A Vegas Poker Player’s Guide to Gratuities at the WSOP
A drunken fish plopped down in the uncapped $1-$2 NL game at Golden Nugget on a recent Saturday night, and before long, playing maybe 98 percent of his starting hands, he scooped an $800 pot thanks to an extremely fortunate flop. He threw the dealer a $100 bill for a tip.
The other players’ eyes widened, and the dealer even seemed reluctant to accept the 12.5 percent gratuity. But considering that I got to be the one who eventually stacked him (KK > TT) I couldn’t help but think that the dealer’s good fortune ultimately cut into my own profits!
Call me a life-nit or just a guy who chooses self-park over valet, but here in Las Vegas too many people want a piece of your bankroll. You can see it almost everywhere at the WSOP, and after awhile all that extra “optional” money can really add up.
We spoke to dozens of seasonal WSOP workers to find out what they really expect from decent players, along with the likelihood that you are going to stiff them.
Tournament Dealers – 1-3%
Only about 10 percent of players tip after cashing in a tournament, say sources at the cashout cage, and most of them only if they finish first. The WSOP takes out between 4 and 10 percent of tournament buy-ins from everyone for “house fees and dealer/staff tokes”. Anything extra gets distributed among the staff that worked that tournament. Even when split up, a nice tip from the main event winner can make a difference between $500 and $1,000 for main event dealers.
Cash Game Dealers – $1-$5 per hand
Every dealer who has the occasional $200 down in the high-stakes pit will also tell you these players are usually the worst tippers. Most grinders I know tip $1 for a winning hand, and maybe as much as $5 for bigger pots. Send a dealer less than a buck in games with “silver” in play and you’re 85 percent certain to face scorn at the table.
Chip Runners – $1 to $5, less for rebuys
The quicker they can convert the cash to checks, the better chance they have of receiving a tip, which they get from about 10 percent of players.
Cashiers – $0.25 to $20
Cage cashiers say they expect nothing, but winning players do occasionally slip them loose change ranging from a buck to $20. In the poker kitchen and hallway snack bars, eye-level tip jars encourage players to do the same with their change, which is less this year due to food and drink price increases.
Cooks – $0 to $2 for seniors
You’d think more players might tip the people who handle their food, but cooks say virtually no one under 30 tips them ever, but players over 50 regularly toss them $1 or $2.
Masseuses – $10 or 15%
The roughly 300 Rio masseuses on duty during the WSOP won’t say they expect extra money for good service on top of the $2/minute body rubbing fee, but it’s customary for players to tip around 15 percent of the cost of the massage.
Valet parkers – $3
They all have tales of getting a $100 or $200 tip from a guy who just won big and celebrities in Ferraris and Bentleys stiffing them. But the WSOP valet crew’s standard gratuity ranges from $2-$20, with $3 or $4 as an average, parkers say.
Cocktail servers — $1 to $5 per drink
It’s standard to tip a dollar for a water or Red Bull, but not all players do. The recreational player might hand a waitress or waiter anywhere from $1 to $5, and they know the tip can often increase based on the stiffness of the drink.
Bartenders — $1-$2 per drink
For every tourney bust (let’s be fair, you don’t cash as much as you think you should) there’s a bar in the Rio hallway. Give the slinger a buck, or expect lots of water in your next vodka-Red Bull.
I don’t tip at Starbuck’s. I also don’t drink $6 coffees. But a lot of poker players do.
Cigarette Girls – $1.50, $4.50 or nothing
These girls work for tips and commission selling off a tray loaded with cigarettes, cigars, candy, flashing sunglasses, light-up bunny ears — various chewables, smokables, and sundry goofy shit — and say they make much less since the price of cigarettes went up to $10.50.
Casino Floor – $25 chip for a chair?
Some players will slip them anything from a white chip ($1) to a turtle ($25) for a table change, an approved ruling or a food comp. Though Rio floor people say it doesn’t affect the way they do their job, they’re not going to turn down any real-money token of appreciation.