Let It Ride poker is a variation of five-card stud poker that proved enormously popular in casinos after its release and has since received a new lease of life since the arrival of online casinos.
In this guide, you will learn all about Let It Ride poker, including the rules of the game, strategies to consider, the odds and how they might change during a game, and the payouts that can be expected.
Let It Ride Rules
As mentioned, Let It Ride is a variation of five-card stud poker through which there are three player cards and two community cards. The two community cards are dealt face down, so players can’t see what the cards are. Players then have two chances to withdraw one-third of their initial wager: first when the player cards are dealt but before either community card is revealed, and the second after the first community card is turned.
Players are therefore given a chance to reduce their stakes at either of these opportunities, or both, or neither. If players decide not to withdraw or reduce any of their wagers at any stage, they ‘let it ride’ to the end of the round, hence the name of this type of poker.
To ensure players can evenly withdraw wagers at the allotted times of the game, each bet is made in three even splits, so for instance a $15 overall bet would be divided equally into three $5 bets.
Once the bets are placed, each player will be dealt their first card followed by the second community card, followed by the second player cards, followed by the second community card, then finally the third player cards. Players are not allowed to reveal their cards during any stage of the deal.
After all the cards are dealt, that is when players can begin to decide whether to withdraw any of their bets or ‘let it ride’. Payouts are then determined on the strength of the hands players have between their own cards and the community cards.
Let It Ride Payouts
Payouts can vary slightly between different casino operators but there are nine different winning hands in Let It Ride poker: Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three of a Kind, Two Pair, and a Pair of 10s or better. Any pairs of nine or lower is considered a losing hand and therefore players will receive no winnings.
This is when a hand includes the ace, king, queen, jack, and 10 all of the same suit. If a player gets a royal flush in Let It Ride poker, the payout is normally 1000/1, so if a player bets $15 and ‘lets it ride’ and lands a royal flush, the winnings would be $15,000 (plus the return of your $15 stake).
A straight flush is when a hand has five cards in numerical order of the same suit. This could be 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 9, 10, jack, queen, king, or any other sequence but the must all be the same suit. In Let It Ride poker, the payout is typically 200/1 so the same $15 bet would return winnings of $3000.
Four of a kind:
This is when the player has all four cards of the same numerical value across all four suits, plus on another card. So four of a kind hand can be the five of hearts, clubs, diamonds, and spades, plus any other card. In Let It Ride poker, the payout for four of a kind is usually 50/1 so the $15 bet would provide winnings of $750.
A full house is when a hand contains three cards of the same numerical value (and therefore three different suits) plus a pair of other cards. For instance, a full house could be the seven of hearts, diamonds, and clubs plus the jack of spades and diamonds. In Let It Ride poker, a full house pays out at 11/1 odds, so for our $15 bet, the winnings would be $165.
A flush is when a hand contains five cards of the same suit but not in the correct numerical order (like a straight flush or royal flush). To achieve a flush, players simply need to have all cards of the same suit, so it could be a 2, a 6, a 10, a queen, and an ace of hearts. The payout for a flush in Let It Ride poker is usually 8/1, so the $15 wager would earn winnings of $120.
A straight is a hand that contains five cards in sequential order but can be of different suits. An ace in a straight can be used either at the start of a sequence (ace, 1, 2, 3, 4) or at the end (10, jack, queen, king, ace). A straight-in Let It Rider poker pays out with odds of 5/1 so the $15 bet will earn winnings of $75.
Three of a kind:
Three of a kind is exactly what it says: three cards of the same value containing three of the four suits. It can therefore be any three cards of different suits from ace to king. Three of a kind could be four of clubs, four of diamonds, and four of hearts, or any other value card. In Let It Ride poker, three of a kind pays out odds of 3/1, so a $15 bet would gain winnings of $45.
A two pair hand is when four of the five cards are two separate pairs of the same rank, so it could be a queen of hearts and queen of diamonds plus the five of spades and the five of diamonds. In Let It Ride poker, a two pair typically pays out at 2/1 odds, so our $15 bet would earn winnings of $30.
Pair of 10s or better:
The simplest and easiest of the winning hands in Let It Ride poker, a pair is simply two cards of the same rank. However, to be a winning hand in Let It Ride, the pair must have a value of 10 or more. The payout odds for a pair of 10s or better in Let It Ride is typically 1/1 (or evens), so the $15 bet would earn winnings of $15.
Let It Ride House Edge
Now that you have a grasp of the payouts and odds when playing Let It Ride poker, it’s important to understand the house edge, which is relatively high compared to many other casino games and variations of poker.
Like any poker game, player skill and decision making can affect the house edge and tilt it in or away from a player’s favor. In Let It Ride, the house edge (or casino’s advantage) will be between 3.51% and 2.86%. What this means is that for every $1 a player bets while playing Let It Ride poker, the casino will on average earn back between 3.5 and 2.8 cents per hand.
Now, compared to other games, it may have a quite large house edge (craps for example is around 1.4%) but that is offset by the scope in Let It Ride poker for massive payouts.
Let It Ride Poker Strategies
While there is always an element of luck involved in all casino games, players can significantly increase their chances of success (and limit their losses) by sticking to some proven strategies when playing Let It Ride poker.
The big benefit of any poker variations is that players have a degree of control before and during a round, so it’s crucial to use that control to your advantage. Here we will look at when to withdraw bets, when to cut losses, and most importantly, when to let it ride.
Strategy for First Bet
This is the first opportunity for when to decide to withdraw one or more of your three bets or continue to let it ride. You will want to let it ride in the following circumstances once you have viewed your three cards:
- If you have a winning hand in your first three cards (three of a kind, pair of 10s or better); if you have three cards that contribute to a straight flush that are higher than 2-3-4
- If you have three cards that could contribute to a straight flush but has a gap and one of the cards has a value of 10 or higher (e.g. 9-10-queen)
- If you have three cards that could lead to a flush with two gaps so long as two of the cards hold a value of 10 or higher (e.g. 8-10-queen)
- For any other hands, pull back your bet
Strategy for Second Bet
At this stage, the dealer will reveal the first of the two community cards and players will have a clearer picture of how their hands (and bets) are shaping up. Here’s when players will want to let it ride at this stage of the game:
- If you have a winning hand of any kind (pairs of 10s or better, two pairs, three of a kind)
- If you have four of five cards that contribute to a straight flush
- If you have four of five cards that contribute to a flush
- If you have four of five cards that make up an outside straight (whereby one card is missing at either end that would complete a straight), and at least one of those cards is a 10 or higher
- If your hand does not match any of these scenarios, then it is advised to pull back the bet
More Betting Strategies
While the above two strategies apply specifically to Let It Ride poker, there are several important general betting strategies that also need to be kept in mind.
Stick to a budget
Whether playing Let It Ride poker or any other form of casino game, sticking to a budget is crucial, both to the overall enjoyment of playing and in terms of limiting losses. The golden rule is to only play with money you can afford to lose, so decide on what that budget is and stick to it. There is always a temptation to chase during a run of bad luck but when there is a rigid budget, it will help to resist those temptations.
Choose your limits
This applies to both lower and upper limits of losses and winnings. Once you have chosen your budget, you will also want to decide your limits for how much you are willing to lose and how much you want to win before setting aside or withdrawing you profits. By doing this, you will help to limit the amount you lose and resist the urge to chase, while also allowing the opportunity to cash out any winnings before they get potentially lost during a bad run of luck.
Play for free
If you have never played Let It Ride poker before, spend some time playing the game for free online. Most casino operators will have a free option where you can play the game with free credits. This is highly recommended, particularly for beginners, because you can learn the ropes of the game, test out different approaches, discover first-hand when to let it ride and when to pull bets, and get accustomed to the general flow of the game without risking your own money. Once you are fully comfortable with Let It Ride poker, then you can start to play with real money.
There can be a notion that playing casino games is all about making money, and while that is of course the primary objective, Let It Ride poker is meant to be a fun game. If you find yourself getting too stressed at losses and not enjoying the wins, then it might be time to step away. Casino games can become addictive so it’s important to have fun and when the fun stops, have a break from the game.