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The Basics of Red Dog

Off the beaten path in most traditional casinos (although its popularity has grown in the online gambling market), there is a little game called Red Dog. While it is considered a variation on poker as it uses the typical poker deck with cards ranked according to poker rules (however ace values are only high), it’s there that all similarity stops.

The rules are simple. To begin the game, players place a wager and the dealer deals two cards face up on the table. If the two cards are consecutive the hand is a “push.” In situations where the two cards are identical, a third card is then dealt. If that card is a match, the dealer pays 11:1. If it is anything other than a match, the hand is a push.

Most of the game, however, takes place when the first two cards are neither consecutive nor identical. When this happens, the dealer announces the spread – the number of cards in between the first two cards. For example, if the first two cards dealt were a three and a jack, the spread is seven. There are seven card values (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,and 10) that fall between the three and jack. Prior to dealing this third card, players are given the option of increasing their bet up to the amount of the original wager. The third card is then dealt, and if its value is in between the initial two cards, the player wins. If it is outside the first two cards, or is a match, the player loses. Payouts are determined according to the following schedule:

Spread Payout
1 card - 5:1
2 cards - 4:1
3 cards - 2:1
4 or more - 1:1

As you can see, it’s a very simple game. The house has about a 2.8% edge (for a six-deck game) and the only real decision is whether or not to increase the wager prior to drawing the third card. Again, the strategy here is simple. Any spread less than seven cards has a negative (losing) expectation. In other words, players can only gain an edge in the game by increasing their wager when the spread is seven cards or higher. While this only earns the lowest payout, 1:1, it keeps the house’s edge at a minimum and gives players their best chance to beat the odds.
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