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Casino Game Guide: Red Dog Poker

Have you heard of red dog poker?

It’s one of the simplest casino games we cover on this site. It’s along the lines of casino war.

Red dog was one of the games that started overseas and made its way to the US by trade ship. But back when it was first introduced it was called names like ‘in-between’ and ‘even then.’ It wasn’t until the 1930s that the game known as “red dog” became popular in Las Vegas.

And it was a popular game back then. Nowadays, not so much. It seems as if most players aren’t interested in such simple card games. They prefer games where they can create an edge by learning strategy.

That’s not possible with red dog, as you’ll soon see.

But if that doesn’t bother you, you will find red dog online. Many casinos offer it. And this guide will explain to you how to play it, what strategies exist, and anything else you need to know before you get started.

How Do You Play Red Dog Poker?

This game’s simple to play. Here’s how it works…

Red dog is played with anywhere from 1 to 8 normal 52-card decks. Standard poker rankings are used; aces are high. Suits don’t matter.

Each round starts with you placing your bet. You’ll be able to bet anywhere from $1 to $200 online. Some casinos will let you bet even higher.

After you make your bet the dealer will deal two cards face up. At this point the dealer looks for 2 things:

  • Are the cards consecutive in number? For example, are the two cards showing a 4 and 5, or 10 and jack?

    If the answer’s yes, the hand is a push and your wager’s returned.

  • Are the two cards equal value? Are they both a 4, 5, 10 and so on?

    If so, a 3rd card is dealt. If it’s the same value, you’ll be paid 11:1. Otherwise the hand’s a push.

If neither outcome is the case, then the dealer will announce a spread. The spread determines the potential payout.

For example, if the two cards showing are a 3 and an 8, then there’s a 4-card spread (4, 5, 6, 7). And if the 3rd card dealt lands within the spread – the card’s a 4, 5, 6 or 7 – you’ll get paid according to the pay table.

But before the 3rd card’s dealt you’ll have two options. You’ll need to choose whether:

  • You’ll raise. You can make an additional bet equal up to your original bet.
  • You’ll call. You don’t make an additional bet, but continue the hand with your original bet.

Once you make your decision the 3rd is dealt face up. If the card’s outside the spread, you lose. But if it’s within the spread, you’ll be paid according to the following spread payout table:

Spread Payout
1-card 5 to 1
2-card 4 to 1
3-card 2 to 1
4-to-11-card 1 to 1 (even money)

And that’s all there is to playing red dog poker.

Variations

There are no variations or side bets for red dog poker games.

Can You Beat Red Dog Poker?

Nope.

Red dog poker’s largely a chance game. There’s not much strategy for you to use. According to the Wizard of Odds, the only thing you can do is raise only when the spread favors you. And that’s only when you have a spread of 7 cards or more (regardless of the number of decks used).

But even without an extensive list of tactics, the house edge is only between 2.751% (8 decks) and 3.155% (1 deck). This isn’t great relative to other casino table games, but it’s not bad when you compare it to all the games in the casino.

Which brings up another tip – you should find a game where more decks are used. Because the more decks used, the lower the house edge.

One other thought –

Red dog poker is a fast-paced game. Experts say players can reach 100 hands per hour. This is definitely the case playing online, too, considering there’s no human shuffling or dealing the cards. It’s all done by software.

You’ll want to keep this in mind when you decide what size bankroll you’re going to bring to the table. You’ll want to bring enough to last you awhile. The alternative is to pace yourself – take your time and deliberately play fewer hands per hour.

Playing Online

There’s not much you need to know about playing red dog online. You’ll find it at most casinos under “red dog” or “red dog poker.”

The stakes you can play it for will vary from casino to casino. But $100 to $200 on the high side is normal.

One thing we did find is you will be able to play red dog to clear bonuses and earn comps. But, since it’s a table poker game, keep in mind you will have to wager more than slots or keno players to “earn” the bonus.

This varies – but you should expect to wager anywhere from 3-10x what slots players have to.

Conclusion

And that’s it. That’s all there is to red dog.

This is definitely one of the simplest games you’ll find offered in a casino. And it’s definitely not a game for people who prefer games with strategy. If that’s you, you’ll probably prefer a game like blackjack or pai gow poker instead.

But if chance games don’t both you, and you’re looking for some fast-paced action – and have the bankroll to handle it – then red dog poker might be right up your alley.