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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Husband gripes over wife's generous tip

6 January 2012

Dear Mark: Please tell me how this tipping experience should have played out. I was playing roulette and having decent success. While playing, I asked the dealer what his favorite number was (13), a number I never play because I think it is unlucky. Still, I decided to place four $5 chips straight up on 13. I then told the dealer "five of it is yours" if he hit it. The ball dropped in 13, and the dealer paid himself $175. Here is where it gets interesting. My husband, Scooter, happened to have come up on my win at the payoff and was miffed that the dealer got $175, and not just a $5 chip. He thought the dealer didn't deserve that amount for doing nothing more spinning the wheel. As a former dealer/pit boss, what is the protocol for this payout, the $5, or the $175, which, by the way, I was OK with the dealer getting? Kimmy T.

Allow a lead in, Kimmy, with your superstition concerning the number 13. It is a phobia known as triskaidekaphobia, associated with anything numbered 13. Providentially, your random spin had the stopping point of 13. Winner, Kimmy, and winner the croupier, perhaps because you look at betting for the dealer as a contribution to the Dame of Fortune, Lady Luck.

Responding to your question from a table games management perspective, mentioning "five of it is yours" would be construed as a tip for the dealer, no different than a $5 bet for the dealer in front of your wager would be in blackjack, or $5 riding alongside yours on the Pass line. Sure, the payoff of $175 seems sizable to your husband Scooter, but it reflects the odds of actually hitting the number thirteen, one in 38. You could have offered a tip directly to the dealer with your winnings, but in your case, you voiced a verbal side bet on top of your wager, to which you agreed to make payment.

So which do most dealers prefer? The majority of dealers favor a side bet rather than receiving the tip directly after the payoff. This side wager makes them feel like they're also in action and have a stake in the game. A bet for the dealer provides a little excitement in what can be a pretty monotonous job.

My only concern is that to make it all legit, the dealer should try, with time permitting, to offset his chip for the cameras while the ball was circling, along with calling over the pit boss for the "she said" payoff.

Now back to that $5 chip, Kimmy, and getting your husband even more peeved.

A few casinos allow the dealer to wager the $5 chip again. What I am referring to is that in roulette, players are paid "to" one versus "for" one. When the odds are stated "for" one, you do not get back your initial bet. However, his single-number win in roulette receives 35-to-1, which is a 35-chip payoff ($175), plus the original $5 chip on 13, which is either taken down, or some casinos permit dealers to let it ride. It sure could have gotten ugly had the 13 hit back-to-back. Security!!!

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Someone once asked me why women don't gamble as much as men do, and I gave the commonsensical reply that we don't have as much money. That was a true but incomplete answer. In fact, women's total instinct for gambling is satisfied by marriage." — Gloria Steinem
Recent Articles
Best of Mark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.