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Thread: General Tipping Discussion

  1. #1
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    General Tipping Discussion

    Another thread was on the verge of veering off into a discussion of tipping overall, and I'd be very surprised if this topic hasn't been covered in the past.

    I have the luxury of having a very first-hand view of tips, while having no skin in the game. Sure, a bigger paycheck is better than a smaller one, but I genuinely don't need the money and it all goes into a retirement account. But there are people in my casino who - gasp - are doing this to pay their bills. (There are at least three of us retired dealers on swing shift, and there might be more on day shift.)

    It's frustrating to have to - as Blanche DuBois said - "depend on the kindness of strangers." In many contexts there is something called the 80/20 rule, that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your salesman/customers/products. We get more like 90% of our tips from 10% of our players.

    It's also a little weird to have a game where there's no way the house could afford to deal the game and pay the dealers a decent wage based on the economics of the game alone. Blackjack isn't a hard game to master, and with perfect basic strategy the house advantage is around 0.6%. (I've done some research that says it might be more like 0.4%, but I never rely on my calculations where they contradict widely researched computations by others.) Of course many players refuse to adhere to basic strategy. I affirmatively try to help players; when a new player sits down I tell them "When I say 'Are you sure?' it's the same as if I said 'It's your money, it's your decision, but the play you're making is not the correct 'book' play." I don't know how many other dealers do this, or even know correct strategy. It's not exactly a job requirement for dealing the way that, for example, it's a job requirement to never ever bend over to pick something up (you call your floor supervisor) or even clear the trash from your table.

    We are severely limited in how we can solicit tips. I often do the following schtick after I've had a hand like I show a 4, flip a 7, then an Ace, then a 10. I'll point to the Ace and say "Hey, that Ace was very nice to us, can you all chip in a dollar so we can buy him some ice cream?" It's meant as a joke but maybe 1 time in 20 one or more players will toss me a nickel. It doesn't hurt that I've caught them at a time when incipient disaster (a dealer 11) has turned to joy (dealer busts).

    I recently had a player brought to my table by the casino host; a middle-aged Asian woman, who bought in for $3000, which is a about the largest buy-in I get. She didn't seem very interested in the game; she left the table several times to apparently talk to friends. I had another player who was fairly inexperienced and when he lost all his chips he stayed at the table and she would toss him a quarter (it was a $25 table at the time) and he'd bet it with no apparent enthusiasm. I'm sure she had 5 times as much fun giving him the money than he did playing it, and she was playing her $3000 like a player who has put $30 in a slot machine and plans to play until they lose it all. I ran into the host a few days later and told her that she should make it part of her job to let her players know that dealers like money too, within the bounds of what she felt is appropriate. Hosts should be hired 10% for their technical understanding of casinos and 90% for pure people skills, so hopefully she would do what is optimal in each specific case. Keep in mind also that my casino has almost nothing we can do for whales. We have a sports pub, and fast-food type places for Asian and cheesesteaks, we don't serve cocktails at the tables but only beer, wine and sodas from a cart, but I think they can comp mixed drinks at the bar. We can't even tell someone who's been playing $100 a hand from 8PM to 6AM, that we have a room for them and a buffet either before they go to sleep or when they wake up.

    Every so often a floor supervisor has the opportunity to work in a line like "Don't forget to take care of my dealers." It's pretty rare, and will happen most often if they ask for the current dealer to deal "one more hand" when they are tapped out and the floor will say "Sure, but don't forget to take care of my dealers." Often there's not even a floor there, and we always give them "one more hand" because it doesn't really screw up the relief rotation that much.

    Some of our highest rollers tip little or nothing. I never work the pit where we have baccarat, and that's our biggest tip source, so I'm sure I miss a few of the biggest players. The two biggest players I have at my table, neither usually stays very long. One has tipped me maybe $30 over the nine months I've been working there, but he's so obnoxious that the casino has given him a time-out and might even make it permanent. The other never tips at all, not even the waitresses.

    Last April there was a survey/vote taken of dealers which was considered kinda binding, and one thing that was agreed is that there should be a toke committee. Of course, management once again proving that they could screw up a one-car funeral, posted a list of all the dealers (it was done by shift) without even knowing who was interested and who wasn't. There's one guy who to me is the 1000% obvious choice, in that he's the one who takes an active interest in the tip situation in various ways. I told people to vote for him. One of the APM's (assistant pit manager) who was just promoted and is very popular said "Redtop, I told people to vote for you." I think this other guy (Blake) and I will get elected because I'm kinda known as a really intelligent, serious, analytical type. But will it be a paper tiger? If elected I will only be on it for a short time before I'm leaving (moving to Las Vegas) but I'll be very interested to see if they give it any authority. Like, we should recommend/request/require of management that they give us training on best practices for getting players to tip.

    Comments?

  2. #2


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    Dog Hand's Tipping Guidelines to Ensure Longevity
    20 to 1 Spread,

    Although exceptions to the rule do exist, dealers are generally content with a tip of 20-30% of your "color-up", along with a bet "for the boys" of one chip color below what you're betting per round: thus, if you're betting green, that's a red; if you're betting black, that's a green, etc.

    Example: you buy in for $500 and flat-bet 1 green (plus a red "for the boys") per round. After 100 rounds, you color up your remaining 8 greens, and toss the dealer another $50 (25% of your $200 "color-up"): note that the "color-up" tip is NOT dependent on whether you yourself won or lost (that's immaterial to the dealer), but rather on the amount that you "color-up" at the end. Thus, your total tip is $550 on $2,500 of action (actually $3,000 of action, if you count the bets "for the boys").

    This tipping level will usually (but not always: some people are greedy) keep you in the good graces of the dealer and the pit.

    Now don't forget about the cashier! You have to give something to "the babes with the bucks" as you cash out your remaining $150: $20 (a nice Jackson, a.k.a. a "double sawbuck") should be adequate to ensure they never short-change you. Now your tipping has reached $570.

    However, these tips will have NO effect on the EITS, since they don't share in the dealers' and cashiers' tips, so you should be sure to stop by the surveillance room (you'll have to get directions from a guard, so keep $10 ready "for the guys with guns"), then "slip 'em a Benjy" to keep "the crew with the cameras" happy as well, thereby increasing your tipping amount to $680.

    This will leave you with $20, so you can give $10 to "the team with the towels" (that is, the restroom attendant: if you can't find him (or her), just leave a Hamilton on the bathroom sink), and your final $10 can go to the valet for not actually wrecking your car. If you didn't arrive by car, give the valet $10 anyway for "the car jockeys."

    Thus, to recap, you bought in for $500, gave $700 in tips, and left with... nothing. Keep doing this and you'll be golden at that casino forever.

    Hope this helps!

    Dog Hand

    P.S. I originally posted this on 8/8/2015, but it bears repeating.

  3. #3


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    Dog hand,

    Should have read that before my most recent trip.
    When I got the tap on the shoulder, the dealer had no clue what’s happening. Kept asking what’s going on? Why can’t you play no more? I shrug and told her, I didn’t know. Now I know, I didn’t tip enough!! Will adhere to your advice, in a year or two when I go back.
    Thanks Dog Hand!


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    I regularly tips dealers. I also regularly tip the bathroom attendants, and the cleaning crews when I see them pass a table. Especially the cleaning lady alone mopping the floor of the food court.

    From your posts, especially your calling a tip for a good cut a bribe….lol…and from being a pretty good judge of dealers over 40 years in casinos I am pretty positive you would never get a tip from me.

  5. #5
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    Notwithstanding the sarcasm in Dog Hand's post, no level of tipping will "keep you in the good graces" if you are counting.

    In a vaguely related vein, I got into a conversation with a guest and at some point I said something like "If went on break and a $1 chip fell out of my pants, I wouldn't be coming back from break, I'd be fired." Someone said "RedTop, you're a good dealer, they wouldn't fire you over that" and I said "By definition, a dealer who steals isn't a good dealer." Well, a player who counts isn't a good player.

    I can't get into the surveillance room, so I'm pretty sure a guest won't be able to. In fact, I don't even know where it is. One of the EITS guys sometimes comes to the break room, and he's very nice but has a lot of stuff he can't tell me. I once asked him "how far back do the cameras go?" and he said he couldn't tell me. It turned out that he thought I was asking how long they keep the tapes, and I was really asking if they can see a player's hands if they aren't over the edge of the table, so if someone was sitting back in their chair and gave a "hit" or "stand" sign, could they catch that on camera? (Although in almost a year of dealing, I've never had a player claim I misread their hand signal.)

    As a cute side note, the EITS guy told me "I never thought I'd have a job where I work with a joystick and watch homemade porn." The cameras cover the parking lot and apparently some people get a little amorous out there as if no one is watching.

  6. #6
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    I'm not sure why you wouldn't tip me. And maybe you can reply, since the whole idea of this thread is a general tipping discussion.

    If I don't get tips from counters, that's OK. We don't want your blackjack business anyway. And while we are all very keen on getting tips even though we split them so someone who tips green is putting about $1 in my pocket, I wouldn't take that $1 (or even $10) if I had to turn a blind eye to counters.

    I had worked there for 9 months before I flagged a counter. It may be that I had some but I didn't make them. And I will get the counters because most of our blackjack tables deal from a CSM; I think mine is the only shoe table in our main pit. (We have a shoe in the high-limit area, which is also no mid-shoe entry, but AFAIK they don't regularly assign the most experienced dealers or floor supervisors there. We also have a shoe game in a pit that we only open on weekend nights; we've only been open for about a year and a half and I assume they hope that over time we'll get enough business to open that pit more regularly.)

    IME each player has an internal "tipping profile." I have one, which unsurprisingly has become way more liberal since I started dealing. Now, I have quite a few regulars and maybe they tip me more or less than they tip other dealers, but I kinda doubt it. My table is next to a CSM table and it's not at all uncommon for them to switch tables if they're not doing well at my table. I keep my players both entertained (jokes, stories) and informed (it they attempt a non-book play I say "Are you sure?").

  7. #7


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    The dealer said
    and informed (it they attempt a non-book play I say "Are you sure?").
    Lots of dealers don’t know Basic. I’ve also seen lots of dealers give shitty advice.

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    General Tipping Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Freightman View Post
    The dealer said

    Lots of dealers don’t know Basic. I’ve also seen lots of dealers give shitty advice.
    Most of the time, their book is different than mine.
    Soft 18, 9/9 split are two hands that come to mind. Let’s not even talk about 10/10 vs 6 or insurance bets. Or give me a f-ing sad face and let everyone at the table know that I missed a match pair.

    Redtop, this is pretty counter heavy audience. On the one hand, you kept saying that you don’t need the tip; on the other, you kept questioning people’s who won’t tip “excessively.”

    I appreciate a good deep cut, and usually I would tip for that. Not all dealers do it out of the goodness of their heart. But if you constantly get me 1/2 deck deeper than the next table, sure I can support that. However, at the same time you don’t seem to like counters, maybe I should rethink my tipping habit.


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    I looked up job postings for what my casinos paid the dealers and it was atrocious. I do think that the casinos need to pay them more, but I also have worked tip-based jobs before, and it sucks. I red-chip and don't a very high hourly EV. What I've ended up doing is a dollar tip per dealer rotation, which is 30 min. I ask the dealer if they want to play it or take it. That usually gets the rest of the table to tip, and makes the dealer more chill. It also raises their "hourly" rate into something reasonable while I'm there. Is this subsidizing the casino's cost by $2/hour, sure. Does it keep my home casino chill about me? I think so.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hsiaodi View Post
    Most of the time, their book is different than mine.
    Soft 18, 9/9 split are two hands that come to mind. Let’s not even talk about 10/10 vs 6 or insurance bets. Or give me a f-ing sad face and let everyone at the table know that I missed a match pair.

    Redtop, this is pretty counter heavy audience. On the one hand, you kept saying that you don’t need the tip; on the other, you kept questioning people’s who won’t tip “excessively.”

    I appreciate a good deep cut, and usually I would tip for that. Not all dealers do it out of the goodness of their heart. But if you constantly get me 1/2 deck deeper than the next table, sure I can support that. However, at the same time you don’t seem to like counters, maybe I should rethink my tipping habit.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    I care a lot about my fellow dealers. One of the other dealers organized a chess tournament. I don't play chess (my games are bridge and backgammon) but I donated $300 for a prize fund for the tournament. I bought a candy bowl for the dealers' lounge and I put $30-$40 of candy in it every weekend. (I work Thursday-Sunday.) So yes, I care about tips even though there are largely irrelevant to me personally.

    We are trained to cut about 1 1/2 decks off, which is pretty deep, especially from an 8-deck shoe. Some of the other dealers cut even less off. (I deal the only shoe game in the main pit other than Spanish, but if my relief dealer shuffled then of course I see where (s)he cut it.) I had one customer whine viciously that I cut too much (I was probably cutting off two decks then, based on my own visual perception of where 2 decks was, but I went back in the training room and did it a couple of times and then counted the cards and yes, I was cutting more like two) but he wasn't a counter, just a professional pain in the ass. (He's on a 30-day time out right now.) When he did that, my floor came over and loudly rebuked me and said "Don't EVER do that again" and then whispered to me "Don't worry, you're OK."

    But when I'm on the clock, yes the casino owns my loyalty. If I'm going to cost them money, should I do it by silently being in cahoots with counters, or by nudging my players to hit 12 against a 2 or to split 9's against a 5? No, counting isn't illegal, it's not even unethical, but neither is the casino trying to tamp it down illegal or unethical.

    I'm not sure what you meant by "Their book is different than mine." One of the virtues of blackjack is that there is only one accurate book. I wanted to know the margins (as in, we all know you should hit 16 vs. 10, but what is the cost of not doing it?) so I dealt about 40 million hands. The only possible error I found is that I calculated 14 vs. 10 (S17) as -.507, which makes it a slightly correct surrender. (Anybody else wanna try it to verify me?) In bridge, we very frequently debate the merits of different plays, and experts will disagree. If someone's "book" on splitting 9's doesn't say 2/3/4/5/6/8/9, it's not "their" book, it's just incorrect, period. We do have strategy cards at the podium and a couple of the floors have them in the holster that they put their ID and gaming badge into. But as I said, knowing perfect blackjack basic strategy is not a requirement for a dealer.

    As long as I'm riffing, the real cost I create to the casino is from trying to discourage players from side bets. We have three side bets (Lucky Ladies, 21+3 Extreme, and Blazing 7's progressive). House advantages are 16.8%, 12.8%, and about 15% (depends on the actual level of the progressive). The players almost never listen. (Two of my regulars have gotten religion.) They love their 25-1 matched 20's and 20-1 trips and don't realize how insanely much it's costing them.

  11. #11


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    Quote Originally Posted by redtop43 View Post
    as I'm riffing, the real cost I create to the casino is from trying to discourage players from side bets. We have three side bets (Lucky Ladies, 21+3 Extreme, and Blazing 7's progressive). House advantages are 16.8%, 12.8%, and about 15% (depends on the actual level of the progressive). The players almost never listen. (Two of my regulars have gotten religion.) They love their 25-1 matched 20's and 20-1 trips and don't realize how insanely much it's costing them.
    .

    I can appreciate that. I hate getting hassled about not playing the side bets. I have found ways to get the other players to shut up about it, but it does get under my skin when a dealer tries to shame me about it. I have had a dealer tell me verbatim “you don’t belong here” as I was the only one not playing the side bet at a SP21 table. She obviously didn’t want a tip from me.

    As far as tipping goes, I happen to enjoy playing the game, and I will tip if I’m getting good service. I don’t tip out of my dedicated bankroll, but I’ll bring a little extra on the side for tokes. If I put a bet out for the dealer, I’ve gotten in the habit to only do so when the count is high. I do play on the recreational side though, and I know that many people who rely on gambling for income never tip unless it’s to their advantage. It’s easy to tip away your edge.
    Last edited by Northbend; 09-04-2023 at 09:39 AM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Northbend View Post
    .

    I can appreciate that. I hate getting hassled about not playing the side bets. I have found ways to get the other players to shut up about it, but it does get under my skin when a dealer tries to shame me about it. I have had a dealer tell me verbatim “you don’t belong here” as I was the only one not playing the side bet at a SP21 table. She obviously didn’t want a tip from me.

    As far as tipping goes, I happen to enjoy playing the game, and I will tip if I’m getting good service. I don’t tip out of my dedicated bankroll, but I’ll bring a little extra on the side for tokes. If I put a bet out for the dealer, I’ve gotten in the habit to only do so when the count is high. I do play on the recreational side though, and I know that many people who rely on gambling for income never tip unless it’s to their advantage. It’s easy to tip away your edge.
    The other players are quick to point out when a player has a hand that would have won a side bet, but they didn't play it. Many also whine that we don't offer the "Match The Dealer" side bet. Our closest (geographically) competitor does, and we offer it at the SP21 table.

    The strangest side bet I've seen is "EZ Bust." The player places a side bet, which must equal their main bet, after the dealer's up card is revealed It pays even money. No one plays it for a dealer 7 or higher, but readers of this board know that 5 and 6 only bust 42% of the time, so even under optimal conditions the house edge is 16%.

    I sympathize with those who are doing this as a business, and I didn't tip as well before I started dealing. And yes, it's a strange business model to ask the players to compensate the dealers rather than the casino doing it. But nobody would stiff a restaurant server, yet gamblers do it all the time. I always make sure players have small denomination chips to tip the beverage servers. It's also a strange business model where the overwhelming share of our profile (I assume) comes from side bets.

  13. #13


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    I wrote the following years ago. I believe it still holds true:


    No Tipping; Dealers are Overpaid


    On BJ21.com, an article by my late friend MathProf was featured, entitled The Math of Tipping.

    MathProf thoroughly explained the mathematical side of tipping (“toking”). But I have a simple way of handling the issue: Don’t tip at all, except in special circumstances. Stanford Wong agrees. In Chapter 26 of the e-book version of Professional Blackjack, Stanford wrote:

    The problem with tokes, at least in my experience, is
    they are not cost effective. When you toke you give up
    value but you do not receive any value in return. The
    honest dealer dispenses no favors in return for a toke.

    Toking will not stop a dealer from shuffling up on you if
    you have been identified as a card counter. Toking will
    not cause the dealer to deal down closer to the end of the
    pack. Toking will not cause the dealer to make an
    incorrect payoff. A toke may make a dealer smile, but
    will not change the expected value of the next hand.

    Usually a toke does not even make the dealer smile. You
    derive no benefit from a toke — it only reduces the size
    of your win. Tokes are an unnecessary cost of doing
    business.

    I almost never toke. I gain more in dealer errors than
    what I give up in tokes.


    Dealers are overpaid. At minimum wage, adding the excessive tipping most ploppies engage in, their actual wage is around $12 per hour at the worst dumps (about $25,000 per year), and around $35 to $40 per hour at the carpet joints (about $75,000 to $85,000 per year).

    The high-end dealers make more than most police officers, nurses, or teachers make. Yet the dealer has a job that requires no formal education, no real skills, and only a few weeks of training. Many dealers don't even bother to learn to speak English, and many have minimal or NO "people skills."

    Yet people line up to take dealer jobs. Why? Because dealing is a better job than they are able to find elsewhere. There are a few exceptions, particularly bright young people who may be dealers for a short time while going to school or getting ready to embark on other careers, but need immediate employment.

    Granted, it's an unpleasant environment and lousy work, frequently dealing with disrespectful, hostile, and often drunken members of the public. I doubt if I, personally, would last a single day as a dealer. But that doesn't take away the fact that there is no dealer shortage anywhere that I'm aware of. So the job must not be that bad for those willing to do it.

    I tip generously those who provide a service to me, in positions where tipping is normal and customary, such as in restaurants and cocktail waitresses in casinos. But I don't tip a plumber, electrician, or auto mechanic. They certainly provide a service -- why don't they deserve tips, but a dealer does?

    In thousands of hours in casinos, I can think of only a handful of times when dealers went out of their way to provide me with any quantifiable service that should earn them tips -- better penetration, not loudly shouting "checks play," dealing as quickly as they were able, etc. Most dealers are on autopilot; normal working people trying to get through their routine workday. Few know anything about advantage play, and fewer still would recognize the offering of a tip as a subtle request for the better playing conditions that are within their power to dispense.

    For the ploppy, who is in the casino to be "entertained," and is willing to lose his or her money for the dubious "entertainment value" they receive, the people skills of the dealer may add value to their entertainment experience. Such a person should, and almost always does, tip the dealer. They are receiving a service from the dealer, in that their time at the table is more pleasant. The ploppy has negative EV and is eventually going to lose all his or her money. I'd rather the dealer gets some of that money than the casino owner.

    For an advantage player who is in a casino simply to make money, tipping is a waste, except for the instances that it provides cover and/or longevity. I don't care if the dealer is pleasant or not. In fact, my favorite type of dealer is one who deals quickly and never says a word -- a deaf mute would be the perfect dealer. No useless, idle chit-chat, no nosy questions. Just the cards flying as fast as possible, to maximize my hands-per-hour.

    Other than at the times when tipping buys cover and/or longevity, it's just another business expense that can usually be cut out. Would you pay a higher price for gasoline because the gas station cashier is pleasant? Would you pay a higher price than you have to for any commodity product? Needlessly giving away a portion of your profit is the same thing. It directly affects your bottom line. I don't see the point in deliberately lowering profit for no good reason.

    Some disagree. My friend Don Schlesinger has said:

    I would like to raise another side to the toking controversy:
    Would you normally eat in a restaurant and not tip a
    satisfactory waitress? Would you normally take a cab ride
    and not tip a satisfactory driver? If the answers are “No,” then
    the reason has to be one of social acceptability and custom.

    Cab drivers and waitresses could not work at those
    professions without counting as expected revenue the
    tips that go with the job. And saying that they provide
    a service is not the answer. The arena usher who takes you to your
    seat never gets tipped here; in France he always does. ...

    I am fully aware that when I do tip I do it solely
    because I believe the dealers work hard, have no union,
    no job security, and work for tips.


    Don and I have agreed to disagree on this topic. For me, it’s still: Don’t tip at all, except in special circumstances.
    Opinions and Commentary on the Gaming Industry: The Bear Growls

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