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.

tipping is rewardingDealers 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.

You can now head over to the table of contents to find more great content.

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Written by John Nelsen in partnership with the team of craps pros at crapspit.org.
  • nobody

    As a former dealer and now a suit, craps can be a very fast game. Having said that, someone who has been making bets for the crew DOES get paid attention to more, and almost always in a good way. Sometimes bets get lost on the layout no matter how good the crew is. But if you’re tipping, (and again it doesn’t have to be much, dollar here and there for the red player, nickles here and there for the green chip bettors.) YOUR bets will be noticed. If your bet does get accidentally locked up or moved the Boxperson is much more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt. (And before anyone goes on saying that all the bets deserve equal attention, you’re right, they do and the dealers ARE trying to keep everything straight.) Human nature though says that we will be watching your action more closely and a good crew will learn your style of betting. Good Luck, all.

    • crapspit

      Thank you for taking the time to write a comment, we appreciate it! Your comment as a former craps dealer definitely adds more value to the page.

    • crapspit

      Thank you for taking the time to write a comment, we really appreciate it! Your comment as a former craps dealer definitely adds more value to the page.

  • RoniiSparks

    As a Craps Dealer on the Strip I can tell you that a smart dealer will cover their behind (and their Box’s), anything “funny” tends to put you at more risk than its worth, especially if it’s some creeper-stiff. Personally I don’t let mistakes fly regardless of how much of a creep they are both out of professional pride and its just not worth the hassle it brings.

    That said, *personally* what I do with a tipper is I remind them of all their action, prompt them for their favorite bets and engage them in just enough conversation to make the lulls in action pass by quickly. I’ll book their late bets (within reason), keep tabs on their odds, memorize their press habits and give them sincere feedback to whatever questions they may have. I’ll point out when the waitress is making the rounds and in my House we have covers to put over their bank when they have to step away, I also keep a eye on their bank from anyone around them who might have sticky fingers and I’ll warn them if the hottie is a hustler or not. No bet ever gets lost if its from a Tipper, if I have a shred of doubt I’ll call over a Suit and put in a good word on behalf of the tipper and not once have I been told no. I’m not greedy, it doesn’t take much to get that level of service from me. Dollar dealer bets for the nickle players and a bit of nickle action from the quarter players. Someone who routinely puts 1$ on the line and 2$ as odds is pure gold to me.

    A stiff gets none of that. They’re on their own in every way I can possibly get away with, and trust me there’s a ton of ways I can give a cold shoulder. For the really obnoxious ones I can develop a sudden case of very bad hearing and can’t book a bet in time having to slap them with a no-bet it and those dice better hit the back of the wall every roll or I call over a suit to adjudicate and start watching them. No rubbing the die and set up time has a 3 count or again, the suit comes over, and the only talking I do is booking of the bets. I have one goal towards a stiff, getting them off my game.

  • crapspit

    RoniiSparks, thank you for taking the time to write a comment, we really appreciate it! To everyone reading this page, take note of what the craps dealer is sharing & next time you are at the craps table, don’t forget to TIP the dealers!

  • Bill W

    I love craps and when i’m winning I have no problem tipping. Its just that’s its hard to tip when the money is going fast as I’m losing. I leave the table feeling bad for me and for the dealers. Sorry guys

  • jaysrus5

    Regarding the discussion on overpayment. I have no issue with returning an overpayment that does not belong to me. I approach the craps table expecting honesty and integrity from the dealers and all personnel. I will not take advantage of someone making an error in my favor. This is not a policy that should be promoted. Although you you state that “if you feel compelled”, that is not any kind of excuse or reason to be dishonest to cover your butt. It’s bad enough that there are people out there that have no morals or scruples. The golden rule is simple “do unto others as you would have others do unto you”

    • crapspit

      Jaysrus5, thanks for your post. We applaud your desire for honesty, but feel it’s a bit misplaced in this specific case. As you can see from other posts, craps dealers admit they treat tippers differently than non-tippers. That’s just life in general. For example, a big tipper at a restaurant usually gets better treatment than a non-tipper. The big tipper might get two scoops of ice cream on his dessert plate; whereas, the known non-tipper might get the standard amount of only one scoop. Is the tipper supposed to return the extra scoop of ice cream so he gets only the standard amount? In this case, the server is ripping off the restaurant owner by giving the big tipper a little more than he should have gotten. That’s the server’s way of saying thank you to the big tipper. At the craps table, the dealers’ way of saying thank you for tipping is to up your winning amount or let your losing bet stand. In this case, similar to the server in a restaurant, the dealer is ripping off the casino owner by giving the tipper a little more than he should have gotten. Also, as described in the article, your integrity might get the dealer fired. If you return the overpayment to the dealer, the boxman and pit boss will observe it and might fire the dealer after shift-end for making overpayments. Is keeping your integrity intact and feeling good about being the only honest player in the casino worth getting the dealer fired? Even if the dealer doesn’t get fired, he might not treat you as well because he’ll be irritated that you called attention to his “mistake” and put him on report. If your integrity is so stiff with no flexibility whatsoever, then by all means do what’s right for you and return the overpayment (but keep in mind the possible consequences regarding the dealer). As the article states, “there are times that test your integrity and require honesty,” but we believe this case isn’t one of them. Thanks again for your post, and good luck at the tables.