Chequers Book Reviews
The Professor, Michael Knapp

Eastman's Illustrated Guide to California Card Room Chips & Checks, Lawrence R. Eastman, edited by Howard and Kregg Herz (1998)

219 pages, spiral bound, $33.00 (shipping $3.20), Gaming Archaeology, P. O. Box 1000, Minden, NV

Collecting chips from California card rooms has always been a difficult and challenging experience. Not because there aren't enough of them - there have been more than 2000 legal card rooms at one time or another in California - but because it's difficult to identify many card rooms from the chips themselves. California card room chips have also confused Nevada collectors, and many CA chips have been wrongly attributed to NV. The Eastman/Herz book is of tremendous help in avoiding both problems!

For 100 years, card rooms have been legal in CA, with the limitation that only poker and its variations can be played. No house-banked games are permitted, which eliminates most games played in Nevada casinos: blackjack, craps, roulette and baccarat are not dealt in CA.

The book is organized much like Herz's "Illustrated Guide to Nevada Gaming Checks & Chips," with black and white photos of each type of chip preceding a descriptive list of similar chips from the card club. A value guide to each chip appears with its photo. Unlike some catalog/price guides, the Eastman/Herz book has no catalog numbers.

The listings are arranged not by card club name, but by whatever appears on the chip itself, so that identification of a chip is quite simple. Some illustrations are darker than we'd like to see, but the vast majority are clear and legible. This is especially helpful for the large number of CA card room chips which bear the initials of the owner or operator, which may be entirely different from the name of the card room itself.

Following the main section of California card rooms is a 19-page section of chips from CA Indian card rooms.

For the collector of California card room chips (and for Nevada collectors who wish to confirm whether a chip actually originated in a CA club rather than a NV casino), the Eastman/Herz book is an important addition to the literature of chipology.