Poker Player Hits 6-Card Royal Flush, Takes Home Million Bucks on $5 Bet

Posted on: December 26, 2018, 12:51h. 

Last updated on: January 2, 2019, 10:13h.

Harold McDowell was feeling pretty good when he walked into Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino a few days before Christmas. After all, just the day before, his wife had been declared cancer free.

But his good fortune was just getting started – a few hours later, the 85-year old would walk out of the casino a millionaire.

poker player
Harold McDowell was a lucky man in more ways than one this Christmas. (Image: NY Post)

It started innocuously enough — with a $5 bet on the “6 Card Bonus” while playing at the Three Card Poker table. McDowell’s hand got off to a decent start when he was dealt the 10, queen and ace of diamonds.

But the dealer’s hand delivered the Christmas miracle: the nine, jack, and king, all of diamonds, good for the Royal Flush and a 200,000-1 payout on his five bucks.

“I happened to be playing next to my wife, “he told the New York Post. “I had my back to her. I turned around said, “I just won a million dollars,” he said. “She told me, “You’re full of crap.”

What Are the Odds?

As if hitting a five-card Royal Flush isn’t tough enough, the retiree managed to make it a six card straight flush.

The odds of hitting any five-card Royal Flush are one in 649,000, and according to, getting that sixth card pushes the odds to 1 in 20 million. Casino officials say it’s the first time the 6-card bonus has been hit in their casino.

“It may be the luck of the Irish,” McDowell told the Post.

After taxes, he and his wife walked out with $800,000, but they say their lives won’t change much. While the couple may take a cruise, they plan to pass most of the cash along to their kids.

After years of surgeries to treat liver and colon cancer, they were more interested in celebrating his wife’s clean bill of health.

“It was the better news that she’s healthy,” he said. “Money’s not the most important thing.”

Jacked Up Jackpots

There have been some epic casino jackpots burst over the years, but 2018 saw one for the ages in the online arena.

In late September, an anonymous gambler hit the Mega Moolah Progressive Jackpot for a $21.7 million, the biggest online progressive payout of all time.

But even that numbers pales in comparison to what we’ve seen in Vegas casinos over the years.

  • 74-year old Johanna Huendl won $22.6 million on her $170 bet at a Bally’s slot machine (132,941-1 payout).
  • In 1998, a flight attendant from Las Vegas won $27.5 million on a $300 bet at a Casino Palace “Megabucks” machine (91,666-1 payout).
  • The Megabucks machine in the Excalibur Casino once paid out $39.7 million on a $3 spin made by a 25-year-old software engineer. (13.2 million – 1 payout).