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Red Dog

Regular visitors of land-based casinos will have come across Red Dog in the table game section. And maybe some had a punt while gambling online as some casinos list it mostly under Other Games. However, Red Dog never reached the popularity of other card games such as Blackjack or Poker, which might sound strange to those who know how to play it as it is a very simple card game.

Originating in Nevada, US, Red Dog initially spread pretty quickly within the state’s countless casinos but never went past the borders on a grand scale. It is based on other card games such as Acey-Deucey or In-Between with the main objective being to hit a third card of a value between the two cards that are initially dealt.

How to play Red Dog?

Red Dog is played with a standard 52-card deck with every player receiving first 2 cards face-up after they place their initial bet. Usually, the game is played with just one deck of cards but it can be as high as 8 decks in some brick & mortar casinos. Online versions generally deal cards from a single deck. The card values are the same as in Poker with Ace being the highest and 2 the lowest. The house edge stands at 3.155% with a single deck, decreasing to 2.751% with eight decks.

After receiving the first 2 cards, it is up to the player to decide whether to raise the initial bet. The game has one “push” hand when the two dealt cards are consecutive, e.g. 4 and 5. Having a pair will lead to a third card being dealt. If it matches the pair, e.g. 10-10-10, then the player wins the game and receives an 11:1 payout. It will be another push if the third card is different.

The most interesting part is when two different cards are dealt, e.g. J and 4. The number of cards in between the two is called the spread, e.g. in this case it is 6 as indicated by the red dog figurine on the grid. Naturally, the larger the spread the higher the chances to be dealt a third card of a value in between the first 2 cards, e.g. in this case you would need to hit a 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 to win the hand.

The chance for the house to win increases the lower the spread is between the first two cards. On the other hand, the chances for the player to win increases the higher the spread is. The advantage changes in favour of the player when the spread is 7 or higher. The maximum spread is 11 when you are dealt a 2 and an Ace.

After receiving the first two cards, the player can decide to raise the bet by an amount of up to his/her initial bet, e.g. if the ante was 100, then you can raise the bet by up to 100. You will win the hand if the third card is within the spread. The payouts are according to the size of the spread.

  • 1-card spread – 5:1
  • 2-card spread – 4:1
  • 3-card spread – 2:1
  • 4-card spread or higher – 1:1

Red Dog Optimal Strategy

There is really not much of a strategy that could increase your odds at winning a hand of Red Dog. While it is tempting to raise your bet on 1-card or 2-card spreads due to the higher payouts, the common strategy is to raise only if the spread is 7 or higher, simply because statistically the advantage changes into your favour at that point.


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