I was passing through the desert of Nevada during a long road trip. At 1 am, I rolled into this little casino that had a decent double deck game. I hit some positive variance and was up $6,000 that night. They comped me a room for two nights and dinner. I didn’t tip anything as per my usual policy while running this blackjack business.
The next morning I went back to the DD table and the mood in the room shifted drastically. The dealers during day shift had gone rogue—some were shuffling the deck whenever I raised my bet but some would not. Some imposed a 3x precious bet rule, some did not. The dealers who HATED my guts because I did not contribute to their salary implemented this behavior.
If the casino wants to countermeasure me as a whole, fine. I accept when they don’t want to back me off so they do this instead. But this was different. These dealers wanted revenge. Not because I was counting, but because I didn’t toke them a $1,000 over the course of my session. These dealers had the worst attitudes from any casino staff I’ve ever encountered, and that includes a time I was falsely arrested and another time was kidnapped by two security guards and detained against my will.
The hours dragged on as the dealers were so friendly to everyone at my table besides me, smiling and laughing at their jokes that weren’t funny, glaring at me with evil looks and raising their voices to me in disdain. Some dealers would shuffle a few cards before the cut card came out. This happened a few times before I couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t care if it blew my cover.
“FLOOR!” I asked the pit boss, “Why are some dealers shuffling before the cut card comes out but others don’t?? If I’m gonna play I want a fair game.” Clearly a few rungs down on the managerial chain with uncertainty said, “It’s just a rule if we see there’s a few cards before the cut card they shuffle, I’m just doing what I’m told.” This wasn’t a counter measure. A kind soul dealer who didn’t treat me like garbage who was nice for the sake of being nice not just because she wanted to use me for money told me, “It’s day shift. They’re a bunch of babies and it’s totally different rules with every dealer, it’s up to them.”
Part of me was enraged at the inconsistency of the game and the other part of me was giddy knowing management was in such disarray it usually means I’ll get some good hours in. I take a break for dinner but ask the pit boss if I could get a comp first (considering I’m betting 2×300 most of the time). She said, “A comp? Don’t you have $6,000 black in your pocket?” I told her “So what I could lose all of that and more in 2 seconds.” She gave me the comp and when I returned a new shift came on. A much nicer group of dealers who didn’t preferential shuffle on me or enforce ridiculous rules on a whim.
The swing shift manager points to me and says “I need to talk to YOU”. My immediate thought was “Thank god I’m getting backed off and I won’t have to deal with these miserable people who hate me for not forking over my profit. They in no way helped me train to become a card counter, invest in any of my bankroll, didn’t help pay for any of my gas going from casino to casino. I’m free! I can leave!”
She leans in and I’m getting ready for the “You’re too good for us speech”. Instead she says, “You gonna take care of my dealers tonight?” I looked around the room to make sure this was real. I couldn’t believe she had the nerve to tip hustle me. The shift manager!? Someone who has worked in Vegas who has worked for huge corporate gambling giants who with all their scummy undertones know what it means to be polite to their customers. I was stunned I didn’t know what to say. “How much do they want?” She said, “You know just something whatever you feel it just makes the whole process easier.” I’m faced with a dilemma. Is this her way of saying I know what you’re up to and I’ll let you keep counting as long as you tip my dealers?
I go back to playing contemplating what this means. A few hours go by and the mood hasn’t striked me to tip yet. I’m up another couple thousand. The shift manager again asks me “Come on how about helping out those dealers, we’ve been nice to you. We gave you a room for two nights and food. You’re up a lot, do you just not believe in it or something?” I lost it. Time to set the record straight. I didn’t care about heat or blowing my cover. It was time to teach this person a lesson in the economics of a card counter.
“LOOK it’s not happening. I’m not gonna tip your dealers. Why should I have to tip them? I don’t have millions of dollars like the casino owner does. Who is more equipped to pay all your dealers, me or the person employing them who has millions and millions at their disposal?? It’s totally unfair to ask me to tip. The dealers want a chunk of my wins but they don’t want to share my losses?? If I give them money when I’m winning will they let me borrow $50 to cover a double down when I’ve lost all the money in my pocket? Absolutely not. It is unfair. I’m not here to have fun. I’m here to make money. This is business and speaking of that don’t be mistaken. You were trying to guilt me by saying the casino was nice to me, that they gave me rooms and food. That’s not being nice. That’s being manipulative. It’s a business move for you guys, not a charity. You gave me the room to entice me to stay longer so I can lose more money. You may be nice outside of this casino but you weren’t doing it to be nice. I’m sorry but I’m just not going to tip.” I said all of this and her attitude totally changed. She was respectful and courteous to me from then on out. She told the dealers not to be rude to me and to refrain from any kind of tip hustling. I left the next day due to scheduling conflicts and I haven’t been back since.
I’ve chosen not to tip as part of my playing style. Anytime in the past that I’ve felt pressure to tip in some way or another, I’ve regretted it on the ride home. More often than not, I believe it won’t extend your playing time to upper management unless you’re losing a good portion of your edge. I know several players who tip—some are very successful and some are not. At the tables, it is more uncomfortable not to tip. It’s easier emotionally to tip while playing; dealers are nicer to you, there’s a sense you belong, and you feel management is writing you off as a non-counter. Truth is, dealers forget about you the moment you leave their sight and upper management will always value protecting their bottom line over the fullness of a dealer’s toke box. And on the drive back to the motel after you get backed off, that’s when I’ve felt the most regret because I gave away EV. Actually not even EV, but actual value! Giving a dealer one $25 chip is like giving the dealer the EV of 5 bets x$500! At the end of the day, this is a business. Tipping adds up quickly and quietly.