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Like the modern casino games of video poker, pai gow poker and Caribbean Stud poker, Let it Ride is one of the new breed of gambling games that is based on poker, the most popular game of all.
Let it Ride was introduced in 1993 by Shuffle Master, a gambling-device manufacturing company. Since it first appeared on the casino floor, let it Ride has exploded in popularity, and can now be found in more than 200 casinos in a dozen states around the country.
There are several reasons why Let it Ride has become so popular.
It's based on poker hands, with which nearly everyone who hasn't been raised by wolves, is familiar; players have a chance to win a big jackpot; it incorporates strategy decisions that indulge the player's desire for control; and it's easy to learn and fun to play.
Perhaps most important to the game's success, though, is a unique structure that allows bettors to actually take back some of the money they wager as the cards are being dealt.
HOW TO PLAY
The game is played on a blackjack table with a customized Let It Ride layout. Unlike the other games on the casino floor, you don't play against the dealer, or the other players.
In Let it Ride, you play against a pay schedule (as you do in video poker), meaning that your sole goal is to get a good poker hand.
Another difference between Let it Ride and other table games is that you make three separate wagers on each hand. All three bets must be equal to each other and must be at least the posted table minimum.
In other words, if the table minimum is $5, you must put at least $5 in each of the three betting circles on the layout.
Here's how it's done. Place a $5 chip in each of the betting circles marked with the numbers "1, "2" and dollar sign (Œ$"). Now you've got $15 in action, which is the minimum necessary to buy into the hand, even though the table minimum is posted at only $5. As you'll see shortly, even though $15 is riding, only $5 is at risk.
After all bets have been placed, each player is dealt three cards. Your interest in these cards relates to their potential as a poker hand, because the payoffs are based on poker rankings.
Once you've examined your cards, you must decide whether to "take down" your wager in the #1 betting circle, or let all three bets ride.
If your initial three cards are good enough that you want to keep all three bets in action, tuck your cards under the chips in the #1 betting circle, just as you would to "stand" in a blackjack game.
It's tough to make a good poker hand with only three cards, so you will usually pull that first bet back. For example, let's say your first three cards are a Jack, 7, and 3. This isn't much of a start on a good hand, so you should take the first bet down. To do this, scratch your cards on the felt, just as you would to request a "hit" in a blackjack game. The dealer pushes the bet out of the #1 betting circle and back toward you. This bet is no longer at risk, but you're not done yet. The bets in the #2 and $-sign betting circles remain to be resolved. When everyone has made a decision on the first bet, the dealer turns up the first of two "community" cards. This card counts as the fourth card in all the players' hands. Let's say the community card is a 6. Your hand now consists of a Jack, 7, 3 and a 6.
Again, not a very good poker hand, so take down bet in the #2 betting circle. Scratch your cards on the felt and the dealer will push the second bet toward you. If, however, the first community card is a Jack, giving you a pair of Jacks, you would want to let the second bet ride by tucking your cards under the chip in the #2 betting circle.
After acting on the #2 spot, there are no more decisions to make. The bet in the $-sign circle must be played out to the end of the hand, whether you like your chance or not. The dealer will turn the second (and last) community card, then inspect each player's five-card hand.
If your three cards, plus the two community cards, don't produce a pair of 10s or better, you lose, and all active bets (those not taken down) are collected. Players with all active bets are collected.
Let it Ride BONUS
There is also a side bet you can make when playing Let it Ride Bonus.
If you put up an extra $1 per round, you can qualify for bonus payoffs if you're dealt a straight, flush, full house, 4-of-a-kind, straight flush or royal flush.
Straight will get you an extra $20; a flush will give you a $50 bonus; for a full house it's $75; 4-of-a-kind nets you $200.
Now comes the big money. $2,000 for a straight flush and $20,000 for a royal flush. Just remember that some casinos offer different bonus payoffs than others.