Your Rewards for Tipping the Dealers
W e talked about tipping the dealers in another article, so this article focuses on why we should tip them. You think, “Why in the world should I tip the dealers, especially when I’m losing?” The answer may surprise you.
Dealers treat tippers better than stiffs, so they help make your overall gaming experience more enjoyable (“stiff” is the term dealers use for someone who never tips). If you tip, dealers tend to be more polite to you. They’re more likely to talk about last night’s game, or where to get a juicy steak for $5.99, or if the hot waitress you’ve been eyeing has a boyfriend.
Dealers tend to let you get away with many little things that alone aren’t important, but when combined make a big difference in your playing experience. For example, a dealer may request a stiff to strictly adhere to the casino’s policy on where to put his Place-bet chips on the layout. However, that same dealer may allow a steady tipper to put her Place‑bet chips on the layout wherever she wants (except, of course, in the point boxes).
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One Vegas morning on the way to my favorite Strip casino, I popped a couple pieces of gum into my mouth. I got to the table, bought‑in for my usual $100, and soon found myself in the middle of a hot roll with the 5, 6, 8, and 9 Place bets pressed up to at least $50 each, and the 4 and 10 Buy bets up to $50 each. Each time a number hit, I got paid in green chips (feels so good when that happens!). I also had a Hard 4 and Hard 10 working for the crew. Every now and then, I tossed in $4 and I told the stickman, “Press our Hard four and ten.” After several more rolls with my numbers pressed up even higher, the crew’s Hardway bets were pressed up to $12 each. Then, the shooter rolled a Hard 4. Woohoo! The crew got paid $84 (it went into their tip box). The shooter continued rolling number after number and I continued pressing the crew’s Hardway bets. I screamed, “Any number! Where’s that 10? Four, four, four! Give me a six or an eight! I’ll take a five or nine, too!” One time when a 10 hit for a cool $200 payout, I screamed so suddenly and loudly, my gum almost shot out of my mouth. I barely caught it on the corner of my lip and had to use my finger to shove it back into my mouth. The dealer saw the whole thing and laughed. I didn’t care how stupid I looked because now I was getting paid in black chips. I leaned to the dealer and said, “I hope you don’t mind if it accidentally flies onto the table.” The dealer smiled again and said, “Sir, you can spit it anywhere you want. I’ll just pick it up and wipe it off for you.” Do you think he would have responded that way had I not made all those bets for the crew?
There’s another benefit you get from tipping–money! That’s right; you sometimes get paid for your generosity. You think, “Huh? What the heck are you talking about?”
In all my years of playing craps, never once did a dealer make a mistake in my favor when I didn’t tip. Sure, plenty of mistakes were made in the casino’s favor (e.g., shorting me on a winning bet), and I like to think that I caught most of them, but I’m sure a few got by me. However, when I tipped, I noticed a curious trend in that the dealers consistently goofed in my favor.
To verify my hypothesis, one day I intentionally played for two hours without giving any tips. For this “non-tipping” experiment, I made a variety of bets to see if certain ones got botched more than others. My bets included the Pass line with Odds, Place bets, and $1 proposition bets such as the Hardways. Sometimes, I didn’t play the Pass Line but then, after the point was established, I made a Place bet on the point (e.g., if the point was 6, then I made a Place bet on the 6).
Sure enough, I corrected the dealer twice about paying my Place bet on the point. After he took the Don’t Pass losers and paid all the Pass Line winners, he stood waiting for the stickman to push the dice to the shooter for the next roll. I said politely but firmly, “Same bet, please,” as a reminder to pay my Place bet on the point. He put my winnings in the apron and didn’t say a word. That happened twice in two hours with two different dealers.
Another mistake that seemed to occur more frequently than it should was with my Hardway bets. Several times in the two‑hour session, a Hardway hit but they tried to pay off the wrong player. I said politely but firmly, “That’s my Hard four, please.” The chips on the layout mysteriously creped out of position inside the Hard 4 box and the stickman didn’t properly replace them. So, when the Hard 4 hit, the stickman thought it was another player’s bet. The dealer paid me only after the other player said it wasn’t his bet. This sloppiness occurred several times with different stickmen.
Later, I came back to the same table (but with a different crew). This time, I gave a tip every 15 minutes regardless of whether I was winning or losing. For this “tipping” experiment, I made the same variety of bets as before. Every 15 minutes, I tossed a measly $1 chip to the stickman and said in a firm voice so the entire crew could hear, “Hard ten for the crew, please.” That is, I made a Hard 10 bet for the dealers. If it hit, the dealers would get the $7 winnings. Over the two-hour period, I tossed in a $1 chip eight times for a total of $8 (i.e., 2 hours divided by 15 minutes = 8 times). Something intriguing happened.
It didn’t matter how little I bet for the dealers or that none of them hit. The simple kindly gesture of tossing a dollar on the table for the crew was all it took. I was overpaid three times in that two-hour session. One time, instead of getting $12 for a winning $10 Odds bet, I found an extra red chip in the payoff pile. Another time, a different dealer paid my winning $10 Place bet with an extra red chip. Of the three overpayments, the boxman caught only one of them (I had to toss back the overpaid red chip). Incidentally, this time, none of my own $1 Hardway bets inexplicably crept out of position on the layout as they did during my previous “non-tipping” experiment. Coincidence?
For that two-hour period, I paid out $8 in tips (i.e., eight $1 bets on the Hard 10 for the crew), but got $10 in overpayments (excluding the one overpayment I had to give back), for a net gain of $2. In other words, I made money by giving away money!
Don’t get too excited. These “mistakes” don’t happen all the time with every dealer, but they do happen often enough to generally offset the money you give away for tips. For example, one red-chip overpayment ($5) makes up for an hour of $1 tips (i.e., a $1 bet for the dealers every 15 minutes).
I know what you’re thinking and my answer is, “No!” Did I give back the overpayments? Heck no! If you feel compelled, then by all means toss the overpayment on the table and say, “Uh, excuse me, you gave me too much on that last bet.” But keep in mind that the dealer probably won’t like it because you called the boxman’s attention to his mistake (i.e., you basically put the dealer on report). Secondly, the other players will probably laugh and call you a fool. In my opinion, there are times that test your integrity and require honesty, and there are times when you should keep your mouth shut. In these situations, I always shut my mouth.
Another example of the rewards you can get from tipping the dealers is something I ask for every time I leave a craps table. After playing for a few hours and it’s time to go, ask for a dinner “chit” or coupon (if you leave the table in the morning, ask for a breakfast or lunch chit). The boxman will tell the pit boss that you asked for a meal comp. If the pit boss is in a good mood, she may give you a $5, $10, or $20 discount coupon or maybe even a free meal. You never know unless you ask, so don’t be afraid to ask. All you have to do is lean to the dealer and ask, “Is there any chance I can get a dinner chit for my wife and me, please?” The pit boss knows that you’ve been tipping and knows that you made the game more enjoyable for the rest of the players, so she’ll be more inclined to give you that comp.
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