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When you're in Las Vegas, WHERE do you... [Continued]





LAS VEGAS TIPPING GUIDE

If there's a most frequently asked FAQ, this is undboutedly it: "How much do I tip a ..." and then fill in the blanks with valet parker/bellman/maid/poker dealer etc. etc. Of course, tipping is ultimately a personal choice and should be determined generally by how good you deem the service you've received to be, or how big a favor you're asking someone to do for you. There are no fixed absolutes, but there are conventions worth bearing in mind if you don't want to look like a "stiff" or an easy mark.

In order to come up with the Ultimate Las Vegas Tipping Guide, we put together a panel of esteemed experts, whose collective wisdom should help guide you through every tipping situation you could possibly encounter.

Max Rubin: Former casino worker (in just about every job you can imagine) turned "Comp Wizard" and author of bestseller Comp City, about to enter its third edition.
Marissa Chien EA: To offset the notorious "Georgeness" of Mr Rubin, who better to ask than a tax accountant and the co-author of Tax Help for the Frugal Gambler?
Ken Van Vechten: As a seasoned traveler, travel writer, and bon viveur, Mr V was an obvious choice for this survey. (If you're thinking of getting hitched, don't forget to check out his Las Vegas wedding guide, Neon Nuptials, plus his upcoming Las Vegas golfing guide will be a treat for all you golf nuts out there.)
Jean Scott: As a long-term Las Vegas resident and casino veteran, we couldn't put this guide together without consulting with the Queen of Comps herself. For more insight into Jean's philosophy on tipping, check out More Frugal Gambling, in which she devotes a whole chapter to the subject.

Blair Rodman: Tipping is always a subject close to the heart of pro poker players like 2007 WSOP bracelet-winner Blair Rodman, author of Kill Phil. Read what he has to say on the subject.
Bradley Peterson: For the James Bond take on tipping, we asked international jet-setting pro gambler and wild man Bradley P., some of whose responses were actually printable.

SERVICE

TIP AMOUNT
($ or %)

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

i.) Limo driver – for example, from a Strip hotel to the airport (whether comped or not)

Consensus: $20

Max says: “If that’s too much for you, you shouldn’t be allowed in a limo in the first place.”

 

Jean says: “If you get a comped limo ride, you’ll usually feel cheap if you don’t tip $10-$20, or more for long rides, even if a taxi would have been less expensive.”

ii) Taxi driver

Consensus: $5 or 15%-20%, depending on total fare.

Max says: “I used to be a taxi driver in Vegas [Editor’s note: he votes for 20% min.], so they’ve got a special place in my heart. However, if you ask to go to a certain restaurant or club and they steer you somewhere else, you are being hustled and they’re being paid a LOT of money for your suckerness. In that event, stiff ‘em.”

 

 

iii) Valet parker

 

This one got widely differing responses, from $1-$5.

Marissa and Jean both opt for $1-$2 [after all, they are the Queens of Frugal].

 

Ken votes for $3: “When you pick it up… But something up front is appropriate if you ask ‘em to keep it close or they ignore the ‘valet full’ sign.”

 

Max: “$3-$5 minimum. If they’ve changed the radio channel, I give ‘em a stern lecture and stiff ‘em… Also, when it’s time to leave, you’re going to have to wait at least 20 minutes for them to bring it up. What to do? Give the attendant a $10 or $20 when you hand them the ticket, ask them to bring it right up, and then you can sashay to the front of the line and your car will be there in about two minutes, so you can look at the unwashed masses sweltering in the brutal heat and know you’ve made a sound investment.”

iv) Bellman

$1-$2 per bag (when it gets to the room), unless you packed like you were going on a trans-Atlantic voyage, in which case more might be in order.

Jean says: “You might sneak in one shopping bag ‘free,’ but don’t think six shopping bags don’t count. If you’re not going straight up to your room and want to be sure they’ll be delivered right away, tip him then and there or you might find you have to call for them when you finally get to your room.”

v) Hand-pay jackpot

We took the advice of the pros for this one – see notes and make up your own mind about what feels appropriate, without succumbing to the inevitable pressure.

Bradley: “Varies from 1%-10%”

 

Max: “About 2%, unless I’ve had too many adult beverages.”

 

Marissa: “0.5%-1% on royals only.”

 

Jean: “Always remember tipping is voluntary. Employee hints, blatant or subtle, should be stringently ignored. These include profuse congratulations on small hand-pays and the sudden appearance of several employees when a big jackpot is hit… Many have no idea how much you may have put into that machine today, or machines like it for the last couple of years… The new multi-line games have radically changed what a player considers a jackpot… but even when you hit four deuces on the traditional one-line quarter machines and are hand-paid the $250, every experienced player knows that this is, at best, just a brief winning interlude, not a jackpot.”

vi) Security escort to your car if you win big.

Zero – see notes

Most say zero, Bradley suggests $10-$20, and Ken says he’ll let us know if it ever happens.

vii) Poker dealer if you win tournament:

 

• If casino’s already withheld cash from prize pool

 

• If they haven’t
• Zero – unanimous

 

• See notes

b) Marissa offers 0.5%-1%.

 

Bradley suggest 1%-3%.

 

Blair says: “Before mandatory tipping, it was customary to tip poker dealers 2%-3% of your winnings in the bigger tournaments and a higher percentage in the smaller events. Since the policy of tips as a percentage of the prize pool was implemented, I'm not sure there's any standard for individual tipping. However, in my view, the mandatory tip should take care of the entire gratuity obligation.

“In the smaller tournaments, where the prize pools are less, the tip amounts are less, whether money is withheld or not (and I'm not sure there's a single policy that encompasses all the minis). Again, you should ask if money is being withheld. If not, you might want to tip out at up to 10%, since no matter what, the dealers earn less at the smaller events than at the bigger ones.

“The bottom line is that if you’re a recreational player, had a good time at the tournament, and want to be popular with the dealers and staff, leave a generous tip.

“If you play for a living, it's a different story. Most pros tip if money isn't withheld. If it is, many won't leave more and they shouldn't, in my opinion, be expected to; excessive tipping is a major drain on a pro's bankroll.“

viii) Maid service – per night

$3-$5 per night

Ken: “That’s for normal folks. If your room is larger than your home, don’t be a stiff, ratchet it up.”

ix) Cocktail waitress/bar tender

$1 per drink each time, whether booze, coffee, water, whatever.

Max: “That’s unless a pit boss is watching and I’m up to something. Then I’ll give $5-$25, depending on how much I’m betting and how much the cocktail waitress likes me (funny thing, but when I give them $25 a drink, they seem to think I’m a lot more handsome.)”

x) Casino host

No money (many are forbidden to take it) but gifts are acceptable.

Max: “He’s lucky to get my business. Sometimes I might bribe one with a tie or something, but he gets bonused based on my play, so that should be enough.”

 

Marissa: “I don’t believe in tipping hosts. I believe my large action is worth much more to them than any tip.”

xi) Dealer:

 

a) throughout the game

 

b) if you win big

a) Many variables – see notes

 

 

b) Ditto

Bradley: “$0-$??? So many variables here. Cover. Personality of dealer. Preferential shuffling. Deck penetration.”

 

Max: “I used to be a dealer, so they have a special place in my heart. If I’m playing recreationally or just trying to score comps, I tend to tip like a drunken sailor to get good ratings and keep the good karma alive. When I’m tipping, I always make bets for the dealer so that we’re winning together. Betting $100…bet $5 for the boys. Betting $1,000…bet a quarter for them. Betting $10K, bet $100 for the dealers and it will make you luckier. Guaranteed!”

xii) Your personal tipping credo for good/bad service in restaurants

0% bad service to 15%- 20% good (unanimous)

Bradley: “These numbers are for food only. No alcohol or taxes are tipped on. I will add a little extra for the alcohol, but I’m not tipping 15% on, for example, a $100 bottle of wine.”

 

 

xiii) Tip on a comped meal

See notes

Max: “If I’m providing the comp, somebody else tips. If someone takes you to a comped dinner, fork over a minimum of 20% for the tip, cheapo! If you’re providing the comp for others, let them know that the custom, as outlined in my book Comp City, is that the guest of the host (the guy who went out of his way to score the comp) who’s responsible for the tip."

xiv) Maitre d' - if you want better seats etc.

Depends

Max: “If you’re going to see a low budget show, a measly $20 will get a party of six stage-side seating. Otherwise, Vegas has pretty much ruined the time-honored practice of bribing the tuxedoed with their buy-the-tickets-online-and-don’t-even-think-about-where-you’re-sitting-policies. Welcome to the Cirque-us.”

xv) Lap dancer

See notes!

Marissa: “$5”

 

Ken: “If she’s good, your Mercedes.”

 

Max: “I, for one, find this a disgusting practice and choose not to even contemplate the remuneration I would provide to such a soiled dove for those sorts of favors.”

xvi) Have you ever tried the $20 room upgrade ploy at check-in? If so, did it work or not?

 

Ken: “I ask. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

 

Max: “Back in the early ‘70s when I was a front desk clerk, a ten did the trick. A $20 note might be a bit paltry these days in Las Vegas, but it still works wonders in other hotels throughout the land.”