Let It Ride vs. Classic Poker

min read
A woman holds poker chips in her hands
BetMGM Dec 05, 2023, 9:39 PM

The game of poker has come a long way since the days of the Old West when players had to be fast on the draw as well as mentally sharp. The classic poker of those times was very much a gambling game, although the most experienced players could improve their chances by reading and bluffing their opponents. Today, live and online poker players prefer poker variations like Texas hold’em and Omaha, where community cards allow for much more strategic play. As for classic poker, it’s mostly confined to home games, if it’s played at all. However, if you’re looking to get a feel for classic poker, there is a way, and that’s to play let it ride. Inspired by classic poker, this evergreen table game gives you the chance to experience the same kind of chance-based betting enjoyed by the players of the Old West. Keep reading for an in-depth look at classic and Old West poker, their differences, and similarities.

How To Play Poker the Old Way

Before unpacking let it ride, take a moment to learn the classic poker betting rules. Also known as a five-card draw, this is the same poker variation that Wild Bill Hickock was playing the day he was gunned down with the Dead Man’s Hand on the table in front of him. Here’s how it works.

First, the player in the dealer position deals cards face down in a clockwise direction to each player at the table, including themselves, one by one until every player has five cards.

Players pick up their cards, and a betting round begins. Starting with the player to the dealer’s left, players can bet, call, or fold until the betting round is over. If there’s no bet in play yet, players can also check (pass the action on to the next player).

When the betting round is done, it’s time for the draw. Players can swap out the cards they don’t like and receive new cards in exchange. Once that’s finished, a second betting round takes place. When only two players are left, they have a showdown and reveal their hands. The best five-card poker hand wins the pot.

How To Play Poker the Classic Way

As simple as classic poker may be compared to Texas hold’em and Omaha — let alone Omaha hi-lo — it’s still a great deal more challenging than let it ride, for reasons that will become obvious as you read.

The biggest difference is that classic poker is a player-banked game. In other words, the money in the pot is provided by the players themselves, and they take turns to be the dealer. Let it ride, on the other hand, is a house-banked table game based on poker. Instead of competing against each other, players try to win let it ride payouts based on a fixed paytable. This makes it more like blackjack than poker.

This is how it works. First, players place three equal bets sized according to the table limits. Next, the dealer deals them three cards, each face down, and deals themselves two cards face down on the table.

The dealer’s cards are called the community cards. A player’s final poker hand consists of their hole cards and community cards.

The players look at their cards and take turns to make their first betting decision, which is to either “pull” (take back a bet) or “let it ride” (keep their current bets in play).

After that, the dealer reveals the first community card. Based on how their hand connects with the community card, players can choose to pull or let it ride again. It’s possible to pull even if you let it ride the previous round.

Finally, the dealer flips the second community card, and any winning hands are paid out according to the pay table.

Let It Ride Payouts and Strategy

Odds may differ from one casino to another, but the standard let it ride bets pay out as follows:

  • Pair: +100.
  • Two pairs: +200.
  • Three of a kind: +300.
  • Straight: +500.
  • Flush: +800.
  • Full house: +1,100.
  • Four of a kind: +5,000.
  • Straight flush: +20,000.
  • Royal flush: +100,000.

This simplifies the starting poker hand rankings considerably. In every poker variation from classic poker to hold’em, any hand ranking can beat the same type of hand ranking, depending on the strength of the specific cards it contains. For example, a pair of aces will beat a pair of kings, a high straight will beat a slow straight, a full house containing three queens will beat a full house containing three jacks, and so on.

None of this makes any difference when it comes to letting it ride, for the simple reason that players aren’t trying to beat each other. All they’re trying to do is form a poker hand that contains a pair or better. In poker, of course, you can beat another player with a high card, so you don’t even need a pair to win.

Player numbers also make no difference, whereas, in poker, you need different strategies depending on whether you’re playing full-ring versus short-handed poker.

When it comes to strategy, there are some guidelines you can follow to get better average outcomes for let it ride. For example, when you first receive your cards, before the first decision, you should always let it ride if you have a pair, two pairs, or three of a kind. That’s because you have a made hand, so you’re already assured of winning something. If you have three to a straight or a flush, you should also let it ride because you could draw to a big payout.

The Let It Ride 3 Card Bonus

As you can see, let it ride is a much simpler game than any poker variation, but it’s a good way for beginners to learn the poker hand rankings and discover how poker odds play out in practice. It’s also fun to be able to win payouts without the stress of worrying about the other players at the table.

One challenge that let it ride presents that poker doesn’t is a side bet called the let it ride 3 card bonus. This is an additional bet that pays out if your hole cards include a pair or better. You have a chance of +490 that your three cards will contain two of the same rank, so this bonus bet is an excellent opportunity to learn about probabilities. If the bet doesn’t come off, you lose the money, so only play with money you can afford to lose.

Let It Ride All the Way at BetMGM

Get the full range of real-money gaming experiences at BetMGM. Discover a broad range of real poker variations and challenge yourself to take part in cash games and poker tournaments. In addition to poker, you can explore various online slots and table games, including let it ride, American and European blackjack, roulette, baccarat, and many more. Register to play your favorite games your way.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.