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Best of Mark Pilarski

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Deal Me In: Toke tapping tenets for tipsters

30 October 2009

Dear Mark: I read an article by Henry Tamburin in which he states that the best way to tip a blackjack dealer is to place the "tip chip" on top of one's bet in the layout circle and if you lose the hand the dealer gets nothing, but if you win, you reward him the tip chip amount. The article states that most dealers prefer this method of tipping rather than just being given a tip. Since you once dealt blackjack, perhaps you have an opinion on this.

But, with this method of tipping isn't the player trapped into making a "double tip" should his cards need splitting? On a double down, the player would be OK, as he could double less the "tip chip", but I think he is trapped with the split if my memory is correct in that one has to bet the same amount on a split. I thought you might have some suggestions on this. Mac B.

As with most service industry jobs, Mac, most front-line casino employees get paid minimum wage. The majority of a casino dealer's pay comes through the gratuities of casino patrons, like you.

In dealer jargon, a tip is called a toke. You can offer your toke directly to the dealer, or you can place a side bet on top of or in front of your wager for the dealer. So which do dealers prefer? As Henry states correctly, most dealers favor a side bet alongside yours rather than receiving the toke directly. 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 tedious job at times. Check that. Pitching cards and performing mind-numbing mental calculations like counting to 21 is tedious all of the time.

As for a "double tip" if you choose to double down or split pairs in favorable situations, yes, I guess you could look at it that way, but you are under no obligation to double your tip, nor does it have to be the same amount. I would guesstimate that half the players do add to their original bet for the dealer, half do not.

Personally, Mac, I've always looked at doubling up for the dealer as a contribution to the Dame of Fortune, Lady Luck. Besides, dealers need those gestures of gratuity to make a decent wage. If the casinos had to pay a true living wage to dealers instead of dealers accepting tips, casinos would have to figure a way of making up for lost revenue. For starters, they would change the rules of the game, increase table minimums, and even alter paybacks, like paying even money on a blackjack.

Bottom line, Mac, only tip what you are comfortable with, and only tip for good service. Even I, with 20 years on the inside, won't tip a disgruntled blackjack dealer.

Dear Mark: What is your favorite Gambling Wisdom of the Week quote? Alastair K.

Gambling quotes, Alastair, seem to take on a life of their own. Take, for instance, one quote that's attributed to Yours Truly: "The smarter you play, the luckier you'll be." That quote has found its way into a half dozen books, and not necessarily on gambling. It even appears on page two of "The Acquisitive Distributor: 4 Keys to Success When Buying a Wholesale Business." I would add that tome to my personal library, being that I'm in it, but it's $239.80 at Amazon so I'll pass.

Picking one, Alastair, gosh, there are so many good gambling quotations. I've always been humored by this one: "Depend on the rabbit's foot if you will, but remember it didn't work for the rabbit." -R. E. Shay

Years working the Green Felt Jungle makes me appreciate this dilly: "A gambler with a system must be, to a greater or lesser extent, insane." George Augustus Sala (1828-95), English writer and journalist.

But I would have to say this gem from Proverb is probably my favorite: "In a bet there is a fool and a thief."

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "Gambling pulls at the core of a man" --Meyer Lansky

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.