One of the most highly contested topics among advantage players is whether or you should tip the dealer. The consensus among the general population is that dealers depend on tips for a living. I don’t know if this is a viable argument or not. Dealers at the higher end establishments on Las Vegas Blvd have an average income of around $100K a year when combining wages and tips, so they do ok. This number has dropped off some over the last several years, because of the economic down turn, and the lack of disposable income by players. My general response to the tipping for solo players is if you want to do it, if you don’t want to then don’t tip. For teams it gets more complicated. I will give some general insights on tipping and how and when it is applicable.
TIPPING FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR
One approach is to treat tips as a reinforcement tool for good behavior of dealers. Some enforceable behaviors are:
TIP #1: SEE IF THE DEALER IS PLACING THE CUT CARD IN YOUR FAVOUR
Some casinos use a cut slot to determine the where the cut card is placed. For these games the dealer has some discretion on where to place the cut card. For handheld games where the dealer has full discretion on where to place the cut card the effect is much greater.
TIP #2: FASTER DEALING, FASTER WINNINGS
When a dealers speed increases the win per hour increase.
TIP #3: IF THE DEALER IS SILENCE, IT'S GOOD FOR YOU
Some dealers yell out checks play or black action when the player increases their bet or puts out a black chip. This draws the attention of the pit boss and this is something the advantage player doesn’t want. Additionally when the player leaves the dealer can plead ignorant on what the win was.
TIP #4: IF YOU WILL TIP, THEY WON'T SUSPECT YOU
It’s a well understood that advantage players don’t tip dealers so doing so will give some protection against being scrutinized.
TIP #5: TIPPING THE DEALER CAN BE VALUABLE FOR ADAVANTAGE PLAY
Dealers can give you information regarding casino procedures, policies and shift times. Any information is valuable for APs, the more you have the stronger your position.
When you “toke” a dealer for one of these 5 benefits, be absolutely certain that you do it sparingly and at random intervals. Also, make sure you are getting value for your dollars. As long as these benefits exist then continue tip. Doing this too much will eat into your EV and decrease your win rate. This is specifically true when you have a smaller bankroll. However, sometimes tipping isn’t even required. One of the original god fathers of gaming Stanford Wong, says you can get just as much out of a dealer with a simple smile.
MAXIMIZE THE VALUE OF YOUR TIP
Some players do not like to interact with dealers and prefer to tip the dealer. If you insist on tipping adhering to the following guidelines will maximize the value of that tip.
TIP #6: WAIT FOR THE CASINO FLOOR PERSON
Be sure the floor person is watching when you tip. This shows the floor person that you are not a typical advantage player.
TIP #7: TIP WHEN THERE'S ANOTHER DEALER WATCHING
Tip when the dealer is getting tapped out and going on break. This way you get two dealers and a floor person seeing you tip.
TIP #8: PLACE THE CHIP ON THE TABLE BEFORE BETTING
Instead of placing a separate bet above your bet place the toke on top of your bet and if you win keep the original bet and give the dealer the caped bet.
When you have a dealer toke riding on the hand you can ask them for advice. Because they have money on the hand they will want to win the hand and you may be able to get them to give up some additional information. Avoiding tipping altogether is an option. To pull this off you have to employ some additional acting skills. In addition to being pleasant try one or several of the following tactics.
TIP #9: PUT CHIPS IN THE POCKET
This means discretely put chips into your pockets as you play. This makes you look like a losing player. It’s important that you are not too ambitious in this approach. The amount you pocket should be in line with your amount being wagered.
TIP #10: EMPHASIZE YOUR LOSSES
Emphasize your losses and refer to them on a consistent basis. Not in negative way just casually refer to losses.
TIP #11: MENTION HOW YOU OWE MONEY BEFORE TIPPING
As you win mention how you owe your friend money and how you have to pay them before you tip the dealers.
TIP #12: GET A PARTNER
A good way to slip away is have a confederate or partner pick a fake fight with you grab your chips and walk away in disgust. Tipping is a complex issue and there is not a universal approach. You just have to feel out the dealer and floor person. I offer some tactics on what to think about when you are tipping and I am certain that there are several more. Using these tactics or coming up with your own will give you additional longevity in your advantage gaming career. And more play equals more money.
BONUS TIP: RESPECT THE DEALER
Dealers have to put up with abusive players all day every day. Yelling at dealers and cursing at them and even getting spit on by losing players are not uncommon occurrence. By simply being pleasant the player can get the same results as a toke. Some guidelines are smile; smiling goes a long way with a dealer. Do not whine about losing. Don’t smoke. Most dealers don’t smoke and having smoke blown in their faces is not the way they want to spend 8 hours of a day.