This is the most
important page on my web site! I've decided to devote an entire
page to it because there are so many questions and controversies
about this topic.
When you are gambling at
the slot machines, blackjack tables, craps, keno, sports book,
or poker room the drinks are complimentary. "Complimentary"
means the drinks are free, the service is not. "Drinks" consist
of mixed drinks (commonly called "cocktails"), beers, wines,
sodas, juices, water, coffee, hot tea, or hot chocolate.
The following are not
rules written in stone but, rather, unwritten real-life rules.
A wise man once told me that TIPS stands for
To Insure Proper Service, and
that a smart person tips beforehand. The fact that now people
want their proper service first, and the tip has become the
reward, has put the power in the customers' hands. So this page
is for people who really want to know, "When I get good service,
am I supposed to tip, and how much?" Of course tipping is
optional, always has been, always will be, which is why it's
called a tip. So even though I'm not here to tell you that you
have to tip, in the real world, I'm letting you know how it
When we give good service
and one customer stiffs and another tips, we are naturally going
to return to the tipping customer, that's just reality. Just
like you go to work to make money, we go to work to make money
too. And what would be the point of giving a stiff and a tipper
equal service? When you tip, aren't you saying, "Give me
priority, give me the service I'm tipping you for."? We are
just trying to give the tippers their money's worth! Of course
it's our job to serve everyone regardless of a tip, but for all
the talk about how airheaded waitresses are, we know where our
bread is buttered.
If you get bad service,
you should still tip for the first drink you order. Why?
Because your tip just might bring you great service - you have
the power! What's bad service? To me, the only true bad
service is rudeness. If it's extremely busy and you see the
waitress carrying full trays of drinks and it takes a long time
for her to come around to take your order and for you to get
your drink, that would not qualify as bad service. If she is
impatient, unfriendly, and irritated when you order, that would
be bad service. Now, what if business seems slow and the
waitress still doesn't come around often? I always like to give
her the benefit of the doubt (and yes, it's because I'm biased)
because she may have a bigger area to cover; just because you
don't see her doesn't mean she's sitting on her ass doing
nothing. Of course efficiency and friendliness together are
always a winning combination. So now you tipped the waitress
and she's still Attila the Hun? Well then, my friend, by all
means stiff her ass! You don't want to reward bad behavior.
Better yet, leave and come to my station - but don't stiff me!
By the way, I don't know
who wrote those other official-looking so-called "tipping
guides" for Las Vegas that say $1.00 for a party of two to four
is sufficient, but they are on some serious crack. Read on for
the real scoop.
Common ways people try
to weasel out of tipping.
If you must stiff, for
whatever reason, just do it. Don't tell me that you lost all
your money, that you don't have change, that your husband has
the tip and he'll be right back. Why? Because every time I
bring a drink I'm hoping to make money, and if you're not going
to give me a tip, the last thing I want to do is stand there and
waste more time. If you never intended to tip me, just say
thank you. Give me the courtesy to move on to someone who will
tip me. If you did intend to tip me but awkwardly find
yourself without a tip when I bring your drink, just say thank
you, then either come find me or wait for me to come around
again to give me a tip. This happens very rarely, but when it
does, it's very much appreciated. (However, don't say something
like, "You ran away too fast before I could tip you." This is a
very self-serving comment, intended to blame me in an attempt to
save yourself embarrassment. When you order a drink you should
start getting your tip out so you'll be ready when I bring your
drink. It always amazes me when people act so surprised when I
bring their drink...you knew you ordered a drink, so have your
And we've seen and heard
it all, so if you think you're scamming us, you're not. "I'll
catch you next time," is the most common stiff phrase. And I
can always tell when a guy is going to stiff me, because he
thinks he's real slick by smiling, being overly friendly, saying
something like, "Hey, baby! How ya doin'? Wow! What's your
name...Dollie? You are the most beautiful cocktail waitress
I've seen in Vegas. Man, I thought I knew what I wanted, but
now I can't think straight! Hey, could you bring me a Bud and a
shot of Hennessy? I'll take real good care of you." Now, I'm
not saying you shouldn't be friendly or that I don't have time
to engage in a little bit of a conversation. In fact, it's very
nice when people ask if I'm having a good day, or tell me that
I'm beautiful. It's just that having worked with the public for
this long, I'm very rarely wrong when it comes to weeding out
Ignoring me when I bring
the drink is another popular tactic. These people hear quite
well when I come around offering drinks, but when I bring it,
suddenly they're deaf and blind, can't hear or see me setting
the drink down. I never let people get away with this one. I
always bring their attention to the drink, "Here's your Bloody
Mary." I'll repeat this a couple more times. If that doesn't
work I'll say, "Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you ordered a Bloody
Mary," then start to walk away. This always works, and
the customer will suddenly say, "Oh, yes, I ordered a Bloody
Mary...I'll catch you next time." The only time this doesn't
work is if I've made a mistake and the person really didn't
order the drink.
People always ask me how I
remember who ordered what drink. The truth is, I don't. Every
waitress has a different system, but most write down the slot
machine row or table number where the customer is sitting.
(Some make notes like "fat chick in thong" or "bald guy w/beer
belly"; this works well when working at the pool!) Most
waitresses have a pattern that they follow when going through
their slots or tables, and they break up their station in 2 or 3
sections, and when they're done with the section, they stop
taking orders and go back to the bar. If it's slow they might
do the whole section at one time, if it's busy, they'll just
stop when they get around 20 drink orders. So this is why it's
so important to stay at the machine where you ordered your
drink, because I don't usually remember what you look like, I
just remember where you were sitting. If you do move, keep an
eye out for me. Try to go back to where you were sitting so I
remember that you were the one who ordered the drink. If you
walk up to me and say, "That's my Heineken," I may not remember
you and not give it to you. It's nothing personal, it's just
that I've been scammed before, where I've given people a drink
thinking it was theirs, then when I reach the table where the
actual person did order it, I was screwed. Another reason to
stay where you ordered a drink is because if you move even one
row over you may now be in another waitress' station. Of course
sometimes I do remember people if they're really nice, or if
they stand out in some way.
Another popular tactic is
when people pat themselves down, looking for that elusive tip
they want to give me but, darn it all - they just can't seem to
find! This one always ends up with, "I had a dollar
somewhere...I'll catch you next time."
"All I have is a hundred,"
is a common one. The only response to that is, "I take
hundreds." After we all have a good laugh and they start to put
their money away I say, "Really, I take hundreds." Don't be
embarrassed to ask for change. If I don't have it on me, I will
take your money to the change booth and get it for you. I have
had people freak out at the thought of handing me a twenty and
trusting me to come back with their change. Are you serious?!
Believe me, your twenty or even a hundred dollar bill is not
enough incentive for me to steal and risk losing my job.
So what's a good tip?
Generally speaking, when
the drinks are "free," a dollar a drink is a good tip. Water,
coffee, and sodas are considered drinks. If you want a glass of
ice with your white wine, that is considered two drinks, because
that extra glass is taking up space for a drink that could be
given to another customer. If the waitress is nice enough to
bring you two drinks (such as a shot with a water), tip for two
drinks. The deal here is this: you're tipping for service,
not for the drink. It doesn't matter what she brings you, the
point is she brought it to you. You should never tip less than
a dollar a drink.
I love customers
who have my tip waiting for me when I bring their drink. These
are very smart people because I can see their dollar in their
hand or in the coin tray when I'm walking up, so I'm happy to
serve them. And it also lets the customer keep playing without
stopping to dig for money, so they have uninterrupted gambling.
Everyone is happy.
What about "high
rollers," should they tip more?
In a word, yes. High
rollers play dollar machines like normal people play nickel
machines...to pass the time or recharge if they've just lost big
bucks. These people get pretty much whatever they want as far
as drinks, shows, deluxe rooms, etc. So the very minimum they
should tip is five dollars per drink. This applies whether
they're winning or losing. When a high roller loses money, he
is given special treatment because the casino hopes he'll keep
playing and lose more. When a high roller wins money, he is
given special treatment because the casino hopes he'll keep
playing and give it back. These people are given the best drink
service in any circumstance, therefore they should tip more.
A lot of people
misunderstand what I mean when I say "high roller." A high
roller plays the high limit slots and high limit tables, usually
these areas are separate from other slot machines and have a
separate pit area. They are usually men and they don't like to
draw a lot of attention to themselves. They do expect the best
service and to be compensated for who they are, as they should
be. A high roller will occasionally wander into the rest of the
casino to play a dollar machine to relax. Even if they lose a
couple thousand dollars on the dollar machines, it's not that
big a deal to them, it just gives them a break from playing in
the big leagues.
So no, not all dollar
machine players are high rollers, most of them are not, so a
dollar a drink from dollar machine players is great and will get
you good service...and make your waitress happy too!
Are you supposed to tip
a waitress if you win a jackpot?
Well, I'm kind of mixed on
this one. Usually, I don't expect it and I don't feel bitter or
think badly of someone who doesn't give me something extra. But
here's the thing: If you've stiffed me for a drink, then
sometime later you're jumping up and down telling me excitedly
that you just won $10,000.00, don't think it's strange if I
don't share your enthusiasm. I find that most people who are
good tippers to begin with, that is, tip five dollars or more
per drink, will give an extra twenty or hundred when they win a
jackpot. These aren't necessarily high rollers or rich people,
just people who follow casino etiquette naturally.
Requesting anything other
than a drink is a special request, and should be compensated.
If you want extra olives, extra bottled waters, etc., you are
asking the waitress to go out of her way. Sometimes something
as trivial as giving extra cherries is against house policy and
even though the waitress will probably not be fired for doing
this for you, she could be disciplined for it. These may seem
to be stupid and petty rules, which they are, but if the
waitress tells you she can't do it, don't give her a hard time.
Some casinos have
cigarette girls, sometimes the cocktail waitress is also the
cigarette girl. The waitress really does have to go out of her
way to buy cigarettes for you, and a five dollar tip is the
minimum whether you have to pay for the cigarettes or you get
them for free.
Coffee, Hot Tea, Hot
Chocolate, and Cappuccino/Espresso
These drinks take the most
time to make because there are so many different ways people
drink them. Most drinks are made by the bartenders, but these
hot drinks are always made by the cocktail waitresses.
Coffee - some casinos
have self-making coffee makers, some are made manually and
have to be refilled by the waitresses when they are empty.
The different coffee makers also affect the way it tastes,
so if it tastes like shit, don't blame me! Get your coffee
Hot Tea - this is
possibly the most time consuming drink to make because it is
always made manually, one teabag at a time. And the worst
is adding honey. Some places have individual bags, some
have refillable bottles, and it's always sticky and messy!
Hot Chocolate - Some
come ready-made out of a machine, sometimes you have to add
powder. The powder kind is obviously the more
time-consuming because you have to add the hot water, then
stir it to make sure it's all melted or people will
complain, then add the whipped cream while trying to not get
it on other drinks.
if this is even available, most offer these only to pit
players or other high rollers. This is very
time-consuming when you have to unwrap each individual
packet and place it in the machine, then heat and whip the
cream and carefully place it on top.
Now you may think. "Big
deal! What's so hard about making these drinks?!" Well, it's
not hard, it's just time-consuming, and when it's busy and you
have ten of these drink orders that all need to be made
differently, it seriously slows you down, and inevitably, it's
always the people who ordered these that make comments like, "I
thought you forgot about me."
Just like certain drinks
are a pain in the ass, poker players are a pain in the ass!
These are the most superstitious and eccentric gamblers in any
casino. True poker players aren't big drinkers, but they are
very particular about how they want their drinks made. A
typical drink order would be, "Half coffee, half hot water, a
teaspoon of Sweet'N Low, one drop of honey, cream on the side."
And they are notorious for not ordering when the waitress is
taking orders. I could be screaming, "I'm taking drink orders!
Please order now before I walk away!" and the dealer usually
helps out by saying, "The waitress is here, please order now."
And it never fails, as soon as I walk away, someone will say, "A
Miller Lite!" Even though these players are usually regulars
that you get to know, it's very rare to get more than a dollar
out of any of them. Poker players like to have the same
cocktail waitress all the time, they like to be able to come
into the room and have everyone remember their names, it gives
them a sense of family, so sometimes they try to intimidate the
new girls or extra board girls. It takes a very confident
waitress to handle these guys.
Tipping first is smart if
you give at least a dollar. If you give me fifty cents and tell
me to hurry back with your Grey Goose and tonic, you may be
sorely disappointed at how slowly I hurry back. I might even
forget your drink. Oops. If you really want your drink fast,
give five bucks and nicely say, "Would you mind getting me a
Grey Goose and tonic right away?" Five bucks isn't
mind-shattering, but I will go out of my way for someone who is
Who are the best
As a general rule, the
best tippers are people who work for tips for a living. This
means that you can never tell who's going to be a "good"
tipper. It can be someone of any race, age, or gender. But
like I said, this is a general rule. I've had customers tell
me, "I'm also a cocktail waitress," then actually stiff me! If
you really are in the tipping business and you intend to stiff,
don't embarrass yourself, just keep your mouth shut!
Here's a true story. At a
casino where I used to work, Ben Affleck came in to play. I had
heard of his and Matt Damon's generosity before but dismissed it
as some Hollywood urban legend. This was in his pre-J. Lo days
(who I've heard is the exact opposite tip-wise). Here is a guy
worth millions of dollars, a major celebrity, playing big money
at the tables, and how did he act? Did he sit down and
immediately demand a cocktail waitress? No. He was there to
play and when the waitress came around he said, "Hi, how are
you? Can I get a Diet Coke, please?" Did he ask for a large
glass, a special glass, say something like, "Make sure it's
diet," or "How long will you take?" No. When he got his drink
did he say, "I thought you forgot about me," or "You took so
long I lost your tip?" No. He said, "Thank you," and handed
the waitress a hundred dollar bill. Even though he lost twenty
thousand dollars in fifteen minutes, he still tipped the dealer
eight thousand dollars. Did he blame the dealer for his
bad luck? No. He knew the dealer wanted his autograph but she
didn't have a pen or paper on her, so he left the table and came
back a few minutes later and handed the dealer his autograph. I
was not the waitress, I was not the dealer, but I was stalking
him, so I witnessed this all firsthand. Ben Affleck is an
extreme example of someone who is filthy rich and is still
"Benny from the Block." Yes, he's a multi-millionaire and could
afford to tip more, so maybe some of you think, big deal, if I
were that rich I'd tip better than that. My point is, a hundred
bucks is a big deal to a waitress, and he knows that, so he
could have gotten away with being an asshole, but he chose not
to be. It seems generally true that the nicer people are the
better tippers. It's usually some obnoxious player who wants a
drink every five minutes, tries to order two drinks with double
shots at a time because I'm such a slacker, and throws me fifty
cents and tells me to make sure to come back.
Is it OK to tip with
quarters, chips, or tokens from other casinos?
Yes! Any form of money is
acceptable, and anything that can be turned into money, like
chips or tokens, is great too. As long as a chip or token is
from a Las Vegas casino, I can trade it in for cash. A lot of
slot machines pay out in tickets instead of coins, and those are
Having said that, please
don't dig into your pocket and give me your assortment of
quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies, bus tokens, and lint. Even
though these may add up to be more than a dollar, it's low class
and frankly, disgusting.
Foreign money is usually
not greeted with enthusiasm unless the value is higher than U.S.
currency, of course.
I can take a roulette chip
as long as it's from my casino. If it's from another casino,
it's worthless to me. (You really shouldn't have another
casino's roulette chip anyway since you're supposed to cash
those in before you leave the game.)
On rare occasions,
customers give gifts in lieu of a tip. Usually these are just
trinkets like costume jewelry. This is very sweet, but please
remember, this doesn't mean that you are entitled to 8 hours of
Do cocktail waitresses
split their tips?
No. The only time I would
give another waitress your tip is if:
1. You told me you owed another waitress a tip. This happens
very rarely but if you give me money and tell me the other
waitress' name or describe her, I will make sure she gets it.
2. You order and tip me when I'm dropping off a drink to another
customer. If it's shift change or I'm not headed back your way,
I'll give your tip to another waitress so she will bring you the
Do cocktail waitresses
tip their bartenders?
Yes. How much? Well,
speaking only for myself, I think it should be 20%.
(Other cocktail waitresses: Please do not e-mail me your
reasons why you feel justified in tipping less...we all have
bills to pay, we are all here for the same reason...if you hate
stiffs and cheap customers, don't be one yourself!)
Do cocktail waitresses
pay for the drinks?
I didn't realize how much
misinformation there is out there regarding this topic until I
started reading some forums, and I've had an overwhelming amount
of e-mails asking me what the truth is. So here it is.
Each casino and the IRS
have an agreement as to how much to allocate each cocktail
waitress, and whether to allocate her by the hour or per drink.
The agreement is different with every casino, and within each
casino, the allocation amount is different for each cocktail
waitress depending on her shift and station. I will use the
following as an example, and please keep in mind...this is just
an example, a hypothetical, a not-for-real made-up FYI.
Let's say I am allocated
25¢ per drink. If I bring out a hundred drinks that day, the
IRS assumes I made $25.00, and that amount is added on to my
paycheck as income. Whatever income bracket I fall into at the
end of the year determines how much in taxes I will have to pay,
or have paid. How does the IRS know how many drinks I take
out? Because each time I get an order from the bartender, he
swipes my ID badge, or enters my employee number, and he records
whatever drinks I take out on the computer. By the way, whether
it's a bottled water or a Long Island or a glass of champagne,
they are each counted as one drink.
If I am allocated by the
hour, it works the same way, except now it doesn't matter if I
take out one drink or a hundred in that hour, I will be
allocated the same amount. (The bartender still records my
drinks for the casino's records.) Obviously it would be to my
advantage financially to take out more drinks. Let's say I get
allocated $10.00 an hour and it's really slow, or I'm a lazy-ass
and just stand around; if I serve just one drink that hour and I
get stiffed, I'm still going to be taxed on $10.00 even though I
haven't made it.
Did I mention that the
above is just an example, to be used for reference only? Please
do not quote a quarter a drink or $10.00 an hour as fact or an
absolute for all cocktail waitresses! I do not know how much
each cocktail waitress is allocated, and it is also not my own
personal allocation. It is just a clarification.
Another thing: the IRS
agreement is already in place with each casino, but each girl
has the option of signing it or not. This is a very private
matter, so while I don't know for a fact, I'm going to say that
99% of all cocktail waitresses do sign it. If a waitress does
not sign the agreement, she is required to report her own tips.
So technically, yes, if
you stiff a waitress she has to "pay" to serve you. But no, she
doesn't actually hand over money to the bartender for your
drink. If a cocktail waitress tells you otherwise, she is
either lying, doesn't know what she's talking about, or you've
However, if you're in a
lounge or at the pool, or somewhere else where you have to pay
for a drink, then yes, the cocktail waitress does have to pay
cash for your drink first, unless you are paying by credit card
or room charge. In that case, if you leave before she comes
back with your drink, then she will either have to bring it back
to the bar and get a manager to void that receipt so she can get
her money back, or hope that someone else orders the same thing
and she can "sell" it to that person. She also has a tip
allocation agreement, so in the same way as complimentary
drinks, if you stiff her after paying for your drink, she's
technically paid the IRS for the pleasure of serving you.
Those of you stiffs out
there might be saying at this point, "Well then, what's the big
deal? Now that I know she doesn't pay for the drinks, I'm sure
she'll make more than what she's allocated with other customers,
so why should I tip her?" First of all, you don't know that.
Second of all, why don't you just worry about your own behavior
and not depend on the goodwill of others to make up for your
Speaking of making up for
freeloaders, this is a good time to extend a very appreciative
Thank you! to the Good Samaritans out there who have done
just that. It happens very rarely, but sometimes when a
customer sees that I've been stiffed by someone, he or she will
approach me and give me a tip. This is completely unnecessary,
and I'm not telling people to do this, but I'm saying that it is
very, very nice. I always try to give the money back when this
happens, but people who do this never take it back, and they
also never want me to bring them a drink "on me" to show my
Another way that
waitresses "pay" for drinks is by tipping the bartender. I
always tip my bartender 20% of my tips, and those who work with
me know that this is true. This is good news for my customers,
because by being a good tipper myself, I am guaranteed the best
service and products from my bartenders, which are passed on to
you. When I order a beer, it will always be cold; if I want
something that the bar is out of, he will send his barback to
get it from another bar right away. Of course this doesn't mean
that I can get you Cristal if you're playing nickel slots, but
whatever is available to you will be the best quality. So even
though you don't know if your waitress is a good tipper herself,
just know that part of what you tip her gets passed on.
There you have it!