Let It Ride Poker for Beginners

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Playing Cards With Some Chips on a Poker Table Surface

Let It Ride is another casino table game based on poker, but it’s banked by the house. It’s not as popular as Caribbean Stud, but you can still find it at a lot of casinos – especially online.
Many people like Let It Ride because of the possibility of a big payday.

And unlike Caribbean Stud, we do have a good idea about the history of the game. Shuffle Master, the company that makes automatic deck shufflers for blackjack tables, developed the game to sell more shufflers. It first appeared in casinos in 1993, making it a virtual dinosaur compared to games like Ultimate Holdem, but Let It Ride is still a baby compared to a game like roulette.

Here’s how to play Let It Ride for the first time.

A Broad Overview of Let It Ride Poker

Unlike many casino poker games, Let It Ride doesn’t require you to beat a dealer hand. You’re also not competing with the other players at the table.

You’re just hoping to get a winning poker hand consisting of a pair of 10s or higher. You use 3 cards from your hand and 2 community cards. In that respect, Let It Ride resembles Texas Holdem, which is the poker game du jour.

The house edge is high compared to blackjack but low compared to Caribbean Stud – it’s 3.5%.

The best thing about Let It Ride is the casual lack of competition at the table. Also, the betting structure is fun, because you place 3 bets and have the opportunity to put some of those bets back in your hand over the course of the hand.

How to Play Let It Ride Poker for the First Time

Like Caribbean Stud poker, Let It Ride happens at a table similar to a blackjack table – it seats 7 people. It’s also run by a single dealer using a single deck of 52 cards. These cards get shuffled by the automatic shuffler provided by Shuffle Master.

In front of you on the table are 3 betting circles:

  • $
  • 2
  • 1

The table also has a pay table posted so you’ll know how much you can win for each hand. You’ll usually see table minimum bets in the $5 or $10 range.

The game also features a $1 side bet.

Let It Ride LOOKS complicated, but it’s not.

Here’s how you play, in a nutshell:

  • You start by putting a bet in each of the 3 circles in front of you. They all have to be the same size, too. If you put $10 in the $ betting area, you must put $10 in the 2 and the 1 areas, too.
  • Once everyone has placed their bets, everyone at the table gets 3 cards, face-down. The dealer also gets 2 cards, face-down.
  • You’ll use a combination of the 3 cards in your hand with the 2 dealer cards to form your final 5-card hand, and so will the other players at the table.

How the Action in Let It Ride Plays Out

Once you get your 3 cards, you get to look at them and decide how you feel about your prospects. If you like your hand, you can keep your bet in the betting area labeled 1. If you hate your hand, you can take that bet back.

If you like your hand and leave the bet out there, you’re “letting it ride.” That’s where the name of the game comes from.

Once everyone has made their decision, the dealer flips over a card. Now you get to decide whether you want to let bet 2 ride or pull it back.

It’s important to remember, strategy-wise, that your decision on bet 2 should be made independently of the decision you made on the first bet.

In other words, if you remove bet 1, you can still let bet 2 ride, and vice versa.

When this action is completed, the dealer exposes her 2nd face-down card. Your last bet, the one in the $ circle, must stay in action.

At this point, you get paid off if you have a qualifying poker hand, and you lose your bet if you don’t.

A Typical Let It Ride Paytable

Here’s what a common Let It Ride paytable looks like:

  • Royal flush 1000 – 1
  • Straight flush 200 – 1
  • 4 of a kind 50 – 1
  • Full house 11 – 1
  • Flush 8 – 1
  • Straight 5 – 1
  • 3 of a kind 3 – 1
  • 2 pair 2 – 1
  • Pair of 10s or better – even money

If you qualify to get paid off, you get paid off on every bet you still have on the table. If you removed any bets from the circles, you lose those bets.

Here’s an example:

You bet $10 in each of the 3 spots, and you get a full house. You let all 3 bets ride, so you get paid $110 on all 3 bets.

The Side Bet

The side bet is a $1 wager which offers what looks like a really big payoff if you get a really rare hand. This bonus bet is handled completely separately from the other bets on the table.

The bonus paytable for the side bet varies from casino to casino. I’ve listed a common side bet paytable below, but before you get too excited, keep this in mind the house edge for this pay table is over 25%.

  • Royal flush $20,000
  • Straight flush $2000
  • 4 of a kind $400
  • Full house $200
  • Flush $50
  • Straight $25
  • 3 of a kind $5

You don’t get any kind of payoff for any hand less than 3 of a kind.

Also, you’ll notice that the paytable is just listed in terms of dollar amount won rather than odds. That’s because the side bet is always the same — $1.

Appropriate Let It Ride Strategy and Odds

The house edge for Let It Ride is about 3.5% if you play optimally (and skip the side bet).

That’s better than American roulette or keno, but it’s not nearly as good as blackjack or craps (assuming you know which bets to place in craps).

That 3.5% edge applies to the amount of your single bet, not the total of all 3 bets. If you bet $5 on all 3 bets, the house edge means that you’re going to lose 17.5 cents per hand.
That’s $5 X 3.5%, NOT $15 X 3.5%.

Here, in brief, is some strategy advice that should get you close to that 3.5% house edge:

On your first bet, let your bet ride in the following situations:

  • If you already have a winning hand (10s or better)
  • If you have 3 consecutive cards to a straight flush (unless you have A23 or 234)
  • If you have 3 cards to a straight flush with a gap, but only if you have a 10 or higher
  • If you have 3 cards to a straight flush with 2 games, but only if you have 2 high cards

On your 2nd bet, you’ll let your bet ride in the following situations:

  • If you have any 4 cards to a straight flush
  • If you have any 4 cards to a flush
  • If you have an outside straight draw (4 consecutive cards where you have 8 possible cards that will fill your hand, for example, 789T – any 6 or any jack will make your hand)
  • 4 cards to an inside straight draw IF all the cards are 10 or higher

One of the interesting things about this game is that more than 3 hands out of 4 are going to be losers. You can easily go 20 hands in a row without seeing a winner.

Also, if you’re playing correctly, you’ll be pulling back bets over 85% of the time.

Conclusion

Let It Ride is fun if you have the right mindset. You’ll see a lot of losing hands in a row, but on the occasions when you get a monster from the get-go, you’ll win a lot of money.

This is an example of how volatility works in gambling. Some people enjoy volatile casino games, but it does require a different mindset.

If you’re used to betting black on roulette all the time, and you’re impatient, Let It Ride probably isn’t for you.

In fact, even most slot machines have a hit ratio that’s at least twice as high as you’ll see at Let It Ride.

But I still like the game, and I think you should give it a try.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

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