Blackjack-dealing Monkeys

Dear Mark,
You advocate in your column tipping the dealer. I’ve only been playing
blackjack a short time but never realized dealers also merited tips. How
customary is this procedure? Joseph P.

If casino owners could finagle it, monkeys would be dealing blackjack. All
dealers at one time or another have heard management tell us to “shut up and
shuffle. I could get a monkey to do this job.” To date, no casino has
successfully trained a chimp to replace a dealer. The chimpanzees don’t
quite have the splitting rules down yet, can only make even money payoffs,
plus they tend not to wait for their break to use the bathroom. Since
casinos do tacky well, they don’t want their gaudy carpets dirty; therefore,
a near anthropological equivalent Kidding aside, it’s simple economics. Being in gaming for over twenty years
now, I’ve yet to meet a dealer who will work for minimum wage. Tipping a
dealer is the cost of enjoying a particular service, very similar to tipping
a coffeeshop or cocktail waitress. Dealers need those gestures of gratuity
to make a decent wage. If the casinos had to pay a true living wage to
dealers instead of dealers accepting tips, casinos would have to figure a
way of making up for lost revenue. For starters, they would change the rules
of the game, increase table minimums, and even alter paybacks, like paying
even money on a blackjack; that Bonzo can do. It’s either or, Joseph. You
can’t have both.
I’ve always considered tipping, whether I was dealer for hire or in casino
management, a contribution to the Dame of Fortune, Lady Luck. You should to.

Dear Mark,
In your column, you suggest players setting loss limits and win goals, then
sticking to them. Loss limits I believe are great. I use them myself after
losing half of my buy in. But win streaks are the exhilarating part of
gambling. I do not set win goals but instead stay with the streak till it’s
over. Am I wrong? Bob S.

Streaks, Bob, are nothing more than hindsight on past performance. No one
has 20/20 vision to know when a streak starts, let alone ends. I’s be
willing to bet dollars to donuts that you’re no exception to the rule. Also,
I have never advocated leaving on a winning hand, per se. The exceptions
would be an earthquake, fire, tornado, or in my case, my name being called
to the buffet.
What I do recommend is an illusionary stopgap to fight the devil from
within: anything that that triggers a forced retirement from the game to five losses in a row, a 10% reduction in your bankroll, something that
alerts you the fat lady’s singing. I’m simply asking you to have what most
players don’t possess, the discipline to walk away with some of the casino’s
loot before the tables turn against you. And, Bob, they always do.

Dear Mark,
Was wondering if you knew the name of the guy who came to Vegas with a
couple hundred bucks and kept winning millions. He said, “I’m going to win
the casino.” Brian F.

Which loser are you talking about? There are hundreds of riches to rags
stories that litter Interstate 15 as you’re leaving Las Vegas. Sure, a few
players arrive in a Gremlin and drive home in a $250,000 vehicle, but it’s
generally a Greyhound bus.
The only way any player can make a small fortune in Las Vegas is to arrive
with a large one.

Gambling thought of the week: “Gaming corrupts our disposition and teaches
us a habit of hostility against all mankind.” Accordingly, he kept meticulous records of his backgammon and card winnings.

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