Face Up Pai Gow Poker Progressive Jackpot at $3.8 Million.

I was planning to write about the Octoberfest this week, but I’m going to postpone that topic with news of an opportunity in Vegas with a 20.2% player advantage!

Most, if not all, of the Caesars properties in Las Vegas have a linked progressive in Face Up Pai Gow Poker. The mega jackpot, as of Tuesday, was over $3.8 million. The following image shows the full pay table.

The following table shows my math on this $5 bet. All wins are on a “for one” basis. The lower right cell shows that the player can expected a return of $9.31 for his $5 bet. In other words, a profit of $4.31.
SEVEN-CARD STRAIGHT FLUSH 3,832,836 228 0.000001 5.669322
FIVE ACES 155,924 1,128 0.000007 1.141036
ROYAL FLUSH 3,595 26,092 0.000169 0.608458
STRAIGHT FLUSH 500 184,644 0.001198 0.598937
FOUR OF A KIND 375 307,472 0.001995 0.748019
FULL HOUSE 20 4,188,528 0.027173 0.543460
LOSER 0 149,434,988 0.969456 0.000000
TOTAL   154,143,080 1.000000 9.309231

The base game requires a minimum bet, ranging from $15 to $100, depending on the casino and table. The house edge in Face Up Pai Gow Poker is 1.81%. For example, the expected loss on the base game at a $15 wager is $15 * 1.81% = $0.27. It is a great value to get $4.31 on the side bet at a cost of $0.27 on base game.

Overall, here is the expected win per hand according to the bet amount in the base game:

$ 15 $ 4.04
$ 25 $ 3.86
$ 50 $ 3.41
$ 100 $ 2.50

If we assume 30 hands per hour and a $15 base game bet, that is an expected win of $121 per hour. The 20.12% player advantage I mentioned at the beginning is based on the ratio of the expected win of $4.04 to the combined total bet of $20.

However, none of that considers the large tax burden on such a jackpot nor the volatility. In fact, I find this play is only a good bet, according to the Kelly Criterion for bankroll growth, with a bankroll of about $500,000 at a $15 base game bet and $600,000 at $25.

I investigated this about 11AM on Tuesday. While the tables were crowded, I still found spots available at all bet levels, even at $15. I can confirm this is available at Caesars, the Cromwell, the Linq, Flamingo and Harrah’s. The minimums at Caesars were $50 and $100. At all other properties they were $15 and $25. I did not check any property south of Flamingo Blvd nor the Rio.

I love to share a good bet on a silver platter whenever I can. This is one of those rare opportunities when I can. If you hit the Mega jackpot, I am not too proud to accept tips.

Until next week, may the odds be ever in your favor.