Tipping is a topic that is always debated. Most can find common ground on how much to tip for a pizza delivery or a beer at the bar, but for most, tipping in casinos is a total mystery. There are a large number of casino patrons who do not realize that they should be tipping at all. On the other end of the spectrum, there are players that may be tipping too much. Of course, as is the case with all forms of tipping, your own discretion will be the deciding factor.
There are a handful of different people that you will need to consider when it comes to proper tipping etiquette in casinos. In this article we are talking about casino specific employees, like waitresses/waiters, dealers, and slot machine attendants. You will also have valets and bell desk workers to consider tipping, but these are more closely related to hotel work than they necessarily are to casino play itself.
If you are an active table games player in the casino, your most frequent interactions will be with dealers. Whether you are playing roulette (in this case, the dealer is called a croupier), craps (here they are called stick men), or blackjack, the game is always going to be you vs. the house, who has employed the dealer to battle with you.
Yes, dealers are paid. How much they are paid varies wildly by position within the casino and the casino itself. Most poker dealers earn less than floor dealers. Conversely, most poker dealers do not pool tips while table (pit) games dealers do pool tips. With this said, there are some poker rooms that do pool tips among dealers, however rare they may be. No matter their post, dealers rely heavily on player tips for the bulk of their income.
Most players only tip when they are having an outright winning session. The second most common time to tip is after an individual big win, regardless of your overall session results. As a whole, it is rare to see players tip when they are losing, and exceedingly rare when they are down big. With that said, some losing players will forfeit their last few dollars and instead toss them to the dealer. At a certain point there is little chance of coming back, so these players figure it is better to show some good karma towards their next session.
How Much and When to Tip Casino Dealers
The amount that you tip, of course, is relative to how large of stakes you are playing. With that said, you should use day to day economics to be reasonable. For example, if you are playing $25 per hand blackjack and win $500 on the session, a $10 tip would be logical. In fact, many wouldn’t even tip in this situation. If you are playing $1,000 per hand and win $5,000, $10 or $25 would still be acceptable. You would not increase the tip tenfold because the win was tenfold. As a general rule, consider the work volume, the quality of the dealer, and then look at the amount won. $5,000 won on $1,000 wagers is only 5 bets, while $500 won on $25 is 20 bets. Everything is relative. If you won $5,000 on much smaller bets, then yes, bumping up the amount is reasonable.
In games where there is less likely to be big walk away wins like blackjack, you may find tipping on a “per win” instance to be better. Roulette or Pai Gow (when playing the bonus) are best for this. If you hit a number in Roulette or a big bonus side bet in Pai Gow, you will likely have seen your biggest win on the session. Share the rush of excitement with a tip for the dealer. Let’s be honest, it’s tough to walk away from roulette with a big win, but you will have some here and there, so share the wealth when you can. If you are having a tough day and a few inside hits don’t really chip away at your losses, you shouldn’t feel guilty for skipping the tip.
In real life, most players will toss a few singles or redbirds ($5 chips) here and there throughout a session. This is a way to keep dealers happy, you happy, and the game rolling. Even a few dollars is appreciated, and it will likely bump your experience quality as well.
Winning (or losing) should not always be the main reason why you tip. No dealer can actually control outcomes, so you should pay most attention to their level of skill. If dealers are personable, go out of their way to help you, and are efficient at their task, they deserve a tip. If a dealer is rude to you or performs poorly (unless you know they are new, in which case, toss them a few dollars for encouragement), there is not much reason to tip. Don’t go out of your way to reward bad behavior, but take care of those who are putting in effort to take care of you.
Tipping Poker Dealers
Tipping a poker dealer is different than when you do the same for table games. Usually, believe it or not, dealers make more at lower stakes than they do in higher limit games. The higher percentage of amateur players, the more they are willing to tip the dealer.
Many regular, or professional poker players tip around $1 per pot that they win (assuming a flop is seen). Others will tip $1-$2 for anything they qualify as a large enough pot. Others still will tip, $5, $10, or even $25+ when they win a bigger pot. Tipping in poker varies wildly, but if you tip a few dollars for any moderately sized pot or larger, you will be falling into the average.
Playing for the Dealer
Instead of tipping the dealer outright, you can also play for the dealer. This means that you will place a wager that will go to the dealer’s pool in the event of a win. This is common in table games. To place a bet for the dealer in blackjack, place your own wager, and then place the dealer’s wager right next to it, half way on the betting circle. You can even announce “for the dealer.”
If you bet $5 for the dealer and win, they will have a net of $10. In some casinos the dealer will collect the $10 themselves, in others you will need to toss it to them. It is common courtesy and etiquette for players to double a dealer’s bet in the event of a double down or split, though it is not necessary. Playing for the dealer is a fun way to have everyone involved in the action for the tip itself.
Tipping Casino Servers
Tipping a server in a casino is very similar to tipping a bartender. The most commonly accepted barometer for casino waitress tips is about $1 per drink. The servers are not usually making the drinks themselves, but instead putting in the orders and then completing the delivery. Their job is to fill up a tray as much as possible and deliver ordered drinks in the most timely and efficient manner possible.
If your waiter brings your drink, as ordered, back to you within a few minutes, they have done their job. In a bar, you may tip more for mixed drinks than a simple beer, but for a waitress, unless they are chopping tips, these drinks require roughly the same amount of work. Of course, if you are giving more complicated instructions, or the server is going out of their way to bring you a stronger or generally higher grade drink, you should consider tipping a few dollars extra.
For a tip on tipping, we suggest tipping a bit heavier on your first order. This will both put the server in a good mood and will make them more inclined to treat you well going forward. If the server goes out of their way, be sure to consider this in your tip. There are many very hard working servers who go above and beyond in the casino industry. Are there plenty of duds? Sure, but if you visit a high end casino, you will likely find that the servers on hand are more than earning their keep, both figuratively and literally.
Tipping Slot Machine and Hand Pay Attendants
This is a tipping area that many do not know about. First, many casino patrons may not even play machine games that require a handpay (usually reserved for wins above $1,200, depending on the location you are in). In this case, tipping attendants is a non-concern.
If you play mid to high limit slots or video poker, or have gotten very lucky on an even smaller game, you have received a handpay. In this event, you will be paid out all of your winnings (but not the balance still in the machine) with actual cash. Some slot attendants will pay the last bit in $5s, $10s, and $20s. This is a not so subtle way of making a tip readily available to themselves.
As is the case with servers and dealers, try to let service quality determine whether a tip is deserved. Just because you win big doesn’t mean you have to tip. If the slot attendant was timely, professional, and efficient, a tip may be in order. Some players tip big, some don’t tip at all on handpays, but ultimately the choice is up to you.