Man Wins $1 Million on Single Three Card Poker Bet

As I sit here on Christmas Eve – working – I like to think about what I would wish for from Santa. That is, what I would wish for if a) I wasn’t a grown-up, and b) if I wasn’t Jewish. But hey, I like Santa and I’ve been a good boy, so I think he would still grant me my “one time, dealer,” if I asked nicely. A man named “Harold M.” from Lakewood, New Jersey got his Christmas present a few days early when he hit the big one at the Borgata in Atlantic City on Saturday.

How Three Card Poker Works

Harold was playing Three Card Poker, a casino table game and, as the name suggests, a simple variant on Texas Hold’em poker. In Three Card Poker, the player (like pretty much any table game, more than one player can be dealt in) starts by placing an “Ante” bet; think of it like the normal, initial bet in a blackjack hand. A Pair Plus wager can also be made, though this one is optional.

Both the dealer and player are then dealt three cards. The player can (and should) look at his cards, but the dealer’s cards remain face down, again, like in blackjack. The goal of the game is to get the best possible three-card poker hand, though no additional streets are dealt. Those three cards are all that the player gets.

If the player feel good about his three cards, he can bet one more time, a “Play” wager, otherwise, the hand can be folded and have all bets forfeited. Once all Play bets are placed, the dealer’s cards are revealed. The dealer must have Queen high to qualify; if the dealer’s hand does not meet this standard, the Ante wager wins 1-to-1 and the Play wager is simply returned to the player. If the dealer’s hand qualifies and beats the player, the player loses all bets. If the player’s hand beats the dealer’s hand, both the Ante and Play bets pay 1-to-1.

The Pair Plus wager is based on the strength of the player’s hand and does not compete against the dealer. Payouts are based on a pay table, similar to how it works in video poker.

Harold’s Bonus Bet

Now, at the Borgata, there is something called a “6 Card Bonus” bet, also called the “Millionaire Maker” at other casinos. Like most side bets at table games, it is a terrible bet – the Wizard of Odds calculates the house edge on the minimum $5 bet at 18.10 percent. That house edge increases the more a player bets.

The benefit of such a bet for the player is that if you get lucky, you can win a whole lot of money. And that’s what happened to Harold, who made the 6 Card Bonus bet for $5. He was dealt the Ace, Queen, and Ten of diamonds, which was an easy Play bet for him. He was very likely to win his Ante bet and if he made a Pair Plus bet, that would have paid 3-to-1.

The dealer ended up with the King, Jack, and Nine of diamonds. So Harold won his regular bet, but with the 6 Card Bonus bet, both hands are combined and if the best five-card hand that can be made is at least three of a kind, the bonus bet is a winner.

In this hand, as you can piece together, the best five-card hand was a Royal Flush. And not just any Royal Flush, but a Diamond Royal Flush. In one form of the 6 Card Bonus bet, a Royal Flush pays 1000-to-1. In another, it is 2000-to-1. But in the game the Borgata runs, the highest payout is for the specific hand Harold ended up with for the 6 Card Bonus. At the Borgata, a Diamond Super Royal Flush – a Royal Flush that includes the Nine – pays 200,000-to-1. Two hundred thousand.

That means that for his $5 bet, Harold M. of Lakewood, New Jersey won one million dollars. It’s what every low-stakes gambler, frequent, casual, or in between, dreams about.

If you are thinking to yourself, “A Diamond Super Royal must be a hell of a longshot,” then you would be correct. According to the Wizard of Odds, the probability of hitting that exact hand is 1 in 20,358,520 (which also shows that the payout, even though Harold won a million bucks, is way to low). It’s a veritable Christmas Miracle!

According to a Facebook post by the Borgata, this is the first time this bet has been hit in the casino’s history. It seems that it happened to the right guy, too. Someone in the comments section of the Facebook post wrote that when someone told Harold that it was his lucky day, he countered, saying that the previous day was his lucky day because it was the day his wife was declared cancer-free. Apparently – and this was confirmed in the comments by a dealer – he left a very generous tip, as well.


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