Let It Ride, sometimes called Let ’em Ride, Let Them Ride or Poker Ride, is a proprietary game owned by SHFL Entertainment. It is a poker variation with three player cards and two community cards. The player attempts to build the highest ranked poker hand and does not compete with either the dealer or other players.
The twist is that the initial stake is split into thirds and a portion can be withdrawn before each community card is revealed. Let It Ride can be a highly profitable, if slow-paced game, for the house unless a rigorous optimal strategy is pursued by the player. By knowing when to “let it ride” the player can trim the house edge to 3.5%.
Let It Ride History
In 1983 John Breeding was about as far away from the gaming world as you could get, driving a truck in Minnesota. He was not even a gambler. But he read an article about how casino owners were battling the scourge of card counters at the blackjack tables. Breeding quit his job, borrowed $30,000 and set out to develop an automatic shuffling machine, which he did by creating mechanical fingers that split and recombined decks.
In 1992 Breeding perfected his machine and began selling it through his company called Shuffle Master. Breeding’s shuffler freed dealers from the task of shuffling and allowed them to deal from one deck while another was being readied, increasing profits to casinos by enabling more hands per session. Breeding’s fledgling company thrived but casinos were already beginning to deal games from multi-deck shoes.
Breeding realized that his company’s future was in jeopardy without more single-deck table games so he set about inventing his own. The result was Let It Ride, a five-card poker game formed by three player cards and two community cards with the twist being that the player was given two opportunities to surrender one-third of the original bet or “let it ride” as play progressed. SHFL Entertainment wholly owns the game and logo, as Shuffle Master has been rebranded.
How To Play Let It Ride
In Let It Ride the player is building a five-card stud poker hand to win a return from a paytable. There is no competition against a dealer’s hand or other players. A Let It Ride table features seven seats, each with a printed paytable and three betting circles marked 1, 2 and $. Before the deal the player places an identical amount in each of the three circles to forge the game’s stake.
Three cards are dealt face down to each player and the two community cards are dealt face down. After inspecting the hand the player can decide to withdraw one-third of the wager before the first community card is revealed or “let it ride.” The player gets a chance to withdraw another one-third of the wager before the second community card is revealed. After the second community card is turned over the player has either his entire stake, two-thirds of his initial stake or one-third of his beginning wager in play.
The minimum scoring hand in Let It Ride is Tens or Better so any hand less than a pair of nines is a loser. A pair of tens pays even money and higher ranked poker hands climb up the pre-set paytable to a royal flush at 1,000 to 1. Payouts are made based on how much of the initial stake remains.
Playing Let It Ride with optimal strategy gives the house a 3.5% edge. That optimal strategy is straightforward. After the three-card deal a player should “let it ride” only if the hand is:
- Already a winner (Tens of Better or three of a kind)
- Any three to a royal flush
- Three suited cards that are at least 3-4-5
- Three cards to a straight flush spread across a run of four with one high card at least ten
- Three cards to a straight flush spread across a run of five with two high cards
After the first community card is revealed the player should “let it ride” only if the hand is:
- Already a winner (Tens or Better, two pair, three of a kind, four of a kind)
- Four suited cards
- Four cards to a straight in consecutive order
- Four cards to a straight needing a fill card with four high cards
A common variation involves a side bet (the ‘3-Card Bonus Bet’) which is placed before the deal. Usually one pound, the bonus returns even money for a dealt pair and up to 50-1 for a Mini Royal, a suited ace-king-queen. Some casinos offer 5-Card Bonus bets that offer fixed payouts but these rarely reflect favourable odds for the player.
Let It Ride Tips & Advice
Let It Ride is not a game to chase hands. Deviating from the optimal strategy quickly pushes the house edge into the distasteful 20% neighbourhood.