The Ride still has a following in Vegas
August 11, 2015 3:00 AM
by Elliot Frome
Let It Ride is certainly not as popular a game as it once was. But, you’ll still find it in most casinos.
In reality, it is a relatively slow moving game as casino games go. It might be a bit deceptive because to start each deal, you have to put up three wagers. But unlike other games where you might do the same (Ultimate Texas Hold’em), the three units is the maximum you can wager and you will very rarely wager all three and not win.
In most casino games, players have a tendency to under fold. They just hate to give up their wager. In blackjack, players have a tendency to under hit because they don’t want to bust and lose with seemingly no chance to beat the dealer. Let It Ride is a little quirky in this regard. Technically, there is no such thing as folding.
To begin play, the player makes three equal wagers – “$,” “1” and “2.” Each player is dealt three cards and two community cards are dealt face down. At this point, the player can review his three-card hand and either take back the “1” wager or let it ride by keeping it in play.
Pulling it back is not anything like folding. You are still in the game. The “$” wager can never be pulled back. You are always in the game until you have a 5-card hand. If your hand is a Pair of 10’s or better, you’ll win. If not, you’ll lose.
Based on a player’s hesitancy to fold, I wonder if they have a tendency to pull back the wager far less often than they should. It is a brilliant concept in the design. Mathematically speaking, the game would be no different if to begin play you make a single wager and then after seeing your first three cards you had the option to make an additional wager equal to your first one.
Conceptually, the game changes greatly in the player’s mind. A player thinks twice about putting up extra money and, strangely enough, he thinks twice about pulling the money back – even if the decision is the exact same thing.
Adding to the player’s confusion is that in Let It Ride you simply are not supposed to leave that “1” wager up there very often. Only a total of 7.28% of the time (roughly 1 in 14 hands). The strategy is very easy. If you have a guaranteed winner or better, you keep the wager up (Pair of 10’s or Better or Trips).
You also keep it up if you have three cards to a Royal Flush or a 3-Card Straight Flush. If you have a 3-Card Inside Straight Flush, you have to have at least one card 10 or greater. If you have a 3-Card Double Inside Straight Flush, you have to have two cards 10 or greater. Low Pairs and 3-Card Straights are not enough to keep the wager up.
When the dealer turns over the first community card, the player has a similar decision with the “2” wager. While the frequency of leaving this wager in action goes up considerably, it is still done sparingly – roughly 16% of the hands. Obviously, any guaranteed winner keeps the wager up. Beyond that, 4-Card Straight Flushes, 4-Card Flushes and 4-Card Straights (NOT Inside) are playable. Low Pairs are NOT playable. Nor are 4-Card Inside Straights. This strategy is, for the most, part intuitive. With only one card coming, you have to have a chance of getting to a winning hand. But, the math is not on your side with Low Pairs and 4-Card Inside Straights (even with multiple high cards).
When you break down the game of Let It Ride, you see a common concept used in casino games. Your “$” wager is a complete turkey. It pays less than 70%. No surprise you have no choices on this wager. If you were to never pull the wager down, your overall payback would be this 70%. But, the overall payback of Let It Ride is 97.14%.
So, the “1” and “2” wagers are where the player makes up all that ground. The “1” wager offers a payback of 250%. That is not a typo. For every $1 you wager, you can expect to get back $2.50. Look at the hands you are wagering on. Many are sure winners. The rest are big payers. You won’t hit them often, but when you do, it is going to pay off big.
The “2” wager is rather similar. It has a payback of 243%. Again, many of the hands you let the wager ride on are guaranteed winners. The rest are hands that, for the most, part have at least 8 outs. With 48 cards remaining, you have at least a 1 in 6 chance of winning. If you have a 4-Card Straight Flush, your chance of winning goes up significantly.
One last thing to consider: The wagers are completely independent. If you chose (incorrectly) to leave the “1” wager in action, you still follow the strategy for the “2” wager. Each wager gets paid independently. So, make sure you don’t compound one mistake by making another.
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Elliot Frome is a second generation gaming analyst and author. His math credits include Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Mississippi Stud, House Money and many other games. His website is www.gambatria.com. Contact Elliot at ElliotFrome@GamingToday.com.