Friday, October 18, 2013

Let It Ride

100_5808“Let it ride” is a phrase sometimes heard around the gambling tables here in Vegas – you win a bet and instead of taking your winnings, you “let it ride” or “press it up” as a double bet on the next hand.  “Let it ride” is also the name of a particular table game on the casino floor.  Unlike Blackjack and Craps which are games in the public domain, Let it Ride is a patented and trademarked game and the casinos have to compensate the owner of the game for its use on their floors.  It is fairly popular with players even though there is quite a house advantage.  But it is not real popular with the casinos because they have to hand over a good portion of that house advantage to the game owner.

The game is a fairly simple one.  You make three required bets plus an optional bonus bet and then are dealt the first three cards of what will become a five card poker hand.  If your three cards are weak, you can pull back one of your three bets.  If your hand is strong you can “let it ride”.  The dealer turns over a community card that becomes the fourth card for each player’s hand and again you can pull back or let ride another of your three required bets.  The dealer then turns over the second community card completing each player’s five-card hand.  Your poker hand is paid or not paid based on a predetermined pay scale noted on the table.  One nice thing about the game is that you have an option on two of the bets.  Let’s say you bet $16 – three $5 bets plus a $1 bonus.  If you have a big pair in your first three cards, you will be paid on each of those bets.  But if you have a weak hand than doesn’t improve you will have pulled back two bets and only have $6 in play at the showdown.

It is a game that can wipe you out of your stake pretty quickly if you don’t hit any cards.  But it is a game where relatively you can win a lot of money if you hit a really big hand and then get out.  You are hoping to catch some big pairs, two pairs, three of a kinds, straights and flushes to sustain your play all the while you are hoping for a big hand such as a full house, four of a kind, or straight flush.

So where is all of this going?  I really like to play this game, but I dutifully stayed away from it until I had some winnings I could “invest” in the game.  We had been here nearly three weeks until I had some good winnings from some machines and made my first foray to the Let it Ride table.  Gary watched standing behind me as I played.  I was doing pretty well with my sustaining wins.  I seemed to have luck hitting two pairs and was holding my own or better vis-a-vis my initial stake.  AND THEN IT CAME!  I look down into my three card hand and there are two queens.  There will be no pulling back bets this time.  I have a guaranteed winner so I am letting it ride on all the bets.  There are two other queens somewhere so there is a 4% chance that next community card will be a queen.  The dealer turns it over – a queen.  I now have three queens in my hand.  The excitement builds at this point.  Gary points in at the table and says to the dealer just one more of those!   At this point everyone pretty much knows I am drawing for four of a kind.  There is one queen left somewhere.  It could be in someone else’s three card hand.  It could be in the stack on cards not used in this round of place.  But, there is a 2% chance that last  community card is the final queen.  The dealer turns it over – ANOTHER QUEEN.  Shouts of joy and arm thrusts into the air erupt.  The table is quite happy too.  With two queens as community cards, everyone is a guaranteed winner.

So, what did the table pay?  Each of the three $5 mandatory bets paid $250.  The $1 bonus bet paid $100.  I play one more hand “to clear my winner”, tip the dealer with some of my earlier winnings and leave the table with my $850 win as well as my initial $100 stake.

The odds of hitting four of a kind in a 5-card poker hand – 4,164 to 1.  I guess you could say it was my lucky day.