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The history of the game of poker has been littered with many new variants over the course of time. One of the most popular recent innovations is let it ride which has only been with us since 1993, making it one of the newest games of any type to feature prominently in the bricks and mortar and online casinos today.

Being so new, the story of the game’s development may not be as rich and varied as some of the older offerings; however, unlike some of these other (much older) games, such as roulette or blackjack, we do know exactly where let it ride originated. That place was the famed gambling destination of Reno, Nevada. All things considered it has done pretty well for a game which was initially devised as a marketing tool.

Success: It’s All Down To Breeding

Let it ride was originally designed to assist in the promotion of an automatic shuffling machine. This machine was known as the Shuffle Master and was brought to market in 1992 by Shuffle Entertainment Ltd. Being a single deck machine its prospects began to look bleak as casinos were increasingly preferring the use of multiple decks for games such as blackjack, for instance to lessen the chance people would partake in card counting. This was a somewhat ironic twist for the shuffling machine’s inventor as it had been designed specifically for the game of blackjack. Its selling point had been the ability to quickly shuffle and deal a fresh deck of cards prior to the start of each hand, and so negate any possible card counting edge players might have.

Undeterred, the owner of the company, former truck driver turned inventor, Mr John Breeding, promptly invented a new single deck game. Whilst a number of new poker games had been brought to market over the years, such as pai gow and Caribbean stud, there was nothing which closely resembled the classic American game of five card stud. Let it ride filled this gap and also had a number of unique features which made it stand out from the crowd. Foremost amongst these was the ability of a player to reduce the stake when a winning hand looked unlikely. Another draw was the slow reveal of the strength of the player’s hand, the hand being revealed in three stages unlike many other variants where the quality of a players hand is known immediately.

Lift Off: Reno, Vegas and Beyond

Following its inception in 1993 the game began to slowly gather momentum. The punters found the originality of the staking method and the relaxed nature of the game to be a most attractive combination. By 1995 the game had established a firm foothold in Las Vegas and revenues from the game were now far outstripping those generated by the machine it was initially designed to promote. Casinos were keen to take up the game due to its house edge of around 3.5% which compares favourably with craps for example which has an edge of 1.4%. By 2010 the rapid rise of the game had seen it overtake both keno and pai gow poker in terms of the number of gaming tables on which it was played on the Strip.

The ascent of the company founded by John Breeding has been similarly meteoric. The company which was started with a $30,000 loan to the former truck driver was sold in 2012 for the not inconsiderable sum of $1.3 billion. Whether or not the company would have achieved this success without the early boost from let it ride is a matter of conjecture but it certainly made it a smoother ride.

Innovation and the Internet

As with the vast majority of successful land based casino games, let it ride is now a staple offering in most online casinos. Initially hugely popular it has suffered somewhat of a decline in recent years. Many observers put this down to the relatively large house edge. Although this edge is in fact only around 3.5%, many players will experience a larger disadvantage through imperfect play.

Much like other large edge games, developers have sought to increase the games appeal by appealing to the gamblers long held desire to stake small and win big. The game now commonly features at least one bonus option. The $1 five card bonus is the most prevalent offering odds of up to 20000/1 for a Royal Flush. A new version by the name of “let it ride bonus” was subsequently released and featured an additional three card bonus which offers a reward for achieving certain hands using only the three cards held by the player.

Following the lead of Caribbean stud poker some casinos now offer a progressive jackpot feature which typically awards the whole prize pool for a royal flush and 10 percent of the pool for a straight flush. Being a trademarked game it is perhaps not as open to innovation as some other casino games but it is nevertheless holding its own in the competitive modern casino climate.