Whether you’re crushing the house or losing your shirt, every trip to Las Vegas becomes an exercise in money management. If you come to the world’s casino gambling capital regularly, you’ll no doubt experience both sides of the coin. Some trips will flow smoothly, and others feel like you’ve fallen off of a cliff.
But along with gambling, daily expenses like rideshare fares, dining out, and enjoying amenities away from the casino floor can also add up in a hurry for Las Vegas visitors. And all too often, an avalanche of unexpected spending can cause even the most generous gambler to consider tipping to be a bridge too far.
I’m here to tell you that tipping should be standard when you visit Sin City. As the ultimate service industry locale, Las Vegas is home to an army of low-paid workers who put food on the table by earning tips.
It’s the same situation for all the service workers you’ll encounter during a trip to Las Vegas, so don’t be stingy by skipping out on tips. Even the minimum threshold of $1 is enough to turn an encounter with a guest from a sunk cost into a small profit, so tipping should be considered par for the course when you’re enjoying a casino resort’s many offerings.
With that in mind, I’d like to offer up my own personal guide to who, why, and how much you should tip various casino employees when you come to Las Vegas.
Table Game Dealers
First things first, you can’t place a bet on any of the following games without a dealer to supervise the game:
Well, you technically can by using modern automated machines. But those are an affront to Las Vegas gambling as it was meant to be, a social experience defined by banter with the dealer.
A good dealer can act like a salve during a losing session, making bad beats smart just a bit less thanks to their conversation and demeanor. These guys and gals have seen it all, so striking up a conversation with an experienced Las Vegas casino dealer can often provide a wealth of entertainment in the form of storytelling and small talk.
When your blackjack dealer doesn’t waste time in between hands, you’ll be able to put more hands in the books per hour, thereby realizing your equity as a basic strategy player.
Roulette dealers who know how to make session feel more streamlined and pleasant. Same goes for the stickmen and box men working a craps table, where it takes a highly coordinated team effort to control the chaotic gameplay.
Dealers Want You to Win
A dealer doesn’t benefit from their players losing. Those losses head straight into the coffers of the casino’s corporate overlord, all while the dealer is toiling away for a low wage.
The average Las Vegas table game dealer wants nothing more than their players to win big. Winners typically tip much more, and much more often, than their counterparts who can’t seem to beat the game.
Common practice for longtime gamblers who know the score is to set aside a firm amount with which to tip the dealer after any session on the tables.
Let’s say you have $100 ready to roll as you hit the blackjack table. In this case, I’d recommend sliding a single $5 chip off to the side before you start betting. If things go well and you’re continually scooping up more chips, feel free to add to your “tip jar” in $5 increments. When you’re all finished and ready to cash out after a nice night, you might have $15 or $20 off to the side waiting to be delivered the dealer’s way.
And when things go south and that initial stake is swept up by the house, you’ll still have that $5 chip on hand to toss the dealer’s direction.
Additionally, many Las Vegas casino dealers prefer their players to tip in the form of a wager. This is a gamble on their part, as they might wind up with nothing to show for their hard work, but putting a bet down in the dealer’s name is always a welcome alternative to not tipping.
On a final note, always remember to tip your dealer should their shift end before you’re done playing. Then, when a new dealer arrives to take their place, you can repeat the process described above to ensure they’ll have a tip waiting at the end of their own shift.
The poker room is its own little world separate from the casino floor, so it’s not surprising to learn that tipping here works a little differently.
In the average Las Vegas cash poker game, players tend to slide the dealer a $1 chip after every hand won. You might be playing $1/$3 limit Texas Hold’em, or a bigger $2/$5 Pot Limit Omaha table, but when the hand is over, you’ll almost always see the winner “toke” the dealer with a dollar or two.
Of course, tipping the dealer when you play poker isn’t mandatory by any means, so you can feel free to use discretion in this regard. If they’re slow, mistake-prone, or rude, there’s no shame in dragging the pot while keeping every last chip for yourself.
With that said, most poker dealers do their jobs well, so don’t be afraid to “splash the pot” with a chip or two for the people who make the game happen.
This one’s the easiest of all, so I’ll keep it quick… ALWAYS tip your cocktail server. These workers are among the busiest in any casino, constantly walking from the bar area to the casino floor, and back again, to make sure players always have a drink in hand.
Remember, these drinks will be complimentary, so you won’t be spending a penny for your Jack and Coke or pint of Bud Light. Scoring a drink completely free of charge is one of those special perks that makes gambling in Las Vegas so special, so it’s imperative to pay it forward by tipping your server at least $1 for every drink delivered.
Retail Outlet Cashiers
A trickier subject to tackle concerns tipping retail cashiers and other workers who run the casino’s non-gambling amenities.
You’d be surprised to see how many people who would ordinarily toss their Starbucks barista the change simply skip this step when staying in a casino resort.
Whether it’s the gift shop where you grab a tacky T-shirt, the deli where you pick up a quick bite for breakfast, or higher end establishments specializing in electronics and what have you, these employees deserve to be tipped just like anybody else.
When in doubt, simply saying “keep the change” after you pay is a great policy in this regard.
There’s a special place in hell for folks who forget to tip their housekeepers and maids.
Well, that may be going a little too far, but I feel extremely passionate about this aspect of the hospitality industry, especially when it comes to resorts in Las Vegas . Housekeepers are often viewed as a nuisance, especially when they knock in the early morning hours, but their services are essential to your casino resort experience.
Coming back to your freshly made up room after a long day spent enjoying Las Vegas is quite the treat, one only made possible by diligent housekeepers who clean, organize, and spruce things up on a daily basis.
If you plan to have the housekeeper tend to your room every morning while you’re gambling, just leave a little envelope and a $5 bill to show your appreciation.
And if you won’t be using the service until after you’ve checked out, multiply $5 by the number of nights stayed to leave a collective tip for the staff.
Porters, Bellmen, and Valet Drivers
The first employees you’ll encounter when you get to a Las Vegas casino resort are the valet drivers who will park your car, and the porters and bellmen tasked with bringing your luggage.
In each case, these workers brave 100+ degree heat nearly year-round, all while performing a vital service for guests.
You don’t have to use either service, of course, but when you do, be sure to slide at least $5 in their palm to show your appreciation.
Tipping in Las Vegas can often feel like a sucker punch, simply because the odds dictate that you’ll likely lose money gambling along the way. I completely understand that sense of frustration, but you should always remember this maxim: The employees don’t earn a dime from your losing wagers.
These men and women are the lifeblood of Las Vegas’ casino gambling and hospitality industry, so they should be tipped accordingly as you can afford. And hey, tipping generously is always a great way to earn a little good luck going forward.