Have you ever played blackjack, roulette, Texas Hold’em or other casino table games in which the chips were dirty and disgusting? When casinos do not regularly clean or replace their plastic, clay, or ceramic tokens, the filth on the chips accumulate into dotted black or gray deposits that I call “chip crud.”
Chip crud reminds me of the thousands of round splotches on sidewalks and streets where irresponsible gum chewers carelessly discard their wad instead of throwing it in the trash. When the wad is new, it usually ends up on the bottom of your shoe or wedged in between the toes of your dog’s paw. When the gum has been stepped on all day or continuously rolled over by tires, it becomes a permanent part of the leopard-like, spotted pavement. Ridiculous.
If I had enough time and motivation, plus access to a chemical laboratory, I’d submit a sample of casino chip crud to have its composition analyzed. I suspect it would be a combination of dirt, skin, cigarette ash, e coli, hair, lotion, sweat, lint, gum, dander and make-up. Couple that with the things that everyday casino patrons come in contact with during the course of the average day, I bet that chip crud would also show traces of chocolate, stripper glitter, Chap-Stick, boogers, tuberculosis, pumpkin flavored vodka, urine, marijuana, Nacho Cheese Doritos, dental floss, beer, cocaine, urine, feces, plum-pudding, and moose semen.
While driving to Oklahoma a few summers ago, I stopped at a Native American reservation casino which had the worst chip crud that I’ve ever seen. I was so appalled by the quantity and denseness of the gunk on the chips that I considered leaving. However, it was the only casino around that offered an ante-free game of double-deck blackjack. [Casinos in Oklahoma are required to charge twenty-five cents to a dollar ante per hand as a tax. During some promotions, the house “absorbs” the tax by paying the player’s ante]. I had to put up with chip crud or pay a high per hand premium somewhere else.
I complained about the chips to the dealer and pit boss as soon as I bought in at the table. Crud was on almost every chip. “We know,” the dealer responded, “We get that complaint from everyone.” I questioned, “So why don’t you do something about it? Why don’t you clean the chips?” The pit boss said that it was, “…not his show.” A few minutes later, I gave the pit crew and all the other players at the table a show of my own. I grabbed a couple toothpicks and a cocktail napkin from a dispenser near the casino snack bar. When I had returned to the table, I placed the square napkin a few inches below and to the left of my stack of red and green chips. In between hands, I used the toothpick to scrape the dark crud off the chips in my pile. I then wiped the toothpick on the white napkin leaving numerous trails and small clumps of chip crud on the napkin’s surface. When I finished with my chips, I traded a $100 stack with the guy sitting next to me. He was supportive of the dreadful spectacle that I was making for everyone’s shock and my amusement. After awhile, the napkin resembled a Rorschach inkblot test. I held it up proudly, “Wow! This one looks like a pirate!”
“That’s disgusting!” a new dealer commented upon seeing the mess. I responded, “It sure is…and you touch this crap for eight hours a day. Think about that the next time you’re eating with your hands.”