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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Let It Ride Strategy Revisited

21 May 2002

Based upon a sampling of snail-mail and e-mail inquiries from readers in recent weeks, there seems to be a lot of interest in Let It Ride. I explored the game in this column some years ago, but perhaps it’s time to take another look.

Let It Ride is a poker hybrid that’s played at a blackjack-style table. It’s popular in Las Vegas and is a licensed game in both Illinois and Indiana.

There’s one thing for certain: Let It Ride has staying power on casino floors nationwide. Ever since its introduction to America’s gambling repertoire some years ago, it thrives as a game people ask for as a refreshing alternative to table game staples blackjack, craps, and roulette.

Since play proceeds at a relatively leisurely pace, it has a manageable house edge, and the game’s options can keep losses under restraint, it can be an attractive gambling option.

Let It Ride is played with a 52-card deck. There are seven player positions at the table. Each position has three betting circles. Most of the table minimums are $5 to $10 in the Chicago-area. In Las Vegas, however, I have encountered $3 tables.

Each player is required to place bets of equal amounts in the three wagering circles to begin play. The dealer gives each player three cards and deals himself two "community cards" face down. After looking at their cards, players decide in turn to keep all their bets in the circles or take back the first bet, keeping in mind that the minimum payoff for each bet at Let It Ride is even money for a pair of tens or better.

Of course, the ideal situation is to be dealt a paying hand. You are guaranteed you will be paid for all three of your bets and your chances of getting a "fatter" hand increase as the dealer reveals the community cards.

Players signal to the dealer that they want to take a bet back by scraping their cards on the felt. The dealer will then push the bet out of the circle and back to the player.

After the first round is completed, the dealer turns over the first of the two community cards. Players now make their next decision based on their three cards plus the dealer’s card. Each player can take back another bet or "let it ride."

Players signal to the dealer that they want to let all three bets, or two out of three bets ride, by tucking their three cards under the chips in the third betting circle. Players must play the third bet.

When the dealer turns over the second community card, payoffs on each player’s five cards (three dealt plus two community) are based on the following table:

Royal Flush: 1,000 to 1. Straight Flush: 200 to 1. 4-Of-A-Kind: 50 to 1. Full House: 11 to 1. Flush: 8 to 1. Straight: 5 to 1. 3-Of-A-Kind: 3 to 1. Two Pair: 2 to 1. Tens or Better: Even Money.

If you’re interested in complete, detailed Let It Ride strategy and the mathematics of the game’s "house edge," I highly suggest you log on to www.wizardofodds.com. This site is among the most useful I’ve ever seen across when it comes to acquiring thorough and accurate information about all casino games.

The "Wizard of Odds" recommends that you should let all three bets ride with your three dealt cards if: 1. You have been dealt a paying hand (tens or better, or 3-Of-A-Kind) 2. Any three to a royal flush. 3. Three suited cards in a row except 2-3-4 and Ace-2-3. 4. Three to a straight flush (with certain qualifications).

With four cards (three dealt plus one community card) the Wizard says you should "let it ride" if you have: 1. Any paying hand. 2. Any four to a royal. 3. Any four to a straight flush. 4. Any four to a flush. 5. Any four to a straight (with certain qualifications).

The house edge on Let It Ride is calculated at 3.5 percent, which makes the game better than roulette but not in the same advantage league as blackjack or the best bets at craps.

The Wizard of Odds warns, however, that the Let It Ride $1 side bet that some casinos are offering for a bonus payoff on certain paying hands is a "sucker bet" with a ridiculous house edge that ranges from a steep 13.77 percent to a staggering 35.52 percent based on varying pay tables depending on the casino.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp