In the brochures available from Shuffle Master Gaming, the company states that “if your winning hand is good enough, the casino will ask you to fill out a Tournament Registration form. All the forms are submitted for ranking at the end of the Qualifying Round. The top 100 hands are invited to participate in the Let It Rides The Tournament”‘ Playoffs. . . .”
It seems that a “qualifying round” lasts for three months. When you’re playing Let It Rides at a casino during this period of time, you’re in the qualifying round if you’re placing your dollar on the tournament spot. Will you have a chance to go to the playoffs with a four-of-a-kind hand? Very, very unlikely. Even a small straight flush, such as 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 of hearts probably won’t get you there.
In the October 1995 playoff tournament, Shuffle Master picked the top 100 hands plus all ties, and in this case the number of eligible players came to 133.
Speaking to a representative from Shuffle Master Gaming about this, I was told that a royal flush will automatically get a player into a tournament playoff. In October 1995, the weakest eligible hands were eight high straight flushes, that is, hands consisting of an 8, 7, 6, 5, and 4 of the same suit.
As the game increases in popularity, the eligible hands will become stronger and stronger, and may eventually be limited to just royal flushes. When you do get a royal flush, however, you will automatically be eligible for the tournament playoffs.
How will you know if you made the tournament playoffs if you didn’t get a royal flush? If you have been deemed eligible, you will receive a registered letter and a phone call inviting you to the playoffs. Once you’re in the playoffs, as we shall see, you’re guaranteed prize money!
The Tournament Playoffs
There are four rounds in all to determine the distribution of the top prizes. According to Shuffle Master Gaming, in October 1995 the prizes were distributed as follows:
Grand prize $2 million
Second prize $500,000
Third prize $250,000
Fourth prize $100,000
Fifth prize $50,000