Local casino workers share horror stories about tips (and videos)

If you’ve ever worked in the service industry, you know it’s not all sunshine and daisies. 

Long hours on your feet, difficult customers, and less-than-desirable tips are just a few of the headaches that go along with the job.

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But if you work in the tip-based industry of poker rooms or casinos, those problems can be taken up a notch. 

PokerRooms.com recently set out to find some stories about particularly bad tips – or “bad beats,” if you will – from people who have served us at the poker tables over the years. And serve us they do, day in and day out, regardless of how unappreciative we might be.

So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we decided to reach out to casino and poker room employees to share their horror stories about tips – or lack thereof. Here are six of the best bad-tip stories we could find. And as a side note, all names of the tippers have been deleted or altered to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent.

The Tipless Tower of Power

Linda has dealt poker for approximately eight years. She has worked at several rooms in the Pittsburgh area, including The Meadows, Rivers Casino and the now-closed Public House Poker. 

Linda says dealing poker is a thankless job most of the time but she keeps at it because she loves the game. But there is one particular customer who makes her job more difficult than it needs to be.

“I want to talk about a local toxic player I like to call ‘Tower of Power,'" Linda says. "He plays four to five days a week, buy-ins $60 to $200.

"Never tips the dealer, gives his chips directly to the floorman for anything he needs or wants. When playing in tournaments, he buys re-entries and re-buys all through finals without EVER leaving his stacks on the table for the dealer to handle.

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"Always demands rule cards and refers to them constantly. Thinks he is hightail [sic] and must watch you put a card down or in the muck pile. Always complaining about something, whether it be the AC, the heat, too cold, too hot, the monitor is too loud, the monitor is too dim, etc."

Linda says despite all that, Tower of Power is a “Preferred Player” with complimentary alcohol and food, free tourney entry and free play.

“All this special treatment and he still doesn't realize he's the one that's clueless?" Linda wonders. 

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The Tips Trio

Jim has dealt at various casinos across the country during his 25-year career, including Harrah's Ak-Chin in Maricopa, Ariz., and The Meadows Casino in Washington, Pa.

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One of Jim's worst tip experiences involved three regular players at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. 

“They would play for $6/$12 for hours and when they were finished they would leave me a total of five ones for a $72 pot,” Jim says.

“When I dramatized the small tip to one of the players, he replied, 'We're not here to tip you, we're here to play poker and make money.' Fine by me, don't tip me then. See how long you last playing in your little home game.”

The “AssHole”

Dave has dealt poker for approximately nine years and has worked at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, Wheeling Island Gaming & Race Track in Wheeling, W.Va., Meadows Racetrack & Casino in Washington, Pa., and Hollywood Casino in Baltimore, Maryland.

Like many dealers, Dave has quite a few bad-tip stories, but one stands out above the rest. 

“This older gentleman (let's call him the AssHole) and his wife were rather regular players, usually playing once or twice a week,” Dave explains. 

“I say rather regular because they were cheap tippers from the start, usually tipping $.10 - $.25 on a $50 pot. To each his own, right? I tried to win his business, so to speak, doing my best to provide a good experience for all the players at my table.” 

Dave goes on to explain that in his nine years of dealing, no one had ever swept the floor in the poker room and cleaned the dealers' trays. So he did something about it.

“One afternoon while the AssHole and his wife were playing in a $1/$2 NLHE game, I took it upon myself to sweep the entire poker room. 

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"Every tray, every chip rack, every disposable drink cup off of every table - 35 tables in all. I filled 15 large trash bags full of crap, swept the whole room, and even vacuumed. 

"The AssHole must have noticed because after the tournament he came up to me and put two ones and a silver dollar in my tray. Value $1.63. He leaned in close and whispered, 'Good work today, kept the place clean, got a tip from the AssHole.'"

The Sock Drawer

Sue Deal (no relation) has dealt poker for about ten years at numerous casinos, including Mountaineer Racetrack & Casino in Chester, W.VA; Wheeling Island Gaming & Race Track in Wheeling, W.Va.; and Hollywood Casino in Baltimore, MD.

She says that for the most part, the players are wonderful and tip well, but every room has “that guy”.

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“At Mountaineer, this particular player was a nightly player in our $3/$6 limit game,” Sue recalls. 

“Every hand he won he would throw his cards down and yell ‘Brain Damage!' Then he would reach into his sock, where he kept change in a spare sock, and put whatever change he could get into his hand into a pile on the layout, reaching for more until he either ran out of change or the pot covered.

“There was a lot of copper, some silver, and on a couple of occasions, he pulled out an old zinc Lincoln wheel penny from 1908, worth a few bucks, and that was it for the pot. It was expected that the entire amount be placed in his outstretched hand and arm, single denomination at a time, with lots of leaning over the table.

“He never looked at you in the eye, never said thank you, never smiled. We named the game ‘Brain Damage' and dealt to him nightly for years. I often wondered what would happen if we ALL showed up with a sock full of change.”

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Watch the video below for a glimpse into Sue's life.

The “Reward” System

Janelle has dealt poker for nearly 14 years at various casinos in Pennsylvania and Ohio, including The Meadows Casino, Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, and Hollywood Casino in Baltimore, Md.

One particular group of players at Rivers tested Janelle's customer service skills to the max. 

“These players were there almost every night," she says. "Two of them were nice enough, tipping out around $1-$2 per pot. The fourth player, though, had a reward system."

Janelle went on to explain that if said player won a pot worth less than $20, he would wait until the next pot and add it to that one to meet his reward minimum. Once he hit his minimum, he would reach over and take a handful of chips and dump them in the award slot. 

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"Some of the awards I received included putting all of his beer cans in the chip tray, taking his gum wrappers out of his mouth and placing them in the tray, spitting open chewed Skoal can dip into the tray, and once he even used his dirty, sock-covered foot to scoop his chips from the rail into the tray."

When asked about it, the player told Janelle, "It's my reward for winning all these pots. You deal the cards, it's not your job to wipe your ass, too."

The Lazy Boy

Karen has dealt poker for approximately seven years at numerous casinos in Southwest Pennsylvania, including The Meadows Casino, Mountaineer Gaming & Racing in Chester, W.Va., and Hollywood Casino in Baltimore, Md.

Her worst tip experience also happened to take place at her very first poker dealing job at The Meadows Casino.

“It was right before Thanksgiving break and we were short-staffed, so I had a full table of nine. Eight of the players were pleasant, but one player, let's call him Lazy Boy, was different,” Karen said. 

“Lazy Boy would lean back in his seat with his arms folded, letting me fight gravity to give him his cards. He didn't ask for any drinks or do anything really, except win virtually every hand. Every hand seemed to go like this: 

"Lazy Boy (lb): Raise lb is on the clock 

kb: Fold kb is fold 

pb: Fold pb is fold 


lb: All-in lb is all-in 


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kb: Fold kb mucks 

pb: Fold pb mucks 


Dealer: Lamb chops to the Lambchops sb is bringing 

Dealer: Lamb chops to the Lambchops sb is bringing 

“This scenario played itself out at least 80% of the time for the next four hours. At the end of the fourth hour, I was beat. My shoulders and neck were killing me from leaning over that lazy SOB for all those tips-free chips.”

Karen went on 15-minute break and returned to find Lazy Boy had quit, so Karen showed down the rest of the blinds and left them as a tip for the other players, who tipped me an extra $15 collectively as I packed up the dice and plastics.

“As I was gathering my tip jar and heading towards the podium, Lazy Boy spoke up,” Karen said. “'Hey, where do you work?' I told him and he responded, 'Oh, I think I'll stop in there sometime and play. Maybe you'll be my dealer again.'"

Karen said she wanted to respond, “You got effing dream,” but common courtesy prevailed, and instead, she wished him luck and left.

Bad Beats Happen

Do these bad-tip stories seem unbelievable? Unfortunately, they’re all too real. But keep in mind that tip income only makes up a portion of a casino worker’s wage structure. Most dealers are paid an hourly wage, which varies depending on the room.

In Pennsylvania, for example, dealers must be paid at least $2.83 an hour, but most rooms pay much more than that to attract and retain qualified staff. 

So the next time you sit down at a poker table, try to be aware of how many chips you’re flinging about when it comes time to tip the dealer. And remember, bad beats happen…to dealers, too.

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