What You Need to Know

Let It Ride is a card game that really brought a breath of fresh air to the tables. A form of five-card stud poker using three player cards and two community cards, Let It Ride was a real novelty to players when it began to appear in casinos. The appeal of the game was partly down to how easy the rules were to learn, but for many players, how it was played was its true selling point. The opportunity to win a sizeable jackpot certainly helped, too.

Like many player vs. dealer poker games, participants hope for the best five-card hand they can get from their three cards and the two community cards on the table. With Let It Ride, players have the option to decrease their bet amount if they don’t like their cards.

As fans of the “New Romantics” music fad of the 1980s, or the “Emo” movement of the 2000s will know, anything considered novelty typically has a short shelf life. While Let It Ride was certainly more popular in the ‘90s and 2000s than it is now, there is no question that it is still favored by some players. Outlasting the fad stage, Let It Ride poker still has a relevant place in most casinos.

How Let It Ride Began

Everyone loves a juicy story or a run through the mysterious origins of a casino game. With Let It Ride, the myths and tales involving ancient China, pirates, scorned lovers, and wars are not going to be part of the package. Sorry to burst your bubble if this is your thing. The game has no magnificent origins or wild tales to speak of. In fact, the foundation of Let It Ride has a more sensible backstory.

John Breeding, the inventor of the casino card shuffling technology known as the “Shuffle Master,” created the game. According to the accepted version of the story, Breeding devised Let It Ride poker back in 1993 to increase the popularity of his invention.

Breeding’s plan worked, yet it would be Let It Ride that would attain the highest levels of popularity. After all, everyone can play a game, yet the average player would have no real use for a card shuffling machine. It would be something of a novelty to own one, and as we covered above, novelties wear thin after a while. Even those without the over-the-top hairstyles and excessive use of eyeliner.

Nevertheless, the game hit peak popularity in the late 1990s to early 2000s. While the game has lost a lot of its appeal over the years – mostly due to a relatively high house edge of 3.51% – some players are still huge fans.

By the end of this guide, you will have the knowledge required to play the game and to decide whether it is for you. With that in mind, we will get started with how to play the game. First, let’s look at the rules of the game.

How to Play Let It Ride

What makes Let It Ride an easy game to play is that the rules are fairly limited. You may notice that the Let It Ride table resembles a blackjack table. When playing at a land-based casino, the markings on the table are straightforward. Placing your bets, therefore, is as easy as it comes. You will find three circles for placing your bets, with payouts printed below.

There are three bets – excluding side bets – that are all placed at the same time. The first bet is placed on the “$” circle, with the second and third bets placed on the “2” and “3” symbols, respectively. We will break these down below in greater detail.

Side bets are also usually available. These are typically the “3-Card Bonus,” where you can place a bet with minimal restrictions, and the “Bonus” bet, which is generally a $1 punt on the 200,000 to 1 royal flush bet.

Let It Ride is a game that is laid back in nature. It is usually played at a fairly slow pace in comparison to other games. When learning how to play, you should take your time and bet small until you understand everything. Don’t dive in straight away, as your bankroll probably won’t last very long!

Below, we will walk you through your first game of Let It Ride. So, find a table, grab your chips, and we’ll show you how to play.

Your First Game of Let It Ride

Rules. What are they good for, and who really needs them? Well, evidently, rules are there for a reason. In Let It Ride, you will need to abide by the common table rules. These are nothing out of the ordinary. Bets can only be placed when the betting window is open, conduct yourself in an appropriate manner, and don’t be “that guy.” You know the one…

The Let It Ride rulebook also states that your cards should be dealt face down by the dealer. As such, you should not share the details of your hand with any other player. Once you have studied your cards, you should place them back down on the table, face down.

Regardless of what you may think of rules, you need to know of them before you play. Consistently breaking the rules will see you lose your bets, at best. At worst, you’ll be kicked out the casino faster than you can say “hit me.”

Okay, we all know the scene in the movie Casino, where Robert De Niro has a non-compliant player ejected headfirst through the backdoors. This is unlikely, but you may receive your marching orders, nonetheless. Understand the rules of the table, and you should have a nice playing experience, incident free.

Once you are aware of table etiquette, you are now ready to play. Once the table is open for bets, you will need to place yours to join in.

Placing Bets

As mentioned above, there are three circles on the table to place your bets.

These circle markings are for a player’s three bets on each hand. These are represented as:

  • Bet Circle $ – Like the ante, this is the first bet required in order to receive your three cards
  • Bet Circle 1 – This is the bet that needs to be placed before the first community card is revealed
  • Bet Circle 2 – This is the bet that needs to be placed before the second community card is revealed

All three bets should be placed before the game starts. Each bet must be the same amount. If you place $25 on the $ bet, then you must also place $25 on both of the other two bets.

The reason why you must place three bets is in line with how the game should be played. The point of Let It Ride is to decrease your bets as the cards are drawn are not to your favor. Rather than raising your bet once you see the community cards, you can pull bet 1 and/or bet 2, unless you want to “Let It Ride.”

Always remember that pulling on bet 1 does not mean that you have to pull on bet 2, and vice versa. These bets – unlike the first mandatory bet you place – come with an option. You and you alone get to choose whether to pull or bet.

The Side Bets

One of the big attractions of Let It Ride – much like other games such as Caribbean Stud – is the side bets.

This poker game has two potential bets that players can opt for. These are:

  • 3-Card Bonus Bet – This is a bet where players can win big if they get a quality three-card hand in the cards which are dealt exclusively to them. For example, as the odds of getting three of a kind with three cards rather than in five, casinos will typically pay out 30-1, rather than the 3-1 on a five-card hand
  • Bonus Bet – This bet has some incredible odds for players. A royal flush will generally win a player the jackpot, or somewhere in the region of 20,000-1 where there is no jackpot meter applicable

Both side bets are absolutely optional. There is no obligation to play either side bet, and there are some players that will avoid them, given the exceptionally high house edge. In the $1 bonus bet, the house edge can be almost as high as 37%, depending on where you play.

You may notice that some casinos will pay out on anything from a pair of 10s or better, while others will only pay out on three of a kind. You can find details of a particular casino’s payout at the tables or by requesting this information (if it is not made clear before you play).

For the most part, each of the seven positions for each player should contain a printed version of the side bonus payout alongside the main game payout.


Okay, so we’ve covered the bets. Now let’s take a look at the aim of the game. You may remember that we briefly discussed how Let It Ride is a form of five-card stud poker. According to the rules of this version of stud poker, you will need at least a pair of 10s to win in the game. The stronger your poker hand is, the higher the odds you will avail of.

Once you have placed your bets, you will receive your three cards. Now, it is up to you to pull back your first bet (bet 1) or to keep it. Once this decision has been made – and all of the other players at the table have made theirs – the first community card is revealed. At this point, you should be able to tell if your hand is looking strong or is weak.

In order to see the fifth and final card (which is the second community card), you must decide if you want to keep your second bet (bet 2) or pull it. As with bet 1, the dealer will wait until all players have made their decision before turning over the second community card.

If you have decided to “Let It Ride,” then you will have your five cards and hopefully a hand that is worthy of a big win.

Let It Ride Pay Table and Odds

Just how profitable you will be after a win will depend on how fortuitous you have been at the table. In Let It Ride, hands are scored according to standard poker values. The lowest hand you can have to win, however, is a pair of 10s. Anything below this hand will see you lose your bets.

You will find a representation of the Let It Ride odds below. These odds are typically paid out at most casinos. Always keep in mind that there could be slight – or even considerable – differences, depending on where you play.

Hand Payout
Royal Flush 1000-1
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
Tens or Better 1-1

As you can see from the table above, a pair of 10s or better will win you even money. A royal flush will have you jumping for the ceiling, however!

It is important to remember that your bets are split into three. So, this pay table will always represent the payout of the sum of the bets you have on the table. In other words, if you have put $25 chips in the three individual bet circles on the table, and you win a full house at 11-1, your entire bet is $75. Therefore, you will win $900 ($825 win and $75 stake).

Part of the intrigue for some when playing Let It Ride is the ability to reduce bets as you go along. This can be as equally exciting as frustrating, especially if you pull bets and end up getting a spectacular hand somehow. Decisions, decisions.

Surely there must be some way to develop a strategy for Let It Ride, you might ask. Well, the good news is that there are already-established strategies. Keep in mind that this is a game of luck, however, and there is no magic system you can use to win every time. If there was, casino owners would be looking for a new career.

Still interested? Okay, great. Let’s take a look at Let It Ride strategies.

Strategies for Playing Let It Ride

With any casino game, the first thing you need to learn is the rules. Guess what? Let It Ride is no different.

It is crucial to your success that you understand how this game works. The information above has covered everything you need to know, including:

  • How the game should be played
  • The role of the dealer
  • The role of each player
  • Bets and side bets
  • Payouts

At this stage, we will assume that you have grasped how to enter a casino, grab your chips, and play the game. Comfortably, that is. So, rather than nudge you out of the nest, like a fledgling bird embarking on her maiden flight, we would prefer to break things down a little further.

Strategies are always advised when playing any form of poker or casino game. It just pays to be realistic with what a strategy is. There is no known system that can bend the casino’s house edge in your favor. Even if you are aware of each card every single player has in their hand, you can only reduce the house edge (technically speaking) by just over 1%.

In Let It Ride, your strategy is your way of applying logic and maintaining discipline while playing. Let’s take a look at how to devise your own strategy for this exciting game.

Basic Strategy

Do you consider yourself a bit of a maverick? The type of person who is “there to play, not to win”?

Well, we appreciate your style. When we say style, we don’t exactly mean that you are stylish. A fool and their money are easily parted, as the old saying goes. Now, if you have enough money to throw around on games with no real direction or sense of what you are doing, that’s great, but how long can it last?

For everyone else – those of us that actually do want to win – it is important to have a solid plan when hitting the tables. You need to establish how much you can afford to play with and stick to it. Your bankroll should represent how much you can afford to lose, so it is crucial not to be playing with money you can’t afford to do without.

Therefore, setting your limits and playing smart should be the key to your strategy.Once you have your bankroll sorted, and you understand what hands you need to win, consider your approach and goals. If you have a bankroll of $1,000, how much will you bet on each hand? Will your bet amount increase or decrease depending on your wins or losses?

Psychology is another thing that can impact your approach to playing. Are you the type of player who prefers to build up small wins, acting conservative in order to stay in the game? Or would you describe yourself as an adrenaline-hunter, more concerned with letting Lady Luck do her thing?

Please Note:

Regardless of what your style on the tables is, you should remember that emotional betting is a bad idea. Put another way, chasing losses and looking for that huge win to break even can be dangerous. However, you probably know all this already, right? In that case, we will move on to the advanced strategy below.

Advanced Strategy

When you have made your first bet (known as the “$” bet) to enter the game, you will be dealt three cards. These three cards should give you a solid indication of what you can expect when the dealer reveals the two community cards. For example, a 2, 5, and 7 will pretty much confirm that a royal flush is out of the question. It will also spell the end of any hopes for a straight or a full house. It is a good example of a hand you would probably pull your bets on, right?

Without a doubt. In fact, there is only one hand in the scenario above which will likely see you win, which is three of a kind. This leaves you hoping that the community cards contain two of either of the cards in your hand. Of course, the odds are stacked against you. Even if you believe that it is a strong possibility (you smell Lady luck’s perfume wafting past the table), you will likely lose.

This is where this advanced strategy comes in. Your goal should always be to win a hand with what you have. In an ideal world, you will have a pair of 10s or better in your three cards. This isn’t always the case, as any realist will know. As you lose on anything under a pair of 10s, this should be your starting point. There are other card combinations that you should consider “letting it ride” on, which we will cover below.

The examples below are to be used when you are playing at a casino with a standard pay table.

As the first stage of betting is to place your chips inside all three circles, it is more important to remember that you need to reduce your bets, rather than raise. The second stage of betting sees you move past your own three cards, with the inclusion of the first community card. The third will see the fifth and final card revealed.

So, how does your hand look? Have you lost three bets when you could have lost just one? Or conversely, did you make a mistake in pulling when you should have bet? Knowing when to “Let It Ride” is crucial to making the right choice. As you will need to make a decision twice when playing, we will cover both below.

With Three Cards

You should always bet when you have:

  • Any winning hand, such as 10s or better
  • Three cards that could make a royal flush
  • Any three suited cards in a row that are stronger than 2-3-4
  • Three cards that could make a straight (with a gap) if one of the cards is 10 or higher
  • Three cards that could make a straight flush (with two gaps), providing two of the cards are 10 or higher

If your hand does not follow the above points, pull your bet. Lady Luck has a habit of making an appearance when you least expect it, but don’t count on her hearing your prayers each time you play!

With Four Cards

You should always bet when you have:

  • Any winning hand, such as 10s or better
  • Four cards of the same suit (for a flush)
  • Four cards to an outside straight when one of those cards is 10 or better
  • Four cards to an outside straight when all cards are below 10
  • Four cards to an inside straight when four of those cards are 10 or better

In any one of these scenarios, it is best to “Let It Ride.” If you do not have any hand matching these descriptions, pull your bets!

For a game which was invented to promote a card-shuffling machine, Let It Ride has been pretty successful indeed.

Originally conceived by the inventor John Breeding to draw attention to the “Shuffle Master,” it is fair to say that Breeding killed two birds with one stone. Given that there are a high number of players who still enjoy a game or two when hitting the casinos, there is no question that his own form of five-card poker has staying power.

Let It Ride is a game that resembles others. For example, players will notice that the table resembles one which would be used for blackjack. There are similar elements to other games, such as Caribbean Stud, and some liken it to Texas hold’em. Unlike any of the aforementioned games, Let It Ride is unique in the sense that your bets are down, so you pull them rather than raise them.

As you will probably admit after reading this guide, the game is very easy to understand. This makes it a great game to play, especially if fun is the main goal of the evening. While sharing your card details will earn the wrath of the house, there is no reason why you and a few friends cannot enjoy a couple of hands on the same table.

Aside from the fun and easy-going nature of the game, there is also a chance to potentially win big with one of the two side bets in the game. For as little as $1, you could scoop the jackpot of the house, which can be into the hundreds of thousands. What a night that would be, eh? We’re pretty sure you would be happy to pick up the bar tab for you and your buddies.

Before you start plotting the layout of your new mansion, it is important to remember to play smart. Yes, Let It Ride is fun by name and by nature, but you should aim to be as disciplined as you would when playing any other casino or table game. Set your bankroll before you play, and devise the right strategy to play by, using the points above.

So, there is just one final question to ask: will you pull or “Let It Ride?”

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