How to Tip at a Casino

Tipping can be a touchy subject for some. For some reason, people that do tip at a restaurant or for a taxi ride, think they should not have to tip when visiting a casino. The most common excuse is that the casino should be responsible for paying their employees more, not the customer. But, that obviously doesn't make sense if the same person tips at other establishments that have below minimum wage hourly pay for their employees.

Why are the standards different for some people when they are in a casino? My only thought is that maybe the casino is an unfamiliar place to them and they don't really know what is customary or fair. First, let me tell you, almost every service position in the casino is a below minimum wage job. Dealers, cocktail servers, bartenders, valet and more, all generally make less than minimum wage. They pay their bills, eat and live on tips.

I will try and explain what a fair tip is for each area of the casino below. Now these tip amounts are assuming you are receiving friendly service that is up to par with normal expectations and parameters of what they can do for you. Thinking that you should have a drink delivered to you every 10 minutes in a busy casino is not realistic. But, having that drink delivered to you with a smile and politeness is.

So, while we are on the subject of cocktail servers, let's start with them.

Cocktail Servers

A standard tip for an alcoholic beverage is $1 per drink. For a soda, coffee, water, etc, $1.00 every other drink from the same server or $0.50 per drink is adequate, but $1.00 per drink is still appreciated by the server.

Servers don't generally get to keep all their tips. They usually have to share 20% of their tip with the service counter bartender. This is a bartender that provides the drinks to the servers and doesn't get seen (or tipped) by the customers. This 20% given to bartenders is called a "tip out".

Table Games Dealers

Table games dealers are in a tough spot. They can't really move out of a 2 foot by 2 foot area and are subject to smoke, intoxicated customers, rude customers, new players that don't know the rules of the game and people that are unhappy from losing their money.

All they can really do is just deal the cards and be pleasant and helpful. If they are doing this and maybe even mixing in some small talk, encouragement, helpful information about other things in the casino, they deserve a tip. They are providing a service and doing everything they can to make it a good experience.

Dealers want you to win. They have no attachment to the chips in their tray and they know if you win there is a better chance of them receiving a tip. Dealers also don't mind if their tips are intertwined with your winning. Betting a chip for the dealer as part of your wager is a very nice thing to do. This can be done every 10 or 15 minutes and the dealer will be very happy.

Placing a tip for the dealer next to your bet in the amount of about 20% of what your normal bet is would be a fair amount. If you are betting $5.00 every hand, play a $1.00 chip for the dealer every 10 minutes. If you are betting $25 per hand, play a $5.00 for the dealer ever 15 minutes.

Poker Dealers

Poker dealers are in a little bit of a different situation than table games dealers. A poker dealer deals a winning hand to someone every single deal. A small tip received every hand makes for a decent wage for a poker dealer. A $1.00 tip on a won pot is customary in poker. On a very large pot, a couple dollars is sufficient. And if you win some sort of promotion, 5% is a fair amount to tip the dealer.

A $100 high hand or aces cracked win would be a $5.00 tip. A dollar or two per hand and 5% tips on promotions will generally keep a poker dealer very happy and engaged at the table. As mentioned above, if the dealer is not pleasant or thankful for the tips, then reducing the amount or frequency is legitimate response.

Buffet Servers

Everyone knows that 15% - 20% is customary for a regular restaurant server, but how much do you give to someone that doesn't actually serve you your meal? That's the question at a buffet. Assuming that the server greets you, cleans up you plates, asks if you need anything, etc, a tip is still expected at a buffet.

10% is a fair amount to tip the server at a buffet. 15% would be some above and beyond service. If it's just you at the buffet and the bill is less than $10.00, $1.00 should be the minimum tip amount.

Valet Drivers/Car Parkers

A $1.00 tip when your car is brought to you and the keys are handed over is customarily the minimum. A $2.00 or $3.00 tip can be earned if the valet provides any type of extra service.

A special parking request by you or a rush should be worth an extra amount. Also, any help with local attractions, restaurants, entertainment, etc. should be considered when tipping.

Slot Attendants

Slot attendants, or the person that brings you money when you hit a jackpot, are another job in the casino that gets paid below minimum wage and it's one people don't pay much attention to.

But, slot attendants are a little bit different than most of the other positions in a casino because you really don't have any interaction with them before or after your hand pay. With this is mind, a percentage is not normally the standard for tipping a slot attendant, unless you win a larger amount.

A tip from $5.00 to $20.00 is normally a fair amount, depending on the hand pay amount and quality of service. On a large jackpot of $5,000, a 1% tip is a nice amount, but even at $20, you're taking care of that attendants needed pay for the hour in most cases.