Costs of Doing Business.

Quick… someone pick Poker Knave up off the floor.  I’m blogging and he’s fainted from shock. :)

I apologize for my blogging absence.  If you were to see my poker log, you’d see that I’ve been spending a lot of time at the tables and not at my computer desk.  Despite layoffs, purse strings tightening and all this talk of recession, the tables have been good.  Even better, it seems stupid people haven’t given up gambling.

However, I have noticed a different type of cost cutting going on and my friends who work as dealers have confirmed it.  It comes in the form of tips. I thought I’d help out those of you who don’t know what tipping practices might be in my fine city and out some of you cheapos, educating you on a little good karma.

Las Vegas is very much a city that is built on service.  Greased palms, the $5 handshake, or a bill slipped in a g-string (if that’s your thing) just add to the experience.  Most anyone in a customer service occupation makes most of their living off of tips.  You should see it in their service.

When people come to Las Vegas, I see several people who aren’t sure what to do.  Maybe the tipping standard is different where they’re from.  Maybe they haven’t played a live game before.  So, here’s a guide.

At the poker table – In a cash game you genreally tip at least a buck for a pot, unless all you’ve won is the blinds.  For a tournament, you subtract your buy in from your winning and tip on the profits…. somewhere between 5-10% is pretty standard. If you happen to win a high hand, that’s essentially free money and 5-10% is also a good rule.

Also an important note: Poker dealers in Las Vegas each keep their own tips.  They don’t pool them.  So, you tip the dealer that gave you the winning hand, don’t wait until the end of night to see how you end up overall.  I consider the tip as much a cost of doing business as the rake that gets taken out of the pot.  Personally, I happen to know many dealers in my favorite rooms so I wouldn’t consider cheaping out on them. 

Valet – a service not everyone employs, but a single girl often does.  Standard is $2-3 when you get your car.  Personally, I always do $5.  That consistency has gotten me a spot in the valet when it may be full to others on more than one occasion.

Cocktail waitress – you don’t pay for your drinks while you’re playing at a Vegas table or slot machine so you generally tip the waitress $1 every time you get a drink.  At the slots, every second drink is passable, so long as you aren’t playing the $5 slots.

Housekeeping – when you tip is up to you.  It’s been my experience that if you tip early in your stay ($3-5) it’s likely you’ll get extras in your room if possible (mouthwash, extra lotion, an extra chocolate on your pillow). At minimum you should also do it again at the end of your stay, at $2-4 per day.

Taxi – The standard is 10-15%.  If you are here on business and want a blank receipt you need to make sure you tip at least $5.  No tip and receipt request, don’t be surprised if the cabbie fills in that receipt for you and documents that they picked you up/dropped you off at one of those fine establishments on Industrial (aka Strip bar central) – good luck then expensing that cab ride.

For those flying, sky cap is at least $1 per bag, I’d lean towards $2.  Same amount for the bellman taking your bags to your room.

Of course, we have those other standard service industries that also rely on tips

Restaurants – good service is usually tipped 15-20%.  Groups are generally charged 18%.  If you’re at the bar, its generally a buck per round, more if you’re doing a bunch of complicated drinks.

Masseuse – For most spa services 15-20% is standard.

**I have to say, this post was inspired by two things.  One was friends in these service industries talking about people feigning ignorance about tipping and just not doing it.  The second was witnessing a Canadian visitor at the poker tables who was blatantly fitting the bad Canadian stereotype.  It can be summed up by the following joke:

Q: What’s the difference between a Canuck and a Canoe?

A: A canoe tips.

Now, I’m originally Canadian, born and raised, and I’m a decent to generous tipper so I’m not sure why Canadians get such a bad rap but I have definitely seen many examples of it.  At the poker tables I’ve seen it bite them in the ass on more than one occasion too.  Open to hearing why Canadians think its ok to be so damn cheap.  It goes directly against the ‘polite Canadian’ image in my opinion.

Feel free to comment if I forgot anyone.  I know I didn’t cover the ladies on Industrial… I’m hoping there’s a guy or two who can provide some enlightment.  That’s just not in my realm of experience.

9 thoughts on “Costs of Doing Business.

  1. Great post!! Thanks for the tips on tipping!! We need to print this out on some plastic cards that people can tuck neatly into their purse/wallets :)

  2. My problem at the table is that I’m usually replaying the hand in my head and it takes me until like the end of the next hand to realize that I need to tip the dealer. I’m always tipping late. I always space it and never figure out why because I’m ALWAYS a good tipper if I got out to a bar, eat etc.

  3. As I raise my self from the floor after falling down heavily…I must say that in the UK the tipping system is a bit more chaotic, but reading what you have written it is always a good idea to be pleasant and tip generously because the word gets around and the service gets better. Cross my pay with silver as they say.

    I now need to lay down in a darken room and take tablet or two from the shock :)

  4. Jett, there is two things you need to do

    1) Win more pots so it doesn’t seem like such a novelty.
    2) If it’s more than a small pot, throw in your buck as your pulling in the chips. If, after stacking it up, you feel like giving them more, then throw them another chip or two.

    Another good rule is to judge by how many pushes it takes the dealer to push you the pot. 1 push, 1 buck… 3 pushes, 3 bucks

  5. Great point, they are people to be remembered too.

    I’m not generally playing in higher limit games where tipping the floor is a factor but for those that want to get seated in the juiciest game, or have them run through the list to get to your name quicker, a tip to the floor can be helpful.

    I admittedly don’t always tip the chip runner but it’s a convenience service they provide and tipping them for making a trip on your behalf certainly isn’t bad karma.

    Also, If I’ve had a good night I’ll leave a couple bucks at the cage too when I cash out.

  6. I asked Neal if he’d noticed this. He still tips, but he thinks a lot of regulars are reacting to the rake being effectively doubled over the last few years. When he first moved here the max rake was $3, he says now many places charge $5 plus $1 for promotional jackpots.

    So, $6 + $1 tip = $7 per hand times 30 hands/hour times 8 hours and that’s $1680 taken off the table during a typical session. :( Many pros and other regulars resent this because it’s becoming harder and harder to beat the rake, even for people who used to be winning players.

    Perhaps players shouldn’t be taking it out on the dealers by reducing their tips, but the rooms are charging twice as much for the same service. Or for poorer service, in the places that have reduced their cocktail service.

  7. I think people are sick of tipping, from hotdog stands to ice cream places. I used to be a server and believe me, I feel you. In fact, it wasn’t canadians but any foreigner that would not tip or tip very poorly. But seriously, everyone now expects a tip and I think the public in general feels at odds with it. I would get a coffee at starbucks, tip jar. Bagel at einsteins, tip jar. Tropical Smoothie lunch, tip jar. Add Valet, Dinner and you’re done! I’m a firm believer in if you don’t have money to tip, then you shouldn’t be out, period.

  8. “But seriously, everyone now expects a tip and I think the public in general feels at odds with it.”

    And who can blame them?! Ridicilous tipping when you get a coffee or a bagel. As far as the foreigners go, in europe it’s just not standard practise. Just in restaurants and taxi’s. That’s about it. Tipping anywhere else will make you look pretty strange.

    I always tip generously when in vegas, but you can’t expect people from other countries with other standards to just transition easily if they’re not used to it or maybe even don’t know it’s expected.

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