If you’re confused by the title, let me clarify. At most casinos, dealer tips go into a pool that is shared by all the dealers. Different casinos have different sharing rules as to who gets what share of the overall pool. Rules for sharing of the tip pool vary, with the Wynn Las Vegas including supervisory personnel into the pool, which then resulted in a huge lawsuit (which was recently dismissed). https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labor-report/wynn-casino-sees-dealers-tip-pooling-suit-dismissed
So in case you didn’t know, your tip doesn’t go to your individual dealer at that table; rather, it’s shared. I won’t go into why casinos pool tips, that’s for another article. The focus of this article is the rarely seen casino where dealers each keep their own tips.
Even if you didn’t know about tip pooling, if you’ve ever been to a casino, then you’ve seen the good and bad consequences of tip pooling. It’s pretty rare to find a casino where dealers each keep their own tips.
However, you can see an example of the dealer interaction in my Santa Ana Casino Hotel Real Craps Video. That’s right. The Santa Ana Star is a casino where the dealers all keep their own tips, known as ‘KYO’ (keeping your own).
When I was playing at that table, my thought was, ‘wow these dealers are so friendly and nice.’ Several RoadGambler.com viewers have even commented on the friendliness and competency of the dealers. That’s because they all keep their own tips.
At first, I didn’t think anything beyond ‘wow these dealers are super friendly’. After I moved to blackjack, where the dealer was even friendlier. After about an hour of blackjack, I moved to the Pai Gow Poker table, the dealer was even friendlier than the last dealer. Then it hit me, so I asked the dealer, ‘do you guys keep your own tips?’.
The answer was ‘yes’.
Tip Pooling Versus, KYO (Keep You Own)
Rather than telling you about the downside of dealer tip pooling from my perspective, I spoke to John Koryto, who is a dealer at the Hard Rock Atlantic City. John is a seasoned and skilled dealer, and this is his perspective on pooled tips:
I think pooled tips contributes to laziness. It is good for dealers who have no personality and are there to just put in their eight hours and go home. For those of us who are personable and interact with our players, whether it be celebrating the wins, empathizing with them when they lose or even just talking with them about how their day is going, KYO would be the better alternative. Since state law in NJ prevents KYO houses we have to do what we can to ‘carry’ the robotic dealers who rarely contribute their fair share of the daily tokes.
I’ve heard John’s sentiment stated by various dealers. It’s quite common that the good dealers want to perform and reap the fruits of their awesomeness. Dealer’s are entertainers, businesspeople, and craftsmen all rolled into one. If they’re good at what they do, they make more money than those who aren’t good at their craft. It’s that simple.
While KYO sounds like it’s ideal, there is a downside. John explains further:
All that being said, there are several things about KYO houses that can be a hindrance to making money. These would include shift choices, game assignments and favoritism by schedulers in determining when and where you are dealing.
I sympathize with John on this issue because prior to owning my own business, I worked in a place that saw significant favoritism from management to select employees. Granted, I was the beneficiary of that favoritism because I was friends and hunting buddy with the boss, but I can see how favoritism can stifle competent employees. I guess this is my way of confessing that I wasn’t the most qualified person, but was treated as such.
KYO can be bad for craps
It’s no secret that tips are the weakest at a craps table. John explains how the situation is remedied in a KYO casino, otherwise, no one would want to deal craps.
I know some KYO houses in the West rotate a craps crew through a high limit BJ game to give them the opportunity to make some money and others require a percentage of tips be contributed to craps. Not sure what effect making everyone contribute a percentage to the craps crew would have on employee camaraderie but, as a craps dealer, one or the other would have to happen in order to attract good craps dealers. Personally, I would probably prefer rotating through a high limit BJ game to avoid coworker derision.
I asked one of the blackjack dealers at the Santa Ana Star if the table games dealers shared tips with the craps crew. The craps crew seemed to be making way less money than the other dealers. The answer was that every dealer is required to contribute 10% to the craps crew. One dealer explained that if that contribution didn’t exist, no one would want to deal craps.
Also, consistent with what John stated, a floor told me that the highest tips came from the high limit baccarat room. Every once in a while he would reward a dealer with a shift in the high limit baccarat room. On a side note, the floor’s comment made me do a second take because from my personal experience, high limit baccarat players are usually not generous tippers. Baccarat is the only game I’ve ever seen where all the players at the table are betting purple and orange chips and the dealer tip box (aka the ‘toke’ box) is empty. That’s just my personal observation and certainly I have not seen every baccarat table to argue too fervently for my bias.
Just out of curiosity, I went to the high limit baccarat room and played for about 3o minutes to observe.
First, high limit is relative. Here in New Mexico, ‘high limit’ was $25 minimum. There were about 6 players who were betting green and black chips. Of the six players – with myself being the 7th – I noted about $15 in tips in about 30 minutes.
For New Mexico, I guess that’s considered a good rate.
Also, if you notice from my pictures, the casino was very dead. https://roadgambler.com/casino/roadgambler-review-santa-ana-star-casino-albuquerque-new-mexico/
RoadGambler Thoughts on KYO
I always tip. Win or lose I always tip. I consider dealers to be craftsmen who are good at their craft, and without good craps dealers, the experience at the table is greatly diminished. Having played at the Santa Ana Star and interacting with those dealers, I greatly prefer the KYO type of casino.
When you watch the Santa Ana Craps game video, keep in mind that those are KYO dealers. Ask yourself if you like that style of dealer. Of course you do!
Everyone is just so friendly and welcoming.
Also, notice how sympathetic they are when the dice 7 out. Those are good dealers. I wish more casinos were KYO casinos. It would be good for the game because not only would the dealers be more friendly and accommodating, it would also push out the bad dealers.
Those are my thoughts on the topic. Let me know what you think. Have you ever been to a Keep Your Own casino? What did you think?