Trading

What's a Trader and how do I get one?
What are good guidelines to follow when trading?
At what value are chips commonly traded?
What is a Round Robin?
What is a Shotgun?
Is there a group for people who trade just at face value?
How can I advertise/publish my Traders list and Wants list?
How can I find other Trade Lists?
How can I find other chippers in my area?
How can I keep my (multiple, simultaneous) trades organized?
How do International chips trade with Domestic chips?

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What's a Trader and how do I get one?
(Question contributed by Terry Shaffer)
A Trader is simply a chip of yours that you're willing to trade to someone else for another chip. Traders are the basic commodity of the chipping universe. Money allows you to purhcase chips but only traders allow you to trade.

In my humble opinion, trading is superior to purchasing for a couple of significant reasons. First, if you were able to purchase your traders at face value at a casino, you're saving serious money when trading versus purchasing. Most people sell $1 chips for $2 - $3, but they'll trade you that same chip at face value for one of your own. So if you purhcased your trader for $1, you save $1 - $2 per chip!

You can obtain traders from several sources, but the cheapest (and most fun) is to obtain them at a casino. You get to purchase them at face value (saves money), and you get to revel in the atmosphere of the casino.

If you can't purchase your traders at a casino, then move onto your other online resources such as eBay and Jackpot Auctions looking for deals on chip lots. Of course, you'll also pick up the occasional trader here and there as you acquire duplicates in your collection.

What are good guidelines to follow when trading?
(Question and Answer contributed by Jim Gagnon)
First and foremost, in all your correspondence, trade-related or not, be polite. Your fellow chippers are some of the most wonderful people you'll ever encounter, and the last thing you want to do is offend someone by sending them a short, terse, impolite email/post. Let's face it - email is tremendously notorious for being mis-interpreted since it cannot convey tone. So be very polite, friendly, and yes, if necessary, use a smiley emoticon :)

Now, when initiating a trade, always specify the chip(s) you're interested in trading for at least by casino name, city, and chip denomination. You may need to specify mold, inserts, etc. as well if the person you're dealing with has many traders (some people have hundreds!). The last thing you want to receive is a chip that's different from the one for which you thought you were trading. Also, if condition is of importance to you (some people like to collect only Uncirculated chips), inquire as to the condition of the chip. Once you receive it, it will be too late to complain if you didn't ask about it up front.

Likewise, be completely honest about the condition of your own chips. Do not represent a chip as New if it has any signs of wear. Do not send your trade partner a scan of a chip "just like" the one you plan on sending him. ALL used chips are different and no two are alike once they've been on the tables. Your trading partner will be planning on receiving the chip he saw in the scan - not a different one. If you don't have a scan of the chip you plan to trade him, at least let him know that the scan you're sending him is not a scan of the actual chip he will receive. This will save much headache when he receives it.

Once the trade/sale is agreed-upon, write down the specifics in your records. Not keeping records was my biggest mistake as a new chipper. If I'd kept a record up front, I'd have only had one list to consult (instead of dozens of emails) to make sure I didn't forget something. See How can I keep my (multiple, simultaneous) trades organized? for more details on record keeping.

Once I've recorded the transactions in my records, I package up the traders I have to send (or the check I have to mail). When packaging chips, be sure to use some sort of protective packaging. Postal machines are notorious for mangling packages, and the last thing you want is an unhappy trade partner who received a damaged chip because you failed to package it properly.

Bubble-mailers are highly recommended. You will receive most of your chips in them, and they're easy to recycle with a little tape and some new labels. Some people send the chips in flips or paper or plastic packages as well, but I find bubble-wrap to be the most cost effective. I can buy a HUGE roll of the stuff at Wal-Mart for like $3.00, and I can literally wrap hundreds of chips in it.

Once your chips (or payment) are packaged, send them out immediately. Even the best of us forget to drop a package in the mail, so it helps to go ahead and send it out while it's fresh on your mind. After-all, you want to receive your chips ASAP, so provide the same courtesy as you would like to receive.

Next, when you receive your package, inspect the chips to make sure that you received exactly what you thought you were trading for. Once you're satisfied, take the time to send your trade partner a courteous email/note thanking them for the trade and expressing your satisfaction. I promise you'll make a long-term friend.

In the rare event that you didn't receive what you expected, contact your trade partner and politely explain to him your discrepancy. Especially if he is a member of the CC&GTCC, he should cheerfully offer to make things right either by sending you a different chip or by refunding your money/chips altogether. That's one of the benefits of trading with a member of the CC&GTCC - we're bound by a code of ethics to ensure satisfaction with each and every trade - you should strive to do the same.

Finally - sit back and enjoy the newest addition to your growing collection, because you don't have much time before the next one arrives!!!

At what value are chips commonly traded?
Chips that are current or common are usually traded at face value. In other words, a $1 chip that is still available at the casino of issue is usually tradable for another $1 chip that is also still available at a casino. However, once a casino stops issuing a chip, that chip becomes "obsolete" and it starts to increase in value as its availability decreases. However, a good rule of thumb for a beginning chipper is that chips trade at face value.

Most people like to trade at face value, however, there will be the occasion where you may want to trade chips of one denomination for another. For example, someone may offer to trade you several $1 current chips for one of your $5 current chips. A good rule of thumb here is that 3-4 $1 chips is generally a good trade for a $5 chip. The reason that you generally don't get a strictly equal dollar-value trade (say five $1's for one $5), is that there is a certain expense involved with obtaining each chip regardless of its denomination and it is usually figured into the trade. So if you average a cost of $0.25 for obtaining each chip, the inequality of a trade of five $1's ($1.25 x 5 = $6.25) for one $5 ($5.25 x 1 = $5.25) becomes evident.

When trading for obsolete chips, rare chips, and Limited Edition chips (LE's), the face-value rule of thumb generally doesn't apply. Here your best bet is to utilize a good chip-value reference guide such as The Chip Rack or The Official U.S. Casino Chip Price Guide. These books will give you a good idea of your chip's value as well as the value of the chip for which you're considering trading.

What is a Round Robin?
A Round Robin is a very popular chip trading format or system. Generally one person sponsors a Round Robin by posting a message on The Chip Board advertising it. This message defines the types of chips to be traded ($1's, $5's, LE's, etc.), the number of chips included (generally 20 - 40), and the number of participants allowed (generally 10 - 20). As participants respond, the sponsor adds them to his list until it is full. Once the list is full, he emails the complete list to the participants and sends out the designated number of chips to the first person on the list.

The first recipient is then free to take any number of chips from those he receives, but he must replace them with an equal number from his own collection. When he is done he notifies the people on the list (usually via email) and ships it to the next person on the list. This pattern continues until the last person on the list makes his selection and then returns the set of chips to the original sponsor.

Hopefully, the sponsor will have a completely new set of chips when it returns to him, and each of the participants has had an equally good chance to add a large number of new chips to their respective collection.

This is a much slower trading system than a Shotgun, however, it provides you with more control over the chips for which you're trading. You actually get to examine each chip offered and select only those you like. You can trade for all of them or even none of them if none of them meet your needs.

What is a Shotgun?
A Shotgun is another popular chip trading format or system. Generally one person sponsors a Shotgun by posting a message on The Chip Board advertising it. This message defines the types of chips to be traded ($1's, $5's, LE's, etc.), the number of chips to be sent to each participant (generally 2 - 5), and the number of participants allowed (generally 10 - 20). Once the list is full, he emails the complete list to the participants and each participant then sends out the designated number of chips to everyone on the list. In return, each participant will receive the designated number of chips from everyone else on the list.

This is a much faster trading system than a Round Robin, however, it is a little more random in that you don't get to select which chips you're trading for. Plus, unlike a Round Robin, you're committed to trading the full number of chips.

How can I advertise/publish my Traders list and Wants list?
(Question contributed by Terry Shaffer)
The easiest way to advertise your Traders list and Wants list is to make a post on The Chip Board. If you have scans of the chips, include them. If not, include the details of each chip and each chip's condition. On one hand, this is a great way to generate interest as you're virtually guaranteed to have hundreds of people view your traders/wants. On the otherhand, this process is only good for a day or two as the messages age quickly and must be repeated frequently for any sustained interest.

How can I find other Trade Lists?
(Question contributed by Terry Shaffer)
Easy. Use your favorite search engine (I use Yahoo) and search on keywords such as "Casino Chips", Chippers, Cheques, etc. along with the phrase "Trade List" You'll find dozens of links to other chipper's web sites.

You can also use the Collector Sites page at Greg Susong's The Chip Guide Network for a list of a couple-dozen chippers' sites.

Finally, hopefully in the near future, I'll be adding a Links page to this site where you can also find many links to other chippers' trade lists and home pages.

How can I find other chippers in my area?
There are a couple of resources to use to find other chippers near you. First, I would find out if there is a local club in your area. You may find that information on the CC&GTCC's Local Clubs page. If you find one, contact a member of the chapter - they should be most helpful.

The other resource I suggest is The Chip Board. Post a message stating that you're a new member or prospective member and are looking to find other chippers in your area. Depending on what area you're in, you may get many or few responses.

How can I keep my (multiple, simultaneous) trades organized?
(Questions contributed by Rick Miner, answers contributed by Terry Shaffer and John Zoesch)
As a chipper, you may find yourself inundated with multiple trades to many different trade partners all occuring simultaneously which, without a good organizational system, could spell disaster. For example, it's not uncommon for me to receive 4-5 emails from a trade partner while we finalize the details of the trade. Now , if I engage in just a couple of trades each day, that's 46 to 70 emails each week. That's a lot of paper trail to have to hunt through to make sure each person is sent the right chips and that I receive what I'm supposed to receive. As you can imagine, a good record keeping system is almost imperative.

I keep a trade record log with the following information for each trade...

  1. Trade Partner's Name, email, and address
  2. Chips for which I'm trading (including Casino, Denom, and condition)
  3. Chips I'm trading
  4. Date Items were Sent
  5. Date Items were Received
  6. Date of Follow-up Email

Once I've recorded items 1 - 3, I have all the details I need in one place to check when I need to reference the transaction. Also, the log serves as a "to-do" list for me in completing each transaction.

When packaging my chips for mailing, I also find it helpful to include a copy of the final email that contains the details of the agreed-upon trade. This is helpful to me as a final re-assurance that the order is correct, and it's helpful to the recipient as a reminder of the trade when he receives the chips.

Once I've mailed my chips at the post office, I enter the date in my record log. Likewise, when I receive my partner's chips in the mail, I also enter the date. The dates are good for future reference to let you know what your average turn-around time is (in case you need to improve it) and what the average turn-around time is for each trader so you know what to expect from them. And finally, once I've emailed my trade partner to make sure they received my chips and to let them know I received theirs, I enter the date I sent the email to let myself know that I completed the transaction.

This record also provides good reference data. After the first trade with any particular partner, you won't have to ask for their mailing address again. Also, you can include notes about each trade such as whether or not you were satisfied with the trade and the reasons. It might keep you from trading with a particular person in the future if you look back at your notes and read that the last trade involved misrepresented chips and several weeks delay in the receiving them!

One more nice feature about this system is flexible enough to be kept in a notebook or in a spreadsheet or database on a computer.

How do International chips trade with Domestic chips?
(Question contributed by Keith Murrey)
Trading domestic chips for international chips at face value is a personal decision. Some people will trade $1 domestic chips for 1 unit chips from other countries (1 pound, 1 lira, etc.) - their viewpoint is that any chip is worth a dollar and they don't mind if the exchange rate is not exactly even. Others, however, like to trade according to exchange rates - especially for rare or old chips, or when they're trading in large numbers (where the difference in exchange rates would leave one of the traders at a great disadvantage if they traded at face).

The bottom line is that it's a personal decision for you - trade for what you're comfortable with. If, like some, you feel any chip is worth a buck, don't fret over a $.25 or $.75 difference in exchange rates.