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Don’t lose your edge

Continuing with the theme from last week, I’m going to discuss another game’s strategy changes as a result of playing face up.

This week’s topic is Let It Ride. No longer nearly as popular as it once was, it is still a commonly found game. It is also one in which the impact of seeing the other player’s cards is quite great. The downside is that it starts with a significant house edge, so you come nowhere near turning it into a player advantage. But if you can shave the house edge by 10 to 15 percent, it is not a bad place to start.

If you give it a little bit of thought, you probably are not surprised to find out that Let It Ride offers a decent amount of opportunity to take advantage of known upcards. With no dealer hand, there are less variables in the way. The biggest thing the player should be looking for are cards that he needs that will no longer be available to him.

It’s great to be dealt a 3-card straight flush on the initial deal. But if you have 7, 8 and 10 of Diamonds and the player to your right has the 9 of Diamonds, your hand’s value plummets. Most 3-card straight flushes are normally allowed to ride on the ‘1’ wager, but if you lose an opportunity to draw one, the expected value drops by enough to not make it worthwhile.

Not a common occurrence, but you should let the ‘1’ wager ride if you have any 3-card straight flush and none of the other six exposed cards are of the same suit. But, don’t get too excited here. This rule only applies to a 3-card straight flush – not to 3-card flushes.

Will less be more when casinos re-open?

The biggest strategy change comes with our low pairs on the initial deal. If none of the other six cards match the rank of any of your cards (the pair or the singleton), then you should go ahead and let the wager ride.

This accounts for the majority of the impact to the house edge, mostly because it will be a relatively common occurrence. Essentially you have the same number of chances to win, but with six cards removed from the remainder of the deck you push the expected value to just up over 1.0

The rest of the changes are for the ‘2’ wager and are a bit more complex. They also each deal with times you would normally make the wager, but now do not. I have to admit, I was a bit surprised by some of these changes as I would’ve thought you would pull back the wager even more often.

If you have a 4-card flush and all six of the other cards are the same suit, don’t let the ’2’ wager ride. Essentially, this would mean that 10 out of 10 cards exposed are of the same suit. Don’t expect to see this often.

I would have thought that even four or five out of six of the cards being the same suit would mean not to make the wager, but that is not the case. If you have zero high cards in your 4-card flush and five of the six exposed cards are of the same suit, then don’t make the wager. If you have at least one high card, you’re going to keep the wager up – unless all six of the exposed cards are of the same suit.

Straights, of course, are not as valuable as flushes. They pay less and even outside straights (the only type normally played in Let It Ride) have only eight outs normally. Now, some of those may be burned. If you have zero high cards, then if two or more of your outs are exposed, don’t let the wager ride. If you have one high card, then if there or more of your outs are exposed, don’t let the wager ride.

Essentially if the number of outs burned minus the number of high cards is two or more, don’t let the wager ride.

Some of these changes are fairly intuitive and there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll see some players making similar adjustments on their own. But, it is also easy to wrongly over adjust and potentially not leave wagers in play that should be left in play.

In these cases, you could potentially be taking the extra advantage you’ve got and wind up giving it right back to the house. Or worse, giving even more back to the house.