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I don’t think I’ve ever covered the concept of tipping (also known as a toke) the dealer in my column before. For some it’s a relatively boring subject. To others, it is a topic that evokes much emotion from what I’ve seen in some online postings.

Since most of these electronic bulletin boards attract a lot of “advantage” players, that is players who play games that are over 100% payback or very close to it, it is probably no wonder many of them are not big on tipping dealers very often. If you give the dealer a nice portion of a big win, this might represent your total net win on an evening.

I learned from my parents that when you hit a Royal (or some other large hand payout), you tip the person who brings the money over. This isn’t even a dealer, per se, but is still relevant to this conversation. In this case, the person is handed a tip in the same manner a waiter or waitress might be.

Most tokes in the casino consist of a player making a wager on behalf of the dealer. If the player wins, the dealer wins. If the player loses, the dealer gets nothing. From the player perspective, the money for the dealer toke is gone no matter what.

I’ve seen some players make a wager for the dealer every few hands for as much as 10-20% of the player’s wager. This is noble, but when the player does this, he is greatly lowering his chances of walking away a winner on the night.

Over the past several years, almost every blackjack table has had sidebets added to it. Many casinos probably hold more from these sidebets than they do from the base game. These sidebets may have also taken away from the amount of tokes the dealers make as players do have their limits on how much they’ll put down on a hand.

Even though these sidebets have relatively low paybacks, they are still popular with players because of the opportunity for a single large payout that the base game of Blackjack doesn’t afford.

So, now we had a situation with casinos wanting players to play the sidebets, but dealers who felt a bit more conflicted by them. How to keep everyone happy?

Ryan Yee, the general manager of proprietary table games for Scientific Games may have come up with a solution to do just this. Borrowing the concept of the Envy Bonus found in some table game sidebets, Yee made some modifications to some of the more popular blackjack sidebets and added what he called a Dealer Envy.

An Envy Bonus is paid to all the players of a sidebet when one hits a top award. For example, in Fortune Pai Gow, if a player hits a Royal Flush, he will win 125-to-1. All others who made the sidebet will win a fixed $10. The idea is the other players don’t get “envious” when someone gets a top hand. While the amount these other players win is of a consolation level, it still makes you care a lot less that the other player got a big hand.

Yee applied this concept to sidebets like Royal Match. The player now makes his Kings Bounty wager as always. Kings Bounty pays for any 20 the player gets on his first two cards and has a hit frequency of just over 10%.

For this version, the player is still paid for this hand. But, if the player gets a pair of unsuited Kings (or better), the dealer will receive a payout as a toke. In essence he is receiving a portion of the player’s proceeds.

Some of the player payouts have been slightly lowered to allow for the winnings to be siphoned off and given to the dealer as a toke.

The player doesn’t mind because the dealer is only winning when the player is.

The casinos don’t mind because it is still the player who is paying the toke.

The dealers not only don’t mind but they now have a reason to want the players to make the sidebets. The more the players play the sidebets the more tokes the dealers earn. Everyone is happy. No one has any reasons to be envious!

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Elliot Frome is a second generation gaming analyst and author. His math credits include Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Mississippi Stud, House Money and many other games. His website is Contact Elliot at [email protected].

About the Author

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome’s roots run deep into gaming theory and analysis. His father, Lenny, was a pioneer in developing video poker strategy in the 1980s and is credited with raising its popularity to dizzying heights. Elliot is a second generation gaming author and analyst with nearly 20 years of programming experience.

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