Saturday Night Special: Play More Credit Card Roulette
We're all sleeping on the unofficial pastime of banking analysts. Here's why.
Throughout December, we’ll be posting reported features, essays, and lists around our monthly theme: Holiday.
There’s a bit about it in Netflix’s sketch comedy series “I Think You Should Leave.” A TikTok search yields 35 million views. Servers sound off on Reddit, the Golden State Warriors are fans, and it remains a tradition among poker players. We are talking, of course, about credit card roulette, the game of chance that involves a server unilaterally hitting one credit card with the table’s entire check, selecting from among a stack of cards provided by the dining party. All but one unlucky soul winds up with a free meal.
Although the game is mostly played by investment banking analysts and boozed up low-level high-rollers, consider the possibility that everyone else has been missing out. From a statistics and risk perspective, it is no more expensive to play versus not play. This is for real: the risk adjusted expected cost of a meal playing credit card roulette is exactly the same as the actual per person expected cost of the meal itself. If you factor in the entertainment value, it’s actually a better deal to play because you get said entertainment for free.
What’s more? Restaurants love it. “Almost everywhere I’ve ever worked has a policy of no more than six forms of payment,” a waitress at a Michelin starred Manhattan restaurant told us. “But really anything above three becomes a real pain, particularly if it’s a busy night or if any of the cards aren’t swiping/tapping for some reason and you have to manually input numbers. Spending five minutes on that feels like an eternity during a service when I need to flip the table, or I just got triple sat, or someone else is trying to wave me down. I feel a real sense of camaraderie with large groups where one person pays.”
So, LFG, no? Ok, here are the rules, given to us by etiquette expert Thomas P. Farley, aka "Mister Manners."
1.) Don’t play dirty
”If you’re going to play, then play clean. Don't propose it at the very end when you've been that person who over-ordered and already made everyone uncomfortable. Read the room and set it up early. And, then, you can't slip the server a $50 ahead of time and ask them not to pick your card.”
2.) Respect the staff
”Make sure that you enlist the server in a way that respects their time. There's no do-overs. There's not like, ‘come on, you...he must have paid you off. Pick again.’ This is one-and-done. You let the server go on and you don't pester them with gripes about the results.”
3.) Tip graciously
”Look at 27.5 percent as your starting base for how much you're going to tip, and go up from there. You might be tipping 30, you might be tipping 35 percent. Make sure your server gets in on the fun, too.”
There you have it. Your credit card roulette era begins now. Who are you playing with tonight?