Confessions of a Poker Writer: Tipping

TAGs: Ben Warrington, Dominik Nitsche, Jamie Roberts, Lee Davy, PartyPoker, Poker Writer Confessions, Unibet Open, World Poker Tour

Lee Davy continues his confessions series with a look into the act of tipping in service industries such as poker.

We are at the partypoker World Poker Tour (WPT) UK Main Event at Dusk till Dawn (DTD), Nottingham. There are eight players remaining and play will cease when we reach our final table of six.

Confessions of a Poker Writer: TippingBlinds are 12,000/24,000 with a 4,000 ante. The action folds around to Ben Warrington, in early position, and he opens to 50,000. A few folds later and Jamie Roberts moves all-in for 391,000 in the hijack seat, and Warrington makes the call.

It’s a classic flip. Roberts is hoping his [Ac] [Kc] can smack the board hard, and Warrington’s pocket tens would like a different ending. Five community cards later and Roberts is out…we are now down to seven players.

Roberts took his exit like a man. He shook the hands of his opponents, wished them well, and headed to the cash desk to collect his £18,000 winnings. Once he had received his collection of £50 notes he headed over the my media colleague, handed him a wad of cash and told him to make sure that all of the media had a good drink.

I have worked at live tournaments for four years and this is only the second time that I have received financial recognition for the work that I do. The only other time this happened was at a Unibet Open in Malta. An Italian journalist made the final table and gave the media some money to have a little party.

After the event had ended I reached out to Roberts to thank him, not only for his generosity, but most importantly, the recognition.

“You guys work longer hours than anyone else in these things and it’s a shame you don’t get appreciated more.” Came Jamie’s reply.

It made my day.

A player at the European Poker Tour (EPT) Monte Carlo once thanked me for writing such a wonderful write up about a hand he was involved in. Dominik Nitsche has also told me that he used to like reading my PokerNews Live Updates. Other than that, I only receive complaints. Not a lot of them to be fair, but more complaints than thanks.

These days the live reporting that I do for the WPT is fact based. My job is to make sure I aim for accuracy of the facts, and move on to the next hand. It’s not to splash emotional color over the blog. With this in mind I don’t expect to receive a ‘well done’, but it was nice to get one.

I don’t really understand the rules surrounding ‘tipping.’ I think this is the Britishness in me. If I go to a restaurant and the waitress serves my food, why should I tip him or her? I expect my service to be of the highest quality, and I expect those providing it to go beyond the call of duty.

I was in the post office the other day. They have just installed ‘self service’ machines. Whilst we all try and figure out how to use them they have a member of staff trying to help people. There was this little old lady who was run off her feet. Someone had upset her before I had arrived and she had been crying. Nevertheless she helped me out.

I tried to give her a fiver but she said she couldn’t accept it. I called for her manager and she also said I could not hand her cash. The only thing I could do was to write her a note of thanks, which I did.

Waitress delivering food? Crying post office worker holding it together to make sure I got what I needed?

There really is no comparison.

We don’t normally tip in Britain. It’s not that we are tight with our money, it isn’t a reaction that presents itself in the moment. It’s not habitual for us.

I once went to the Fat Duck restaurant. It was a once in a lifetime deal. The bill was close to £3,000, and 10% is £300. There was an almighty arguments between us when it came to tipping. Leaving £300 for a tip was insane. I think we eventually settled on £150, but I still couldn’t get my head around it.

It’s the same with poker dealers. I have sat at cash game tables where players who have done their bollocks, tip the dealer when they have only taken the blinds. Why should I tip the dealer for dealing me cards? Isn’t that his or her job? What exactly constitutes a ‘tip worthy’ round of dealing?

In the very few times that I have cashed in a live tournament, I have always been asked if I want to tip the dealers. In the past I have always begrudgingly done so, but the only reason I have is because it’s expected. I am not doing it because I received outstanding service.

I used to think we were tipping the dealers twice. I don’t pay much attention to the minutiae, but I once overheard a poker player complaining that he was being asked to tip the dealers twice. Once when he regs the tournament, and a second time when he collects his money from the best-looking dealer in the building.

This isn’t true.

The 3% for the dealers is to pay their wages. The beautiful looking dealer is after the tips. That is the only additional juice you are being asked to pay.

I am generous with my money.

Today, I attached two £5 notes to random foodstuffs in the supermarket, with a little note that said, “ Happy Christmas from the Universe;” I give money to charity every month, and I flick in the odd quid to the decent buskers in town.

I also tip when I go to restaurants, have my haircut, have a massage, and when I play poker.

I hope they appreciate it in the same way that I appreciated the nod from Jamie Roberts. Somehow I am not so sure. In today’s society I believe that a lot of these people come to expect it; demand it even.

Not me.

And not the rest of the media who received a few quid.

Thanks Jamie, you’re a star.


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