Riding Since the 80s: The Rich History of Let It Ride

Geoff Kukard


Riding Since the 80s: The Rich History of Let It Ride

Invented in the late 80s and launched in the early 90s by a former truck driver, Let It Ride is a poker game with a difference. In this article, we’ll explain the history of Let It Ride, and how it became widespread in casinos across the US. We’ll also take you right up to the digital versions that you can play in the present day.

An Overview of Let It Ride

Let’s start with the basics – what is Let It Ride? Basically, it is a form of poker where you mix your hand with two community cards to create a complete hand.

Before the cards are played, you place three separate bets. Then, as each of the community cards is revealed, you can “pull” your first and second bets, or “Let It Ride”.

Fundamentally, the game’s objective is to create the highest possible poker hand using the two community cards and the three you have been dealt. Therefore, understanding how hands work and learning how to play poker like the pros is a key strategy.

Let It Live: Precursors and Origins

Let It Ride is a form of stud poker, a style of poker that is thought to have originated in the US sometime in the 1700s. The variants that we know and love today first started to spread across the continent during the American Revolution and the Civil War period.

Popular versions of stud poker that are still played in US and Canadian casinos to this day include Six-Card Stud, High-Low Stud, Mexican Stud, and Razz. The most widely played variant is Caribbean Stud, which was invented by professional poker player and author, David Sklansky.

In the early 1980s, truck driver John Breeding quit his job and invented the Shuffle Master, an automatic card shuffling machine. This is where our Let It Ride history begins in earnest, as in 1992, Breeding invented Let It Ride as a means of promoting his automatic shuffling invention

It only took a year for Let It Ride to become a mainstay in Las Vegas casinos, and it then quickly spread across the US as a whole and up into Canada. As a result, so did Breeding’s single-deck card shuffling machine. This technology allowed the dealers to focus on keeping the game going without the distraction of having to shuffle manually themselves.

Meet the Inventor: John Breeding and Shuffle Master

Automatic card shuffler

To fully understand the history of Let It Ride, we need to understand the story of John Breeding and Shuffle Master. John Breeding was a truck driver who quit his job in 1983 to promote an automatic card shuffling machine that he invented.

He went on to found the company Shuffle Master and created the game Let It Ride to promote its uses. Additionally, Breeding’s invention is used for several other poker and card games, including Casino War.

Breeding invented the automatic shuffling machine as a means to prevent card counting. After reading an article in the Wall Street Journal, here released that such an invention would be a must-have for casino owners.

After becoming a mainstay in land-based casinos throughout the US, Shuffle Master went on to create technology for online table games including roulette as well as poker and other card games. Additionally, Shuffle Master also developed online video slots, including 88 Fortunes and Dancing Drums.

In 2013, 30 years after founding Shuffle Master, Breeding sold the company to Bally Technologies who were bought out just a year later by Scientific Games (now Light & Wonder). The company is now called SHFL Entertainment, but Shuffle Master is still used as a brand name for flagship products.

Let It Ride Goes Digital

The first Let It Ride online game first appeared in 2003 and was launched by InterCasino. Today, most major casino software developers have created a Let It Ride variant, including Evolution and Aristocrat Gaming. There are various online versions of the game, including live dealers and Let It Ride progressive jackpots.

The rules and how the game is played online are largely the same as the version that you can play in land-based casinos. However, random number generators (RNG) are used to determine the outcome of the fully digitized versions of the game to keep them fair.

Live online Let It Ride variants work almost exactly the same as the land-based game. The only difference is that the dealer is live-streamed to your screen from a studio or other remote location. You can still play against other players in real-time with a deck shuffled using the Shuffle Master.

Contrasting Let It Ride and Caribbean Stud Poker

Earlier in the article, we briefly mentioned Caribbean Stud, which is the closest living relative to Let It Ride. In the table below, we have highlighted the similarities and contrasted the differences of how you play Let it Ride vs Caribbean Stud.

  Origin Equipment Table Layout Gameplay

Caribbean Stud Poker

Invented by David Sklansky in 1982.

One deck of cards and table

Seven players on one side, the dealer on the other. Areas for ante and bets plus a separate jackpot area.

The dealer and the players are each dealt five cards. The players’ cards are face up and the dealer’s are face down, being revealed one by one. The player has the option to fold as the dealer’s cards are revealed. If the dealer has the highest hand, all bets are lost.

Let It Ride

Invented by John Breeding in 1992.

Two decks of cards, table, Shuffle Master

Seven separate player sections on one side with boxes for the two community cards on the dealer’s side.

The players place three equal bets and are dealt three cards face down. Two community cards are dealt face down. When the first community card is revealed, players can pull their first bet or “Let It Ride”. The same thing happens for the second bet when the second community card is revealed. However, the third bet cannot be pulled.

Playing Let It Ride Online Today

playing cards and poker chips on laptop

Now that we’ve covered the history of Let It Ride, let’s return to the present and look at where you can play the game today. At 888Casino, you can play Let It Ride as well as a range of other Poker Stud Games. There is also a live dealer version of Three Card Brag, the British cousin of LTR.

If you want to find the best place to play Let It Ride in Canada today, our real money online casino list is a good place to start. As well as LTR, this is also a good place to find all online table games, slots, live dealers and more.

Let It Ride side bets

As well as the three regular bets that you have to place, you also have the following bonus bet options in Let It Ride:

  • 3-Card Bonus Bet: Must be placed before the cards are dealt and is only paid out based on the three cards that the players are initially dealt. If your three-card hand has a pair or higher, you win the bonus bet.
  • 5-Card Bonus Bet: A bonus bet on the best five-card hand formed by the player cards and the two community cards.
  • 6-Card Bonus Bet: This bonus bet is paid out if you can make three-of-a-kind or better when combining your hand plus the community cards.


RTP stands for “Return To Player” and is a percentage that shows how much of every $1 you bet will go back to you on average. The remaining percentage shows you the house edge that the casino takes to protect its profits. This is how online casinos work as a business model whilst also making games appealing to players. 

The RTP for Let It Ride is 96.5%, leaving a house edge of 3.5%.

The Future of Let It Ride

economic graphs

We’ve covered the Let It Ride history in full, so let’s now look to the future. Casino technology is developing rapidly, which means that some exciting versions of LTR and other online casino games are likely to be coming your way.

In the online casino world, virtual reality (VR) looks to dominate the landscape. This means that you could wind up playing Let It Ride online with a headset, effectively giving you a life-like land-based casino experience in your own living room.

While online casinos look to bring you a realistic experience with live dealers, the future of land-based casinos in Canada looks like becoming more digitized and less personal. E-tables for Let It Ride and other games allow you to bet electronically and play the game without the need for a human dealer to be present.

If you are looking to get involved in the future of Let It Ride and other online casino games, you can keep an eye on the top online casinos in Canada right here. Our experts regularly review and rate new casinos, games, and products when they hit the market.