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Table Games How To Tip Your Dealer

Discussion in 'Table Games' started by HurricaneMikey, Aug 3, 2006.

  1. HurricaneMikey

    HurricaneMikey A-List Buffoon

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    Sonya and I had a brief conversation this week about something I posted on my website regarding tips, and we agreed that it might be a good idea to share some 'insider' info with all of the members and lurkers here, some of whom may legitimately have no idea about the concept of tipping dealers.

    First of all, I don't want this discussion to devolve into a flamewar like I've seen on other boards regarding the very basic notion of if you should even tip the dealers at all. Some people out there unfortunately think that they shouldn't. Nothing we can do about 'stiffs'. They exist, and we deal with it. Luckily the good players outnumber the bad.

    I've been working as a casino dealer in Las Vegas for over a year now, and honestly, I love it. It's so far removed from what I used to do--equities trading at a brokerage--and so much more enjoyable, I think I'll probably be here in Vegas until just about the time they push that button and implode the Mirage.

    First of all, let me throw it out there for everyone to know. As a dealer, the casino pays me $7 an hour. Yep, seven bucks. And I consider myself an asset because I deal every game in the pit except roulette and baccarat. I started at minimum wage, but due to my mad skillz behind the green felt, they loosened the purse strings a bit. Most dealers make less than that. A majority of dealers in Vegas work for minimum wage.

    So how can I afford to live out here? Only one way to do so--on tips, and tips only. Tips are my lifeblood.

    If the tips weren't very good, I'd find something else, probably less enjoyable, to do for a living. And I'm not alone--if players didn't tip, all the table games would eventually go away, because casinos wouldn't be able to hire anyone to work 'em. (Besides, they'd rather use the floorspace for much more lucrative slot machines, anyways).

    Unfortunately, a lot of visitors coming to Vegas are either inconsiderate of good service, or just don't know any better. I'd like to take the high road and say the latter. So it's my purpose here today to inform.

    So, lets say you're new to table games. Just how do you go about tipping the dealers?

    Lets start with the more popular games.

    Blackjack: Just put a buck or two (or more) directly in front of your bet outside of the circle. The dealer will know that it's for them. If it wins, the dealer will pay you first, then pay his bet. Once all bets are settled, he'll come back and fetch it. Do not commit the major faux pas of grabbing the original buck and trying to take it back. Once that bet is out there and the cards come out, all of that money either belongs to the dealer or the house.

    If you're splitting or doubling down, don't forget to double the dealer's bet, also. If you don't, not only will the dealer think you're a cheapskate, so will the other players.

    Also, it is customary that if you win a big 4-way split/doubledown hand, to throw the dealer a little something after you've gotten your payoff--especially if he offered advice on the hand.

    If you find that the bets for the dealer don't work, by all means, just push a gaming check out and tell him that it's for him. Also, when you color up and have an extra nickel or two and some silver, you can leave that behind, and it will be greatly appreciated.

    We can usually spot stiffs a mile away, and anyone that is stiffing the cocktail waitress is certainly not going to throw anything the dealer's way, so if the dealer sees you ignoring the waitresses when they deliver your drink, he's going to do everything in his power to bust you.

    Before you ask...there are ways. I will not divulge trade secrets. :nono:

    Craps: There are a myriad of ways to bet for the dealer in this game--two-way hardways, two-way prop bets, putting the boys on the line. Any and all methods are good. If it's just a buck, we'll take a hardway or a prop bet. Just toss a dollar check out to the stick man and call the bet "Yo for the boys" or "Hard ten for the crew" etc.

    If it's five bucks or more, put it on the line next to your bet (and the best players put some odds down for the boys, too, but that is exceedingly generous and usually unexpected). Just let the dealer on your end know that you've got them in action. He will say 'Dealers on the line' for both the stickman and boxman to acknowledge.

    Not that a dice crew would do anything illegal or unethical, but I've seen several occasions where hardways accidentally stayed up for players who were betting for the crew when the number came up easy...

    Again, when you color up, leave a few bucks behind for the boys when you leave. It sets a good example for the other players, and earns you some good gambling Karma.

    One thing to remember--Never try to hand a tip directly to any dealer. Always put it down on the felt, point to it, and say that it's for them. Nothing will get a call down from the Eye faster than a dealer making hand-to-hand contact with a player. That's never good.

    Roulette: The best way is to offset a chip on top of your bet on whichever number you're betting--and of course tell the dealer that they're in on the roll. Or just bet a single chip on one of the outside bets--red or black, odd or even, etc (don't forget to alert the dealer that it's their bet--otherwise they'll tell you that you need to bet a minimum of $2 on any outside bet). Of course if you have a big stack on a number and it hits, you're going to get a 35-1 payoff, so you'll see players toss some chips back to the dealer after getting paid. That's always a plus!

    Pai Gow and the rest of the Carnival Games: The most common method is to put up a buck in front of the fortune bonus or the play bet (or even better--both!). If the bet is on the regular 'play' bet and pushes, just leave it up--it's extremely cheesy to take down a bet for the dealer if it pushes.

    Also, if you get a big bonus--4 of a kind or better, I've found that most players tip around 5% of the payoff, but some generous souls will even give 10%, but that's pretty rare. We don't make a lot of tokes on Pai Gow, but I'm doing my best to change that. Some really generous players throw me a buck every time they win both the bonus and the player hand at the same time. That adds up nicely, too.

    As far as the carnival games go--usually a buck out in front of any bonus--like the pairs plus bet in 3-Card. On the WPT poker game, we get bets on the Ante, the hole-card bonus, and the final hand bonus. And if somebody gets a full house or better, I usually drop a few bucks in the toke box.

    In Let It Ride, the most common thing to do is put a buck up in front of the third circle for the dealer. That way if you get any hand that pays, they get a little something, too. Of course if you get a monster that includes a bonus, giving the dealer a small slice is generally accepted practice. Not a lot, but if you get an $1100 payoff and throw the dealer a nickel, they'll smile and say thank you, but most of them will come back and ruin my break by bitching about the cheapass on the Let It Ride table. So please, for my sanity, give generously...

    As far as Baccarat goes, I have no idea. Just ask the dealer--and be bold! Say Hey, how do I tip you on this game? and I'm sure they'll be more than willing to help.


    With any game, as I've mentioned, you can always leave a bit behind when you color up. But if you're on a streak, make sure you take care of the dealer in the middle of it, if only to keep the streak alive. Besides, if you don't, and he gets tapped out for a break without dropping a dime from you, you've just earned a reputation as a stiff--and don't think for a second that the dealer won't go back to the breakroom and tell everyone else what table you're on, what you're wearing, what you look like, and how much you've made so far without taking care of the dealers. Then they'll be gunning for you. And you don't want that.

    Re-reading this as I'm typing it, it might sound like I'm trying to shame people into tipping. That's not my intention, but if you feel that way, then maybe you've got a slightly guilty conscience. But Vegas is a town that lives and breathes tips. The only people that work harder for tips than casino dealers are cocktail waitresses and valet parking attendents. Maybe bartenders, too.

    Some folks only tip when they're winning. I can understand that outlook, but now that I depend on it, my question to them is, Do you stiff the waitress at the restaurant if your steak doesn't taste good? Remember, the purpose of a tip is to reward good service. (Yeah, I know, a dealer that won't bust is providing poor service, right?)

    Granted, some dealers don't provide good service--unfortunately, they are a drag on the rest of us. At my casino, we're on a 24-hour split. Everything that goes in the toke box during that 24 hours is divided up amongst all the dealers who worked that day--from the friendliest blackjack dealer who tripled you up, to the smelly guy with poor manners and bad breath on the dice table who couldn't call a hard way if his life depended on it. It's not ideal, but it's the best compromise I've heard of. Nobody goes table-for-table anymore like in the old days at Binions where a good 4-man dice crew might drop six grand every night...

    But I'm ok with it. Some nights on blackjack, I'll drop almost a thousand dollars all by myself. That gets countered when I'm dealing Pai Gow for an entire shift and maybe drop $50 all night. Regardless of the amount, I appreciate every bit of it.

    But it all balances out in the end. And remember, quality follows the money. If players are tipping well at a particular casino, word gets out and they attract the best dealers, perpetuating the cycle. If you want the best dealers at your favorite casino, be a generous tipper!

    If people stopped tipping, there will be no more table games. And this town will then officially change it's name to Las Harrahs.

    And they'll implode a lot more than just the Mirage.

    Mikey
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 3, 2006
  2. PatekPhil

    PatekPhil Tourist

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    I'll post my tipping methodology below - I'm not sure how you feel about this method, Mikey - but its how I conduct myself and I tend to get lots of smiles.

    Craps:

    I'f I'm making a minimum pass line bet (say, $5) I bet $6 and slightly offset the $1 chip and indicate to the dealer that he's "on". When I win on the come out, I get paid $6. I take $1 of the win, rap it on the table and toss it across 'for the boys'. When I post odds, I put the dealers on for 2X or 3X odds for their $1 tip (whatever makes sense from a payout perspective) and when we win I pay them off WITH THEIR ODDS, same thing, taking their 'cut' from the total payout, rapping it on the felt and tossing it across. If the point was a 4, and I had $1 on the pass line, and put them on for double odds, I would chuck a nickel across.

    Then, I leave their bet working for them - I may even press it up if I'm pressing my action in the middle of a hot roll. The difference being - I am in control of how much I'm tipping. If I place the bet alongside my own, or make a foolish prop bet for the boys, both my money and the win are gone once the bet is resolved. This way, I can make a significant amount of money 'for the boys' while minimizing the number of blue checks I'm putting out there from my rack. I don't restrict myself to only starting to tip when I'm ahead - I may put a tip on for the first roll if its a crew I've had fun with in the past. The drawback to my method is that I need to win for the dealers to win - but its no different from people making silly prop bets 'for the boys' - if the bets don't come in, then the tip goes to the house, effectively. The advantage with my method is that when I catch a hand, the money the boys will make from me is quite juicy. At craps, when I make my last colour up, I always tip the little stuff - a stray nickel and the last few blues - provided I'm colouring up ahead.

    Blackjack:

    Similar method. I add a $1 or $5 check to my money in the betting circle, and offset it slightly on the stack, telling the dealer that they're 'on'. Then, I can double or triple it up for them, pay them a single check for every win - I have total flexibility, because its MY MONEY in the betting circle. (If I'm messing around playing for cocktails downtown, I'm more likely to bet $1 on top of my own and try for a double / triple up. If I'm playing green / black action then I'll put a nickel on top and pay it off on every win.)

    Pai Gow:

    Similar to Blackjack - I add a $5 check to my bet in the betting circle. The only disadvantage to this method is that I need to pay the commission on the dealer's bet. If I got pedantic with the math, I could save up (mentally) 4 wins and toss across $19 - but generally I just toss the full $5 and eat the quarter. More often here I'll 'let it ride' and try for a $10 win for the dealer. I never tip on the bonus because I don't play it myself.

    Aces to you,

    -PatekPhil.
     
  3. Sonya

    Sonya Queen of VMB

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    Wonderful! I'm so happy to see this here. I'm going to sticky it and keep it as a reference.

    I think there are a lot of people out there who aren't sure how to tip their dealer. I know that I was really embarassed to not know when I first started gambling all those many years ago. :) It's hard to look like the newbie and ask "uh.. how do I tip you?" at a table and I think this will help a lot of people.

    I also don't think many people are aware how much of a dealer's income depends on tips. (And cocktail servers too! Don't forget them!)

    Anybody else have any tips about tipping when you're playing? I don't want to debate whether or not to tip, but when you feel the need to do it, it's nice to know how and when. :)

    Thanks, Mikey!
     
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  4. bnlphan

    bnlphan Tourist

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    question and tipping story

    Has this always been the norm? One of the first books I read on gambling when I was planning our first trip was by a guy who was basically a professional card counter. I wish I could remember his name or the book for that fact but its upstairs and I'm a good month away from climbing steps again. But anyway in the book he mentioned a semi scam where he worked with the dealer by placing and removing a check that was placed for the dealer on black jack. It was a single deck game and if the dealer shuffled while the cards were in the players favor he'd take the chip down or pull it down when he wanted a shuffle etc. to try to keep the cards in his favor. This way the player and the dealer made a lot of money. I was surprised when I first played out there and saw they automatically took the chips after the bet.

    I'm assuming that if a bet was made for the dealer and it won that the dealer would rather let it ride since its free money anyway. Mikey am I assuming you have no choice in the matter and it gets dropped after a winning dealer bet or can the player request that it ride?



    On another tipping point for people who don't know. Another story to let you know tipping helps to get dealers on your side. If you win they win. I hate to think how much money I could have lost because I was too drunk to remember to place my odds while playing craps. Had a good crew at the Boardwalk who would tell the new dealers to the table, 'hey this is Brian, he is taking care of us" and once they actually stopped the game to remind me to place my odds. It was one of my first times playing and they also took the time to explain to me why you make bets in multiples of $6 on a 6 or 8 place bet. An occaisional $5 pass line bet will go along way. Just remember the pay them back if they do you such favors.
     
  5. yuelulu

    yuelulu Tourist

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    For me, tipping the blackjack dealer is a major part of the game. Most dealers are receptive and will usually wish you a good luck and thanks anyway (when I ultimately lose). The more social and fun the dealer, the better the tips.
    If the bets I make for the dealer don't pay off, I usually throw out a few bucks anyway, and just tip directly. I don't need to be winning to have fun, as long as either the table or the dealer are putting me in a good mood.
    Then again, If I'm not having fun, I"m walking away.
    (I just finished packing, and I am so ready to start tipping my blackjack dealers!! See ya in a few hours..woohoo!!)
     
  6. wernerw

    wernerw Low-Roller

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    Very good post.

    What I really hate is this pooling of tips the casinos have.

    I am normally staying at the Orleans and am playing BJ there (5$/hand). There are some dealers that are really nice, they are making conversation, wich I like with a dealer.

    And they have dealers that would not respond to anything, just standing there stiff as a rock. No smile no nothing.

    I tip the friendly dealers and stiff the unfriendly ones.

    Unfortunately this makes no difference at the end of a shift.
     
  7. HurricaneMikey

    HurricaneMikey A-List Buffoon

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    BNLPHAN--

    We are absolutely forbidden from 'letting it ride' on a winning wager for the dealer. It must come down and the whole thing gets dropped in the box. Also, if a player hands us a toke directly after a hand is concluded, we're not allowed to bet it--it must go in the box also.

    In that scenario, if a player asks if 'Do you want it, or bet it?' I generally bet the small denominations and drop the larger ones.

    On the dice table, a favorite method of keeping the dealers bets up is 'piggybacking' on the hardways. A player will throw in six bucks for a 2-way hard eight, and tell the stickman to piggyback it. Instead of setting up the dealer bets in the middle of the layout, those dollar checks are stacked on top of the player's bet and slightly offset. Then when it hits, the player gets $45 and the dealers get $9. (Otherwise it would be $10 and down). It actually saves the players a good bit of money over the course of the night, not having to put those dollars back up every time it hits, and the dealers don't mind at all.

    Of course, on the Pai Gow table, if you put a fiver on top of your bet, under your control, then you have to pay commission on it. If you put it out front as an obvious dealer bet, the house doesn't take a commission on that winning bet for the dealer.

    As far as pooling the tips goes... I don't mind at all. At my casino, everyone generally pulls their weight, and out of about 150 dealers, we only have about 5-7 real toads that need to be shiatcanned. It's much worse at a lot of Strip properties--that whole 20% of the dealers dropping 80% of the tokes thing...

    I know almost for a fact that if I'm on blackjack for the majority of my shift, I will drop at least $300 90% of the time. If I do two hours on 3-Card Poker, I'm good for another couple hundy. If I'm on Pai Gow all night...I'm lucky to break the seal on the tokebox within the first hour. But I can usually get $30 or $40 in there even if nobody gets a big bonus hand. As long as I'm doing my part to drop at least $150 or more per shift, I feel like I'm setting the pace.

    Some games, we just don't make any money on. Rapid Roulette comes to mind. Let It Ride is another. Pai Gow is tough. But then games like 3-Card Poker, Crazy 4 Poker, and any high-limit blackjack game make up the difference. And if we had a hot dice table at some point during the night, that helps also.

    Mikey
     
  8. Dean Martin

    Dean Martin VIP Whale

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    Mikey... that is an excellent post and a lot of good information for all of us that "aren't sure" of what exactly to do sometimes when it comes to tipping. I've always believed in tipping and have been a tipper whether it was tables, cocktails, bellman or anybody else in Vegas. It's almost like it's one of the last remaining traditions in Las Vegas. What I didn't know (and I mean really had no idea) was just how much tipping is a part of the salary of most professions in Las Vegas.

    We play a lot of VP but I do like a few of the table games too. So, one question I do have is I've always wondered, if you sit down and play say BJ, Roulette, or 3 Card Poker...how often does a reasonable player/tipper put a bet out for the dealer? Every hand...every other hand or? Not knowing, I usually only sit down w/ $100 (which I'm starting to think is not enough to weather the ups and downs to be there for the possible streak) and have always just put a random bet out like every 3rd or 4th hand then always tip the dealer at least a nickel when I leave even if I didn't win and more if I did. ~ Thanks, Dino
     
  9. scotty

    scotty Tourist

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    last time i was in vegas playing roulette i stuck a few quid on some numbers through out the game for the dealer along with a few quid thrown his way eveytime i had a spot of luck. Thing is at the end of my session i was up a grand but the dealer said he didnt take any of his chips from the table everytime i said that the bet was laid on for him(now there was a good few winners). He said he couldnt do that so i threw him a few more dollars feeling like an idiot. I mean over here ya lay a bet for the dealer he makes sure to collect. Then i got to thinking was he taking the piss ( i did have a few gargles in me) or can they really not take bets layed on the roullete table
     
  10. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

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    When I was first learning craps, I asked the crew how they liked to be tipped. This was at Claridge in Atlantic City. Their choice with a $5 chip was to put $1 on five different point numbers across and place it for them. When I realized that one number was being left off, I threw them the extra buck to cover it too. It's fun with a good shooter going watching the bets being picked off like ducks in a shooting gallery.
     
  11. blackjack

    blackjack Monkey!!

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    Good post Mikey. Nothing better than keeping a good dealer in the game (even when the cards aren't coming) & then hitting that roll - Booyah!! It's all about the mojo baby.
     
  12. brentbrentbrent

    brentbrentbrent Tourist

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    where do you deal mikey?
     
  13. doctor_al

    doctor_al VIP Whale

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    moderator_al sez: generally a good idea to ask for personal info via private message or email.
     
  14. dcavisitor

    dcavisitor Low-Roller

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    Excellent post. I play a lot of Blackjack and always tip, no matter who well it's going. Although I'll tip more if it's going well. ;) But I do find it really frustrating when others at the table, especially those winning, are being total stiffs. They should really look around and see what is the appropriate tipping behavior.

    As to 'letting it ride,' I discussed this with a great dealer at Flamingo last trip. She explained that she is not allowed to let a bet for her ride, but if she could she would do it every time.
     
  15. xizor

    xizor Tourist

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    How often to tip?
    I play craps and occasionally roulette, and I tip on craps whenever I am the shooter, and whenever I hit a 17:1 or 35:1 on roulette. Is this often enough?

    As far as dealers pooling tips: As a tipper - I hate this. There are certain dealers (for some reason, more so on roulette) that I do not feel deserve a tip (so I don't tip them).
     
  16. HurricaneMikey

    HurricaneMikey A-List Buffoon

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    Xizor...you're tipping more than most--keep up the good work.

    And as a dealer, I too believe there are some dealers who don't deserve any tips, either. But ours is not a perfect world.

    Mikey
     
  17. Jamie in PA

    Jamie in PA High-Roller

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    I always tell people who are going to LV...or Atlantic City or any other gaming area that there are 3 people you should tip. Dealers, cocktail waitress and housekeeping. And for all the reasons mentioned. Just like any profession, word gets around by the staff on who's a stiff and who isn't. And just in case you are wondering, I am employed as a nurse, so I am not benefitting from this post.
     
  18. Bosco

    Bosco VIP Whale

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    Hey Mikey

    If someone tips the change folks that bring someone a handpay (I know, with TITO that doesn't happen much anymore) does that get pooled as well? Just curious.
     
  19. HurricaneMikey

    HurricaneMikey A-List Buffoon

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    Bosco,

    No, those folks keep whatever they can hustle up.

    Also, I didn't mention it in the post, but there is one chick in my casino I *love* to see get stiffed. One of our pit clerks is kind of an interesting case, and one of the clerk's jobs is to deliver stuff to players--smokes, marker paperwork, etc., so she picks up a few tips every night.

    The problem is, and I don't know why this bothers me so much, is that every night after her shift, she takes whatever tips she's gotten and gambles them away in the slots. I just think it looks completely cheezy and unprofessional for players to see you gambling away your tips. But that's just me.

    Anyhow--she expects a tip for everything, delivering cigarettes, comp tickets, or even a new player's card. And she hovers around regular players who are on a winning streak hoping for a handout. Some of them have even mentioned to me that they can't stand her because she won't leave unless they give her a dollar. It's like when you were 17 years old and had to pay your girlfriend's little brother a quarter to leave you alone while you tried to get some boob access.

    But I'm not alone in my opinions of her--the other pit clerks are much more professional and have a better demeanor. The other dealers and even some of the floor people feel the same way, as one of the regular topics in the bar after the shift every weekend is 'Did you see what she did tonight?'

    So when I see her get stiffed, I get a little silent giggle out of it.

    Mikey
     
  20. Dave

    Dave Low-Roller

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    OK, so we know that if you keep the tip inside the circle, that it's still your money and you can do with it what you wish (as far as letting it ride goes). One thing to keep in mind though is that if you do this and get something you want to split or double down on you have to do so for the total amount inside the circle. If the tip is outside the circle, you don't have to double down on it (but can if you wish). When I've tipped silver, I'll generally double/split the tip; when it's nickels, it'll depend on how well I've been doing. We don't want to look cheap, but I don't think anyone tipping nickels is going to be looked at as cheap (unless they're playing $100 or more per hand).