Let It Ride is a poker-derived casino game developed by Shufflemaster corporation and licensed to casinos around the world. The corporation maintains a list of all currently-licensed casinos on their website so you can use the web to find a nearby casino that offers this game.
Because it is a poker-derived casino game, it is basically set up as "the player versus the house", and can be played even with only one player. When multiple players play the game simultaneously, they do so independently of each other and cannot affect each other's hands or play. While it is technically against the rules for players to show each other their hands, they often do so with no penalty. In fact, the most recent variant of Let It Ride, called Let It Ride Bonus, often requires players to reveal their hand early on to the dealer, thus exposing it to the other players as well.
Let It Ride is essentially five-card stud played against a standard odds table: players who make a pair of tens or better win even money on their remaining bets (details about what this means below); players who make two pair win 2-1 odds on their bets, and so on. A Royal Flush pays a whopping 1000-to-1 odds on bets.
Standard Let It Ride Paytable
|Royal Flush||1000 to 1|
|Straight Flush||200 to 1|
|Four of a Kind||50 to 1|
|Full House||11 to 1|
|Flush||8 to 1|
|Straight||5 to 1|
|Three of a Kind||3 to 1|
|Two Pair||2 to 1|
|Pair of Tens or Better||1 to 1|
Note that some casinos use slightly different paytables, but this paytable is the standard found in nearly all casinos.
Betting in Let It Ride Edit
Betting in Let It Ride is arranged unusually and can seem daunting due to its structure. In order to play a hand of Let It Ride, a player must bet three equally-sized bets, one in each of the three circles in their playing area. They may optionally also place a single dollar in the "bonus bet" circle to wager on the special "bonus bet". Unlike casino games like blackjack, it is not possible to play LIR with only a single chip. However, the player is not required to keep all three of those original bets in play.
Unlike other games which allow players to increase their bets under some conditions, LIR allows players to decrease their 3-part bet by one portion in each of the two betting rounds. That means that a player is actually only required to keep one of those bets in play, so although a player must initially wager quite a bit of money, only 1/3 of it is actually forced to be at risk. The game could just as easily have been played by having a player put out one bet and choose to increase their bet in each round, but they must have done testing and determined they make more money this way, perhaps because psychologically it's easier to leave the money out there ("Let It Ride", from which the game gets its name) than to put more money at risk.
Note that a player cannot reduce or increase the amount of their optional $1 bonus bet: it must be placed prior to the deal if the user wishes to play it, and it cannot be removed or increased.
Unfortunately, the somewhat confusing betting rules are probably some of the obstacles that has caused the game to not become as popular as it could be, and makes it look like a "rich player's game".
In the newer Let It Ride Bonus, there is an additional betting circle where a player can place an unrelated wager (it need not be the same size as their main LIR wager) on whether their initial three downcards form a winning Three Card Poker hand.
Game Play Edit
Let It Ride begins when the players have finished arranging their bets. The dealer presses a button on the machine which controls play (remember, this game is licensed by Shufflemaster, and is therefore played with standard electronic equipment at all casinos), and the machine detects which players have placed the bonus bet. The dealer removes those dollars from the bonus circles, and the machine lights up the circles for players who bet the bonus. Then, the deal: the machine delivers a series of three-card hands from a standard 52-card single deck shuffling machine. The dealer gives the hands to the players, starting at the dealer's left and moving to their right, then takes a hand for themself and discards all remaining cards delivered from the shuffler. The dealer then discards the top card from their hand and places the remaining two cards face down in front of them, without looking at them.
Players now take turns making their betting decision, starting with the player at the dealer's left. They examine their cards, and choose to either withdraw the rightmost of their three bets or leave it in play ("Let It Ride"). If they choose to withdraw a bet, they motion for the dealer to push the bet back to them (players are not allowed to touch their chips once play starts).
After each player has made the decision to pull their bet back or to let it ride, the dealer now turns over the first of their two downcards, exposing it for everyone to see. This is now a community card which is part of every player's hand. Another betting round ensues (though in this game, it's perhaps more like an unbetting round), and the dealer then exposes their final downcard as the final community card. Players are allowed to withdraw their second bet even if they let the first one ride, or vice versa.
After the dealer exposes their final card, all players now have a complete five card poker hand: their own personal three downcards combined with the two upcards in front of the dealer. Players expose their hands (though in some casinos, dealers are required to expose the hands) and pay winners according to the odds table: a pair of tens or better wins.
The basic strategy for LIR is simple: let your bet(s) ride if your hand is currently a pair of tens or better, and pull them back if not.
A slightly more advanced strategy adds on only a few more cases:
- On the first three cards, you should let your bet ride if:
- You have a pair of tens or better
- You have a three card straight flush
- You have three cards to a straight flush and at least one card is 10 or better
- After the first community card is revealed (fourth street), you should let your bet ride if:
- You have a pair of tens or better
- You are four cards to a flush
- You are open-ended or double-gutshot (e.g. there are eight cards which could make you a straight)
- You have four Broadway cards
When played with this simple strategy, the house edge on Let It Ride is actually one of the lower edges in the casino: below 4%. Unfortunately, the variance is quite high, because it's the large odds payoffs on four-of-a-kind and better that evens out the edge.
As with most "bonus bets" in casinos, the odds on the optional extra dollar bet are quite poor and should be avoided.
Advanced Strategy Edit
In most casinos, players regularly show each other their hands ("Look, I've got two tens already!"), even though it seems to be technically against the rules to do so. Casinos don't generally enforce it, seeing no harm in the practice. In the Let It Ride Bonus form of the game, the player is even usually required to expose their hand upon receipt if their hand is a winning Three Card Poker hand.
Because of this, you can use your additional knowledge about cards in other players' hands to update your odds and make different betting choices, potentially even decreasing the house edge to zero, or even slightly in your favor!
As an extreme example, if you have a 10 Jack King rainbow hand:
then if you see other players expose hands like the following:
you can safely "fold" your hand (withdraw all bets) even if you catch an Ace on fourth street, which would normally give you a playable hand (four Broadway cards). So many of your outs are gone (three of the queens you need for a straight, 4 of your possible 9 pair cards, 1 of the possible 3 other aces) that your odds of winning are significantly reduced.
As with standard Limit hold 'em, winning odds in Let It Ride are all based on the number of outs you have. Unlike hold 'em, however, outs which get you to straights or flushes (or straight flushes) are much more powerful than other outs due to the vastly tilted paytable. For example, if you have four cards to a royal flush (e.g. JQKA of hearts), you will keep your bets in play even if all of your other flush and straight cards were dead, because hitting the ten of hearts would pay you 1000 to 1, and your odds of getting it are only about 30-40 to 1 against (depending on how many cards you've seen exposed).
Outs which get you a pair are somewhat valuable, but not nearly as valuable as outs that get you a straight or flush. Being open-ended in Let It Ride is usually quite a good deal if you also have outs to something else: a straight pays 5-to-1 and you are 5-to-1 against making the straight, so if you also have outs to get you to a winning pair or a flush, you are ahead of the game. Or, more likely, if you are open-ended and you have seen two or three other players' hands and they have none of your outs, your odds of making the straight are better than 5-to-1, so you're definitely coming out ahead by letting it ride.