Red Dog Poker: How to Play Red Dog Card Game

Red Dog poker is a card game of chance. Cards are dealt and the bettors place their wagers on whether the last card dealt will have a value in between, higher or lower than the two already dealt. Playing the Red Dog card game online is more popular than playing it in a casino. However, some bricks-and-mortar casinos do offer Red Dog poker. 

What are the Red Dog Poker Rules?

Red Dog poker actually isn’t a true game of poker. The only reason the word “poker” appears in the game’s name is that the poker hand rankings are the same as in a traditional game of poker.

Since US players are likeliest to play Red Dog at US online gaming sites, we'll go over the specific rules you'll encounter in their version of online Red Dog poker. Keep in mind that land-based Red Dog games are quite different. 

The Red Dog poker rules are as follows:

  1. Place Ante Bet: Wager between $1 and $100 on the ante bet. Click the Deal button. 
  2. Two Cards Dealt: You'll receive two cards in the 1st and 3rd card spot on the virtual table. The object is to get a third card that falls between the rank of the two dealt cards. 
  3. Card Ranks Apply: Remember, traditional poker hand ranks apply. Aces are high and twos are low. See our spread charts to determine the odds and payouts for each spread. 
  4. Choose Ride or Stand: If you have confidence that the next card will fall between the ranks of the previous two cards, click "Ride" to double your bet. Otherwise, click "Stand" to keep the bet the same. 
  5. Payouts: If the card lands between the other two cards (example: a 7 is between a 5 and a 9), then you'll receive a payout based on the payout chart below. If the card doesn't land in between, you lose the bet. 
  6. Special Situations: If the two cards you receive were consecutive or a pair, the bet is a push and no one receives payment. If you received a pair and the third card matches those two cards, you receive an 11:1 payout if you have a set. 

Red Dog Poker Terms

You'll encounter some Red Dog poker terminology that might confuse you at first. To help new players enjoy the game, here's a short Red Dog glossary. 

Ace-HighThe ace is always high in Red Dog. Other games allow for a lowball ranking of the Ace, but not Red Dog. 
AnteThe bet required to start a new hand of Red Dog. 
PushWhen a tie happens. Bets are returned. This happens when you receive either a pair or consecutive cards on the deal. 
RankThe value of the card. A seven has a value of 7, while a Queen or other face card has a value of 10. 
RideRaising the bet equal to the ante. It's like the double-down bet in Blackjack. 
SpreadThe difference between the first two cards dealt. The number of hand ranks that fall between the two cards. Example: You receive a 3 and 8. The spread is four because a 4, 5, 6, or 7 falls between the two numbers. 
ValueThe same as rank. 

What are the Odds for Red Dog?

In Red Dog, the player either gets dealt a three-card match which pays 11:1, or they are dealt a hand where there is a spread between the cards. The size of the spread between the cards will determine what the payout odds will be for hitting a card in between the two cards that you have been dealt.

  • 1-Card Spread: For a one-number spread, the odds of winning are eight percent. If you do win, it will pay 5:1 on your bet.
  • 2-Card Spread: A two-card spread pays 4:1 and will hit about 15 percent of the time.
  • 3-Card Spread: A three-card spread pays 2:1 but will only occur an average of 23 percent of the time.
  • 4-Card to 11-Card Spreads: Spreads between four and 11 all pay 1:1 on your bet, but only spreads of seven or more give you more than a 50 percent chance to win.
  • When to Raise: Whether you are playing a Red Dog card game online or in person at a casino, a good strategy is to only raise your bet when you have a seven-card spread or more. Otherwise, just stay with the bet that you have already made and hope that you beat the odds and win the hand.
  • Red Dog House Edge: The house will hold an edge over you regardless of the situation – choosing to only raise on seven-card spreads or more will only lessen the Red Dog odds you have to beat.
  • Odds on a 6-Card Spread: If you feel like you’re on a winning streak, you can raise on a six-card spread. Your chances of winning over the six-card spread are 46 percent. It's not a good long-term strategy, but the odds aren't terribly in your favor. Experienced gamers will not make this play, even though the odds to win are near even.
  • Three of a Kind: You won’t have the choice to take another card if you’re dealt two cards of the same value. When this happens, the third card is automatically dealt, and you don’t get the opportunity to raise your initial bet. If you manage to hit another card of the same value, you get paid 11:1 on your original wager.

Online Red Dog Poker's House Edge

When you play a Red Dog card game online or at a casino, the house edge varies based on how many decks are in play. 

House Edge Per Deck:

  • 1 deck = 3.15%
  • 2 decks = 3.077%
  • 4 decks = 2.88%
  • 6 decks = 2.80% 
  • 8 decks = 2.75%

Unlike most casino games, the player’s chances improve as the number of decks in play increases. It’s worth the effort to find games that have more than one deck. Luckily, our recommends online Red Dog casinos all use multiple decks. The difference in house edge is small, but over the long term it’ll make a difference to your overall winnings.

Betsoft Red Dog Poker Payouts

The most common form of online Red Dog that US players will encounter is Betsoft's Red Dog. This game is based on betting a third card will fall in the spread between two previous dealt cards. The table below shows the type of spread, along with the payout you can expect in each scenario. 

1-Card Spread5:1 Payout
2-Card Spread4:1 Payout
3-Card Spread2:1 Payout
4-Card Spread1:1 Payout (Even)
5-Card SpreadEven
6-Card SpreadEven
7-Card SpreadEven
8-Card SpreadEven
9-Card SpreadEven
10-Card SpreadEven
11-Card SpreadEven
Consecutive CardsPush (Tie)
PairPush (Tie)
3 of a Kind11:1 Payout

Red Dog Poker Strategy

Though it has elements of skill, Red Dog Poker's strategy isn't as complicated as the basic strategy in Blackjack or Video Poker. Players only have to remember when they should stand and when they should raise. Experts gamblers have run simulations and determined that the magic number is seven, so you raise on 7 or more spreads.

  • When to Raise the Bet: In a 6-deck game of Red Dog, a spread of 7 or more gives a player favorable odds. Therefore, players should raise (or let it ride) only when they face a spread of 7 or more. 
  • Bet Management: When you make your Ante bet, remember that you'll be asked to double the bet if you like the cards you receive. Choose an ante bet that you'd feel comfortable doubling. 

In the tips above, we used a 6-card deck as a standard, because US players are likeliest to find games with 6 decks or more. 

Red Dog Poker Rule Variations

Depending on the software provider, the house edge of online Red Dog Poker varies significantly. OpenBet doesn't publish how many decks it uses, but it does publish its RTP, which is consistent with a 6-deck game. Unlike games like Blackjack, increasing the number of decks actually lowers the house edge. The more decks that are added to the shoe, the lower the house edge.

With that in mind, here's a table with the number of decks each provider uses. The providers lower on the table have the best online Red Dog poker games.

# of DecksHouse EdgeSoftware Provider
8 Decks2.75%Betsoft
6 Decks2.98%Rival, OpenBet (probably)
2 Decks3.08%RealTime Gaming (RTG)
1 Deck3.16%NetEnt, Playtech, Microgaming, Amaya (Chartwell), Cryptologic


Best Online Red Dog Poker Sites for US Players

Finding Red Dog Poker isn't as easy as it sounds. Many of the best online gambling sites for US players don't offer Red Dog at the moment, though you can find it if you do some digging. If you do find a place to play Red Dog, it's likely that it's been made by BetSoft—it's one of the best software providers around for Red Dog Poker and other games.

Red Dog Poker FAQ

Is there a card game called Red Dog?

Yes, there is. It's often called Red Dog Poker, though it doesn't have a lot to do with traditional poker games. The card ranks are the same, which is why Red Dog is associated with poker. 

Is Red Dog a poker game?

Yes and no. Several versions of Red Dog Poker exist, though none of the versions have a lot to do with classic poker games. All variants have the poker hand rankings, though hand-building and other classic elements of poker aren't required. 

What is Red Dog gambling?

In a general sense, it's a reference to gambling on the game of Red Dog Poker. Some people might be referring to RedDog Casino, an operator in the US gaming market. 

How do you play the "dog game" with cards?

Players will find two distinctive versions of Red Dog: online Red Dog and brick-and-mortar Red Dog. Brick-and-mortar Red Dog games require a player to beat the dealer's card with one of their 5 dealt cards. Home versions of Red Dog follow the same suit, with multiple players taking turns against the dealer. 

Online Red Dog Poker is much different. In this game, the software produces two dealt cards. The player bets on whether the next card drawn will fall between the rank of the first two cards. Payouts depend on the spread. 

How do you play casino Red Dog?

That depends on the version of the game you prefer. Many land-based casinos offer a version of Red Dog where you try to beat the dealer's card with one of the five cards in your hand. In online Red Dog games, the object is for the third dealt card to fall between the hand values of the first two cards dealt. 

Since we discuss online gambling mostly, the page above focuses on the online Red Dog version.

If you want an explanation of brick-and-mortar Red Dog Poker, here's a quick explanation of a typical hand: 

  1. Ante Bet: At the casino, each player places their chips into the pot. In an online game, you’d do the same but with a virtual pot.
  2. The Deal: The dealer shuffles the cards and the player to the dealer’s right cuts the cards. 
  3. 5-Card Hand: The dealer deals five cards one at a time face down to each player. If you are playing with more than eight players, you would only deal four cards. 
  4. Additional Bets: Each player then looks at their cards and places their bets. (You don’t have to bet and can forfeit but you will lose one chip.) It’s important to remember that your bet cannot exceed the number of chips already in the pot.
  5. The Dealer's Card: After all bets have been placed, the dealer reveals the top card from the rest of the pack. If you have a card of the same suit and of a higher rank, you get to take back the amount of your original bet plus the equivalent amount from the pot.
  6. Losing a Bet: If you don’t have a card to beat the shown card, your entire bet gets added to the pot.
  7. More Hands: Rules 6 and 7 repeat until each player has their chance with a new top card drawn.

The dealer has the option of playing the game or simply dealing the cards. If the dealer does play, they would bet last. Should the pot lose all its chips because a player has won it all, each player would restore the pot by putting another chip in.

    What is Montana Red Dog?

    Besides being a music band that released an album in 1997, Montana Red Dog is a variant of table poker. Montana Red Dog is supposed to have been invented by a group of "miners and cowboys" during a snowstorm one winter in Montana sometime in the 19th Century. The players must beat the dealer's card with their 5 cards. The catch is the winning card must be the same suit as the dealer's card. 

    It's not a widespread version of the game. Montana Red Dog is played at Joker's Casino and Sports Bar, an establishment that claims to serve the Tri-Cities area of Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick in Washington State. For instance, the Washington State Gambling Commission used to have a page dedicated to this variant of Red Dog, but it not longer exists.