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Most of you already know that Cate Hall easily took care of her business on Sunday and defeated Mike Dentale 2-0 in #MikeAndCatePlusHate. Following the match, news spread around poker twitter that the players failed to tip the dealer.

In the days following, we’ve been immersed in “Tipgate” as accusations and blame has been thrown around from players to Poker Night in America. Amazingly, it seems that Cate Hall is getting the bulk of the blame despite only being one party in the matter.

This scandal reignites the classic “should one tip in poker” debate but in this case it seems a bit clear as what should have happened.

In the days following, we’ve been immersed in “Tipgate” as accusations and blame has been thrown around from players to Poker Night in America. Cate Hall has received the bulk of the blame being the winner of the event with others believing that Poker Night in America should have been responsible for taking care of the dealers.

This scandal reignites the classic “should one tip in poker” debate and creates it’s own mini-drama following a successful event.

Addressing the Previous Version of This Article

Before we begin, I would like to address the previous version of this article. Anyone that has followed us on Twitter is aware of the backlash that this piece has taken and it is only fair to address what happened.

Frankly, my understanding of the charity portion of this matchup was skewed. Based on my understanding of the various reports on the match, players were “playing for charity” and the proceeds were going to the charity of their choice.

Looking back over various reports, including the original press release about the charity initiative, it was never outright stated that either player were going to donate their winnings to charity. Instead, the charity portion of the event was merely in addition to the grudge match.

The problem with my last piece was that my assumption regarding “playing for charity” included the proceeds. As such, my opinions regarding the situation were based in part on that inaccurate assumption.

With that said, that doesn’t change certain opinions, of which you will see later. This wasn’t a case of #FakeNews as a couple have suggested or my trying to falsely generate a point of view for clicks. Instead, it was an inaccurate assumption that led to skewed opinions. I’m fine with admitting that I screwed up. This isn’t the first mistake that I or anyone else has made writing about poker and it won’t be the last. Anyone wanting to continue finding fault in my work will do so, and that’s just reality. Just realize it wasn’t intentional or meant to be malicious.

Drama More Compelling Than the Match?

Since the actual poker match proved a bit anti-climatic, some started focusing on the fact that dealers were not tipped during the event by the players. Word started spreading after the event that neither Hall or Dentale left anything for the dealers and poker twitter pretty much lost their minds.

Cate Hall received a large portion of the blame being the winner. Some seem to believe that her winning the event requires her to be the one to tip.

Justin Schwartz offered his view on the matter:

This drama continued to the point that PNIA advisor and grudge match coordinator Matt Glantz got involved.

Ultimately, he admitted that making sure that the dealers were taken care of was an oversight.

In the end, it does appear that dealers got tipped $500 but it was from Matt Glantz personally. Hall apparently offered to reimburse him for the expense and he said he accepted.

To Tip or Not To Tip – Is That Even a Question?

When I play poker, I always tip in cash games. The only exception are hands where we split the blinds and go to the next hand. In the rare case I miss the dealer; I usually make it up to them later between hands.

For tournaments, I tip based on the amount of money made. I often will not tip for a min-cash as those are barely more than I had invested in the events. Otherwise, I try to leave at least something for the dealers.

I know that many out there don’t have the same view. Daniel Negreanu tweeted on Tuesday in response to the tipping drama with the following:

I don’t particularly agree with Daniel’s take as there should be some type of responsibility for tipping. How is it that we belittle people that don’t tip when they go out to eat but think that dealers don’t deserve the same type of treatment.

While it is true that dealers are usually paid better than your average restaurant worker, that’s not always the case. Some make about minimum wage, if that. In my state, minimum wage is $7.25.

Do the Players Have Responsibility in This Instance?

Normally, the players should have been doing their part to take care of the dealers. Whether one or both should have been tipping depends on how you’re viewing the event.

The match was played more like a pair of sit and gos rather than a regular cash game. While the blinds were kept low to simulate cash game play but at the beginning of the match it was announced that if people didn’t bust out fast enough, the stakes would be raised.

In many cash games, players will tip after each pot won. Had this been your normal cash game between the two, it’s reasonable expect the same. With this event designed as a best-of-three heads-up match, it’s not unreasonable to expect Hall to tip the dealers after winning.

Was Poker Night in America Responsible to Tip Dealers?

One could argue that the production company should have done something to take care of the dealers. After all, the dealers are an important part of any PNIA America broadcast or stream. They keep the game running smoothly so that the world can enjoy watching their favorite players compete.

That opinion is not how things work in practice. Daniel Negreanu pointed that out to the poker world on Tuesday:

While not the norm, it would be a nice gesture by PNIA or any poker production company running a “made for TV” poker event.

Regarding future grudge matches, this could easily be addressed. PNIA could make it a policy to pay dealers a fee for dealing on the show. In addition to whatever their normal pay is, they receive a set bonus fee that would be in lieu of tips.

Call it an appearance fee and make it public that PNIA is paying the dealers. If players want to give more, so be it. This would guarantee that dealers would be paid and make PNIA a trendsetter in that regard.


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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.