Let It Ride poker is an oldie but a goodie

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about Mississippi Stud, which is a relatively new game that has been growing quickly in popularity.

I have frequently referred to Mississippi Stud as Let It Ride on Speed. The critical difference between the two games is in Let It Ride, one wager is mandatory and the other two are optional. Your choice is to let it ride or to pull it back.

In Mississippi Stud, your choice is to make a wager or to fold. The math – and thus the strategy – is vastly different for these two scenarios.

Let It Ride is a pay table game. You are not playing against the dealer. The only goal is to get a winning hand, which for Let It Ride is a Pair of 10’s or Better. To begin play, each player makes three equal wagers, called “1,” “2” and “$.” As cards are dealt, the player will have the option to take the 1 and 2 wagers back.

This is a unique mechanism, but mathematically and financially, it is no different than the player making just the $ wager and then optionally making the 1 and 2 wager as the cards are dealt.

After the wagers are made, the dealer deals three cards to each player and then two cards face down in the center of the table. The player now has the option to let the 1 wager ride or to pull it back. The dealer will then expose the first community card.

At this point, the player has the option to let the 2 wager ride or to pull it back. The dealer will then turn over the second community card and pay the player according to the following pay table for each wager still in play:

Royal Flush, 1000 to 1; Straight Flush, 200/1; Four of a Kind, 50/1; Full House, 11/1;

Flush, 8/1; Straight, 5/1; Three of a Kind, 3/1; Two Pair, 2/1; Pair of 10’s or Better, 1/1.

So, for each hand, the player has two decisions:

• Should the 1 Wager be pulled down

• Should the 2 Wager be pulled down

Because the wagers are optional, the mathematical equation that is in place is whether the particular wager being left in play will make money. So, we look at every possible draw from each point, add up the coins that would be paid out for that particular wager and if it is more than the total amount that would be wagered, the player should let the wager ride.

Looking at a relatively easy scenario, let’s imagine the first four cards dealt are as follows:

Player’s hand: 7-diamonds, 8 hearts, 10 clubs;

Community Card: 6-diamonds.

At this point, the player needs one of seven cards to win. Either the second community card must be a 9 to give the player a Straight, or a 10 to give the player a Low Pair. A Straight pays 5/1 (or 6 in total).

Four possible Straights X 6 = 24 coins. The Pair pays 1/1 (or 2 in total). There are three possible 10’s so this is six coins in total. Add it up and we get a payout of 30 coins. There are 48 possible draws.

Since the payout is less than 48, it does not pay for the player to leave this wager up.

As always, you don’t need to perform any complex (or simple) math computations at the table. Computer programs were created to run every possible hand and from these programs a strategy has been developed. For the 1 wager, the player should let it ride if his three-card hand is one of the following:

• Three of a Kind

• High Pair (10’s or Better)

• 3-card Royal Flush

• The 3-card Straight Flush (Inside or Outside, NOT Double Inside)

This strategy will result in the player leaving this wager in play only 7% of the time. 93% of these hands will wind up as a winner, and the expected value of the 1 wager is a whopping 2.4.

The 2 wager stays in play about 15% of the time and also has an expected value of about 2.4. Obviously these two wagers provide the balance for the $ wager, which has a large house advantage. When all is said and done, the overall payback of Let It Ride is about 97.18%

The betting structure of Let It Ride makes it far less intimidating than Mississippi Stud. You can also get by with a much smaller bankroll. The average wager in Let It Ride is about 1.25 units per hand. So, if you’re at a $5 table, you’ll find yourself wagering about $6.25 per hand on average. This is far less than Mississippi Stud.

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 [email protected].

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About the Author

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome’s roots run deep into gaming theory and analysis. His father, Lenny, was a pioneer in developing video poker strategy in the 1980s and is credited with raising its popularity to dizzying heights. Elliot is a second generation gaming author and analyst with nearly 20 years of programming experience.

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