Most casino table games base their betting on a basic escalation process, with an Ante bet to start off followed by optional wagers when you like your hand.
Three Card Poker uses the Ante -> Raise dynamic, for example, while blackjack goes with an Ante -> Double Down (when allowed). And in Mississippi Stud, the Ante bet is followed by three successive wagers as you piece together a five-card poker hand.
But the Let It Ride tables, that paradigm shifts entirely by challenging players to pull back their bets after seeing additional cards.
Here’s how it works…
After making three mandatory Ante bets of equal size in Let It Ride, you’ll receive a three-card starting hand. Based on the relative strength of those three cards – either a made hand like one pair / three of a kind or a good drawing hand like three consecutive ranks or matching suits – you can either pull the second Ante bet back or, as the game’s title suggests, let it ride.
The dealer will then reveal the “4th Street” card, which all players can use as a community card to supplement their three-card starting hand. Once again, now armed with four cards – and 80 percent of the poker puzzle in place – you can keep the third Ante bet standing or pull it back.
This brings out the “5th Street” community card, at which point betting is complete and players reveal their final five-card poker hand.
Thus, the objective of Let It Ride is twofold.
First, you’re looking to maximize your betting with strong poker hands, which are then paid out using an escalating pay table. This pay table ranges from even money on all standing Ante bets when land one pair of 10s or better, to 1,000 to 1 if you beat enormous odds to nail a natural Royal Flush, so keeping all three Ante bets in play with strong hands and/or draws is paramount.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly given the game’s low occurrence of premium hands, you want to minimize your losses. As you’ll learn more about in the FAQ section down below, more than 90 percent of all Let It Ride hands end in either a loss or a minimum even money payout, so knowing when to pull those second and third Ante bets back separates the skilled players from the suckers.
Speaking of suckers, Let It Ride also includes two optional side bets that offer bonus payouts on premium hands. But while the 3-Card Bonus and 5-Card Bonus bets might sound fun at first glance, their respective house edge rates of 13-36 percent (exact rate depends on the pay table configuration) and 7.10 percent make them nonstarters for strategic gamblers.
Playing Online Let It Ride vs. Live
Let It Ride originated in brick and mortar casinos off the beaten path in Nevada, before spreading like wildfire to Las Vegas and beyond during the 1990s.
You’ll learn more about the game’s development down in the History section, but nowadays, Let It Ride has largely faded into obscurity in the live arena. Land-based casinos still spread a table or two, but the numbers are far from Let It Ride’s peak.
Fortunately, fans of this clever new take on old-fashioned five-card stud can sign up with top-rated online casinos to get their Let It Ride fix from the comfort of home.
Online versions of Let It Ride can be found in abundance, as the game’s house edge rate of 3.50 percent appeals to operators, while its status as a skill-based card game brings new players aboard every day.
For the most part, Let It Ride as you know it from the live casino has been faithfully recreated online. The basic rules, gameplay structure, and pay table setup remain intact, but you might see a “reverse engineered” version known as Let ‘Em Ride. This online-only version is essentially the same thing, only you start with one Ante bet and add the second and third as the hand progresses.
Perhaps the biggest difference between live and online play is the pace at which you’ll be putting in hands.
Let It Ride at a live casino already plays rather quickly, with around 50 hands dealt out every hour. But with no other players to wait on, nor a dealer collecting lost bets, paying winners, and shuffling the cards, online Let It Ride tables can easily generate several hundred hands over a 60-minute session.
Pros & Cons of Playing Let It Ride Online
And that brings up the central debate between the advantages and disadvantages of playing Let It Ride online.
The game’s house edge rate of 3.50 percent is pretty high, at least when compared to similar games like Three Card Poker (3.37 percent). And if you’re a blackjack player accustomed to a 0.50 percent average house edge, multiplying that by seven to play Let It Ride online is a tough ask – especially given that 90+ percent loss or even money win probability.
Focusing solely on losing hands, you can expect to wind up on the wrong end of a showdown just over 75 percent of the time. That means playing hundreds of hands in an hour can quickly deplete your online bankroll. Of course, you don’t have to play fast, but as online casino players know well, once the last hand is over the software immediately asks you if you’d like to play another.
To avoid this potential pitfall, it’s preferable to stretch things out as much as possible, so take your time on each decision and make sure you study the basic strategy charts that are easily found online.
As for the pros of online Let It Ride, those should be obvious to any experienced gambler. You won’t have to worry about tipping the dealer, the haze of cigarette smoke emanating from neighboring players, or anyone critiquing your decisions from afar. Online table games like Let It Ride offer a customizable experience that caters to your personal needs, right down to the table layout, sound effects, and progressive jackpot options.
Characteristics of the Best Online Let It Ride
Progressive jackpots are integral to Let It Ride, because all it takes is that perfect Royal Flush deal to turn $1 into five- and even six-figure scores.
On that note, be sure to check your online casino’s table games menu to see exactly what their Let It Ride tables have in the progressive jackpot kitty. And if an operator is too scared to attach these lucrative longshots to Let It Ride, pick up stakes and find a site that will.
Landing a natural Royal Flush on a five-card deal is basically like winning the lottery, so you shouldn’t put too much stock into these progressive jackpot payouts.
Instead, focus on the base game’s payouts for hitting other premium hands. Unless your site of choice uses the exact pay table setup shown below, you aren’t playing the best Let It Ride games found online:
Standard Let It Ride Pay Table
Royal Flush 1000 to 1
Straight Flush 200 to 1
Four of a Kind 50 to 1
Full House 11 to 1
Flush 8 to 1
Straight 5 to 1
Three of a Kind 3 to 1
Two Pair 2 to 1
One Pair of 10s or Better 1 to 1
Using this pay table, a player applying basic strategy knowledge can enjoy that reasonable 3.50 percent house edge. Any deviations from the standard, however, can swell your house edge up to 5 percent and higher.
Live Dealer Online Let It Ride
Unfortunately for fans of the Live Dealer revolution, Let It Ride hasn’t been readily adopted by the major providers such as Evolution Gaming.
Simply put, the game has waned in popularity over the last decade, leaving Live Dealer casinos to focus their efforts on more lucrative offerings like blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and Three Card Poker.
Types of Online Let It Ride Bonuses
Signing up with a new online casino for the first time can be a gamble in and of itself, but generous Welcome Bonuses help separate the best operators from the rest.
Using a bonus code typically found on the site’s Promotions page, you can claim a Welcome Bonus which matches your first deposit. If you see something like “200 percent match (up to $1,000),” that means your first $100 deposit will receive an additional $200 in bonus funds. Make it a $500 deposit and you’ll score the maximum $1,000 in bonus funds.
Later on, if you find yourself low on dough and in need of another deposit, take advantage of the Reload Bonus offer. This promotion uses a smaller percentage match, usually in the 25-100 percent range, to provide yet another bankroll booster.
And once you’ve built up a bounty of Player Points through regular sessions, stay on the lookout for No Deposit Bonuses which top off your account balance automatically. Nothing beats checking your online casino account to find a free $50 No Deposit Bonus as a “comp” for your regular play.
All of these online casino bonuses are undoubtedly a treat, but before you can cash the free funds out, you’ll need to satisfy the site’s “playthrough” or “rollover” requirements.
Playthrough / rollver refers to a set number of dollars bonus hunters need to place before their extra funds are “unlocked” and made available for withdrawal. Look for a figure like 20x, 25x, or 50x to find your site’s specific playthrough / rollover number.
Those multiples apply to both the deposit amount and the associated bonus, so using the $100 deposit + $200 bonus example from earlier, a 20x playthrough / rollover provision puts you at $6,000 in total wagers before the extra funds are unlocked. You can still use bonus funds to play Let It Ride and all your other favorite online casino games, you just won’t be able to withdraw the bonus money until you place the requisite number of wagers.
Fortunately for Let It Ride fans, the game’s relatively high house edge and volatility levels ensure online casinos have no problem letting you use it to reach your playthrough / rollover marks. Craps, for example, tends to contribute nothing to these requirements, while blackjack, roulette, and baccarat only send 5 percent of every bet towards playthrough / rollover.
Let It Ride, on the other hand, generally uses a 20 percent wagering contribution rate, making it one of the best games around for clearing bonuses.
History of Let It Ride
Back in 1983, teams of card counting blackjack advantage players were terrorizing casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. In those days, the single-deck and double-deck games made counting the deck doable for sharp players with the requisite math and memorization skills.
Al Francesco and Ken Uston became household names among the gambling set, using their “Big Player” team concept to count their way to millions in blackjack profit.
So when truck driver John Breeding read an article about card counters in the newspaper, he had a brainstorm. But unlike the legions of would-be counters who bought a copy of Edward O. Thorp’s blackjack Bible “Beat the Dealer” (1962) and made the sojourn to Sin City, Breeding wanted to help casinos even the score.
Over the next nine years Breeding toiled away in his garage, tinkering and retooling the prototype of the first automatic card shuffling machine. As he saw it, if the casinos could efficiently shuffle one deck and have it ready for play by the time a new deal began, card counting would be rendered impossible.
But almost a decade had passed between his brainstorm and putting the final touches on his “Shuffle Master” machine. In the interim, casinos took the counting dilemma into their own hands by rolling out the multiple-deck shoe. Forced to wade through hundreds of cards in a six- or eight-deck shoe, even the best card counters found their edge watered down to the point of irrelevance.
And because his Shuffle Master machine was only capable of randomizing one deck at a time, casino operators had little interest in the new device. Distraught, Breeding realized he needed to give the casinos a reason to use automatic shufflers.
That’s when his wife made the following quip that wound up changing casino table games forever afterward:
“If you’re so smart, why don’t you invent a game that only uses one deck?”
Breeding was inspired to prove his better half right, and by 1995, he was filing for patent protection on his new single-deck table game Let It Ride.
Casinos immediately loved the three-unit betting structure and relatively high house edge, while players were simply intrigued by a new form of table game gambling. Shuffle Master went on to become an industry titan, and Breeding rode off into the sunset by selling his stake in the company and retiring.
Shuffle Master was eventually rebranded as SHFL Entertainment, and in 2013 a $1.3 billion offer saw Bally Technologies take over. One year later Scientific Games made its own splashy acquisition, adding Bally Technologies and the SHFL Entertainment brand – including the rights to Let It Ride – in a massive merger valued at $5.1 billion
Let It Ride became a global gambling phenomenon in the late ‘90s and beyond, before falling by the wayside as the hybrid table game became increasingly crowded. Nonetheless, every major casino in Las Vegas and beyond still spreads at least one Let It Ride table.
Online casino operators, meanwhile, count Let It Ride – which you might see labeled as “Let ‘Em Ride” depending on the platform – as a staple of the table game menu.
Real Money Let It Ride FAQ
“I keep seeing a game called ‘Let ‘Em Ride’ at my online casino, but why does it seem to play in reverse?”
Online casinos who aren’t willing to pay Scientific Games a licensing fee for their patented Let It Ride game have to get creative, hence the generic Let ‘Em Ride alternative. And because both the title and the gameplay are protected by patents, these online casinos can’t utilize the exact same rules and betting structure either.
When you play Let ‘Em Ride, the same standard pay table mentioned earlier will still be in use- but in this game, you don’t start out with all three betting units in place.
Instead, you’ll start with a single Ante bet before taking your first three cards. From there, the game will ask if you’d like make a Raise bet before drawing a 4th Street card, followed by another optional Raise bet ahead of 5th Street before completing your final five-card poker hand.
But aside from reversing the order, Let ‘Em Ride plays out identically to Let It Ride in terms of payouts and house edge.
“I’ve read about big Las Vegas casinos paying out six- and even seven-figure progressive jackpots on Let It Ride, but is that possible playing online?”
It’s definitely possible, as a lucky winner proved in 2017 while playing Let It Ride on the Intertops online casino platform. After beating the longshot 1 in 649,740 odds to land a Royal Flush, the player claimed a progressive jackpot worth over $286,000.
That’s obviously a lightning strike from the gambling gods, but with thousands of Let It Ride hands running around the clock on a single online casino platform, somebody inevitably beats the odds to trigger a progressive jackpot.
“Whenever I try to get into Let It Ride it feels like I lose or win the minimum 9 times out of 10, so what am I doing wrong?”
Not a thing, that’s just how this highly volatile five-card stud offshoot shakes out. Based on Let It Ride’s inherent probabilities, you can expect to table a losing hand on 76.20 percent of deals. Of course, how much those losing hands cost you depends on your knowledge of basic strategy, so be sure to study the guidelines mentioned earlier on this page closely.
Next up, you’ll make one pair of 10s or better on 16.24 percent of deals, good for a minimum even money payout on whatever wagers you’ve let ride.
Add it all up and your instincts were spot on, as 92.44 percent of all Let It Ride hands ever dealt result in either a loss or a minimal even money payout.