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Tipping Casino Dealers – What’s the Right Thing to Do?

By Jason Lee
Published on January 07, 2018
Casino Dealer Emoji Holding Thank You Sign and Hands Exchanging Cash

Tipping is optional… if you’re okay with getting dirty looks and getting called out by other patrons for being cheap. We now live in a world where tipping really isn’t that optional anymore if you want to have an enjoyable experience. Brick-and-mortar casinos are no exception.

The problem, though, is that most people who aren’t casino regulars aren’t sure who tip, when to tip, and how much to tip.

I’ve got good news for you. I spend way too much time at the casino and have a lot of friends who work in the industry. What I’m hopefully going to be able to do today is give you a quick breakdown of the “proper” tipping rules that you should be following to ensure a great casino experience.

I put proper in quotes because tipping is still optional and is always done at your discretion. While these guidelines are great to follow, you’re free to do whatever you want. Don’t ever let anyone tell you anything different.

The important thing to take note of is that the tipping guidelines and accepted practices are going to be different depending on which game you are playing.

What I’ve done below is break things up by the most popular casino games. Feel free to read through all of the different tips for every game, or flip straight to your favorite game.

Tipping Blackjack Dealers

When you’re playing blackjack, you have a couple of options for tipping the dealer. You can just give chips to the dealer as a tip, or you can place a bet for the dealers. Most people tip the dealers when they are winning and rarely tip when they are losing.

How often should you tip when you’re winning?
That’s going to be completely up to you.

Personally, I’ll throw a $5 chip here and there when I’m going on a run. As long as I am winning, the dealer is going to be winning, too.

If you decide to tip the dealer by giving them chips, you just toss a chip forward and say something like “This is for you.” If you decide to place a bet for the dealers, you place your chip next to your bet before the next hand and announce to the dealer that the bet placed there is for them.

If the bet you placed for the dealer wins, they get the original bet and the money they won. If the bet loses, they get nothing. To be clear, if you place a $5 wager for the dealer and it wins, the dealer will get $10. I only drive this point home because I’ve seen people try to take back their original bet before.

Why would you make a bet for the dealer instead of just giving them a tip? Some dealers enjoy it and find it fun. It allows them to get in on the action in a way that has an effect on their bottom line.

What I recommend is that, on the blackjack table,
you ask the dealer how they prefer to get tipped.

My guess is that most of them would prefer to have you make a bet for them, but it can be nice to give them the option.

Regarding the amount you should tip, that’s going to be up to you. When I play, I’m not a huge player, so $5 here and there seems pretty fitting. If I win a few big hands, I’ll sometimes throw the dealer extra. If you’re playing really big, you may look to tip a bit bigger, but $5 here and there is completely fine.

Tipping Craps Dealers

At the craps table, you’ve got the same two options of a straight tip or making a bet for the dealers. The difference, though, is that you can go ahead and assume that the dealers want you to bet for them.

You also can’t really ask because there are several dealers and not just one.

Go ahead and just assume that they want you to make a bet for them.

What I personally like to do is put a $5 bet down periodically while I’m winning. As per where to bet, that’s going to be up to you, or that could be something you could ask the dealers.

Typically, I’ll give them the option of a $5 hard ways bet (like a hard eight) or a $5 pass line bet. The first dealer to say what they want is where I put the bet. That way it doesn’t become a long discussion that holds up the game.

The reason that I choose those two bets is that it gives the dealers a bet that pays off even money but is much easier for them to win, and a bet that is harder to win but pays off well. If they want to gamble hard, they can, but if they want the easier money, they have that option as well.

Tipping Roulette Dealers

At the roulette table, things get a little trickier because you usually only have the play chips in front of you until you cash out. This gives you two options.

One, you could keep some $5 chips in your pocket that you can toss to the dealers when you want to tip. Your second option is to tip when you exchange your play chips for your real money chips.

Personally, I prefer to keep some $5 chips in my pocket and toss them to the dealers periodically when I’m winning.

My issue with tipping at the end of the session is that it can be hard to gauge how much you should tip.

Also, some casinos don’t have their dealers pool their tips. This means that if you have the same dealer for your entire session and they switch dealers right before you cash out, the dealer that helped you the most won’t see any of that money.

Regarding amount, $5 here and there should be plenty. I know it may be a little annoying that I keep saying “here and there,” but the issue is that it’s almost impossible to put hard-and-fast rules as to how much you should be tipping and when.

Not only will you get a different answer about what is right from every single person you ask, but it’s going to change depending on how fast/good the dealer is, how involved in the game they are, and how much you’re winning.

If you forced me to give you a hard-and-fast rule, somewhere in the range of 5%-10% of your winnings would be my guess. So, if you were to win $100, you’d toss the dealer $5-$10.

Tipping at the Slot Machines

Wait a second… isn’t this blog about tipping casino dealers?

There are no dealers at a slot machine, unless you count those digital cartoon dealers that some machines have. While you are correct, there is still someone that you may find yourself tipping if you have a big day at the slots or if you happen to need to get change.

First, let’s talk about getting change. Some casinos don’t have bill breaker machines or don’t have them near the machine you’re playing.

In those situations, there will be slot attendants who are walking around if you need to make change.

When you do get change from them,
you should toss them a couple dollars for their help.

$1-$3 is probably plenty, but you can give them $5 if you’re feeling generous.

The other instance where you might find yourself interacting with the slot attendant is if you hit a big jackpot or a big enough win that requires a hand payout.

A hand payout is when the attendant has to come and give you your money and you can’t just get a print-out to cash in.

When this happens, the slot attendant will need to come help you get paid. In this instance, you should tip the slot attendant for their help.

The amount you tip them is going to completely dependent on how much you win and how generous you are feeling. If you win a big jackpot, 1%-3% is probably fine. Even that might be too high, though, if you win a huge jackpot.

If you win $100,000, you could probably tip a couple hundred dollars, and that would be plenty.

Remember, tipping isn’t mandatory, and these suggested amounts aren’t mandatory, either. It’s just what I think is best from what I’ve seen in the industry.

Tipping at the Poker Table

If you’re playing poker in the casino or at a local card room, tipping is certainly expected. If there is any game listed in this blog where it’s the most expected, it would be with poker. Here’s what happens when you don’t tip: other players are going to make comments to you, and a lot of times they’re not going to be that friendly with you (especially if they’re friends with or like the dealer).

Also, a lot of poker dealers (whether they admit it to you or not) will deal slower at a table if they’re not getting tipped appropriately. This is pretty terrible, but I sadly can assure you that I’ve heard several dealers on several different occasions say that they do this.

So, how much and how often should you be tipping?
Well, it depends on whether you are playing a cash game or a tournament.

Let’s look at each of these separately. If you’re playing in a cash game, you should be tipping $1 per hand that you win.

If you win a huge pot, you can tip more than this on a hand. Also, I personally only tip when there is a flop or significant pre-flop action. If I raise and everyone folds, I am not tipping on that hand. If I get called and we take a flop, I’ll be tipping regardless of what happens in the remainder of the hand.

Regarding tournaments, it depends on a few different factors. First, if the casino or poker room is already taking out additional money for the dealers and staff, it’s up to you. Personally, if they are already taking out additional money for this, I am not tipping extra. Remember, this is not the casino fee that is normally taken out. I am referring to an additional fee that is strictly for the dealers and the staff.

If the casino or poker room does not take out the extra for the dealers, then you should be looking to tip. Usually, I tip somewhere between 1% and 5%. If it’s a smaller tournament, you may want to tip a higher percentage.

If I were to win $1000, I would probably tip around 5% ($50). If I were to win $100,000, I’d probably tip close to the 1%-3% range.

If I were to win $1,000,000, I’d be tipping down much closer to the 1% range.

Again, these are just my thoughts, and you are free to do as you please.

The Wrap-Up

Hopefully by now you’ve got a pretty good idea of how you should be tipping at your favorite casino games. If there is a game you play that is not on the list, most likely you should still be looking to tip.

The best advice with other games is to watch how other players tip the dealers. If it’s a table game, you can usually toss the dealer a $5 chip here and there and be right on target.

Again, none of the things I’ve mentioned here are hard-and-fast rules.

Tipping is and always will be optional and completely up to you.

If you do want to have a great experience and follow along with what everyone else is doing, I would recommend following the guidelines I laid out here.

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