Casino Insider Secrets: How Casinos Cap Dealer Tips

In casinos, ‘tokes’ are another word for ‘tips’ and specifically refer to the dealer’s tips. So why do we use a different word when we already have a word for ‘tips’ and everyone and their mom knows what tips are? Because historically speaking, in Las Vegas casinos, tips used to be called a token of gratitude. And as with everything in life, the original phrase changed, morphed, and was shortened to the colloquial toke!

The Importance of Tokes

Tokes are incredibly important to casino dealers as we’re paid minimum wage plus tips. Typically, the base wage will cover taxes and fees, and the dealer lives off their tips, very similar to wait staff at a restaurant. So your tips are very important to us!

How Dealers Receive Tokes

Dealers can receive tokes either by a player giving it to them directly, which they can do by placing it on the table and telling the dealer they’re giving them a tip. Or the player can bet a toke wager for the dealer when playing the game. Typically, the player will place the chip outside the betting circle in the area that is closest to the dealer, or to the right side of the betting circle.

If the player gives the dealer the option to play the toke or drop it, most casinos require the dealer to drop it, so make sure you know your casino’s rules regarding tokes.

Toke Rules and Standard Practices

On top of knowing your casino’s rules, there are just some good standard practices you need to know regarding tokes.

As a dealer, you should never parlay your tokes. Once the toke has won, pay it, then drop them in the toke box immediately. That’s your tip and the last thing you want is it going away!

You also don’t want to play or fidget with your toke chips, like transferring it from hand to hand. If you pick up the toke with your left hand, place it on the layout in front of the bank, clear your hands, and then pick it up with your right hand and drop it in the toke box. You’re a dealer, not a magician. Sleight of hand tricks are cool, but not if it is performed in a casino.

Also, never drop a black toke in your toke box without the consent of your floor supervisor. Typically, your floor will want you to change it for four green cheques.

Paying Tokes

When paying your toke, always pay the player’s winning wager first, and then pay the dealer’s winning toke last. Never pay your toke first and the player’s winning wager second. It’s like you’re hosting a dinner party; you always serve your guests first, then yourself.

Maximum Dealer Tokes

Now, did you know there is a max limit on dealer tokes? Unlike our wait staff friends, we have a cap on what we can receive as tokes. This is especially prevalent on games that have a high payout ratio, like roulette or carnival games.

If the player tips the dealer and then receives a blackjack, the dealer’s tip will be paid the bonus as well. Same goes for any bet that gets paid odds. Here’s an example on Three Card Poker, if the player puts a one dollar tip on the Pair Plus bet and they hit a three of a kind, which pays thirty to one, then the dealer’s tip would get paid odds too, or thirty dollars for that one dollar tip. Now, if the player tips twenty-five dollars on Pair Plus on Three Card Poker and a Straight Flush hits, more than likely the dealer will not see the full payout of $1,000 due to casino policy.

This is all because casinos have a max amount that players can tip you. If you have a player tipping a large amount of fifteen dollars or more on a bet with a high odds payout, you’ll have to ask your floor what the max is. If you have a George—the dealer’s term for a big tipper—at your table, then it’s a great idea to double-check with your floor and make sure the player is tipping in between the approved limits.

And just so you know, we also have a term for players who don’t tip at all: stiffs and fleas. If you’re a player watching this, don’t be a flea.

Why Casinos Cap Tokes

So it really shouldn’t surprise anyone when I say casinos are extremely attached to their money, possibly in some very unhealthy ways. The funny thing is, casinos have no problem taking losing bets with a large tip attached to it but they don’t want to pay the dealers their winnings if that tip hits the jackpot.

The reason is, casinos see a paid toke as lost money. If a player wins a thousand dollars, the casino isn’t too upset because they know they can get that money back as long as that player continues playing on their tables. How many stories have you heard from people saying they won a huge payout then left Vegas with less money than they arrived with? This is what I’m talking about.

But when a player tips a dealer, the casino views it as an automatic loss because they can’t get that tip back. The dealer isn’t playing. They’re working. That’s why casinos put a cap on dealer’s tips. Depending on the casino, the max amount can either be a flat amount or a percentage of the winnings.

If you have a George at your table, make sure you disclose the maximum amount to them before they place the tip. You’ll have to use courtesy and tact when telling them because sometimes rich people get upset if they are told they can’t do something. One George was so upset when he learned about this maximum tip limit that, right after management told him he couldn’t do that, he shoved his huge pile of winnings to the dealer and told them it was their tip and then walked out of the casino, never to be seen again. All because the casino caps tips. Needless to say, the casino manager was not happy about this.

So my biggest tips on tokes are know your max limit and be gentle when telling big tippers. And of course, watch all our videos here at Vegas Aces so you can be the dealer raking in the tokes with your amazing skills!

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