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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 because the card rankings are the same as in a traditional game of poker.

The Red Dog poker rules are as follows:

1.    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 dealer distributes the cards to each player one at a time, face up. 

3.    The dealer shuffles the cards and the player to the dealer’s right cuts the cards. 

4.    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. 

5.    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.

6.    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.

7.    If you don’t have a card to beat the shown card, your entire bet gets added to the pot.

8.    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 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.

For a one-number spread, the odds of winning are eight percent. If you do win, it will pay 5:1 on your bet. A two-card spread pays 4:1 and will hit about 15 percent of the time. A three-card spread pays 2:1 but will only occur an average of 23 percent of the time. 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.

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. 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.

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 is 46 percent. Not a good long-term strategy, but it’s up to you if you’re feeling lucky or not. Experienced gamers will not make this play, even though the odds to win are near even.

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.

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. The more decks in the game, the better it is for you, but you may notice a change in the speed of play in games that use more decks. The difference in house edge is small, but over the long term it’ll make a difference to your overall winnings.

Should I Follow a Bankroll Strategy When Playing Red Dog?

Bankroll strategy is an important thing to consider when playing Red Dog. With a bid edge going to the house, the game can deplete your playing bankroll in a hurry. Getting ahead and getting out of the game is important as big winning sessions can be rare. 

You should strongly consider getting out of a Red Dog card game online or at a bricks-and-mortar casino when you find yourself up 10 bets or more. The same goes for losing limits. It’s up to you how long you play a game, but you should set limits for losing and stick to them to maintain a bankroll for the next playing session.

With such a big house edge, especially against players who don’t reserve raises for seven-card spreads or more, Red Dog is a favorite with novice gamers who like to keep their action simple to play. Runs of luck do occur, and a player can win money playing Red Dog poker, it just doesn’t offer the best odds compared to other casino games.

History of Red Dog Poker

Red Dog poker has been around for centuries (going back to the 12th century) under different names like In-between, Yablon and Acey Deucey. It’s rumored that the game made its way to the American frontier through tradesmen. Eventually the game became a staple in Vegas casinos, often being played on the same table as blackjack. Not at the same time, of course. Otherwise, it would be called Red Dog Blackjack, which sounds like the name of a cyber villain from a ’90s movie about computer hacking. 

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