How to Play Let It Ride

The popular casino table game, Let it Ride, was first introduced to Nevada casinos by Shuffle Master Gaming Inc., in 1993. Its popularity has grown ever since. The reason players like the game is because it is easy to play and its unique feature that allows a player to remove up to two of three initial bets if he doesn’t like his cards. Also, many players like the concept of playing against a payout schedule instead of against fellow players or a dealer.


Objective

The game is based on five-card poker. The objective is to make a winning poker hand (at least a pair of tens or higher) from the combination of the three player cards and two community cards.


Payout Table

The basic payout table offered by most casinos is summarized in Table 1. In includes a royal flush payout of 1,000 to 1. Some casinos, in particular those in North and South Dakota and in Colorado, use an alternate payout table that includes a 500 to 1 royal flush payoff.



Playing Rules.

A Let It Ride table is similar in size to a blackjack table with enough room for 7 players. The dealer uses a single deck of playing cards that is shuffled with an automatic card shuffler (which, by the way, is manufactured by the developers of Let it Ride). The game begins with each player placing three separate bets of equal size in three betting areas located in front of each player on the layout. These betting spaces are labeled “1”, “2”, and “$”.


Once the mandatory three bets are made, the dealer will deal three cards face down to each player and two community cards will be dealt in front of the dealer. Unlike video poker or draw poker, there are no draw cards in Let It Ride.


After the cards are dealt, each player examines their three-card hand and decides based on the strength of the hand whether to let bet number 1 ride or to take it down. Each player in turn will signal his decision to the dealer in this way. If you want to let the bet ride, slide your three cards face down under your chips in the number 1 betting circle. If instead you want to remove your bet, indicate this to the dealer by scratching your cards on the felt surface toward you (like you do when you signal a blackjack dealer you want a card in a single deck game). The dealer will then push the chips you bet in the number 1 betting circle toward you (do not remove the chips while they are inside the betting circle, let the dealer push them toward you).


After all the players have made their decisions, the dealer will face one of the community cards. This card represents every player’s fourth card. Based on the strength of their four-card hand, players must decide again on whether to let their bet in the number 2 betting circle ride or to take it down. You signal the dealer when it’s your turn in the same way as described above. After this decision is made, tuck your three cards face down under your chips in the third betting circle (labeled with a dollar sign). There are no more decisions to make.


After all the players have made their second decisions, the dealer will face the second community card representing every player’s fifth card. The dealer will then face each players hand and compare the five card poker hand to the pay table (the five card hand is the initial three card hand dealt to the player plus the two community cards). If the player ends up with at least a pair of tens or higher, the player will receive a payoff (see Table 1 for payoff schedule). The payoff schedule is also clearly labeled on the layout.


You are not permitted on your second decision to change your number 1 bet. If it was pulled down, it stays down, and if you let it ride, it stays as a live bet. You can take down the first bet and let the second bet ride or vice versa (each decision is independent). You can never remove the third bet (the one in the $ betting circle) and you are not permitted to show your hand to your fellow players.


Example of Winning Payoffs

Suppose you made three $5 initial bets and let the number 1 and 2 bets ride. You end up with a five-card flush. The payoff is 8 to 1 which means you would be paid $40 for the bet riding on number 1, another $40 for the bet on number 2, and a third $40 for the bet in the $ betting circle. Your total winnings is $120 plus you get to keep the initial three $15 bet. If you get real lucky and end up with a royal flush, you’d be paid $15,000 for your initial $15 investment!


Keep in mind that if you let the number 1, and 2 bets ride and you do not end up with at least a pair of tens or higher, you would lose all three $5 bet.


The payoffs for Let It Ride Bonus game work like this. Suppose you made the mandatory three $5 bets and also the optional $1 side bet, you let all three bets ride, and you end up with a five-card straight. You would win a total of $75 for the 5 to 1 straight payoff on each of the three bets you let ride plus an additional $25 for the dollar side bet (total win $100).


Payout Limit

Many casinos limit their payouts on winning hands. Some have $10,000 limits and others $25,000, $50,000, $70,000 and some even higher. For example if the casino had a $50,000 payout limit and you were to let ride three $25 bets and get a royal flush, you would only be paid $50,000 rather than the $75,000 that you were entitled to. Therefore, always ask about table payout limits before you play. A simple rule to remember to be certain you don’t get short changed on a big win is to never bet more than 1/3000 of the table limit. For a $50,000 table limit, for example, your maximum bet in each of the three betting circles should be $16.




Probabilities

The probability of getting any of the winning poker hands without any draw cards is summarized in Table 2. Note that the probability of getting a royal flush hand with no draw cards is about once per 650,000 hands (about 13,000 hours of play). This is the reason a royal flush hand is rare in Let It Ride. About 24% of the hands will result in some payoff and 76% or 10 out of every 13 hands will result in no payoff. You can expect wild swings in your bankroll because Let It Ride offers high payoff/low probability bets.

Ideally you should lose only a single bet in the $ betting circle on the 76% of the hands that you end up losing. On the other hand, if you play skillfully you will have more than one bet riding on the 26% of the hands that end up with a pair of tens or better.


TABLE 2

Let it Ride Probabilities


Hand Probability
Royal Flush 1 per 649,740 hands
Straight Flush 1 per 72,193 hands
4-of-a-kind 1 per 4,165 hands
Full House 1 per 694 hands
Flush 1 per 508 hands
Straight 1 per 255 hands
3-of-a-kind 1 per 45 hands
Two pair 1 per 21 hands
Pair of 10'2 or better 1 per 6 hands
No pays 10 out of every 13 hands

 





Basic Playing Strategy


The following basic playing strategy will reduce the casino’s edge and improve your chances of winning.


You would let your first bet ride if your first three cards contain any of the hands listed below; otherwise you should remove your bet. Generally to let your bet ride you want a paying hand, or three cards to a royal or straight flush with the exceptions noted below.

First Three Cards-Let It Ride

  • Any paying hand (high pair, three-of-a-kind)

  • Any three cards to a royal flush (e.g. 10, J, K or clubs)

  • Three consecutive cards to a straight flush (e.g. 4,5,6 of spades) with the lowest card a 3 or higher (i.e. do not let the first bet ride with A, 2, 3 or 2, 3, 4 suited)

  • Three almost consecutive cards to a straight flush where there is a 4 card spread with at least one high card (e.g. 7, 8, 10 of clubs)

  • Three almost consecutive cards to straight flush where there is a 5 card spread with at least two high cards (e.g. 7,10, J of hearts).


The 4 card playing strategy is straightforward. You generally need to have either a winning hand or close to a winning hand to let your second bet ride.


First Four Cards-Let It Ride

  • Four cards to a royal flush

  • Four cards to a straight flush

  • Four cards to a flush

  • Four-of-a-kind

  • Three-of-a-kind

  • Two pair

  • A pair of 10’s, J’s, Q’s, K’s, or A’s

  • Four consecutive cards to a straight with at least one high card.


When you follow the above playing strategy here is how often you will win a hand. About 7% of the time you will have three bets riding with a win rate of 99%. You will have two bets riding about 8.5% of the time with a win rate of approximately 85%. These positive expectations will be offset by the fact that you will have one bet riding about 85% of the time with a dismal 11.5% win rate.


Expected Return

You can expect a return of 97.2% when you play Let It Ride. This means that per unit wagered the casino’s edge is about 2.8%. For every $100 wagered, a player’s expected loss is about $2.80.



Cost of Playing

The average number of hands dealt per hour is about 50. For each hand you will bet on average 1.22 units betting units. If you are betting at a $5 level, the average amount you will wager per hand will be $6.10. Multiply by 50 hands per hour and the amount you wager per hour is $305. The casinos edge per unit bet is 2.8% therefore your cost per hour to play Let It Ride is about $8.50.


Let It Ride Video

In order to capitalize on the popularity of Let it Ride, a video version was introduced to the casinos. The payoff schedule is not as good as the regular table game and therefore the overall return to the player is slightly lower (about 96.4%).





Table 1.

Payout Table-Regular Game

 

Let It Ride Hand Payoff
Royal Flush (A, K, Q, J, 10 of same suit)            1,000 to 1
Straight Flush (Five consecutive cards of the same suit) 200 to 1
Four –of-a-Kind (Four cards of the same rank) 50 to 1
Full House (Three-of-a-kind plus a pair) 11 to 1
Flush (Five cards of the same suit) 8 to 1
Straight (Five consecutive cards but not of the same rank)          5 to 1
Three-of-a-Kind (Three cards of the same rank) 3 to 1
Two pair (Two separate pairs of identically ranked cards) 2 to 1
Pair of tens, jacks, queens, kings, aces 1 to 1