June 13, 2011

Am I a Cheapskate?

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?


  1. I think your tip to the dealer was fine. It was more then your typical tip and from everything I've read from dealers, consistent tipping is what they are looking for in order to run as many hands as possible. I might have gone $20/$20 to the dealer and waitress, but I know I get a bit splashy with a big win (at least I have done something for similar amounts at hand pays). I don't think there is anything wrong with $10 for each in this situation.

    Of course you can't please everyone all the time though as your commenter pointed out.

  2. I would definitely be interested in comments to this because I have no clue what is an appropriate tip. I'm like you in that I tip something regardless of whether I'm chopping blinds, small pot type situations, but do find I tip more when I win a biggish pot. If there's a standard out there, I wanna know! Nice post.

  3. It sounds kinda cheap when you say $1250 and $10 tip... however you look at it as a business. You go there a lot and you put in a tip on every hand.. so pot size does not influence your tipping..

    Personally I think a "tip" is exactly that and nobody should expect anything.. the fact you give something is not cheap.

  4. Big tipping is a leak. Not as bad as craps, but you get my point. If you look at win rates per hour and factor in larger than average tips, you'll see what I mean. I have tipped $20+ on a crazy suckout or when I'm on a stupid rush - usually while drinking, but usually it's $1-$2. I never tip on stolen blinds.


  5. I don't think your tips were out of line. In fact, I'd say the dealer tip was appropriate based on the fact he deftly handled all the side pots. In my opinon the tip to the cocktail server was probably on the generous side.

    You're a regular there and the cocktail servers presumably know you, so they wouldn't necessarily fear you were trying to stiff them if you asked to catch them later on the gratuity. I would have told them to go ahead and take care of other tables and that I would catch them when all of my money wasn't in the middle of the table.

  6. I think if anything you tipped heavy, not light, but that's your prerogative. I don't think I've ever tipped more than $5, and ditto to a cocktail server. And I don't tip on chopped/stolen blinds (unless there were a lot of orphaned blinds in there that I stole). So I guess I'm the cheapskate, not you :)!

  7. Anyone who anonymously bitches about how much you tip with your own money should go screw themselves...

    IMO, I'd say $10 to dealer and waitstaff is way generous. Anything more than a five spot regardless of pot size is way more than anyone should expect at the tables per hand or drink.

    But, it's your money, your choice.

    BTW - I worked for tips all through high school. Somehow I survived... :-)

  8. LOL at anyone calling Grange a cheapskate. In the 20+ years I've known him, he deserves to be called a lot of things (many worse than 'cheapskate') but a cheapskate he definitely is not.

    This also conjures up the tired conversation of tipping out a jackpot win. The biggest problem I have with the vocal minority of sour grapes dealers who complain about tip size there: They should in turn invite abuse toward them when they deal a ridiculous suck out. They can't control either scenario, they just deal the cards. Why should they feel entitled to some % of the player's money? Crazy.

    As many posters have said, pot size has zero to do with the responsibilities (and relative skill) of the dealer. Why reward that? Perhaps the one place that "overtip" (and yes, I AM a cheapskate) is when a dealer has the moxie to step up and enforce rules where other dealers might have turned a blind eye. I'll happily flip a red bird to a dealer who tactfully, yet assertively shuts up a belligerent player or enforces string raise rules. Those duties of their job actually require effort, as opposed to just being the lucky dealer to run out a jackpot hand.

  9. Anything over a red bird is a generous tip in most dealer's minds. You seem to tip above the average. It is certainly above what most pros will consider. I know Linda has left Bobby's Room after a down with less than what you tipped on the one hand.

  10. The idea of tipping proportionally to the pot makes little sense, whereas valuing people's time does.

    I officially pronounce you NOT a cheapskate. Plz send mobneys. :D

  11. Frightening as this is, we once again think alike:


  12. I too tend to follow the tipping model used by the Doc and Falstaff. I don't tip on stolen blinds, but I do tip on every other hand. My usual tip is $1, but I will occasionally tip $5 or $10 on a monster pot with lots of action that needs to be sorted out.

  13. Whoever said that you gave a cheap tip doesn't play in casinos. The $10 to the dealer was generous and the $10 to the waitress was too much.

  14. It's unclear whether the commenter thought your $10 tip to the dealer was too little or the $10 tip to the waitress was too much. Would he/she have still griped if you tipped the dealer $10 and waitress $5?

    I'm a fixed limit player so there's less variability in the hands and I just tip $1-$2/pot, blind steals included. But if I were to play NL regularly, the only reason I'd tip more is if the pot was complex (multiple side pots) and I scooped it all, or if the action was intense and the hand took longer than usual to deal.

    I'm with Memphis MOJO - $10 for the dealer is generous, and $10 for the waitress is "too" generous.

  15. From what I saw at our sessions together at PH, you tip more than most players. You're most definitely not a stiff. Not sure why people bother posting nasty little comments on your blog. I've noticed Grump's blog getting similar attack comments lately. Maybe the lack of online poker is getting more people to troll poker blogs out of boredom.

    I'm not sure if I have ever tipped $10 on a pot. Definitely a red for large pots. I don't tip on blind chops, but depending on my mood and my opinion of the dealer I tend to toss a white on a blind steal. I used the line "here's a 33% tip" a couple of times over the weekend. With my sterling table image, I rarely get to steal blinds without a fight, so it's not a big leak to tip in this situation.

  16. @ JT88: Good point. I likely could've told the server I'd catch up with her later. Didn't occur to me in the heat of the moment.

  17. Something that's interesting is that in Australia, casino dealers / croupiers are not permitted to accept tips / gratuities, while waiters / waitresses are.

    So although we do have a ridiculously high rake (10% of pot capped at $10.00), there is no 'leakage' of tips to dealers.

    I usually tip the waiters / waitresses about 10%, which is usually $0.50 to $1.00.

  18. I don't tip on stolen/chopped blinds. If I wanted to push the hand I'd have folded. After that, pot size doesn't matter much. The same way rake is capped, so's the tip. Waiters get more money on restaurant tabs because either (a) they are bringing more food or (b) they are working at an expensive restaurant where the ambiance is part of what you're paying for and that includes tipping the staff proportionally to the bill.

    The dealer didn't do anything extra to get the chips in the middle so the tip doesn't balloon with the pot.

  19. Grange is about as much of a nit as he is a cheapskate.

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