June 13, 2011
In a recent post, I discussed a big pot I won where I flopped the nut straight and made nearly $950 in profit after surviving a five-way all-in. I mentioned that I tipped the dealer and the cocktail server $10 each. An anonymous commenter took me to task:
You win a $1250 pot, while fading half the deck, and you give the dealer ten bucks; the same as some chick that brought you a drink. Cheap dude, very cheap.
Now when it comes to tipping, one thing I know is that I tip far better than average for meals (dine-in, carryout, and delivery), taxis, bags/concierge, etc. So if someone wants to call me cheap, they obviously don't know me.
That being said, this comment does raise a couple of interesting points. First is the premise that a poker dealer tip should be proportional to the pot size. Now I tip at least $1 on every hand, even when just winning or even chopping the blinds. I usually tip $2-$5 on big pots or when I hit a monster hand or a big suckout. In this particular hand, I tipped more ($10) in part because it was a big pot, and in part because the dealer needed to sort out several side pots, which slowed the game and denied him tips from hands he would've dealt in the normal course of events.
That all being said, I simply can't agree that merely because my hand held up, or I hit a draw, or some other such outcome occurred that the dealer deserves a bigger tip. The dealer has no influence on the outcome of a hand (assuming no dealer errors). The dealer's duties are to deal the cards, run the action, and award the pot. The dealer has no influence on whether I happen to hit a big hand or win a monster pot. So if the dealer's actions don't influence whether I win or how much I win, why should my tip size vary significantly based on the size of the pot, or whether I hit or dodged a draw?
The other implicit criticism is that the cocktail server did not deserve the same tip as the dealer. However, I had ordered a drink prior to this hand occurring, and the server brought me my drink while the hand was being completed. Since my money was in the middle of the table, I couldn't tip the server (all I had in my wallet were $20s and $100s). I specifically asked the server to wait for the hand to play out so I could tip her. Given the multiple side pots and big action, the denouement of the hand took some time to play out. So, I tipped the server extra because she delayed serving other tables and presumably lost tips while waiting on me. Now perhaps my $10 tip was too generous, but that is hardly the basis for any criticism of my tip to the dealer, which should be evaluated on its own merits.
As I've discussed previously, I accept dealer tipping as a necessary part of the game. I believe most dealers work hard to make the game fun and profitable, and I have no qualms about tipping generously. I have tipped more than $10 on a hand on occasion, and I likely will again in the future. I simply don't agree with a contention that a $10 tip—10 times the standard tip—is "cheap" merely because I won an unusually big hand.
What do you think? Am I a cheapskate?