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Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland

casinocode.jpgTom Ott, The Plain DealerThe code at the Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland.

What do you wear to a game of black jack?

Are you supposed to tip a dealer, server or slot attendant?

How do you join a game of poker?

What is proper casino etiquette? Cleveland is still figuring it out.

A reader recently sent me this email: “My sister-in-law works at the casino. Her duties include paying out winnings at the slot machines, serving drinks to customers, and servicing the machines, among others. She has mentioned several times that customers do not tip her, probably out of ignorance. I wondered if you could educate the public about casino etiquette.”

Great idea. Meet Brad Hirsch, vice president and assistant general manager of Horseshoe Casino. He said the majority of people visiting the casino are new to gaming, so he gave me quick overview:

You have to be 21 to enter. No smoking (state law). The drinks are not free (state law). Security cameras are always on — over 1, 000 of them.

You can’t cash paychecks, unemployment checks or welfare checks. The casino has ATMs and offers credit card advances.

Unlike other casinos, you are allowed to take photos. “The building has a special place in Cleveland history, ” Brad said. But no photos, videos or cell phones at the table games.

Read the social setting. If everyone is hugging, high-fiving and screaming at the craps table, join in. If no one is talking at the poker table, follow suit.

Not sure how to use a slot machine? That’s one of the most common questions.

They aren’t like the old days where they spit out coins into a big cup you carried around all night. When you’re done playing, hit the cash out button and you get a ticket with the amount to collect.

You can drink on demand at the slots. There’s a screen to touch and select your drink. When the server brings it, give the server a tip, just like you would at a bar. You can use cash or chips. A dollar a drink is standard.

Tips are also called tokes. Tip at the end of the buffet meal to show appreciation. Tip the dealer for good luck. You can set down a chip next to your bet. Some people tip the dealer every hour they play. Dealers can’t take cash, so tip with a chip.

Tip the slot attendant. Nothing is expected, but it’s all appreciated. “On a $1, 200 jackpot, I’ve seen a $10 tip and a few hundred dollar tip, ” Brad said.

Refrain from hitting on the staff. They came to work to bring home a paycheck, not you.

Don’t wave or count your money in front of people. That’s poor form. Be discreet.

To join a table game, look at the dealer and ask, “Is this seat is taken?” If it’s open, sit down, put your money down and you’ll get chips.

If you don’t want to carry a pile of chips tell the dealer, “Color me up, ” and you can trade in those 20 chips worth five dollars each for one chip worth $100.

Spectators are welcome to watch people play on the main floor. The high limit room on the second floor where the minimum bet is $100 is considered a private area for players only.

As for attire, anything goes, except saggy pants, undies showing and anything offensive. You’ll see anything from flip flops and shorts to gowns and tuxes.

At the black jack table, if the cards are dealt face up, don’t touch them. If they’re dealt face down, you can touch them with one hand. Don’t touch your bet after the cards are dealt.

If you want your seat saved at a table for a quick break, ask the dealer to hold it for you. Don’t want a crowd? Visit during the morning or mid-week.

Any more questions? Just ask a casino employee. As they say, there are no stupid questions, and if there are, you can bet you aren’t the only one asking.

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