips to actual casino chips. They look better, are made better, and have one the one attribute that in my opinion will save this hobby and keep it thriving. HISTORY. I was brought into the hobby this way and must admit it is quite thrilling to play with a set of chips that were once used in an actual casino and have a history all their own. So these new guys or "set builders" like to build playable sets they can use to host games in their home with friends. Over the last few years I am sure you can ask any major dealer here and they will tell you that these "set builders" have kept their sales afloat. Some will say they are "hoarders" and bad for the hobby because they amass all the chips of a particular type and make the chips scarce. But to be honest these chips are just moving from "Dealer Inventory" to "Player Inventory" and if chips had a life of their own...I am sure they would tell you they are happy to be put back in play after so many years of being in cardboard boxes and plastic pages. Much like the toys from TOY STORY..they should be used for what they were made for. What could be better? Once they are in the collections of this new type of collector, there are still trades and sales going on...it is just in quantity instead of singles. Barrels and Racks have become the new Single. But there is still single collecting and it is beginning to thrive. How?
"Converting the 'Set Builder" - I bought my first set almost 15 years ago from Nevada Jacks, before I was married and had a home game with my buddies. About two years ago I pulled them out of storage and found pokerchipforum.com. Their site was and is still great. It had so many areas to explore from classified sales, personal collection galleries and even a NEW MEMBER forum where you could introduce yourself. I learned my chips were made by Paulson which was a well known company. I learned they were somewhat rare and ended up trading and selling them for even more and different types of chips by such producers as T.R. King and Bud Jones. I learned about molds like small crowns, large crowns, hat and canes and even unicorns! I fell in love with the ART and HISTORY of the chip..NOT the COLLECTABILTY of the chip. In other words I do not collect "limited edition" or "special edition chips" to mark it off a list, but instead collect chips from a certain maker or of a certain mold. I collect chips from casinos and card rooms with interesting histories like the card rooms of California to the casinos of Las Vegas and Reno. These chips are rich in history and in particular quite beautiful. The bright colors, the shaped inlays and beautiful art. THIS IS WHAT DRIVES ME TO COLLECT. I went from collecting hundreds of chips to collecting singles. I sold racks of chips to by one or two chips. One I attended my first convention 2 years ago and learned even more about the history of these chips..I was hooked. It is this education I gained and am still learning from the many kind dealers and members of the club that has fueled my interest in this hobby. So how do we get more people into the hobby?
Is this a CLUB or a MEETING PLACE? - The problem as I see it is that the club is made up of a very small group of people who have been doing this for many years and feel no need to change anything. Why fix it if it's not broken? We have used this software for years why change it? We love the SPLASHBAR..why should we move? We love the Magazine why not have it? There is nothing wrong with any of this if you want to have the CCA a private club or a meeting place. But if you want to have a club to promote the hobby that will grow with new membership..AND charge dues for said club, in my opinion you do need to change to better target these goals.
Software - The need to change the website is not about appearance. It is about functionality and the ability to grow and enhance the membership experience. As it is now, by not using sub forums you basically have a grocery store with one aisle. EVERYTHING is in this aisle. From groceries to car batteries. You have to walk through miles of "product" to get to what you want. Jokes, Classifieds,Political Opinions, Questions, Hot Rods (sorry Ralph), Old Photos of Casinos....all very cool stuff on it's own. But when it is basically all shoved into one thread..one aisle per say, it makes the site almost unusable. It's sheer stubbornness not to change to a more functional website. One that can have subforums for all your needs. CLASSIFIEDS, HUMOR AND OFF TOPIC, MOLDS AND MANUFACTURERS, MEMBER COLLECTIONS and etc... I never even knew about TRK chips until I saw a thread posted by a now dear friend about them. I not only read his thread but was able to click on his name and see OTHER threads he posted about these chips. I clicked on his gallery and saw all the chips he had photos of in his collection. I was hooked. You need this functionality and usefulness to drive and grow interest in all the various types of chips and memorabilia.
Convention - The Convention is just a fantastic experience. Walking in to the rooms and seeing ALL the chips and then speaking to the dealers about the chips and the stories that go with them is just an awesome time. Kudos to all that have volunteered and chaired to make these events happen. There is no doubt that POKER is the universal thread that binds a lot of us together. From the old collector to the new collector. Heck you even have a poker tournament for the members and schedule the convention during the most famous time of year for poker players...the WSOP. Many of the new collectors are poker players themselves and poker players have to be a big demographic the club should want to target.
So you have this great convention...during the WSOP...with many chips and casino memorabilia any poker fan would love to see and possibly want to collect. And you decide to have it at The SOUTHPOINT?...which is basically in Siberia to anybody attending the WSOP. Because they have a Splashbar and cheaper room rates? Because it is where we have always done it? Again...if you want to have the club as a "meeting place for long time members" that is fine. If you want to have it as a location to grow the hobby and introduce the wonders of chip and casino collecting to the unknown masses..it's absurd. Why not have it at ANY OTHER CASINO WITH IN A REASONABLE DISTANCE to the LV strip and WSOP. The Orleans, Palms or Gold Coast would be ideal. Can you imagine the traffic to the show if you had them there? You could have people handing out flyers at the WSOP saying "come see some of the rarest casino chips and memorabilia in the world..just across the street or a short cab ride away!" You could have famous poker players come do signings and appearances. All of this would be great for not just the hobby but the dealers as well. The isolation of the current location is unnecessary.
Magazine - A sizable portion of the income generated by the club is spent on the publication of the magazine. It is a great magazine with some really interesting articles and the like. But printed media has gone the way of the dodo bird I am afraid. There is nothing in that content that can not be put on a new website. It would be instant without shipping delays and snafus and would cost a fraction of what the magazine costs. I haven't had a newspaper or any other magazine delivered to my house in over a decade. This would free up A LOT of money every year to pursue other goals like the museum.
Museum - The main goal of the club is said to be the creation of a museum. I'm not sure of the current balance but I think it is somewhere around $350,000. I'm afraid that would barely cover a travelling taco stand in Las Vegas. I am aware of the El Cortez display and it's great. It's also the ideal type of venue. Why not put together a proposal to some of the major hotels in Las Vegas and present the museum as an ATTRACTION that many would like to see. Like the Titanic or Egyptian artifacts on display at various casinos. I remember the car museum at Imperial Palace that was neat too when I was a kid. Let THEM cover the cost of the building or space..they have plenty of it. I know the RIO (site of the WSOP) has a huge area dedicated to KISS Minature Golf. Kiss fans come from all over to play there and see the KISS memorabilia. You can't tell me that a chip and casino memorabilia site in LV would not do just as well if not much better. A free standing building with inventory and staff is going to cost MILLIONS to build and also maintain. AND there is no guarantee that it will be successful if you need to charge admission. Why not have a casino incur all the risk?
Traveling Museum - I have seen these traveling museums a lot of different places. They are converted trailers that people walk through and see displays and presentations. They can be parked in storage until needed. This would seem like a much more attainable goal for the club and would be a great ambassador for the hobby. You could park this in the RIO parking lot during the WSOP. You could park this at any major event to draw attention to the hobby and maybe even the museum if it ever comes to fruition. I think this is a great idea and something to think about.
Again, these are just my personal opinions and meant to spark discussion. I want to thank all of the kind dealers and long time members who have befriended me and taught me so much... I look forward to learning even more from you in the future.