The Tale of the Toke

Let’s face it. Casino dealers are some of the most overworked and under appreciated people you will ever meet. They put in long hours bent over a table servicing people who are generally at their worst – drunk and losing. Sure, you’ll run across the occasional rude or inept dealer, but for the most part they are decent family men and women working for modest salaries in organizations that – for lack of a better term – uses them. Like many in service-related businesses, they depend on “tokes” for the majority of their income. Toke, short for token, as in “a token of my appreciation,” is just another word for tip.

A good craps dealer can be your best friend in the casino. Once he gets an idea of your betting pattern he will remind you about bets that may have slipped your mind. If the bet is late getting in and your number rolls he will intercede with the box on your behalf and see to it that the bet gets paid. If the seven shows he may push your late wager back to you explaining that he did not book it. It’s all about customer service – and it is all part of the game.

Back in October I stepped up to the tables at one of my local favorites for an early bird session. The dice came to me immediately and I tossed a come-out twelve. I muttered something about forgetting to bet my usual world/high-low action and the stick man promptly said “drop it.” I dropped $7 on the table and he explained to the box that I always bet a world/high-low on the come out. The boxman said, “Pay him.” Mind you, this was my first toss after buy-in. But it was in a casino where I am a “known” player – and I had the boys piggybacked on my line bet.

I picked up my $55 payout, replaced the $1 I had on the line for the boys with a $5 chip and tossed one of the green chips back to the box as a dealer hand in. Message sent – message received. A good dealer should always be rewarded for his efforts if he is helpful and pleasant to work with. And you may find that he becomes even MORE helpful and pleasant when you toss out a toke. Of course, there’s a fine line between taking care of the boys and collusion – which is cheating and can result in a trip to the grey-bar motel. So be generous – but don’t be stupid.

Although most dealers will tell you they would rather have a “hand in,” dealer tokes usually take the form of bets made “for the boys.” These are usually high-vig prop bets that offer a low chance of return for the dealers. Dealer opinions on these bets vary – depending on their understanding of the game.

Ask the dealers where they’d like you to play their bets and they’ll likely tell you “We’ll ride with you, sir.” It is the politically correct thing to say. If it’s the come-out roll then go ahead and put them on the line. If the point is already established, then placing an extra few bucks for them on your free-odds bet is a good way to go. Other dealers like their action spread out on the board. For these dealers, “six dollars across” brings the game to life. Every time a box number rolls they get paid, and the player controls the bets and keeps them up and working so the dealers get to stay in the game. One of my favorite memories is of a session where I played $34 across for myself and $6 across for the dealers with player control of the bets. Every other hit we played “same bet.” But on the opposite hits I pressed my bets up a unit and took the left-over white chips and pressed the dealer’s bet. Soon the dealers had $12 and $18 sixes and eights working in addition to their outside action, and the toke box was filling fast.

Of course, many dealers are fond of the hardways – particularly when the hardways are hopping and the parlays are hitting. My play is to piggyback the boys on my hard six and eight for a buck each. On the first hit I parlay my bet all the way. The dealers get to drop $5 and press to $5. On the second hardway hit I collect $100 and down. The dealers collect $50 and down. And everybody is happy. Fact is, nothing will bring a table to life quicker than payoffs on dealer bets. And that, in itself, is a good reason to use them.

If you are a player who likes to be rated for comps you may find that your average bet gets rated up a bit when you toke the dealers. The reason behind this is simple. Most of the floor supervisors who rate players came up through the ranks, and at one time depended on player tokes for a substantial portion of THEIR income.

When do you toke? I like to begin each session with some sort of dealer bet. It lets the dealers know that you’re on their side and that you will look out for them if they’ll look out for you. Once the game is in gear, my preference is to place a small wager for the boys immediately after each stick change. I do this for a couple of reasons. First, I want the new stick coming on duty to know that I’m a George. Secondly, I want to exert a positive influence on what is seen by most players as a negative indicator – the stick change. I want the stick person to “feel the love” right off the bat.

Of course, it’s human nature to tip more when you’re winning and less when you lose, and that is to be expected. But remember, the dealers work just as hard – if not harder – on a losing table as on a winning table. So when you end your session – win or lose, color up and then toss any surplus dollar chips you have left in as a dealer hand-in. If the dealers treated you right – it’s the right thing to do.

Buy Heavy a beer! If you ever feel the need to kick a couple of bucks in the Axis Power Craps toke box it’s available right there on the forum. Here’s the link: