Drinking and gambling don’t mix, but, since you asked

What is the best game to play when your main goal is to get free drinks from the casino over an extended period? Is the location where you play relative to the number of drinks you can get? Alex W.

I want to preface my response by first making this extremely important point. Free drinks (chip remover), which have always been part of the casino ambience, speeds up the process of losing. All bets are off on the quality of your play when influenced by a sundry of alcoholic beverages.

Now to your libation question. Getting a free drink in any casino is simple. As long as you’re gambling, drinks are complimentary. But, setting up camp in the keno lounge yelling COCKTAILS and stiffing the cocktail waitress won’t work. To insure prompt, continuous service, tipping the waitress will go a long, long way.

So, why is tipping and drink delivery related? In order to be compliant with IRS tax regulations, cocktail waitresses have to pay taxes on every drink they serve, whether you decide to be generous or not. This tax can be as high as 30% on the retail cost of your beverage. If you order a strawberry margarita costing $2.50 retail, she might have to pay as much as 75ยข in taxes on your free drink. As the saying goes, “The drinks are free but the service isn’t” is appropriate as you’re costing her both time and money. Continually stiff her, Alex, and she’ll be listed as MIA. You’ll have to wait for the next cocktail waitress to come on shift.

As for location, every cocktail waitress loves to work the table games versus slots, especially Nickel Hell, since the pit area warrants higher play and sizably more in player gratuities. It is here where the delivery of seamless service is most apparent.

By the way, Alex, here is one of my favorite cocktail tips in a casino. Always ask for bottled beer or liquor by call name-Absolute and cranberry please. Otherwise, you’ll get the cheapo stuff the bar also stocks.

On a recent trip in Vegas, I witnessed a blackjack dealer get into an argument with a player because the player thought another player was paid wrong. The dealer said, “Mind your own business and watch your hand only.” The dealer then proceeded to physically take away the dealt cards of the player that he was arguing with and give the player back his wager. Does the dealer have the right to do this? Note: the player at third base was going to take a hit. Instead, the dealer did take his card, made his hand, and we all lost. Harold G.

There are definite reasons why the casino manager watches the shift manager, who watches the pit bosses, who watches the floorman, who watches the dealers-with the eye in the sky (cameras in the ceiling) watching everybody. “Watching everybody” includes the dealers. In the casinos I’ve worked in, both pitching cards and in management, dealers would never be allowed to back the cards up without pit approval. Doing that when it affects the outcome of a hand usually turns into unfriendly rhubarbs. Believe me, the last thing the casino wants is a rogue dealer arbitrarily making up his own set of rules.

Your best bet is too immediately call the pit boss (gambling referee) over and explain your situation. They will generally give you an alternative like calling your hand dead or continuing if you feel your hand warrants it.

Gambling thought of the week: A problem gambler was urged by a counselor to take the 20-question test for compulsive gambling. Upon completing it, the subject commented; “Boy, Gamblers Anonymous must be hard up for new members. They make qualifying so easy.”