When you mention table games to most casino gamblers, you’ll invariably spark up a discussion about staples like blackjack, craps, roulette, and baccarat. These games have been fixtures on the casino floor for several decades and counting, so even recreational players know their rules and game play.
But serious table game enthusiasts know that modern casinos spread several newer games that offer fun-filled, and potentially lucrative, alternatives. One of those newcomers is a poker-based game known as “Let It Ride,” and believe it or not, this volatile roller coaster ride is actually better than most of its counterparts in the pit.
Brief History and Introduction to Let It Ride
Back in 1983, truck driver John Breeding read an interesting article about blackjack card counters beating the pants off the house.
Eyeing an opportunity, the inventive Breeding spent the next decade tinkering and putting together a prototype for an automatic “shuffling machine” designed to prevent card counting altogether. As he saw it, if casinos employed a machine to constantly shuffle the single deck used in blackjack at the time, a card counter’s abilities would be effectively neutralized.
Unfortunately for Breeding, casinos were also busy combating card counters while he spent all those years in the lab. By the time his shuffling machine was perfected and ready to roll out, casino blackjack tables were utilizing six- and eight-deck “shoes” that made counting much, much more difficult to accomplish.
Faced with the possibility of failure – his machine was only outfitted to shuffle one 52-card deck at a time – Breeding did what any smart man would: ask his wife for advice.
In an interview with CDC GamingReports, Breeding explained how his wife’s backhanded compliment led to the invention of Let It Ride:
“My wife said, ‘If you’re so smart, why don’t you invent a game that only uses one deck.
So I did.”
Breeding set to work creating a new table game, one which only uses one deck at a time, in hopes of prompting casino managers to install his “Shuffle Master” machines en masse. Based on the need for single-deck gameplay, Breeding turned his eye towards poker variants rather than blackjack for inspiration.
Here’s how he described the thought process while speaking to the Chicago Tribune in 1995:
“It was a matter of survival. We needed more tables to put our single-deck shufflers on.”
Using the classic poker game of Five Card Stud as his template, Breeding eventually introduced an entirely new table game he aptly named “Let It Ride.”
Here’s How the Game Works
After placing three ante bets of equal size (let’s say $10 apiece for this crash course), you’ll be dealt three cards face up. Two more cards will be dealt on subsequent “streets” to complete your final five-card poker hand – but not before you make a pair of pivotal decisions.
The goal of the game is wind up with a viable five-card poker hand, with one pair of 10s or better acting as the minimum payout threshold. After receiving your first three cards, the dealer will ask if you’d like to pull one of your $10 ante bets back or keep them on the table – also known as “letting it ride.”
Let’s say you started off with something like Jack-Jack-5, giving you one pair of Jacks to begin the hand. In this case, knowing you’re already ensured a minimum even money payout, you’d obviously let the first ante bet ride. But with a hand like King-Jack-5 instead, and little possibility to improve, the sensible choice is to pull the ante bet back.
From there, you’ll receive a fourth card face up and the process repeats itself. If your hand is already pat, or has the potential to draw and improve, you’ll be letting the chips ride. And when you have junk, you’ll minimize your liability by pulling bets back.
In the end, whatever bets you have left in play – in our scenario, you can have either $10, $20, or $30 on the line upon showdown – are paid out using an escalating pay table based on the standard five-card poker hand hierarchy.
And as you can see, that escalating pay table is the first reason Let It Ride is better than most table games…
Let It Ride Offers an Opportunity to Win Massive Amounts
When you play blackjack, the highest possible return on your money – leaving aside the longshot side bets like “Lucky Ladies” and the like – stands at 3 to 2. That’s the reward for landing a natural 21, better known as “blackjack” to casino gamblers. And even then, most casinos today have watered the payout on natural blackjacks down to 6 to 5.
Craps and roulette can up the stakes considerably, with topline payouts of 30 to 1 and 35 to 1, respectively. Then again, you’ll need to beat tremendous odds against to earn those payouts, as hitting a 2 or 12 in craps or an exact single number in roulette only happens less than 3 percent of the time.
But when you play Let It Ride, you’ll enjoy a chance to win a whopping 1,000 to 1 on your bet during every single deal.
Take a look below to see how the standard Let It Ride pay table stacks up:
Let It Ride Full Pay Table
1000 to 1
200 to 1
Four of a Kind
50 to 1
11 to 1
8 to 1
5 to 1
Three of a Kind
3 to 1
2 to 1
Tens or Better
1 to 1
As you can see, even if you don’t make the rare Royal Flush, this game offers two more payout levels – straight flush and four of a kind – that are much higher than any of the classic table games.
Of course, finding a perfect five-card poker hand using just five cards from the deck tilts these high-end payouts into longshot territory. But if you’re going to be chasing longshots anyway, why not go for the gusto and shoot for jackpot style winnings?
Even better, Let It Ride isn’t a binary affair like blackjack, craps, or roulette. In those games, you’ll either win your longshot bet or you’ll lose it, with no in between.
But at the Let It Ride tables, you can comfortably play for the heavier payout hands while still having a good chance to make a lower paying hand like two pair or three of a kind.
The House Edge Compares Favorably With More Popular Table Games
When you add all of those hands and payouts together – along with their probabilities of appearing on the felt at any given time – Breeding designed Let It Ride to offer players a house edge of 3.51 percent.
And as the table below demonstrates, that house edge rate makes Let It Ride a more profitable experience than popular table games like American style double-zero roulette, Caribbean Stud Poker, and Three Card Poker:
House Edge of Popular Table Games
Let It Ride comes in at 3.51%, which puts it in the middle of house edge comparisons. Blackjack using the best strategy comes in at under .5%, and the banker baccarat bet comes in at 1.06%.
European roulette is at 2.7%, Caribbean Stud poker is at 5.22%, and the 3 Card Poker Pair Plus bet is 5.26%
And while standards like blackjack, craps, and baccarat offer lower house edge rates, Let It Ride is preferable for thinking players because it includes strategic elements.
In other words, rather than rely purely on Lady Luck to turn a winner, you can size up your starting hand and make informed decisions that directly impact your overall odds to win.
Why Most Gamblers Ignore Let It Ride Anyway
Despite the many virtues of Let It Ride, you’d be surprised at how many gamblers have simply never given the game a try.
The main reason for Let It Ride’s relative lack of popularity boils down to nothing more than scarcity. Based on the latest survey of Las Vegas casino table game pits, only a single venue (Harrah’s) in Sin City spreads more than two Let It Ride tables. Even then, Harrah’s only has four tables on the floor, while most casinos in Las Vegas limit their availability to only one lonesome installation.
Casino gamblers often play on impulse, and if they don’t see a Let It Ride sign flashing in their face, they won’t bother hunting it down.
Another reason recreational players shy away from Let It Ride is the perception that it’s more expensive than the other options.
Let’s say you’re visiting the Wynn in Las Vegas and you’re looking for a little Let It Ride action. After spending a half-hour locating the casino’s lone table, you’re stunned to see a minimum betting limit of $15. And no, that doesn’t mean three ante bets of $5 each, but rather three antes of $15 for a total starting wager of $45.
Casual gamblers are accustomed to betting $5 minimum on a hand of blackjack, a roll of craps, or a spin on the roulette wheel – so staking $45 on a single Let It Ride hand is often a bridge too far.
What these players don’t realize is, based on the game’s cautious optimal strategy, you’ll be pulling two ante bets back on the majority of hands. That turns the most likely minimum bet to $15, which is far more in line with what recreational gamblers are comfortable with.
Unfortunately, until they try Let It Ride firsthand, most players leave the casino never knowing the difference.
Let It Ride is a curious creation, a card game cobbled together to sell shuffling machines first and foremost, while also giving players the ride of their lives.
The first time you let all of your bets ride, then hit a perfect draw to complete a high-paying hand, watching the dealer push stacks of chips your way can be intoxicating to say the least. Just imagine how happy you’d be turning our example bet of $30 (three $10 antes) into $240 by spiking a flush on fifth street.
Better yet, don’t imagine, just try Let It Ride out for yourself.
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. ...
The information found on Gamblingsites.org is for entertainment purposes only. It is a purely informational website that does not accept wagers of any kind. Although certain pages within Gamblingsites.org feature or promote other online websites where users are able to place wagers, we encourage all visitors to confirm the wagering and/or gambling regulations that are applicable in their local jurisdiction (as gambling laws may vary in different states, countries and provinces).
Gamblingsites.org uses affiliates links from some of the sportsbooks/casinos it promotes and reviews, and we may receive compensation from those particular sportsbooks/casinos in certain circumstances. Gamblingsites.org does not promote or endorse any form of wagering or gambling to users under the age of 18. If you believe you have a gambling problem, please visit BeGambleAware or GAMCARE for information and help.