To Tip Or Not To Tip…The Dealer

Ever played poker in a casino? Do you tip the dealer after a winning hand? Do you do it every time?

For some reason poker etiquette expects you to. I don’t play in a casino very often, but when I do, I’m there to have fun and to make money. As if it’s not hard enough to overcome the rake (casino’s cut of each pot), I’m also expected to overcome dealer tips. Might as well play the slots!

I give a waitress tips because she is taking my order, getting me food, and cleaning up after me. Her job is to serve me in the restaurant. Waitress’s don’t get a decent wage, because tips are the norm. Dealers get paid wages and from the little bit that I’ve heard, it’s pretty decent money. I could be totally wrong on that though. A dealer’s job is to deal the cards and count chips. Something that I (or anyone else at the table) could easily do. Why again do I need to tip this person? No one tips me at work when I fix their computer. I know it’s my job, but it’s hardly a job that anyone at the University can perform.

If we are supposed to tip the dealer, why only on hands that we win? It’s not like the dealer had any influence on our cards. If we are tipping them for “service,” they are providing the same level of service on hands that we win and hands that we lose. The only difference is that we are satisfied with this “service” when we win, but not when we lose.

I’m heading to the casino on Saturday night. I think I might see how much I can win, without tipping the dealer on every pot that I pull in.

Note

For some reason every 5 years or more this post gets shared around to a bunch of angry dealers who fail to read the entire discussion or fail to see by the date that this post was published in 2004! I had to close comments years ago because it gets out of control. Here’s a comment I left in 2009

For the record, I’ve always tipped when playing poker in a casino unless I forgot to on a hand, which happens to everyone. The only time I’ve ever not given a tip on purpose is if the pot was too small.

36 Replies to “To Tip Or Not To Tip…The Dealer”

  1. I don’t play poker, but I’ve been to the casino/riverboats in my area and enjoyed some blackjack and I always tipped the dealer at my table when I left. Part of it is that I’ve always walked away with more money than I started with; so it’s no burden for me to do so. Part of it is a karma thing, I did good, I shared and I hope next time I’m back, I do good again. The last part of it is when I’ve gone; it’s never been with the intention to win money, just to have a fun time. When I go, I only take as much money with me as I’m willing to lose. That way, if I lose it all; who cares? And if I walk away with more than I started with, that’s just the icing on the cake of my night out.

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  2. I totally agree with you — tipping a casino dealer is stupid, because they’re not doing you a “service” like a waitress would. Of course, if they were providing you a service (telling you what your hands are, reminding you to do certain things, telling you whether to hit or stand in blackjack), that would be a different story. But most dealers just stand there giving you cards. For that matter, why do we tip cab drivers? We’re already paying for the cab ride; why should we put additional money on top of that? But from what I’ve heard, casino dealers DON’T make a lot of money outside of their tips, so they do rely on players to tip them. Anyway, when you get a chance check out http://www.pokerworks.com — it’s a blog by a dealer at Bellagio. Pretty interesting to hear her talk about dealing to all the big wigs. Every once in a while, you’ll see her bitch about some player who won pot after pot but didn’t tip. Although I feel bad if it is true that Bellagio doesn’t pay her much, I still think to myself how dumb it is that we’re supposed to tip dealers for doing their jobs.

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  3. Some casino’s force dealers to pool the money and return a percent back to the casino… So, no point, unless you like paying a casino for the priviledge of taking your money.

    Now, if you are winning high stakes, a 100 or so for the dealer would be nice, but for the small pot poker, I wouldn’t bother unless you win the whole thing 🙂

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  4. My Dad dealt cards for some time at Riverside in Laughlin. He rarely complained about those that didn’t tip him. He did complain about the ones that tipped him a ridiculously small amout. (like a quarter) I think that when I sneak out of Alaska and find a casino I’ll always tip well. Nothing stops dealers from sitting down at a table with you and draining your money when thier shift is done. I want them to seek out the guys that didn’t tip them.

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  5. I just got home from playing in St. Ignace, MI and everyone tips 50 cents or once in awhile $1 per hand, which isn’t too bad. They even have a nice stack of 50 cent pieces just for this purpose. Bad night at the poker table, so I don’t want to talk about it too much. Can you say bad beats?

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  6. I am a dealer at a casino in reno. It is generally my duty when dealing that if someone is a stiff or just a straight up jackass, i want him off my table to make room for those who do tip. Believe it or not the dealer does have control of the cards. Who shuffles them? More important, who decides when to shuffle? The dealer does of course. When things are goin well(say all the damn fives are out after teh first deal), then I might(will) when dealing to stiffs, and vice versa. Just remember, the dealer doesn’t want your money under the paddle, but just ot the right of it.

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  7. So basically you are saying that dealers cheat in the casinos? That’s great to hear. Your job is not to get tips. You should view that as a bonus even if it should be standard. A waitress, who makes much less than minimum wage does not spit in someone’s food or refuse them service if she doesn’t get tipped. This is disturbing news and for poker’s sake I hope that you are in the minority!

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  8. It’s not just poker it’s all table games.

    I too work in a casino and for the most part they only make minimum wages as a flat rate. The tips are a nice gesture like tipping a waitress, if you get good service and the food isn’t like you cook it at home you tip for the service. It’s not all just dealing out cards and counting cheques, that’s like saying it’s simple to build a house or do a certain hairstyle. We have to go through training to learn how to deal a game and it’s more rules than you actually know just being a player. Everything is easier said than done. Maybe if you knew a little more about the games you would not mind tipping and may have better luck. We are there to provide a pleasant atmosphere for the players while they enjoy themselves at the casino. We as dealers have to provide that same service for all customers, tipping or not and if the tables are cold it’s not such a pleasant mood and a few upset players which makes it difficult for us.

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  9. I almost always tip. The dealers are in a service position. Part of their jobs is to be courteous and helpful, they are providing a service. If the dealer is fun and helpful, I’ll tip, even if I’m losing. Why? Because the dealer is part of the fun of casinos. Now if I get a stiff that’s just there throwing cards and chips out, doesn’t want to talk, doesn’t want to facilitate the having of that good time, I don’t tip, even if I do win. When I’m tipping, I’m not asking the dealer to try and help me cheat or win, I’m showing my appreciation for the service they’re providing. No, the dealer can’t just “give” you the cards that you need or want to win, but the dealer can make it more enjoyable, and if you’re not at a casino to have a good time when you have some extra money, you shouldn’t be at the casino unless you work there.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m a table games dealer at an Indian casino in Oklahoma. That’s Blackjack, 3-Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’em, 4-Card Poker, Crazy 4 Poker, etc. and I also qualify to deal in our poker room. We make a wonderful $6 per hour — not the “pretty decent money” Nick mentions above — and rely on tips to make any kind of good income. We go to a training school to learn how to deal properly and must pass an audition to actually get on the floor. We not only learn the rules for each game, we learn proper card placement on the table and how to count to 21 or read the other hands quickly so we don’t hold the game up for you. We learn how to handle the drunks/tweakers so they don’t disrupt the table and cause you problems. And we have to do it all quickly and with a smile. I doubt that most of you could deal poker correctly without flashing cards to other players without the weeks or months of training most of us spend to get it right — to make you comfortable in our casino.

    And regardless of what you might think from the comment by neek — we don’t cheat. But we do have control over the game. In a pitch (hand held BJ) game we can sometimes decide to shuffle early if the count gets in the players favor — or we can continue to play. It depends on if the player is a jerk or a George (tipper). But even then there is a point where we have to shuffle due to the rules of the casino plus the floor supervisor, pit manager, eye-in-the-sky and casino manager is watching everyone to make sure everything is done correctly.

    I would suggest you go to http://www.wizardofodds.com and see what Michael Shackleford has to say about tipping. It’s a really good informational site about casino gambling and may shed a little more light on the subject.

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  11. $6/hour plus tips is pretty damn good. Most waitresses I know get $2-3 an hour plus tips. If you make a lousy $4/hr in tips you’re making $10/hour and my guess is that $4 is a very low estimate. Most poker games I’ve been in are tipping $1 for every hand. Figure 20-30 hands per hour and that’s damn good money for shuffling cards and dealing.

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    1. also I will be posting this blog in every casino forum I can find also I will be forwarding this to countless dealers in MI that I know

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    2. I work in an Indiana casino boat. I am not a dealer but I work on the floor with them. Not all dealers get to keep their own tips. They are pooled together and shared with the other dealers on the floor. There are people who will sit at a dead table for hours without getting a tip, not because they are bad dealers but because no one chose to play that game. So when you see that one dealer dropping loads of tips you have to understand that he may be one of few that are doing so and he is still only going to receive a small percentage of that drop. I enjoy going to gamble myself and when I play the table games I generally bet a tip for the dealer if it is allowed. A good dealer does provide a service to the patron because its up to that dealer to do everything he/she can to make your visit the best possible.

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  12. if nobody tiped the dealer. the dealer would not be there. the house would not trust the players to take the rake and there would just be no game.

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  13. Here’s a few things that I wish people who think I get “too many” tips were aware of, just to be fair. Consider:

    1) It’s not as easy as it looks to do this job correctly. It may appear that was when you have a good dealer, but it isn’t.

    2) In Atlantic City, the Casino Control Commission’s license (which you must have to be able to deal) costs close to $400.

    3) It will cost a lot of time and money to get certified in the various games. I have poker, blackjack and craps (and a couple of smaller games). All told, I’d invested about 20 weeks (at around 16 hours per week) in training alone, which cost around $2,500.

    4) The field is competitive, contrary to what some people think. When you interview for a job, you “audition.” That is, you are taken to a table and tap the dealer out. Yes, you will be dealing to real players for their real money.

    5) Ok, now even when you are hired, finding a full-time position (i.e., having medical and other benefits) can be difficult, so a lot of dealers start part time and stay there for a while. A lot of dealers are ‘let go’ during the winter months here.

    6) There’s a lot, and I mean a LOT, of obnoxious people.

    7) Cigarette smoke is abound, at least for now, except in the poker rooms out here. (All other businesses in NJ must be smoke-free by law.)

    Okay. There are more reasons, but there’s a few.

    Now compare all of that to, say, a waiter or waitress. That job doesn’t require any particularly demanding skills, and you don’t need any schooling or special license. Out here there’s always a place that will hire you, though the better jobs usually go to the more experienced wait staff. You can’t smoke in restaurants here now, so no need to worry about that.

    When I waited tables I did get some bad customers, but in my experience it is 10 times worse in the casino.

    Now, if after all that you don’t understand why you should have to tip, then simply don’t tip. I’ll still deal the same way to you as anyone else.* That’s why it’s a tip and not a required charge.

    *And by the way, anyone who claims to be a dealer who cheats non-tippers is either a liar looking for attention, or a complete idiot who won’t be employed very long.

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  14. Also, Nick, just so you know the kind of numbers we’re actually talking about here:

    A dealer can average $25+ an hour here for cash games. At the Borgata (the biggest/nicest/newest casino here), there are a few high-limit poker dealers that bring in more than $2,000 a week. Who knows what the big Vegas games dealers can make.

    The tipping part probably comes from the fact that it’s an entertainment business. It’s a resort. People could have stayed home and played poker with their buddies at the kitchen table, or even online, but they didn’t.

    It’s also a great motivator for dealers. Think about it – the smoother I keep the game moving, the more money I make. More hands per hour, more money… keeping the game moving, more money. The new player who doesn’t have any idea that it’s his turn, I get him going, more hands, more money.

    Ok, now all of that aside…

    You know what kind of dealers you’d get if they weren’t tipped? Assuming you paid them $10 an hour or something. You’d get the kind of folks moving up from their last job at McDonald’s. What’s the error rate at a given drive-thru Wendy’s… think about it.

    A dealer might run a couple thousand calculations in his head every day. You ever try to make side pots with four all-in players in a NLHE game? It looks automatic when someone with skill is doing it, or if you’re used to computers doing it for you.

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  15. OK, first of all, I can fix computers too, and I’ve dealt cards, and I can tell you right now that I’d rather be fixing computers.

    Computers don’t talk back,

    Computers don’t hit on you,

    Computers don’t get drunk,

    Computers they aren’t assholes who think they know more than you do or idiots who think you get paid a lot to deal cards.

    I made more in base salary as a waitress (6.75 in CA) than I did as a dealer (try $5 an hour). Secondly, being a dealer requires a good amount of training. My casino did a three week class, 4-5 hours a day, unpaid (but at least we didn’t have to pay for it). That means time off whatever job you already have to train for this and no income. After the first week of dealer training your hands are so cramped they are hard to move. But let’s move on … you make it through training and now you are trained deal one game (every other game requires more training).

    But let’s say you make it and get a job, congratulations, you are in a casino. You’re on your feet for 1-2 hours at a time, and if you don’t think that’s hard, see how long you can stand in one position. Then you have all the obnoxious people (see above) and the smoke. Now I’m a smoker! I’ve been smoking a pack a day for almost 10 years, but within 2 months of dealing full time I had walking pneumonia.

    Computers

    yes – they are frustrating

    yes – they require training

    yes- you get to SIT DOWN when you please

    yes – you get a SALARY

    NO- you don’t have to worry about people who think they shouldn’t tip you.

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  16. For the record I do tip on every pot I win. I might miss a big one here or there when I’m so excited from pulling in all the chips, but it’s never on purpose.

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  17. Nick i wish i could bring you to my casino and have you tap me out and deal some cards (for the $3.13/hr my casino pays me). I would like to see the sweat bead on your forehead while the players eat you alive. We may make it look easy but thats because most of us are very good at what we do. For the record not just anyone can pitch a card correctly, i know several people who have been trying for years to pass an audition at my room and they just cant get it.

    Ever seen a cooking show on TV? It looks so easy. Ever tried to duplicate it?

    You are right about one thing- almost anyone can count. However to be able to do it quickly and correctly 99% of the time is not something anyone can do. And by correctly i dont just mean coming up with the right number, you have to be able to “cut” the chips not just stack them.

    Dealing cards requires extensive training and more importantly a personality that 90% of people dont have and can never learn. I was a waiter before i was a poker dealer and let me tell you it is not the same. Anyone can be a waiter, to be a poker dealer you have to be smart, professional, and dedicated.

    You know i went to the doctor the other day because i had a rash on my lower leg. Immediately my doctor knew what it was and prescribed a cure. He made it look very easy to be a doctor but we all know it only looked easy because he went through lots of training and has a vast knowledge of medicine.

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  18. The Casinos cheat! The dealers do not need to!

    The sole purpose for having cameras and automatic shufflers is so that Casinos can control the environment. The dealers need to learn one thing and one thing only–how to cut the deck. The Casino pays them to master this. Next time you play poker pay attention on how the dealer cuts the deck.

    These poker tables are being watched and if you do not give the dealer a tip then the automatic shuffler will shuffle the cards in a manner in which you will lose. So, remember it is better to tip $1 per hand then to lose all the money you came with.

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  19. i am a poker dealer at a casino. i can tell you that the dealers rely on your tips. they pay our bills. i only make $4.00 per hour as my base pay, i don’t know about anyone else but i cannot live on that alone. every tip that gets dropped by a dealer gets split between all dealers on all shifts. that includes the dealers that are on games that do not receive very many tips, or as dealers refer to as carnival games. poker dealers may get $1 per hand, where those(carnival games)may only make $100 all day and all night. also, please take into consideration that all of my tips are counted by a committee and then subitted for dispursment onto all dealer checks, i.e. the tips are all taxed. so of that dollar you tipped, it was divided between every dealer in the casino and then taxed by the government before i got my share. it is entirely up to you whether you tip or not, is not after all required, but folks, it is how we make our living.

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  20. I have been dealing poker for five years now, It’s a good job that takes skill and hard

    work to master. I PAY PER HOUR to work at my casino. I give the casino Five dollars an

    hour, and they pay me six. Can you do that math? That’s ONE dollar an hour. So each one

    of you greedy assholes that say not to tip, can go suck one. The automatic shuffler

    makes hands go faster, not cheat you out of money, you morons.

    You tip because we are putting up with your drunk stupid ass in public. If any of these

    pricks came to my home wasted off their ass and cussing at me, I would punch them in the

    mouth. Quit being cheap and grow the hell up. If you don’t tip, you’re a prick. PERIOD.

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