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How to Play Let It Ride Poker

The game of poker needs almost no introduction. it’s arguably the most famous and most beloved for-money card game there is, and is played as much out of casinos as it is in. It comes in numerous different forms and can be played for nickels or it can be played for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s also a very rare gambling or casino game that is as much about skill as it is about luck. And for a card game, it’s one of even fewer where you’re not so much playing the cards as playing the other players.

The way poker works is that though the cards you are dealt are random, even with the round where you can discard some or all of your hand in the hope of something better. Where the skill comes in is being able to make sure other players can’t figure out what you have or even mislead them into thinking you have something you don’t. On the flip side of this, success is also based largely on how well you can “read” other players, to figure out what they may have and whether or not they are bluffing.

Still, though this skill set separates good players from bad, or even good players from great players, it’s far from inconceivable that you will find yourself in a situation where your cards are simply awful, your opponents are playing well enough that it would take a miracle to win, and you’re too far in to quit? What if you can take your bet back mid-play? 

It might seem like a pipe dream, but with the Let It Ride rule, you can do precisely that.

 

The History of Let It Ride Poker

Let It Ride poker was developed by John Breeding, a former truck driver who left his job to develop an automatic card shuffler that was one of the first – if not the first – of its kind when it came out way back in 1983, and who then went on to create this special form of poker as a way to promote his machine in the early ‘90s. 

Needless to say, his automatic card shuffler, which was a single-deck shuffler originally, was a huge hit with casinos as it created a much smoother form of play as the dealer could leave the shuffling to the machine and concentrate his or her energies on dealing cards to customers. Because he marketed the automatic shuffler with Let It Ride poker, the latter became a fixture in many casinos as quickly as the latter did.

Today it can be found at most major casinos and is especially a fixture in the many casinos in Las Vegas. But how does Let It Ride poker actually work, I’m sure you were wondering? Let’s take a look at it step by step.

Poker 4 of a kind

How It Works

First, before sitting down at a table to play, and perhaps even before you budget the amount you’re prepared to lose (the most basic rule of any form of responsible gambling), you’ll want to be sure you know the most basic rules of play for Let It Ride poker. Let’s look at these before getting into the nitty gritty of what an actual game of Let It Ride poker looks like. 

First, at the heart of the game is that you make three bets of equal size at the start of the hand. You are then given three cards face-down by the dealer and at this point to either withdraw your first bet from play or you may “let it ride” by keeping it in play. The dealer then deals the first “community card”, which is the card that is dealt face-up and can be used by all players at the table to make up their hands (ala Texas Hold ‘Em) and players are then given an opportunity to withdraw their second bet or, once again, let it ride. This dealer then reveals the second community card and by this point you might have all three bets still in play or two or only one of them, but at this point cards are revealed and if the player has a winning combo – anything from a pair (though in Let It Ride poker, the minimum is usually pair tens and higher) to a straight flush – they win according to the pay table that usually accompanies the game (more on that later); if not the dealer clears all remaining bets.

These are the basics that you should know. As you may have noticed, this is quite different from most versions of poker in that it’s more of a strict table game that is played in casinos where you play against the dealer rather than other players so there’s no bluffing or “reading” other players involved. 

This actually makes Let It Ride poker more similar to something like blackjack than traditional poker and though the player is an active participant, it’s much more a game of chance than a game of skill. For this reason, it’s also a form of poker that’s very well suited to electronic or online versions. It’s also a really fun alternative for those wishing to use poker hands to play something a bit more controlled and yet less skills-based than traditional poker. You also don’t have to worry about the skills or availability of other players. It’s really just between you and the dealer. 

Anyways, with these basics out of the way, let’s take a look at how a game of Let It Ride poker is actually played, with a simple step-by-step guide.

A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Make the usual prep: determine your budget, decide whether you’re playing electronically or in person, and find the table or machine with a minimum bet that fits your needs. 
  2. Before any cards are dealt, you and other players put down three bets of equal size on the designated section of the table. For our example, let’s assume you put down $30 made up of three $10 bets. This is pretty high stakes, of course, but these are nice round numbers for our purposes. 
  3. The dealer deals you your three cards face-down. Take a look at them and determine if you already have something in hand that might win you the round, say a pair of Aces (which will win you $30) or triple sixes (which will win you $90). If you have these, you’re guaranteed a win so you’ll obviously keep all three bets on the table. If you have nothing, you can either withdraw one of your bets or keep all three in play in the hopes that you might have something when the community card is drawn.  
  4. Whether you’re all in or down to two bets, the dealer then reveals the first community card. This may make your hand better (say an Ace is drawn when you already have a pair Aces) or not, but in either case you will keep all three bets in play. If your hand is still worthless, though, you may withdraw your second bet (but not your first if it’s still in play) or you can go all-in and hope for the best with the second community card. A smart play would mean that only if you have a potential straight or flush (which would pay off $150 or $240, respectively), you would keep your second bet on the table, whereas if you have literally nothing and are just hoping for a pair with the next community card, you should really remove that second bet. Or, if you have, say, three spades in your hand and you kept your first bet on the table in the hope of a flush and one of the other suits showed up with the reveal of the first community card, you will probably want to remove your second bet. 
  5. The second community card is revealed and the round is over. If you have nothing, you wil forfeit whatever bets you have left on the table to the casino (at which point losing $10 hurts a lot less than $30). If you have some sort of winning hand, you will be paid according to the pay table for each of the bets you have left. So, if you had a pair of Aces when you were first dealt your cards and you have all three bets in play (as you should), you will be paid $30 – plus your original bet back, of course. If, however, you had nothing for two rounds and withdrew two of your bets and end up with a pair of aces at the end, you will only be paid $10 – which along with your bet back will leave you down by $10 because you put $30 in and got back $20. 

Poker Royal Flush

The Pay Table

That’s literally it. It might seem complicated at first, but Let It Ride poker is actually very, very easy to play. You really just need to know how to manage your bets and how to play the odds. To get a good idea of that, here is the basic pay table that you will find at most casinos or on most electronic versions of the game. These can vary a tad, but this is what the payouts usually look like:

 

Royal Flush (10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace of same suit): 1,000 to 1

Straight Flush (sequence of numbers in same suit, except for Royal Flush) : 200 to 1 

Four of a Kind (4 of the same cards in different suits): 5 to 1

Full House (a pair and a three of a kind in the same hand) : 11 to 1

Flush (5 cards of the same suit) : 8 to 1

Straight (A sequence of 5 cards in different suits): 5 to 1

Three of a Kind (3 of the same cards of different suits) : 3 to 1

Two Pair (two pairs) : 2 to 1

Pair (10s or better) (2 of the same cards of different suits) : 1 to 1

Losing Hand: 0

   

It’s worth understanding that these payout rates are lower than the probability of winning each hand (poker odds are, shall we say, super complicated), but they do give a good idea of how to play. A royal flush is hardly impossible, for example, but actually getting one is so rare that even if you start with, say, a 10, Jack, Queen of Hearts in the initial round, it’s still very unlikely that you’ll pick up two more cards to make a royal flush, so you may want to take off one of yet bets. If you have a 10, Jack, Queen, and Ace with the reveal of the first community card, though, while it’s still unlikely that the King of Hearts will show up, it’s much more likely that before and keeping all bets in play would definitely be the way to go.

Also worth noting, because you don’t bet after seeing your cards and you can’t up the ante once cards are dealt, you will need to play these odds very differently to how you would in traditional poker.

Beyond this, though, you really don’t need to know much. Let It Ride poker is not a complicated game, though it is a game of pure chance in a way that traditional forms of poker aren’t. If you like poker, though, and you’re more up for gambling than testing your skills against potentially much better players, it’s a great choice to play. Just remember to gamble responsibly.

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