p How to Play Let It Ride

How to Play Let It Ride

Excerpt from

The Intelligent Guide to Casino Gaming

by Sylvester Suzuki

Let It Ride is a game that was developed by Shuffle Masters, Incorporated, a manufacturer of card shuffling machines. Reportedly, it was created in order to help spur sales of Shuffle Master machines. The game is a rather ingenious variation of Five-Card Stud and is played on a small table similar to that which is shown in the figure below.

Let It Ride Table Layout

Let It Ride Table Layout

The game begins with the player placing bets in the small circles marked $, 2, and 1. An equal amount must be wagered in each circle. The dealer will then activate the card shuffling machine which will emit seven groups of cards with three cards in each group. The cards will then be distributed to each position, including positions that are not occupied. The last group will go to the dealer who will place the top card in the box to the dealer’s right and the second card in the box to the dealer’s left. The last card, along with the balance of the deck will be discarded. The last two cards remaining in front of the dealer, along with the three cards that were distributed to each player, will constitute the player’s five-card poker hand.

Unlike in a regular poker game, players at a Let it Ride table are not competing against other players at the table, but are merely trying to qualify for a payout. Because this is a proprietary game, the payouts are largely standard. A typical payout schedule, which is also shown on actual playing tables, is shown next. For illustrative purposes, I have also shown the frequency with which these hands can be expected to appear in a randomly dealt five-card poker hand.

Let It Ride Payout Table
Qualifying Hand
Payout
Frequency
Royal Flush
1000 to 1
1 in 649,739 hands
Straight Flush
200 to 1
1 in 72,192 hands
Four of a Kind
50 to 1
1 in 4,164 hands
Full House
11 to 1
1 in 693 hands
Flush
8 to 1
1 in 508 hands
Straight
5 to 1
1 in 254 hands
Three of a Kind
3 to 1
1 in 46 hands
Two Pair
2 to 1
1 in 20 hands
One Pair (10s or higher)
1 to 1
1 in 5 hands

Lest a comparison of the Payout and Frequency columns instill unjustified negativity about the game, it should be pointed out that although the true odds against receiving a royal flush with five random cards are 649,730 to one, there are many lesser payouts, and players may withdraw two-thirds of their original bets if the first three cards are not promising. For example, if you had bet $5 in each of the three circles mentioned above and your first three cards included a pair of Jacks, you will be guaranteed a $15 win on the $15 total that you had placed in the three circles. In addition, if the two cards that the dealer will expose turns out to be Jacks, you will win a total of $750 (50 x $5 x 3). With enlightened play, it is estimated that the house advantage on this game is approximately 3.5%, which is not exorbitant when compared to many other games in the casino. In fact, many casino patrons prefer this game to baccarat, which has a lower house advantage, because Let It Ride offers the potential for a relatively large payout, while actually risking only a small amount. The fact that Let It Ride offers the patron a greater role in actually “playing” the game adds to the game’s appeal.

After the dealer has discarded the excess cards, each player, in turn, will be offered the option to withdraw, the amount in the number 1 circle or “let it ride.” If you wish to withdraw the bet, simply scratch the table with the cards that are in your hands. The dealer will then push the chips that are in the circle back to you. If you want to “let it ride,” place your cards under the chips that are in circle 1 and the dealer will proceed to the next player.

After all players have exercised this first option, the dealer will expose the community card on her left and the same procedure will be repeated. The option to withdraw the chips in circle 2 is completely independent of the first option. In other words, whether you removed your chips from the circle or “let it ride,” you will still have the option to remove the chips from circle 2 or again “let it ride.”

After all players have exercised the second option, the dealer will turn over each player’s cards and make settlement in accordance with the payout table.

Basic Playing Strategy

For basic strategy instruction, see The Intelligent Guide to Casino Gaming.

Bonus Payments

In addition to the three basic bets that have been discussed earlier, players have an option to make a bonus side bet for $1. The payout table for this special bonus side bet usually varies between casinos and typically appears to be far more generous than the basic payout table that was shown earlier in this chapter. Typically, the top payout for this special bonus table is $20,000 for a royal flush, which can be very enticing to the novice for a $1 bet. However, a royal flush is a 649,739 to 1 long shot. When consideration is given to the fact that two-thirds of your basic bet can be withdrawn but no part of the bonus side bet can be withdrawn, it becomes obvious that this bonus side bet is no bargain. It is a typical “get rich quick” sucker bet. Over the course of a night, those bucks will add up very rapidly.

Some casinos have recently added a new wrinkle to the game: a three-card bonus option. For this option, payment is made for qualifying hands that are contained in the player’s initial three cards. Qualifying hands and amounts that will be paid vary between casinos. In essence, an element of Three Card Poker, a game that is discussed in Chapter 9, has been added to Let It Ride.

Cautionary Closing Note

Most casinos have a limit on the amount that will be paid out on any given hand. This could be as little as $25,000. Therefore, if you bet $25 in each circle and make a royal flush, you might not receive the expected $75,000. In order to avoid any possible misunderstanding, check this out before sitting down at a table.

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