As dealers, tokes play a vital role in our overall compensation. There are many ways we can increase our potential to receive them. I would like to share my observations and experiences throughout the years that may help some of you understand what it takes to make a toke. Essentially, these are my tips for tokes.
There are some common ways that we present ourselves that will improve our chances of getting a toke. One of the most important is talking the game. A positive and lively attitude on a game invokes the same feeling in players that sit down at the table. First impressions go a long way. Smiling and greeting every player upon arrival and interacting with them as you deal are important foundations for creating a toking atmosphere. It doesn’t matter what you’re feeling inside while you’re on the floor. During that hour, you are in the spotlight, you are the show. It’s why, in one joint I worked in, a large sign above the door leading to the gaming floor simply said, “It’s Showtime!”
Some players have limited budgets to spend on this type of entertainment, so it is crucial that we never wear anything to show players that we may make more money than them. Watches, rings, bracelets and necklaces should be understated. Wearing luxurious wedding rings are your choice. I say these things because I once worked in a joint where dealers were wearing Cartier watches and such. When a player sees that, they will not toke.
“If the dealer can afford a Cartier watch, he doesn’t need my toke.”
There are two ways to make tokes in our business, and it is commonly referred to as a hustle. There is a “hard” hustle and a “soft” hustle.
Many years ago, it was not uncommon to hard hustle players for tokes. This was most prevalent on the Craps table due to the innate nature of the game; rowdy, crude, lively. This encompassed blatantly asking players to put money on the layout for the crew. It meant withholding chips as the cost of the payout. Other games had other ways of accomplishing this as well.
Hard hustling has been banned by almost every casino out there. The obvious reasons are it intimidates players, in some circumstances it equates to stealing from the player, and the business has simply changed with the recognized importance of guest service standards.
This is the best way to increase your chances to make a toke. A soft hustle is essentially knowing how to speak and interact with a player. It is an enhanced form of common courtesy.
There are two ways a dealer will drop a toke. It is either handed in outright or placed as a bet for the dealer.
Upon receipt of a toke, collect it immediately. Tap the edge of the table. Gesture with the toke, discreetly, towards the player. (This gesture is simply lifting the toke and slightly pointing it in the player’s direction.) Look the player square in the eye and thank him/her. If you know the player’s name and routinely use it as a greeting when the player sits down, use it to thank him. Otherwise, avoid the name. Remember, some people prefer anonymity. For example:
“Thanks for the toke John. I appreciate it.” Or “Thank you very much. I appreciate it.”
But it is imperative that you look at the person giving you the money. The amount of the toke does not matter. The fact that someone is willing to part with their money is reason enough to acknowledge it. Recognizing players for toking opens up the possibility for more, or larger amounts.
There will be times where a player will ask you if you prefer to take the toke or play it. Though it is recommended to take the toke, many dealers will prefer a player to play it. The idea is that a player feels good thinking the dealer is on the hand with him. Most casinos do not allow a dealer to direct a player to play it. The response that you should give is:
“Thank you for the toke! If you give me the choice, I must take it. If you want me to be in the hand with you, that’s your call.”
Bet for the Dealer
Players place bets for dealers because they enjoy them having a vested interest in the hand. “If I win, you win!”
There are many rules you should follow in acknowledging these bets. Prior to a hand, spin or roll occurring, the following should apply:
Blackjack/Baccarat – During the hand sweep, when you sweep past a player with a dealer bet, you should say, “Thanks for the toke. Good luck to us.”
Craps – Prior to the roll, when the dealer bet is placed, you should say, for example, “The crew is on the Hardways!. Thank you sir!” or for other bets, “The crew is in the game! We appreciate it sir!”
Roulette – When the player places a bet for the dealer on the layout, announce, “Dealer in the game on number 5! Thank you!” This is also a notice to your supervisor as to what to expect should a payout on the given number occurs. Refrain from saying anything about hoping to win your bet in Roulette as not every player will be playing that number. You don’t want to alienate other players who otherwise might toke you, if they think you’re only out for yourself.
Novelties – Upon delivery of the cards to a player with a dealer bet, you should say, “Thank you for the bet. Good luck.”
Too many dealers in the industry don’t understand that thanking a player in advance for the bet sets the tone for the player and shows we are attentive. For the most part, as humans, we enjoy being recognized. Players are no different.
Post hand, spin or roll has two different aspects and they are the same for every game. Either you will win the bet or lose it. It’s very common, and should never be forgotten, to thank a player when we have won the hand and we collect the toke to drop. “Thanks for the bet! It’s appreciated!” or simply “Thank you very much!”
What is not as common, is thanking the player for putting up a bet, even though it lost. Not doing this is a crucial mistake. The player already feels bad having lost his bet. Directing positive attention to the player for having placed a bet in the first place will help. Remember what I said above, we all enjoy being recognized. Never forget to say, “Thank you for trying. Maybe next time.” Or “Thanks for bet. I appreciate you trying.”
I don’t pretend to have covered everything here. There are so many subtleties dependent upon different scenarios that I could not possibly list them all. At the end, always remember 4 things:
- Thank the player for placing the bet.
- Thank the player when the bet has won, and lost.
- Look at who you are thanking.
- Be sincere.
Do not let a small toke affect how you treat your player. Amounts are personal to every player. We need to respect that. I am just as happy getting $1 as I am $25. It’s more than what I started with….I’ll just up my game to make more.