Get Up to SPEED - Let It Ride and Mississippi Stud


            Comparing Let It Ride to Mississippi Stud gives us a great opportunity to understand how a subtle difference in betting structure can greatly alter the strategy of the game and thus radically change a game that is otherwise rather similar.  The subtle difference in this case is that in Let It Ride the '1' and '2' wagers are completely optional (essentially, they can be 'checked') and in Mississippi Stud the choice is to Play or Fold.  No checking allowed.

            To best compare these games we need to realize that the idea that the you can take your wager down in Let It Ride doesn't change the game.  The rules of the game could have simply made the '1' and '2' wagers simple optional wagers.  You can either 'check' or you can make the wager. 

            Mississippi Stud also differs in that your first decision is after seeing only 2 cards instead of the 3 as in Let It Ride.  Mississippi Stud's paytable also goes down to a Pair of 6's, whereas Let It Ride goes to a Pair of 10's.   After 2 cards, the Mississippi Stud Player must decide whether to make at least an additional 1-unit wager or to Fold.  Mathematically, this is vastly different than the decision to check or Play.  When we have the decision to check or Play the question becomes one of whether or not the Player will win more than he loses on THAT specific wager.  Prior and future wagers play no part in the equation.  When the choice is to Play or Fold, the question becomes one of whether we can win back at least the amount we are about to wager when we consider ALL other wagers - both those already made and those we might make during the hand.  This is because if we choose NOT to Play, we are forfeiting all past wagers and the right to make all future wagers.

            The impact to this becomes most evident when we compare the '1' wager in Let It Ride to the 4th street Wager in Misssissippi Stud.  In this case, both hands consists of 3 cards and we are deciding whether to/how much to wager on the 4th card.  In Let It Ride, we find ourselves making the wager very infrequently.  We are willing to leave the wager in place only on sure winners (Pair 10's or Better or Trips), 3-Card Royals and 3-Card Straight Flushes (Open or Inside, NOT Double Inside).   We make this wager only 7% of the time.

            In Mississippi Stud, by the time we get to 3 cards, we have already wagered our Ante and at least 1 unit on the 3rd Street Wager.  If we Fold, we are forfeiting both of these  wagers.  We will also end our hand right then and there.  So, we also forfeit the right to potentially benefit from our next wager (5th Street).  The decision to Play 3x is similar to our Let It Ride decision.  Once you are going to win more than you are going to lose on a specific wager, you wager as much as the house lets you.  So, we find that we wager 3x on all sure winners, 3-Card Royals and a variety of 3-Card Straight Flushes.  We still go ahead and wager 1x on a whole lot of hands that sound like they're going to need some help to become winners.  This includes all Low Pairs, 3-Card Flushes and hands with the right combination of High and Medium cards.

            The net result is that we very rarely fold at this decision point.  The overall fold rate for Mississippi Stud is 44%.   31% (or nearly 75% of the total folds) occur after you see the first 2 cards.  Of the remaining 69% of hands that go to 3 cards, you will fold only 12% of the time.

            In Let It Ride, you will let the '2' wager stay up 16% of the time.  In Mississippi Stud, you will make a wager at 5th Street more than 90% of the hands that go that far.  This happens for two major reasons.  The weakest hands were folded very early on.  A hand that started as two Low Cards was dropped early, which makes weaker hands that much less frequent later on.  In Let It Ride, even the weakest hands have a chance to make it to the end of the hand.  The second reason is that when you have 3 units already wagered and you are compelled to either Fold or make another 1-unit wager, it does NOT take a high win frequency to make it worthwhile to make that additional 1-unit wager.   With just 1 High card and 2 Medium Cards or 2 High Cards in hand, it still pays to make this wager.

            With 2 High Cards, the Player still has 6 chances to draw a High Pair which will return 8 units the Player (each).  With 48 cards remaining in the deck this amounts to an expected value of exactly 1.0, which is the cutoff for determining whether or not to make the wager.  Throw in a Medium card as well and he gets 3 more chances to pick up 4 units and the expected value is now 1.25.  If this were a check or Play decision as in Let It Ride, the decision would clearly be to pull it back with these types of hands.

            There is a reason why I've coined Mississippi Stud to be Let It Ride on SPEED.  The games are very similar in how they play but vastly different in strategy and size of bankroll needed to sit and play.  I can't quite cover all the differences or all the strategy here, but for a limited time, I'm offering up a buy one get one special on my two booklets for these games.  Buy Expert Strategy for Mississippi Stud for $5.95 and get Expert Strategy for Let It Ride for free.  Just send check or money order to Gambatria, P.O. Box 36474, Las Vegas, NV 89133 and I'll get them both out to you ASAP.