An incredible story came out of the New Jersey regulated online gaming industry this week. A player won $1.5 million at Betfair. It was not at slots. The game that awarded the massive jackpot was Let it Ride.
Let it Ride is a five-card poker game where hands are paid based on the rank. Players are not up against other participants at the table or a dealer.
A player starts with three stacks of chips and three cards. He can pull a bet back or “Let it Ride” before seeing the turn and river, meaning that only one stack is ultimately being made, if the bettor chooses to get two of his stacks back.
Most hands will end with the player wagering just one stack as a player should only Let it Ride about 23% of the time, according to the Wizard of Odds. A player must make a pair of 10’s or better to win.
The jackpot winner was betting three $500 chip stacks and a $500 3 Card Bonus bet. This bonus bet is similar to the Pair Plus bet in Three Card Poker.
The player started with a three-card straight flush, which was a suited ten, jack, and queen. That paid 40-1. That was a quick $20,000. The player let his bets ride and nailed a runner runner royal flush. His three chip stacks each won $500,000.
Odds of Hand Occurring
The odds of getting dealt a royal flush in Let it Ride is 1 in 649,740. A player will only hit a runner runner royal flush once every 2,352 hands after getting dealt the first three.
Let it Ride House Edge
The edge on Let it Ride is in the range of most high variance poker house table games. The flat Let it Ride bets have a house edge of 3.5%. This house edge is not taken from the entire $1,500 wager the player made. Since a player should raise 23% of the time, the actual amount of theoretical amount wagered per hand is 123% of the flat bet.
The $500 bettor had an average bet of $615. Based on that wager amount and the house edge, the player was theoretically losing about $21.50 per hand on the flat bet.
The player was also making a $500 3 Card Bonus bet. This bet has a 7% edge, meaning the player was giving up $35 in house edge with each hand on the bonus bet.
The Betfair Let it Ride player was theoretically losing about $56.50 per hand. There is no telling how fast this player was seeing hands. At a rate of one hand every 10 seconds, which is well within the expected speed of the software, the player was theoretically losing about $339 per minute or $20,340 per hour.
Let it Ride Bet Limits
Those are some serious numbers, but what may be more amazing is the fact the player was betting $500 stacks in Let it Ride.
Let it Ride is not nearly as popular as it once was. Its high variance and long losing streaks are not appealing to most players. A large bankroll is required to handle the swings. It has run its cycle, but there are still many large casinos that offer a table or two if it.
Most casinos will not allow a $500 max bet in Let it Ride. There are only seven casinos in Las Vegas that do, according to a survey this author did for Wizardofvegas.com in December 2014. Most offer a cap between $50 and $200. Max bet Let it Ride action is incredibly rare.
Information Missing From Press Release
It seems highly unlikely that the Let it Ride player had deposited enough of a bankroll to give $2,000 per hand action. The scenario leads me to believe that the player was parlaying an earlier big win.
The player stated in the press release that he gave two hours of action. It is unknown if he was betting the max the entire time, hit a separate minor win that made him increase his wager, or any other details about the session. Had the player wagered three $500 stacks with the $500 bonus bet per hand for two hours, his theoretical loss would have been in the $40,000 range.
Expensive Free Advertising for Betfair
The type of action the lucky winner was giving is enough to make the deepest bankrolled house sweat a little. Betfair experienced the unimaginable when the player hit the absolute worst case scenario for the casino.
There is some upside to this. The player will get paid in full with little delay. This is a positive for the industry that shows even a $1.5 million winner can expect swift payment.
Betfair gets additional advertising out of it as numerous articles were published about the big win. While it was not $1.5 million worth of free press, it may be worth 10-20% of the amount paid. Betfair can currently claim that it paid the biggest winner in New Jersey online casino history, a title it will probably hold for a long time.