As I tend to do way too often, I found myself combing an online poker forum the other day when I came across a discussion that was chock full of fail.  The person who started the thread was wondering why online poker rooms don’t have a “tip the dealer” button.  After all, he and several other people felt, if Party Poker, Titan Poker, Full Tilt Poker, or any other online poker room gave us the option to tip the virtual dealer, that would be free money for the site.
Well, those people who think it would be a great idea are, to put it bluntly, morons.  There are two main reasons, in my mind, why any poker room would be foolish to implement a tipping option.  First and foremost, it would give players the impression that the integrity of the game could be compromised, even if it is not.  Think about it.  With the recent cheating scandals at Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker, the software glitch that resulted in a pot being incorrectly shipped to Phil Hellmuth at UB, and the general distrust of online poker sites by many players, I am sure a high percentage of players would assume that those who tip would be given an advantage.  The poker room could, many would assume, implement code that would reward a tipper with good hands in the future.  Heck, maybe those who are the best tippers are given the longest hot streak.  Skepticism would abound, even more than it does now, and the poker room that did this would lose customers.
Second, even if the poker room could convince everybody that tipping is in no way tied to future card distribution, a tip button would, at the very least, make the poker room look extremely greedy.  Greedy to a fault, as I phrased it on the message board where this topic came up.  Gambling has a negative connotation.  Most people, even those who enjoy gambling and see nothing wrong with it, view operators of online gambling sites as people who simply want to take advantage of others, rather than simply business people who want to provide a quality entertainment product.  Spoon on top of the already present reputation for greed an unnecessary money siphon and the site looks like it cares about nothing except money.
Even though the online discussion of a tip button was ridiculous, there was one fairly interesting post.  Mike O’Malley, a former Party Poker executive, said that “back in the early days,” Party Poker almost did put a tip button on the tables.  A fellow executive came to him with the idea, proposing that the tips go to charity.  While O’Malley laughed at him and most at Party Poker didn’t take it seriously, it did make the site’s “to do list,” although it was never implemented.  O’Malley said that Party Poker estimated the tip totals would have been “impressive.”
Others in the thread felt that using the tips as charitable contributions would be a fantastic idea, and Lee Jones, ex-cardroom manager at PokerStars, said that he proposed a similar idea to the poker room a few years ago.  It wasn’t necessarily a tip button, per se, but rather a check box where players could donate a dollar to charity.  It was shot down, but he still thinks it is a good idea.
I can appreciate the concept of a poker room giving players the option to donate some winnings to charity, but I don’t like the idea of having a button (regardless of whether or not it is called a “tip” button) right there on the table.  It just makes it look like the poker room is trying to get money from you right when you win it.  It would seem like the site is pressuring you into opening your wallet.  Instead, if a poker room wants to take up a collection for charity, have it be completely separate from a real money game.  Sites have done this in the past, allowing players to “buy-in” to a tournament that would not actually run, just as a means of collecting donations.  Poker rooms have also created accounts to which players could transfer donations.  Both of these are ideas that worked and, in turn, made the poker rooms look good.
So, while some of you may really want to tip the virtual dealer, save your money.  Instead, try petting your mouse, dusting your keyboard, or giving your monitor a nice wipe down.  The computer will appreciate those acts more than a gratuity.

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