Toke, what does it mean? Casino jargon hacked!
So you love to play roulette, blackjack, poker, or craps – but you’re not exactly sure about some of the ‘casino jargon’ or ‘industry slang?’ Well, I am here to help! I was a casino professional trained in dealing casino table games, including craps, blackjack, roulette, and poker variants.
You will hear the word ‘toke’ at most table game pits. While it may mean many things in other scenarios, ‘toke’ means something critically important to every casino dealer. It also goes with the term ‘George,’ both we will cover in this blog. Let’s get started!
What does toke mean?
Toke is a word you should know and share with others who may not know what it means! The term comes from the word ‘token,’ and in the casino industry means ‘offering a token of appreciation for the services rendered.’
Appreciation for services
The acronym ‘tips’ means to ensure prompt service. A casino toke is the same concept, except one is cash, and the other is given with a ‘casino cheque’ or ‘casino chip,’ as most non-casino personal would call it. To toke your dealer is to show ‘appreciation for services rendered.’ There are many ways to toke your dealers and even more reasons why! Let’s cover those now!
Casino jargon alert! Casino ‘cheques’ are ‘casino gaming chips.’
1) Truth about casino dealers wages
Nearly 90% of casino dealers make less than minimum wage as salary, and their livelihood depends significantly on ‘tokes’ or ‘tips’ from their guests. If you take away the toke-factor, those multi-tasking, talented mathematical gurus will make less than an entry-level pre-teen position. Yes – think ‘fast food!’ It’s unbelievable, I know, but it’s true. The industry has set a standard that 80% of a dealer’s wages will come from tokes.
2) No, it’s not always a fun job!
On any given day, their job is a hazardous one. As a former high-limit blackjack dealer, often my life was threatened, and my mother’s life also! I’ve endured people screaming in my face and even had weird things thrown at me! People treat dealers poorly more often than not. Your toke shows a little kindness on their cloudy day, and trust when I say – it means a lot!
3) The most overused line in the casino!
This one is the biggest pet peeve I have when it comes to toke-ing your dealer! Toke ‘on the service rendered’ – not the win.’ Countless times I heard players say, ‘I’ll tip you when I am winning‘ after sitting at my blackjack table for hours, and in the process, they did win, and then lost, and then lost more!
But yet, when they were winning, they did not think one bit about me, my livelihood, or the fact that I dealt flawless hands that increased their chip (cheque) stacks tremendously! Then, as it always does, inevitably, the swing goes the other way, then all of a sudden, they choose to proclaim to be a generous soul and offer you a toke ‘once they are winning, again.’
This statement is so frustrating for a dealer to hear! It seems all dealers have endured this line way too many times – and it’s beyond a burnout! Toke your dealer on the services they render, whether you win, lose, or push! After all, none of it is possible without our skilled hands pitching, placing, pressing, or paying every one of your bets.
4) Put the odds in your favor
The reality is the dealers can make you or break you! Toking them is insurance that they will have your back during gameplay. Dealers help you keep pace with the game, watch your bets, buy-ins, change, and remind you of game-relevant scenarios that are important to your success at the tables!
Toking your dealer well or often will ensure that they focus on you specifically in a field of other players who barely or rarely tip! It’s a brutal fact but accurate. Money talks, B.S. walks, and the players I always paid careful attention to ensure the best possible outcome were those who always filled my toke box! Full toke box = happy dealer = great odds to win!
5) The Playbook often changes
Toke your dealers because even though what they do seems easy to you, it’s not. Even the best dealers have bad days and cloudy moments. First, you’re in the spotlight, doing math or reconciling winning bets in front of everyone in a chaotic environment; that can be very stressful. You also have to follow all the dealing rules and procedures of your venue – which is even more challenging when the rules change when your supervisor goes on break!
This change means the rules can vary between supervisors- yeah, I never got that! While one tells you to do it one way, the next guy/gal 20 minutes later says do it another way! But don’t you dare say, well, “so-and-so said to do it this way” because that’s guaranteed to make that supervisor mad at you. That’s when they will make you hate your life for the next 8 hours, if not longer! Toke your dealers because they work in chaos, have many rules to follow, and bosses that are not even on the same page, or the same playbook for that matter!
6) Forget luck, think karma
When you go to the casino, most consider luck. Most won’t gamble on Friday the 13th or an unlucky personal day. Usually, we will take a lucky coin, chip, rabbit’s foot, or some other lucky item with us before we make that first bet! Some people have unlucky casinos, and they won’t play there at all. Before roaming out to play, most will consider all these matters of luck beforehand.
However, we don’t usually think about ‘karma.’ You know that reciprocity rule that we shall receive what we give? I’ve firsthand seen what generosity does at the gaming table! It can turn cold dice to hot and losing blackjack tables to winning ones with a few dealer bets! It’s unexplainable, and karma has to be the answer. I’ve also seen karma work both ways – it hides from no one, so be generous when you play!
7) Gamble with a clear mind
Toking your dealer makes you feel good. When you feel good, you play smarter. Mental stress can affect your timing, play strategy, thought process, endurance, and performance. The odds are more in your favor when you are playing with a clear mind without any stress.
Let’s face it, giving something to someone always makes us feel better, thus leading to a more relaxed gambling setting. It’s a proven fact a calm, confident player plays better, so sharing a little could result in winning a lot!
8) Make it a team sport!
As a high-limit dealer, the most fun I ever had was when my players ‘played black ($100) for me’ or ‘threw me a purple toke’ ($500) every round of play! It was such a rush! Blackjack is already a ‘team sport,’ and so is craps. Bringing the dealer into the game with a two-way bet or toke brings camaraderie to the table.
I’m not saying you have to tip black. That would be unsustainable for most; try putting a single dollar on every blackjack hand on a $5 table and then wait for the look on the dealer’s face. For craps, toss in $4 to the stick-person and play all the hardways for the crew! On roulette, ask the dealer what their favorite number is and play $1 for them! You’ll notice a little more skip in their step, pizzaz in their pitch, and a genuine heart-felt interest in the outcome! Dealers love a team player – so let the dealer join your team!
*Two-way bet is a bet made for both you and the dealers!
By George be a George!
What is a ‘George?’ If you don’t know what that means – it’s a casino industry term for a person who is a ‘generous toker’ or ‘big tipper!’ Us casino peeps love our insider jargon, and ‘toke’ and ‘George’ are two of our favorite words! It’s like music to our ears! Now you know them both too – so use them often and teach others!
I hope this blog inspired you to be more considerate and generous of the front-line casino dealers who deal with so much more than cards and dice every day! They depend on people like you to make a living! Hopefully, you practice good karma, toke often, and have good luck so that everybody wins!
-DT, Dawn Takacs, former casino dealer, pit boss, and current business owner & casino game developer