Last Updated: March 20, 2013
Let It Ride — analysis and expert strategy
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Let it Ride is among the first of the wave of new casino games, starting in the late nineties. It is a simple poker-based game where the player is paid based on his five card hand only. No dealer hand to worry about. The twist is that as the cards are revealed the player has the opportunity to decrease his bet if he doesn't like his cards. As of 2013 Let it Ride is still out there, but its numbers are decreasing.
- Player makes three bets of equal size.
- Dealer gives player three cards.
- Player may pull his first bet back or "let it ride."
- Dealer deals the first community card, to be used by all players.
- Player may pull his second back or "let it ride."
- Dealer deals the second community card, to be used by all players.
- Player is paid according to the poker value of his five cards, remaining bets, and the posted pay table.
- Side bets are usually available, which are explained below.
The following is the standard pay table most casinos follow. All wins are on a "to one" basis.
Let it Ride — Standard Pay Table
|Four of a kind||50|
|Three of a kind||3|
|Tens or better||1|
The pay table for this and 15 other known Let it Ride pay tables can be found in my Let it Ride appendix 3.
The following strategy is for the standard pay table.
With three cards you should only "let it ride" if you have:
- Any paying hand (tens or better, three of a kind)
- Any three to a royal flush
- Three suited cards in a row except 2-3-4, and ace-2-3
- Three to a straight flush, spread 4, with at least one high card (ten or greater)
- Three to a straight flush, spread 5, with at least two high cards
With four cards you should only "let it ride" if you have:
- Any paying hand (tens or better, two pair, three of a kind)
- Any four cards of the same suit
- Any four to an outside straight with at least one high card
- Any four to an outside straight with no high cards (zero house edge)
- Any four to an inside straight with 4 high cards (zero house edge)
A lot of people have asked me what I mean by "inside straight", "outside straight", "spread 4", and "spread 5."An inside straight is one in which an 'inside' card is missing, such as (4,5,7,8). An outside straight is one in which an outside card is missing, such as (4,5,6,7). Outside straights are much better because there are 8 cards that can complete them as opposed to 4 for an inside straight. Spread4 means that the cards in question span 4 ranks in a row,for example a (5,6,8). Spread 5 means the cards in question span 5 ranks, for example a (5,7,9).
Aggregate Payout Warning:
The table will probably have a maximum payout. At Casino Niagara in Niagara Falls the maximum aggregate payout is $75,000 per round. As a result the player should not bet more than the maximum payout divided by 3000. Any bet above this quotient will not pay the full odds on a royal flush, thus increasing the house edge.
Let it Ride — Standard Pay Table
|Four of a kind||50||3||150||7,872||0.000151||0.022717|
|Four of a kind||50||2||100||4,608||0.000089||0.008865|
|Four of a kind||50||1||50||0||0.000000||0.000000|
|Three of a kind||3||3||9||364,560||0.007014||0.063122|
|Three of a kind||3||2||6||328,968||0.006329||0.037973|
|Three of a kind||3||1||3||404,712||0.007786||0.023358|
|Tens or better||1||3||3||2,571,636||0.049474||0.148423|
|Tens or better||1||2||2||2,647,560||0.050935||0.101870|
|Tens or better||1||1||1||3,228,804||0.062117||0.062117|
5-Card Bonus Bet
I don't know if this bet even has a name, so I am titling it the "3-Card Bonus Bet." It is a $1 side bet, which pays based on the poker value of the final five-card hand. This is a sucker bet, that should be avoided. Based on a small sampling of casinos in Las Vegas and Laughlin, the house edge varies from 13.77% (Lady Luck) to 36.52% (New York, New York). Below are some casinos, their payoff table, and their house edge, in order from best to worst.
Let it Ride Side Bet Pay Tables
|Hand||Table 1||Table 2||Table 3||Table 4||Table 5||Table 6||Table 7||Table 8||Table 9|
|Four of a kind||100||100||100||400||400||100||300||300||400|
|Three of a kind||9||4||8||5||5||8||5||5||5|
|Tens or better||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
The following is a list of which casinos have which pay tables based on my small sampling. Unless otherwise stated all casinos are in Las Vegas:
- Table 1: Lady Luck
- Table 2: Las Vegas Club, Freemont, Californian,Plaza, Main Street Station, Ballys, Circus Circus,Hilton, Grand (Biloxi), Beau Rivage (Biloxi), Horseshoe(Tunica), Grand (Tunica)
- Table 3: Golden Gate
- Table 4: Bellagio, Excalibur, Mandalay Bay, Harrah's,Imperial Palace, Paris, Venetian
- Table 5: MGM Grand, Golden Nugget
- Table 6: Colorado Belle (Laughlin), Sky City (New Mexico)
- Table 7: Four Queens, Flamingo Hilton
- Table 8: New York New York
- Table 9: Rivers casino in Pittsburgh, PA
The next table shows the probability and return for every hand under pay table 2 above. The return of 76.27% reflects a house edge of 100.00% - 76.27% = 23.73%.
|Four of a kind||100||624||0.000240||0.024010|
|Three of a kind||4||54,912||0.021128||0.084514|
|Tens or better||1||422,400||0.162527||0.162527|
3-Card Bonus Bet
Some casinos offer a side bet based on the value of the player's three cards, similar to the Pair plus bet in Three Card Poker. The main difference is in Let It Ride the bet has a separate win for a "Mini Royal", defined as a suited ace, king, and queen. The following table table shows the most common pay table for this bet.
|Three of a kind||30||52||0.002353||0.070588|
The next pay table shows other possible variants of the Three Card Bonus bet.
|Hand||Table 1||Table 2||Table 3||Table 4||Table 5|
|Three of a kind||30||30||30||30||30|
The only casino I am aware of that offers pay table 5 is the Borgata in Atlantic City (source).
Seeing Extra Cards
Although players are not supposed to share information, you can often accidentally see other player cards, or this rule is ignored and players voluntarily show each other their cards. Seeing other cards can make the difference in borderline plays, namely the zero house edge straights listed under the 4-card strategy above. In his book Mastering the Game of Let It Ride, author Stanley Ko offers a strategy for these situations. He doesn't state how much it lowers the house edge, but James Grosjean does in his book Beyond Counting (Exhibit CAA). According to Grosjean, if you can see every player card in a 7-player game, and made perfect use of the information, it would lower the house advantage from 3.51% to 2.34% only.
- Appendix 1: Details on how the strategy and expected return were determined.
- Appendix 2: Details on the Isle of Capri (Black Hawk, Colorado) rules.
- Appendix 3: Analysis of 16 different Let it Ride pay tables.
German translation of this page.