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Let It Ride

Introduction

Let It Ride is a casino poker game, meaning that it’s derived from classic player vs player poker, but instead the player plays against the house. Specifically Let It Ride is a derivative of the Five Card Stud game. Let It Ride is played with a standard 52 card deck.

The game Let It Ride was patented by SHFL Entertainment owner John Breeding and owned by the company until their takeover by Bally Entertainment in 2014.

Due to the patent, many online software providers are offering this game under different names as a quasi-legal method of getting round paying royalties. The different softwares and the names they use are listed below;

BetSoft – Ride ‘M Poker
Microgaming – Poker Pursuit or Poker Ride
RealTime Gaming – Let ‘Em Ride
Rival – Ride ‘Em Poker

Playtech and Net Entertainment have previously both offered versions of the Let It Ride game but appear to have removed them, presumably due to patent issues.

We are currently aware of Let It Ride being offered by the following online casino softwares – Betsoft, Cryptologic, DGS, GameSys, Microgaming, OpenBet, RealTime Gaming and Rival.

Play Structure

Initially the player places an ‘Ante’ wager and the dealer will deal out 3 cards to the player face up and 2 community cards face down. The player then has the choice to either ‘Let It Ride’ or ‘Pull Bet’. These actions often have differing names including ‘Play’, ‘Ride’, ‘Bet’ for ‘Let It Ride’ and ‘Go On’, ‘Pull Out’ or ‘Pass’ for ‘Pull Bet’. Both options have the same result, one of the community cards is turned face up, but if the player chooses to Raise they have to place an additional wager equal to their Ante bet. After this the player is again asked to Let It Ride or Pull bet and after this decision is made the second community card is revealed.

Once all five cards are visible to the player the game is over.

A second format to the game has the player place all 3 bets (Ante and both Let It Ride bets) before the cards are dealt and give the player the option to retrieve or ‘Pull’ one of the Let It Ride bets with each decision. This has no strategy implications for the game.

Hand Comparison

Let It Ride ranks hands according to a hierarchy common to poker games which is explained below (strongest to weakest);
* Royal Flush – The Ace, King, Queen, Jack and Ten cards all of the same suit.

* Straight Flush – five numerically adjacent cards of the same suit (Example – 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 of Diamonds).

* 4 of a Kind – four cards of matching rank (Example – 7 of Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds and Spades).

* Full House – three cards of the same rank and two cards of a different but matching rank (Example – 8 of Hearts, Clubs and Diamonds and Jack of Spades and Hearts).

* Flush – five cards of the same suit (Example – Ace, 8, 5, 2 and Queen of Spades).

* Straight – five numerically adjacent cards ignoring suit (Example – 7 of Spades, 8 of Spades, 9 of Clubs, 10 of Diamonds and Jack of Diamonds).

* 3 of a Kind – three cards of the same rank with 2 unmatched cards (Example – 9 of Spades, Clubs and Hearts with any two other cards that are not the 9 of Diamonds or a matching pair).

* Two Pairs – two sets of two cards of matching rank with one unmatched card (Example – 4 of Clubs and Hearts, 8 Clubs and Spades and a fifth unmatched card).

* Pair – two cards of matching rank with three unmatched card (Example – 6 of Clubs and Hearts and any three other cards that are not the six of Spades or Diamonds and are not of matching rank). The minimum pair to qualify for a payout is a pair of 10s.

Payouts

Once all 5 cards are revealed the resulting hand is then compared to the paytable for the game and the player is paid out accordingly. The following are the paytables found at different softwares;

 Hand ProbabilitiesBetsoftCryptologicGameSys*DGSMicrogaming**RealTime GamingRivalOpenBet
Royal Flush1.539E-61000 to 11000 to 1200/250 to 11000 to 11000/999 to 11000 to 1250 to 11000 to 1
Straight Flush1.3851E-5200 to 1200 to 1100/110 to 1200 to 1200/199 to 1200 to 150 to 1200 to 1
4 of a Kind0.00024009650 to 150 to 150/52 to 150 to 150/49 to 150 to 125 to 150 to 1
Full House0.00144057611 to 111 to 115/15 to 111 to 111/11 to 111 to 112 to 111 to 1
Flush0.0019654018 to 18 to 110/11 to 18 to 18/8 to 18 to 110 to 18 to 1
Straight0.0039246465 to 15 to 15/6 to 15 to 15/5 to 15 to 18 to 15 to 1
3 of a Kind0.0211284513 to 13 to 13/3 to 13 to 13/3 to 13 to 13 to 13 to 1
2 Pairs0.0475390152 to 12 to 12/2 to 12 to 12/2 to 12 to 12 to 12 to 1
10s or Better0.1625265491 to 11 to 11/1 to 11 to 11/1 to 11 to 11 to 11 to 1
House Edge2.85%2.85%XXX*** 2.85%2.85/2.90%2.85%2.40%2.85%

* GameSys offer two different versions of Let It Ride, a normal version and a ‘Without House Edge’ version. The numbers in front of the ‘/’ refer to the normal version while the numbers after the ‘/’ refer to the Without House Edge version.
** Microgaming offer two different versions of Let It Ride, Poker Ride and Poker Pursuit. The numbers in front of the ‘/’ refer to Poker Ride while the numbers after the ‘/’ refer to Poker Pursuit.
*** These figures require an optimized strategy to achieve. Using the standard Let It Ride strategy the House Edge would be 0.81/0.66%

Jackpot Bet

Some Let It Ride poker games also offer a side bet usually referred to simply as the ‘Jackpot’ bet. This side bet is optional but if the player chooses to place the Jackpot bet it costs $/€/£1 and the results are based only on the player’s final hand regardless of decisions made during the round. The payouts for the Jackpot bet vary from software to software, but most paytables for the major online software providers are provided below;

 Hand ProbabilitiesBetsoftOpenBetCryptologicGameSys*Microgaming**RealTime Gaming
Royal Flush0.00000153920000 to 120000 to 130000 to 11000 to 1JackpotJackpot
Straight Flush0.0000138512000 to 12000 to 13000 to 1500 to 110% of Jackpot10% of Jackpot
4 of a Kind0.000240096400 to 1100 to 1400 to 1200 to 1500 to 1500 to 1
Full House0.001440576200 to 175 to 1200 to 175 to 1100 to 1100 to 1
Flush0.00196540150 to 150 to 150 to 150 to 150 to 175 to 1
Straight0.00392464625 to 125 to 125 to 120 to 1
3 of a Kind0.0211284515 to 19 to 15 to 115 to 1
2 Pairs0.047539015 6 to 1 5 to 1
Jackpot RangeNANANANA77853-32536530472-90882
Breakeven ValueNANANANA216813.58200009.53
House Edge22.79%6.14%19.87%3.99%(-31.74%)*** - 40.64%31.91% - 49.57%

*The paytable for the bonus bet are the same for both game versions GameSys offer.
**The paytable is valid for Poker Ride only. Poker Pursuit does not offer a Jackpot bet.
*** The negative house edge value indicates that the player has an advantage at higher jackpot values.

Calculating the House Edge and Break Even value for the Jackpot Bet


It is possible calculate the House Edge and break even value for any paytable not included in the above table simply by using the Hand Probability figures. For example if the paytable was as follows;

 Hand ProbabilitiesNew Paytable
Royal Flush0.000001539Jackpot
Straight Flush0.00001385110% of Jackpot
4 of a Kind0.000240096100 to 1
Full House0.00144057640 to 1
Flush0.00196540125 to 1
Straight0.00392464610 to 1
3 of a Kind0.0211284517 to 1
2 Pairs0.0475390155 to 1

To calculate the House Edge we multiply the Paytable values by the probabilities, sum the results and subtract the remaining possibilities. So if we have a Jackpot value of 68000, for the above paytable the calculation would be as follows;

68000×0.000001539 + 6800×0.000013851 + 100×0.000240096 +  40×0.001440576 + 25×0.001965401 + 10×0.003924646 + 7×0.021128458 + 5×0.047539015 – (1-(0.000001539 + 0.000013851 + 0.000240096 + 0.001440576 + 0.001965401 + 0.003924646 + 0.021128451))

0.104652 + 0.0941868 + 0.0240096 + 0.05762304 + 0.049135025 + 0.03924646 + 0.147899206 + 0.237695075 – (1 – 0.02871456)

0.754447206 – 0.97128544 = -0.216838234

So the House Edge for this paytable and Jackpot size is 21.68%

To calculate the Breakeven point we multiply the Paytable values by the and probabilities  and subtract the remaining possibilities with the equation set equal to 0 and rearrange and solve for the Jackpot value (which we’ll refer to as ‘J’) . So for the above paytable the calculation would be as follows;

Jx0.000001539 + 0.1xJx0.000013851 + 100×0.000240096 +  40×0.001440576 + 25×0.001965401 + 10×0.003924646 + 7×0.021128458 + 5×0.047539015 – (1-(0.000001539 + 0.000013851 + 0.000240096 + 0.001440576 + 0.001965401 + 0.003924646 + 0.021128451)) = 0

0.000001539xJ + 0.0000013857xJ + 0.0240096 + 0.05762304 + 0.049135025 + 0.03924646 + 0.147899206 + 0.237695075 – (1 – 0.02871456) = 0

0.000002924xJ – 0.415677034 = 0

0.000002924xJ = 0.415677034

J = 0.415677034/0.000002924

J = 142160.4083

So the break even size for this paytable is a Jackpot of 142161.

House Edge*

The House Edge of Let It Ride poker across the full round of wagering (Ante and Let It Ride bet) and assuming that the player plays using the optimal strategy discussed below is 2.40/2.85/2.90% depending on the paytable being used. If the player does not play optimally this figure will rise.

The House Edge for the GameSys Let It Ride games is substantially lower at XXX but requires a different optimal strategy to the Let It Ride games available at other major software providers.

The House Edge of the Jackpot bet is dependent on the paytable the casino is using and the size of the Jackpot (if one is used), but our observations places the House Edge value between -31.74% and 49.57%.

For further information regarding the house edge for both the main game and the Jackpot bet see Beating Bonuses (http://www.beatingbonuses.com/letitride.htm).

Optimal Strategy

The most important aspect of correct strategy while playing Let It Ride poker is not to play the Jackpot side bet unless it has a progressive Jackpot and is over the breakeven values listed above. Even when the Jackpot value is above the breakeven value you should be aware that this bet has an extremely high variance and it’s highly unlikely that the regular player will ever hit the Jackpot, meaning that realistically the regular player will be playing with a far higher house edge.

The Optimal Strategy for Let It Ride is comparably straight forward when considered beside other casino poker games.

For the initial decision Raise if you have (High cards are 10, J, Q, K, A);
1) a paying hand (pair of 10s or better)
2) 3 to a Straight Flush with any of the following conditions;
a) No gaps (e.g. 3, 4 and 5 of the same suit)
b) 1 gap and a High card (e.g. 8, 9, J of the same suit)
c) 2 gaps and 2 High cards (e.g. 9, J, K of the same suit)
d) do NOT Raise with suited A23, A24, A34 or 234

For the second decision Raise if you have;

1) a paying hand (pair of 10s or better)
2) 4 to a Flush
3) 4 to a Straight with any of the following conditions;
a) No gaps (e.g. 6, 7, 8 and 9)
b) 4 High cards (e.g. J, Q, K, A)
c) do NOT Raise with A234

The optimum strategy for the GameSys paytables and other potential variants you may come across differs from the more standard paytables found at the majority of online software providers. As such we’ve provided a Strategy Calculator below to determine the optimum strategy for any given hand based on a defined paytable;

[COMING SOON]

Fairness Calculator

Unfortunately, due to the non-Normal distribution of the payouts at Let It Ride poker – specifically the high payout in the main game for a Royal Flush – it’s not possible to offer a fairness calculator that would return meaningful results for Let It Ride.

Winning Strategies

Offline

Hole Carding, Steering or Sorting

Unlike Blackjack the techniques used to gain an advantage over the game of Let It Wide in the offline environment are not nearly so widely discussed. Gaining information on dealer’s hole cards – be that via edge sorting, steering or hold carding – can produce a player advantage as long as the information is used to alter the player’s strategy. With perfect knowledge of both Hole Cards, the player can gain an advantage over the house of well in excess of 30% according to James Grosjean.

The rarity of being able to obtain information on the dealer’s hole cards and the high skill level involved ensure that only the most diligent of professional players are ever likely to come across this information and it should be emphasized that the risks involved in gaining less than perfect information are likely to be substantial.

The best source of information on how best to play with additional information can be found in James Grosjean’s ‘Exhibit CAA: Beyond Counting’.  The author provides the full and correct Optimal Strategy for Let It Ride for each of the different scenarios where additional information can be gathered. This book is widely considered the Bible for the professional player and as such is not a worthwhile investment for anyone other than a full time professional Advantage Player (not to mention it requires a professional reference to obtain).

It should be noted that sharing hand information when playing Let It Ride – regardless of the number of hands known – still results in a substantial House Edge.

Online

In general, due to the high House Edge figure Let It Ride is normally a weak choice for play online. Even taking into account bonuses promotions and comp point systems, Let It Ride is usually a sub-optimal choice. There may be unusual situation where Let It Ride – combined with other promotional opportunities as a correctly functioning game will provide no avenue to gain an edge without additional player incentives – where it is advisable to choose Let It Ride, but these situations will be few and far between.

One potential opportunity for a player to gain an edge over Let It Ride poker would be through the use of the progressive jackpots. The only progressive jackpot that we’re aware of that goes high enough to give the player an advantage is available at Microgaming casinos. Given a minimum bet of 0.50 and playing optimally the player will wager an average of 1.23 per round on the main game of Let It Ride with an House Edge of 2.85%. This gives a loss of 1.23×0.0285 = 0.035055/round. Any time the Jackpot produces a Player Edge of 3.51% or higher the player will have an overall advantage across both the main game and Jackpot bet. This occurs when the Jackpot is at $228802.29 or higher. It should be noted that while the player will have an advantage the variance of this particular game is likely to be extremely high.

It should be noted that online advantage play is not specific to Let It Ride poker and in recent years the wagering requirements for player’s choosing to play any table game has inflated to the point that Let It Ride is now often a sub-optimal choice for the player. For more information on beating online casinos see BeatingBonuses.com.

References

James Grosjean ‘Exhibit CAA: Beyond Counting’

* All ‘House Edge’ figures in this article are based on the ‘loss per unit wagered’ rather than ‘loss per initial bet’.