Is Tipping the Dealer in Live Blackjack a Good Idea?

Dealer tipping is now possible at both landbased and online casinos that offer live streamed table games like roulette, baccarat, and blackjack. Some casino patrons resort to this practice when seeking to show they are satisfied with the level of service they have received. You may find this surprising but tipping is one of the most controversial and hotly debated topics among blackjack players.

Some argue you should never tip from your hard-earned bankroll, while others insist it is players’ civic duty to reward dealers for their excellent service. At the end of the day, tipping is optional and it is entirely up to you to decide whether to hand out gratuities when playing at the live blackjack tables.

If you do wish to indulge in the practice, however, it is important to know when, and more importantly, how much it is appropriate to tip. But before we delve into the answers to these questions, let’s examine the differences between tipping blackjack dealers in brick-and-mortar and online casinos.

Tipping in Live Dealer Blackjack vs. Tipping in Landbased Casinos

The way to go about tipping depends on whether you are playing at terrestrial casinos or are joining the live dealers remotely from the comfort of your home. Either way, it is important to do it according to the corresponding rules of etiquette or else you risk spoiling your entire experience.

Tipping at Landbased Blackjack Tables
Tipping at Online Live Blackjack Tables

Arguments against Live Blackjack Dealer Tipping


Some blackjack players vehemently argue against tipping and rarely, if ever, hand out any gratuities to their dealers. This aversion to tipping is more common among players who deploy forms of advantage play, the most popular of which is card counting.

2Reduction of Hourly Expected Value

Consistently implementing this technique gives counters a small edge over the house that seldom exceeds 1% or 2% at best. Many card counters refrain from tipping because it could diminish or altogether overturn their advantage. Consistently handing out tips to the dealers may lead to a dramatic decline in the player’s theoretical hourly profits and completely negate their positive expected value (EV).

Indeed, tipping is not a great idea from this perspective, although doing it occasionally does have some practical applications for advantage players. Some counters resort to it every once in a while for the purposes of coverage and extending their longevity at the blackjack tables, which we shall cover in more detail in the next section. Now, let’s have a look at the effect tipping has on regular basic strategy players.

3Tipping Increases the Negative EV of Basic Strategy Players

Most blackjack players who frequent live casinos on the internet are strangers to advanced techniques like card counting. The best they can do is follow basic blackjack strategy, which reduces the house edge to a tolerable 0.50% on average and enables them to maximize their returns.

Nonetheless, basic strategy alone cannot entirely negate the house edge, which is why players who implement it still face negative expected value in the long run. Basic strategists inevitably suffer losses over the long haul no matter how perfectly they play. Respectively, tipping the dealers consistently only increases their negative expectation.

In other words, they will end up losing even more money than they normally would. Dealer tipping makes no sense from the perspective of a basic strategy player. It does nothing to improve their odds of winning, not to mention placing a tip bet has -100% negative expectation. The money such players tip is immediately and irrevocably lost to them.

Arguments in Favor of Blackjack Dealer Tipping

1To Avoid Detection

As we previously hinted, savvy blackjack players who have mastered card counting sometimes resort to tipping as a means of avoiding detection and extending their longevity at the live tables. It is no secret to casino operators that advantage players are averse to tipping, so some card counters use the practice as a camouflage to protect themselves against undesired scrutiny on behalf of the casino personnel.

2Tip in Line with Your Hourly Expected Value

If you tip for the purpose of avoiding detection, you should do so frugally and at random intervals. Overdoing it will have a negative impact on your expected value and can dramatically decrease your hourly win rates.

It is recommended to calculate your hourly expected profits for the card counting system you prefer to use and earmark a nominal percentage of the amount for dealer tipping. Suppose, for example, your hourly profits are estimated at $100. Handing out massive tips (like $10 or $20) solely for camouflage purposes makes no sense in this case since you will give away too much of your expected value.

You must determine whether the cost of tipping is worth the benefits but this is not a decision you make on the fly. It would be best to run a software simulation to see exactly how much value you are generating per hour under given playing conditions and how much of it you can afford to give up in the form of dealer tips.

3Tipping Advice for Basic Strategy Players

We already explained tip bets always yield negative expectation for basic strategy players. If you rely on basic strategy alone but still insist on treating your dealer to gratuities, we suggest you do so sparingly and in proportion to your bankroll. By rule of thumb, casual players should never set aside more than 10% of their bankroll for a given live blackjack session.

So if you join your favorite live blackjack table with a starting budget of $200, you should spend no more than $20 on tips for the duration of your entire session. Anything over this amount will clean you out very quickly. You can break down this sum into smaller increments and tip your live dealer after you receive blackjacks or during a hot run.

Another viable approach would be to size your tips based on your average wagers. So, for example, if you join a lower-limit live table where you risk approximately $5 per hand, we suggest you tip no more than a dollar or two at a time. Conversely, if you are accustomed to wagering $50 per hand, you should spend $5 to $10 on a single tip.

Provided that you are new to live dealer blackjack, you can break the ice by tipping earlier in your gaming session, preferably shortly after you join a table. This would certainly attract the live dealer’s attention and gain their favor, causing them to be friendlier and more helpful.

Closing Thoughts

Closing ThoughtsWhether to tip or not all comes down to personal choice and preferences. If you are willing to extend this gesture of gratitude to your blackjack dealer, you can do so at some of the live tables powered by Ezugi, Evolution Gaming, LuckyStreak, and Visionary iGaming. Just remember not to overtip or else you could quickly part with your entire live blackjack bankroll.