Tipping dealer not always so simple
john grochowski email@example.com March 21, 2012 3:08PM
Anthony Marisco, a 26-year-old poker pro from west suburban Bloomingdale, Ill., outlasted Matthew Rosen of Des Plaines, Ill., to win the main event at the Chicago Poker Classic at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond. Marisco earned $265,825 in the $3,125-buy-in Hold’em event, while Rosen walked away with $164,279. Edward Ochana of Elgin, Ill., was the third-place finisher, winning $108,268.
Updated: April 24, 2012 8:07AM
It’s a fact of casino life that dealers make their living on tips — or rather “tokes,” for tokens of appreciation. Dealers are paid a low wage, and the tokes keep them going.
Most of the tokes come from players on a winning streak who will make an additional bet for the dealer. While playing blackjack, I’ll put my own wager in the betting circle or on the spot, then place an additional wager at the front of the circle or spot. If I win, so does the dealer. If I lose, the house takes the extra wager along with my regular bet.
It’s an easy enough process. But in some games, there’s a little more to it as Jeremy, an Arlington Heights, Ill., reader, found when he tried to toke the dealer in Three Card Poker.
“I put down an ante bet for the dealer, and had a pair of 6s, so I went to raise both my bet and the dealer’s bet,” he wrote in an email. “The dealer told me I was not allowed to raise on the dealer’s bet. I won, so I won my $5 ante and $5 raise, and the dealer won only the $1 ante. I guess my question is whether an ante is the best way to tip the dealer, given that you can’t raise. None of the other players were tipping.”
The ante-bet portion of Three Card Poker involves placing an ante before you see your cards. After you see your cards, you may then either fold and forfeit your ante, or stay in the hand by making a bet equal to your ante. If you follow basic strategy — and bet whenever you have Queen-6-4 or higher and fold lesser hands, the house edge is 3.37 percent of your ante or 2.01 percent of total action. However, if you’re limited just to the ante for the dealer, then the house edge with basic strategy soars to in excess of 10 percent.
Do you want to tip with a bet that has one of the higher house edges in the casino, or find a different way?
My choice: If I can’t match the ante with a bet, I’ll stick to toking a Three Card Poker dealer by just giving them the chip, or at least asking if they’d rather take it or have me bet. Even if it’s no longer going to be my money, I just don’t like house edges that high.
John Grochowski is a local freelance writer. Look for him on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44); Twitter (@GrochowskiJ) and at casino answerman.com.