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Best of John Grochowski

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A Shuffle Through the Gaming Mailbag

30 October 2001

Q. Would you please write a column of your views on tipping in casinos? I am a dealer on one of the area riverboat casinos and as I hope you are aware we are paid on a base of less than minimum wage. The rest of our salary is made up from tips from patrons. I'm not sure a lot of people are aware of this.

The frustration comes when a customer wins big at my table and does not show one bit of appreciation by way of tips. I can understand they might be losing elsewhere in the casino, but if they win at my table is it wrong to expect anything in return? We are expected to smile and make sure everyone has a good time, but sometimes this is difficult when all we get is "give me more money."

I do enjoy my job and have met a lot of interesting people, I just don't think a lot of people realize how we are paid. I certainly would not go into a restaurant and not tip the waitress anything.

You will notice that I said if they win at my table. I do not expect anything if they are losing.

Thank you for listening to my frustration. I just wanted to give you another view from the other side of the table.

MM, via e-mail

A. I have addressed the subject of tipping a couple of times in this column, but there's no harm in a gentle reminder. Dealers are service employees who make their living from tips. Good ones do a great deal to make the gaming experience more enjoyable, and players should acknowledge that.

The most common way to tip is by making a bet for the dealer. Blackjack players may place a bet for the dealer at the front of their own betting circle or box. When I double down or split, I add a second bet for the dealer, too, although many players do not. Craps players sometimes will split a bet with the dealer on a proposition--"$2 hard 8 both ways" means the player is betting $1 on 8 the hard way for himself and $1 for the dealers. I prefer to tip craps dealers by making a pass line bet for them right alongside my own. They win more often that way than on the center-table bets.

Some games have idiosyncratic rules about making bets to tip. In Caribbean Stud, you may make an ante for the dealer that will be paid at even money if you win, but casinos often do not permit you to back it up with a bet for the dealer if you like your hand. I tip when winning, or even when I'm just holding my own, provided the dealer is enhancing rather than detracting from the experience. If the dealer is grumpy, or giving an "I don't care about anything but my next break" attitude, I don't tip no matter how well I'm doing.

Assuming reasonable effort and a modicum of good cheer, I make a point of tipping every so often. It doesn't have to be a lot. If a $5 bettor places bets of a dollar or two for the dealer a couple of times an hour, and bigger bettors tip proportionately more, the dealers will make out just fine. It's not too much to expect a $25 player who is doing well to make the odd $5 bet or more frequent smaller bets for the dealer.

Q. How does a player properly save a seat at a machine if you get up to make change and have no credits on the machine? The way I learned was to put a change cup on the seat and leave your slot card in the machine. I've seen people tilt the chair forward which I think is also a pretty clear way. If I see either of these, I consider the machine taken. I've had people tell me I was playing their machine because they left their card in it or left their jacket on the back of the seat. People leave their cards in the machines all the time and I've gotten up and forgotten my jacket.

Phil, via e-mail

A. The more clues a player leaves that he or she is returning, the better. The change cup on the seat or upside down on the screen of a slant-top machine is a good method. So is tilting the chair forward. I leave machines alone if I see a jacket draped over the chair. Maybe somebody walked off without a jacket, but more often than not, they'll be back.

A slot club card left in the machine is not a strong enough clue that someone is coming back. You are correct that people walk away without their cards often.

One further piece of etiquette: A player who goes off for change or a bathroom break should return promptly. Saving a game for five or 10 minutes is fine, but don't tie it up while you take an hour dinner break.

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski