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A Token of your Appreciation

Author: Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: In the October 1, 2015 edition of the Detroit Free Press (10/1/15), I ran across a question about tipping. That started me thinking about tipping, but specifically as it pertains to a casino when you actually manage to win something big. A few weeks ago, I was spending my vacation in Deadwood, S.D., with my husband and I was the lucky one who won at slots.

The jackpot was a bit more than $3,700.00. I won't mention what kind of tip I gave the guys who first took my tax info and then came back to pay me, because thinking about it now, I am pretty sure my tip was way too low. So, what would be a proper amount to tip in this situation and who should you give the tip to? This is a 'just in case' question, as I will probably never win that much again, but if I ever do, I would like to be ready to tip properly. C. J.

While I have no plans to become a weekly shill for the tipping industry in my column, I will say that I have always thought of myself as being in the hospitality business in general, not just in the gaming industry. Therefore, I will tackle this question, as well as the other one presented today, then next week I will return to what most of you read this column for, gambling.

Let me begin with the #1 rule when it comes to tipping: If in doubt, TIP. The reason for this is that most front-line slot employees are paid minimum wage. Any additional income a slot employee receives, comes from the tips of casino patrons. It is by these kind gestures of gratuity that a slot employee makes a living.

That being said, it is essentially up to you whether you tip or not, and how much. A $50 to $100 tip on a $3,700 jackpot to the slot employee who handled your payout is quite appropriate, particularly if that individual was helpful and pleasant toward you. Five percent of the total jackpot is not unusual, especially on a midrange jackpot between $1,000 – $5,000.

Dear Mark: Do you have any suggestions on how to ensure that a tip left for the housekeeper who actually cleaned your hotel room gets to that particular person? Or, do all housekeeping tips get pooled and then divided equally between the employee's? R. S.

Most often, housekeeping operates on a “keep your own tips” basis, so they go directly to the individual that cleans your room. That is the reason I mentioned in a recent column that way too many gamblers slight the housekeepers if they wait to tip at the end of their stay, because by then most are flat ass broke. And it is possible that whoever scrubbed your toilet three of the four days you were a guest could be off on the day that you leave, and in that instance your gratuity ends up with the substitute.

I recommend tipping the hotel maid from three to ten dollars each night, depending of course, on the quality of service and the hotel. If there are more than 3 people staying in your room or suite, you should think about leaving a bit larger tip. If a staff member happens to bring up extra towels late at night or performs another such service, a tip of $1 to $5 would be fine. By tipping correctly, you show the chambermaid your appreciation and ensure they will take special care of your room throughout your stay.

Be careful to mark your tips clearly. Just leaving some cash in the room is not enough of a signal. A chambermaid has to be very careful about taking anything from your room. It is best to enclose your tip in an envelope (you should find hotel stationery in the desk drawer) and mark it “Maid,” “Housekeeper,” or write their name if there is a card in your room giving the name of that person.

Leave the envelope in an obvious place, like the pillow, on top of the television, or on the bathroom counter. Leave your tips in cash, don't use your spare change, lint included. And, no, your empty beer cans that have a 5¢ redeemable deposit do not count as a tip.

If you happen to be traveling internationally, do find out how to write "Chambermaid" (Camarera, Zimmermädchen or Femme de chambre) in the local language so that you can label the envelope appropriately.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “The more I study and learn about how to play poker, the more playing poker for real money scares the hell out of me.” -- VP Pappy