You’ve been playing dollar video poker for over an hour with not much to show for your efforts other than a thinning wallet. All the while, the elderly lady sitting next to you has been playing the most irritating machine - the type that has the volume set to "extremely loud" so you seemingly only hear the constant singing of her winners. You want to get up and leave - go to another machine, but you find that the willpower you thought you had when you walked into the place has dwindled some. After all, you’re the pro, and another day of being shown up by an amateur doesn’t sit well. Something has to give!
And it does. Suddenly, all the uneasiness in your stomach disappears as your machine lines up an unexpected Royal Flush, and it begins joyfully singing "You’re In The Money." As your neighbor looks over forcing a smile and says "look what you’ve done!" the feeling is mutual as she cashes out and walks away.
But now that this episode is out of the way, it’s time to deal with the more important aspect of getting your $4,000. You know you will be paid thirty-nine $100 bills and five $20’s. And you know that means whoever is paying you expects a tip anywhere between $20 and $100 - more in some cases. What do you do, and what is the proper thing to do so as not to embarrass yourself?
Unfortunately, it’s not an easy question to answer. A number of factors are involved, such as whether or not you are winning or losing; have you been treated well thus far (and a lot of the time this simply means not being bothered at all unless you require assistance); or maybe you’re planning on leaving an overall tip before you leave the area - win or lose. We all think about these things, but I usually leave a tip on each hand-pay whether I’m ahead or behind. The floor people don’t forget these things, and although they really do not have to go out of their way to help me in most cases since the activity I’m engulfed in is fairly simple, it’s nice to be involved in an overall happy atmosphere. Handing them eighty bucks or more usually makes that happen.
There are variations to the tipping game, however. Various floor supervisors have told me that quite a few of the local professional players either refuse to leave tips, or if they do tip, it’s never more than $20. The reasoning is that these players chase a tiny win percentage over time, and because they’re usually living on the edge, handing away free money just doesn’t cut it. Every dollar won, every dollar received in cash back, every single comp and free gift is required in order to justify identifying a losing year as a winning year. Reputations, sales, and fan-loyalty rely on such reporting. I think there’s a better way.
If you ever find yourself in such an enviable position of being hand-paid for a royal, make it easy on yourself and do the right thing. Tipping is part of the game in gambling. There’s no reason not to spread the joy around at the right time. Just be happy you have the opportunity to do it!