When and How to Tip the Dealers

crapsdicejokeIn two of our other articles, we discussed why it’s important to tip the craps dealers.  The rewards you gain from tipping can make your craps experience so much more enjoyable.  In this article, you’ll learn how to give a tip so you don’t look like a newbie.  If you’re new to the craps game and don’t understand the bets and lingo mentioned in this article, that’s okay because you’ll get the general idea of how and when to tip.  As you read our other articles and learn about the types of bets and how the game works, you can then revisit this article and it’ll all make perfect sense.

When and how often should you tip?  You have two basic choices: 1) at the end of your session, or 2) during your session.  To make a tip at the end of your session, simply color in and gently toss your tip chip(s) to the center of the table and say, “For the crew, thanks guys.”  I don’t like this method because if you wait until the very end to tip, you miss out on all the rewards you can gain throughout the entire session.

In my opinion, the better method is to tip all throughout your session, or “as-you-go,” because the dealers will befriend you early, resulting in more fun for you and the potential for the dealer to make mistakes in your favor.  (Refer to the other article for an explanation of “mistakes.”)

I found that a good time to make your first tip bet is within the first five minutes.  I typically toss $4 to the center of the table and say, “Two-way Hard ten.”  That is, a $2 Hard 10 bet for both the crew and me.  It’s amazing how that early little $4 investment gets the crew’s attention and gratitude.  Note: Because the house advantage is so high, the only time I ever make any kind of proposition bet (such as a Hardway) is for a tip.

After the initial $4 tip bet, I usually toss in a $1 tip bet every 15 or 20 minutes whether I’m winning or losing, which equates to $3 or $4 per hour.  That’s also about what I spend in beer tips.  Although drinks may be free where you’re playing, you should give the waitress at least a $1 tip per drink request.  I increase my tip amount considerably during a hot roll.  My philosophy is that everybody wins on a hot roll, even the dealers.

What’s the best way to tip?  You have two basic choices: 1) directly (i.e., a “hand-in”), or 2) by making a bet for the crew.  To make a hand-in tip, simply toss in your chip(s) and say, “For the crew.”  One of the dealers picks it up, announces to the boxman that you gave the tip, and then places it in the dealers’ tip box or on the side of the table.  The dealer informs the boxman so the boxman doesn’t think the dealer is sneaking casino money into the tip box.  Then, to acknowledge your kindness, the entire crew says, “Thank you, sir, we appreciate it.”

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Instead of a hand-in, I prefer to tip by making bets for the crew because it tends to get the crew more into the game, which makes it more fun for me.  For example, during a hot roll, dealers often get as excited as the players when they have several bets on the table.  When those dealer Hardway bets get pressed up to $50 each, you can bet the dealers’ juices are flowing.  For example, if all 16 players at the table continually add to a crew’s Hardway bet during a hot roll, it doesn’t take long for it to get to $50.  If a Hard 4 or Hard 10 hits, the crew wins $350 plus the $50 bet.  If a Hard 6 or Hard 8 hits, they win $450 plus the $50 bet.  At that level, the dealers sometimes scream as loudly as the players.

Dealers have told me they prefer Pass Line and Place bets over proposition bets, but I stick with the Hardways out of habit.  They’d rather have a good chance of winning a little from a Pass Line bet than a poor chance of winning a lot from a proposition bet.  For example, the true odds (not casino odds) of hitting a Hard 4 are only 8:1, which means the dealers expect to hit only one out of nine Hard 4 bets.  The true odds of hitting a Place 6 bet are 6:5, which means they expect to hit this bet almost every other time.

If you want to make a Pass Line bet for the crew, put their chip next to yours on the Pass Line and tell the dealer, “This one’s for you.”  If you win, be careful not to pick up the dealer’s winnings.  I’ve seen players so excited about winning that they inadvertently pick up the crew’s chips, too.  The dealer usually says politely, “Sir, I thought we had a bet going for the dealers.”  The player realizes his mistake, tries to cover up his embarrassment, and replaces the dealer’s chips on the table.

To reiterate, about every 15 or 20 minutes, I make a $1 Hardway bet for the crew.  As a hot roll develops, I increase my dealer’s Hardway bet.  The following scenario illustrates my tipping approach during a hot roll.  Remember, I tip like this only during a hot roll.  Also remember, if you’re new to the game, the following will probably sound like a foreign language.  Don’t worry, after you read and learn from all our articles, you’ll understand it like a pro.

1.  A hot roll develops and I have all numbers covered with Pass Line and Place bets.  Assume the point is 9.  The dealer service and treatment of me have been good and I haven’t given a tip in about 15 minutes, so I’m due to tip.

2.  The shooter rolls a 4.  My $5 Place bet on the 4 wins $9.  I put $7 in my chip stack, then I toss $2 to the center of the table and say, “Two-way Hard ten, please.”

3.  The stickman says, “Dealers are up on the Hard ten.  Thank you very much for the bet, sir.”  He places a $1 chip in the Hard 10 box in the appropriate spot that distinguishes my bet from other players’.  He puts the other $1 chip in the center of the Hard 10 box to identify it as a dealer bet.

4.  The shooter rolls a 5.  My $5 Place bet on the 5 wins $7.  Time to press, so I tell the dealer, “Press it.”  The dealer takes $5 from my winnings and increases my Place 5 to $10, and then puts the remaining $2 in the apron in front of me.  I don’t want to be bothered with a couple of measly $1 chips during a hot roll (what a terrible attitude!), so I toss them to the stickman and say, “Press our Two-way Hard ten.”  The stickman announces to the crew, “Yes, sir, pressure on the Two-way is a bet.”  He puts a $1 chip on top of our original Hardway bets.  Now, we both have a $2 Hard 10 working.

5.  The shooter rolls a 9 to make her point.  While the dealer pays all the Pass Line winners, the stickman asks me, “Sir, are we off or on?”  I respond, “We’re both off on the come-out.”  The dealer places an OFF button on my Hard 10 bet, which indicates that the dealer’s Hard 10 is also off.  The shooter rolls a 5 on the come-out, so the new point is 5.

6.  I already have the 5 covered with a $10 Place bet, so I tell the dealer, “Move my five to the nine, please.”  Once again, I have all numbers covered by the Pass Line and Place bets.  Since I called off my Hard 10 on the come-out, I have to tell the dealer to turn it back on, so I tell him, “We’re back on.”  The dealer removes the OFF button from my Hard 10 bet.

7.  The shooter rolls a 6.  My $6 Place 6 wins $7.  The dealer puts $7 in the apron in front of me.  I pick it up and put it in my chip stack, then toss another $2 to the stickman and say, “Bump our Two-way.”  The dealer increases our Hard 10 bets by $1, which brings them to $3 each.

8.  The shooter rolls a 10 the hard way.  Woohoo!  My $5 Place bet on the 10 wins $9.  The dealer pays Pass Line bets first, then Come bets, then Place bets, and proposition bets last.  It’s time to press, so when the dealer is ready to pay my Place bet, I tell him, “Buy it for ten dollars.”  The dealer takes $5 from my winnings and adds it to my Place 10 bet, moves my chips to the Buy section of the point box, and then puts a BUY button on them.  He puts the remaining $4 in the apron in front of me.  I pick it up and put it in my chip stack.

After the dealer pays off everyone else’s Place bets, the stickman points with his stick to my spot on the layout (i.e., directly in front of me) and tells the dealer, “Twenty-one dollars for the Hard ten.”  The dealer puts $21 in the apron in front of me.  I pick it up and put it in my chip stack.  Notice that although the stickman controls proposition bets, only the dealer (not the stickman) pays winning bets to the players.

The stickman then says, “And the dealers get twenty-one dollars plus three dollars, and we’re down.  Thank you, sir, very much for that wonderful bet.”  The dealer puts $24 in the Come area so the boxman can verify it, and then the dealer puts the chips in the tip box or in the section of the table designated for dealer tips.  Note that in most casinos, when a dealer bet wins, the bet is done and comes down.  In this example, that’s where the $24 comes from: the $3 bet plus the $21 in winnings.  The stickman again says, “Dealers are down on the Hard ten,” usually as a reminder to the player that they no longer have a bet working.  By reminding the player, the crew hopes the player will “put them back up” with another bet.  I always do, but the amount depends on how much the bet was pressed before it hit.  For example, if it hit at $3, I toss in another $3 Hard 10 bet for the dealers.  However, if it hit at $15, I certainly don’t toss in another $15.  Instead, I might start them with a new $5 bet and continue pressing it as my Place bets continue hitting.

9.  I continue pressing the Two-way Hardway as my Place bets continue hitting.  As I press and grow my Place bets, I also increase the amount that I press the Two-way Hardway.  For example, if my Place bets are so hefty that the payoff is in green and black chips, I sometimes press the Two-way Hardway $5 each (instead of only $1 each) by tossing in two red chips.

Sometimes, I make a second Two-way Hardway bet (e.g., usually a Two-way Hard 4 in addition to the Two-way Hard 10).  When I’m winning, I tend to get a little loose with my tips.  I might give away $50 in dealer bets on a sizzling hot roll.  That’s okay because when I get to the point of pressing dealer bets to that level, my chip stack is full of black chips (a black chip is $100).

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Written by John Nelsen in partnership with the team of craps pros at crapspit.org.