(For more of Ted’s advice visit his web site at www.in-vegas.com).
This story was inspired by David C. Surette’s Letter to the Editor this week. Las Vegas can be intimidating by it’s very nature. In fact, one of our main goals in publishing this newsletter is the give you that “edge” and the knowledge you need to help eliminate that intimidation.
Las Vegas is a very tip-hungry town. 25% of the work force is employed in gaming, and many in gaming pay their bills primarily with tip income. So, they tip well when they go out, all their friends tip well, and everyone has the attitude that tips are expected and deserved. In fact, I often wonder if every local service worker stopped tipping, I think everyone would still have the same amount of money. They just pass it around. Having said that, tips can certainly help improve the service and attention that you get. If you stay at the same hotel here a couple times a year and the attendant, bartender, waitress, or change person remembers your name
and gives you that extra care and attention, a few extra bucks are well deserved. But in general, tips are rewards to be earned, not expected.
Here is my general tipping guide compiled from both personal experience and those of friends:
Slots – This is going to draw some fire, but if you are sticking your own bills in the machine, you don’t owe anyone a thing if you hit. None of the casino employees are rebating your losses. However, if the change person points out a hot machine, sells you coin, or is reasonably quick when you have the change light on, do remember them with a little something. They are among the lowest paid in the casino.
Tables – We are always amused when someone says “The dealer is killing me” Believe me, if that dealer knew what the next card was, they’d be at Bellagio playing until they owned the place. It’s not their fault if you don’t leave the table during a bad run of Unique Casino cards. They HAVE to stay at the table and deal. You don’t. In addition, people tip less when losing. You think most dealers like that? Bottom line – tip the dealers if they are friendly and helpful. If you have a good session and they made it fun, it’s not out of line to give them a tip when you color up.
Cocktails – from the waitress: $1 a drink if you care how soon she gets back around to you. I always get a kick out of people in the nickel areas complaining that they have not seen a waitress. These same people act like they are doing her a favor to give her 3 nickels. She has to do the same amount of walking regardless of whether she is bringing a coffee to the
nickel area or a top shelf drink to the higher limit areas. My personal trick? Tip them the dollar WHEN you order the drink. They’ll be back because they know you are taking care of them, they’ll tell the bartender to make it a “good” drink (sit in earshot of a waitress station sometimes and listen), and if you start losing and leave the table, just find them and get the drink from them — you’ve already “paid up”.
Restaurants – Tip like you would at home with this exception: Consider if the meal is a casino loss leader. Tipping 45 cents (15%) on a $3.00 steak is crazy, especially when the meal would cost $10.00 or more anywhere else. Tip based on what the meal would actually cost.
Buffets – $1 per person (regardless of meal – they do the same amount of work) for good service: Drinks served and refilled promptly, plates cleared. More if the server accommodates special requests. Don’t be afraid to stiff them for lousy service.
Bars – Tip just like you would anywhere else. The exception: when you buy a roll of quarters and get a free drink, give them a buck and a also tip them if you win IF they keep the drinks coming while you play (which that buck helps insure after each complimentary drink). Some casinos only give you one drink per roll or quarters you buy. If the free drinks are important to you, leave and go play next door.
Hotels – $1 a bag to the bellman (more if they are helpful and answer some questions — remember, they know the hotel and the area better than most), $1 a day to the maid (if they do a decent job), and $1 to the pool attendant if they fetch you something with a smile. Washroom attendants? My opinion is that unless you are using their stuff, they are pretty much holding you hostage (i.e. — they take all the paper towels out of the dispenser so you have to get a cloth towel from them). A quarter or two is enough to get you over feeling guilty for stiffing them.
Valet – If you can’t afford the give them $1 when you pick your car up, self park. These people run hour after hour in all kinds of weather. In fact, $2-3 is not out of line if they fetch your car in just a couple of minutes (although stiffing them isn’t out of line if it takes more than 10). Want them to keep it close because you won’t be long? Give them $1 when you park, telling them you’ll only be a little while (and tip them when you pick it up also — you are paying for service and convenience). Is the “valet full” sign up? Drive up anyway and hand them a $5 bill. You will be amazed at how they still have spaces available just for you.
Taxi Drivers – These guys can be the best or worst. Some really keep their ear to the ground, talk to their customers, and are a great wealth of information. They can tell you what shows their fares are touting, take you the shortest way, and help you with your luggage. Others are bitter, unhelpful, and the only thing they’ll recommend to you is one of the strip joints that pay cab drivers $5-10 a head for everyone they get in the door. If you have no luggage, round up the nearest dollar under $10, round up $2 to $20, etc. If they are good with your luggage, and genuinely friendly and helpful, a couple more bucks isn’t out of line.
These are my suggestions. Do you tip more or less? Have their been situations where you tipped and it really paid off, or tipped and got lousy treatment anyway? Let us know at [email protected] Make sure to include your name and state (city optional) if you want it considered for publication.