To Tip or Not to Tip?

by , Mar 27, 2008 | 11:18 am

A recent player bashing discussion has evolved on the 2+2 forums regarding tipping dealers and tournament staff upon winning a major event. Specifically, this is in reference to Brandon Cantu’s recent World Poker Tour $1 million win at the Bay 101 Shooting Stars tournament.

Evidently, unlike many tournaments on the circuit, Bay 101 didn’t take anything from the buy-ins to tip the staff, but Brandon was unaware of this. CardPlayer has done an interesting two-part article, which includes some words from Brandon and TD Matt Savage.

Click here for Part 1.
Click here for Part 2.

So many interesting questions arise from this discussion, as they did when Jerry Yang won the 2007 WSOP main event.

Should the players be told up-front about the tipping policy at that particular venue?
Is it the players’ responsibility to find out or that of the tournament director to inform everyone?
If a tip is taken from the buy-ins, should players still tip on top of that?
Do only the winners tip? Or should everyone at the final table tip?
What is the correct percentage to tip?

This is a subject that should be discussed in length. I’d love for some tournament pros to weigh in on this.

10 Comments to “To Tip or Not to Tip?”

  1. Kevin Mathers

    When the post was made Sunday, the person decided to use John Stolzmann, who tipped $500 after winning the 2005 WPO in Tunica, as the user name (before I requested that it be changed to anon).

    Also worth noting was that on March 17, a poster in the Tournament Circuit forum on 2+2 originally brought up the rumor that Cantu didn’t tip. It took for someone to mention this in NVG Sunday for all hell to break loose.

  2. DanM

    NVG … Neverw … National Victory Gardens … Negrea …

    Drawing a blank here.

  3. ItsOverJonny

    NVG = “News, Views, and Gossip” – a high-traffic forum on 2+2

  4. DanM

    Oh, right. I’ve heard of that. Even read it every once in a while. Thanks, Jonny!

  5. Grunkzzz

    Yeah I usually over tip like 7% + the 3% they take out originally… I don’t like places that force me to tip. I have been thinking about not tipping anymore. What if the dealers all suck I have no recourse to punish them.

    I havent not tipped over the 3% yet except when I only profit like 400$ or less. Then I usually am so drained and disappointed I forget to tip. I think they should just take money for the dealers and then tell everyone not to tip like a dealer toke. Or not take anything and let the players do what they want. I know there are lots of tight asses out there that must have never worked for a tip in there life but forcing people to tip is wrong.

  6. DanM

    We should remember that there is a big difference between tipping in a small, small-stakes poker room and the biggest tournaments in the world.

    One is being run by nice people trying to keep a game going, the other is a major corporate operation with more responsibilities and liabilities.

  7. on tilt

    I have been on both sides of this as a player and dealer, although not anthying the size of a WSOP event. My personal opinion is that is would easiest for everyone involved if a percentage was withheld for the dealers that would fairly compensate them for their time and effort without being supplemented by any additional gratuity.

    If a player chooses to then leave an addition tip, it would be more of a bonus, but not something necessary to “complete” their wages.

  8. on tilt

    and for the record, I would still tip in this situation

  9. 85nutz

    Having been a waiter, bartender or poker dealer I have depended on tips for my income during the better part of the last 5 years. Being a regular player also gives me a pretty good perspective on the issue. I compare it to a large party at a resturant for dinner. It is standard practice for there to be 15-18% added to the bill for gratuity and the customers have the option of leaving more if they feel they received service that deserves a bigger tip. What’s wrong with using the same philosophy for large tournaments. I also think the percentage should be the same no matter what the buy in. Taking 3% of the small events and 1.8% of the big events seems pointless to me. Take a straight 2 or 3% for every tournament, make it standard and then the players will become accustom to that percentage and can use their own judgement after that. I also think that this percentage should be clearly marked on any tournament information published and on any buy in receipt given to the players. The regular tournament I play at the Venetian takes out a certain percentage (although I don’t know what that is) and has a ‘Staff Bonus’ of $5 or $10 dollars, depending on the tourny, that earns you extra starting chips. I’m not sure I like the staff bonus portion if they are already getting a set percentage and I figure this in when I tip at the end. I try and figure out what amount makes my total contribution to the dealers 5% of my profit for that tournament. I figure that combined with their hourly wage plus the percentage taken from those who didn’t cash will fairly comnpansate the dealers.

  10. Dirty Stacks

    “I do, however, want to make sure that my staff is taken care of, because they are all so deserving. Nobody has been paid yet, because the club is trying to find a way to make it right.” – Matt Savage

    Hmmmm. I say you are asking the wrong question. The question should be why aren’t casino’s paying tournament dealers enough such that tipping is eliminated?

    What?!? Eliminated? Are you crazy? Maybe.

    Some where way back when, the casino operators thought, “Hey, if we can get the patron to tip the dealer, then we don’t have to pay them.” Overtime, this has become acceptable practice and now we are EXPECTED to tip, because that is how these tortured souls earn their living.

    I question just what are we tipping them for. I dare say that many of the dealers in these large tournaments have rarely dealt poker if at all. Many of them are such novices making such outlandish mistakes that I shake my head and wonder why this person is dealing this tournament. “Oh, because they didn’t have enough dealers, so they asked a bunch of black jack dealers to do it and gave us a quick lesson.”

    I sat in one tournament in which the dealer was pushed by a new dealer who’s inexperience became evident shortly after she began to deal. After dealing the requisite 2 cards to each person for this large buy-in Holdem tournament, UTG says, “No, no, this is Omaha!” and motioned for the dealer to continue dealing. She looked puzzled, then smiled and said “Omaha” and to my amazement continued to deal out more cards. By the time the table started yelling at her, she had dealt out 7 more cards. Please note that this tournament had been running for over 2 hours at this point. The hand was declared a misdeal. UTG was not penalized for the comment or the coaxing to deal more cards because the dealer couldn’t explain intelligently what had happened. Are you kidding me?

    Casinos continuously provide players with sub-par dealers at no risk to themselves, because they don’t pay them, we do. When the dealers complain they didn’t get tipped, the casino’s are quick to inform the winner that it is customary to tip the dealers as they work for tips. Excuse me, how much did you the casino collect in tournament fees? And what do you pay with those fees? Apparently not your employees.

    Are we players so stupid as to not wake up and say wait a minute! If you so want to take care of them, why have you placed the amount they earn based on the whims of a degenerate gambler poker player? Pay them a fair hourly wage and eliminate the tipping altogether I say.

    You can’t do that! All of the good poker dealers will stop dealing! Really? Like the one above? The truth is, most Good poker dealers avoid dealing tournaments like the plague. Why? Because there is no money in it!

    Why do you think all tournaments are full of rookie dealers? Rookies don’t get to choose shifts, and always start out at the bottom -tournaments. Casinos use tournaments as training grounds. It’s an effective way to get a dealer a lot of time in the box without affecting the rake. You see, the casino is getting paid no matter if the dealer is a good one or not in a tournament.