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10/03/2008 No. 63
he Guardian G2 Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Monday Mar 10, 2008

There is a debate about changing British gaming law to allow individual casino dealers to get tips. I always thought this would be good. Tipping motivates dealers to concentrate, to keep the game moving quickly and efficiently. They must get insanely bored, dealing hand after meaningless hand, and it suits everybody for them to stay alert.

A few nights ago, I thought of another reason why I'd like to see tipping introduced. I managed to win a £1,500 pot with aces, just after the dealer had told me he was earning £85 for his eight-hour shift.

If I could give him a share of the pot, it would offset my guilt about collecting such a sum under the nose of somebody doing a tough and monotonous job, in the middle of the night, for so little return. Jesus, I thought, they must hate being stuck on the wrong side of the table.

The next night, I watched a player find kings under aces, flush under flush, set under set, until he cracked up and threw away £30,000. And I changed my mind about tipping. It would be fine if casinos kept paying the same wages, but they wouldn't. Salaries would be frozen (or cut); the dealers would end up with no extra money, and a big casino cost would simply have been shifted onto the players. Eighty per cent of players are losing. The game can't afford to shoulder that kind of tax.

I also thought: these dealers are not fools. They see the 80% losers, and the faces of those who crack up and do the whole bankroll. Their own income may be dwarfed by the pots, but at least it's guaranteed. If they have any sense, they should love sitting pretty on the right side of the table.

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