A variation on classic kitchen table card games like acey-deucey and in between, Red Dog (or Yablon) is one of the more simplistic table game offerings found in any online casino.
While the gameplay doesn’t leave much in the way of strategy, Red Dog Poker has proven to be such a timeless favorite among card players that the Bicycle brand even includes a handy rules section for those rainy days spent inside with family and friends.
The gameplay in Red Dog is simple and straightforward: the dealer lays out two cards face up, and based on the spread between those card values, players can elect to double their wager or to play on. From there, a third card is dealt out, and players are left hoping that the third card on board fits in between the first two cards in terms of value. When it does, the appropriate payout is distributed by the dealer, and when it doesn’t the player bets are collected.
The Pace of the Game
Designed to offer players a brisk pace and the opportunity to earn significant bonus payouts on the standard wager, the Red Dog card game has experienced a renaissance during the online casino boom. Major online casino platforms like Bodog offer Red Dog among their wide menu of table games, and today this age-old card game has become a fan favorite for online casino regulars.
Due to a unique gameplay setup that provides ample opportunity for pushes, along with a wide array of even money payout wagers, Red Dog is the perfect game for online casino players looking to sustain and stretch their bankroll while having a good time.
Learning the ropes of Red Dog takes only a few minutes, and by the time you’ve finished this walkthrough for the game you’ll be ready to get in the action. Below you’ll find a detailed breakdown of Red Dog rules, gameplay mechanics, terminology, and wagering options. In addition, several of the most reputable online casinos currently spreading the Red Dog game are listed. Finally, a discussion of Red Dog strategy tips is included to help players make the most profitable decisions possible.
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How to Play Red Dog Online
The game of Red Dog is played using a standard 52-card deck, with suits rendered irrelevant and aces always ranking as a high card with a value of 14. The values for face cards in Red Dog are 11 for the jacks, 12 for the queens, and 13 for kings. You can find more on the meaning of these values below.
The vast majority of online casinos spread Red Dog Poker using a shoe, or multiple decks of cards at one time, typically ranging from two to eight decks depending on the venue.
As you’ll see in the strategy section below, however, a number of decks in play does have a direct influence on the house edge you’ll be up against. More decks in play reduce the house edge and favors the player, so take care to check the rules section for your favorite online casino to determine exactly how many decks will be used. Bovada, for example, utilizes a two-deck shoe for Red Dog, offering a house edge of 3.077 percent, while other online casinos opt for a six-deck shoe and a slightly lower house edge of 2.798 percent.
Yablon Game Table Arrangement
If you’ve ever played card-based table games like blackjack, the table arrangement for Red Dog Poker will likely feel quite familiar. For the online game, you’ll be faced with the dealer’s virtual tray of chips, along with the shoe containing the virtual decks of cards. The green felt is lined with a grid describing the game’s variable payouts and outcomes while two betting circles are situated directly in front of the player.
The grid is a long horizontal rectangle, with the top row divided into 14 squares. From left to right, these squares contain the numbers 1 through 11, followed by the words consecutive, pair, and 3 of a kind. A series of blank squares sits underneath this row as a dividing line, followed by six squares and rectangles listing payout information directly below each of the numbers and words in the top row.
For visual learners, the Red Dog table grid is typically laid out like this:
|1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||CONS||PAIR||3 of a Kind|
|5:1||3:1||2:1||E V E N M O N E Y||PUSH||PUSH||11:1|
You’ll need to know the rules of the game before you can read the grid. Fortunately, those rules can be explained easily enough.
Playing Yablon in Four Easy Steps
To play a hand of Red Dog, the first thing you’ll need to do is select a wager amount and place your initial ante bet. For most online casinos the minimum wager on Red Dog is just $1, with variable denominations rising to $5, $10, and beyond. For the sake of this walkthrough, we’ll use a base wager of $5 during subsequent gameplay descriptions.
Cards are Dealt
After placing a $5 wager in the ante circle, the dealer will distribute two cards face up on the felt. Based on the spread between the values of those two cards, a marker will be placed on the grid to signify the payout being played for on a particular hand. So if the dealer turns over a 3 and 10, the marker would be placed on the grid’s 7 square, because the spread between 3 and 10 equates to 7. In another example, should the dealer lay out an 8 and a king, the spread, in this case, stands at 5, or the king’s 13 value minus the 8 value.
Calculating the Spread
The spread on each hand is the crucial item of information for players to consider because the goal of Red Dog is for the third card dealt out to fit in between the first two. When you face a large spread like the 7 created in the example above, it stands to reason that the third card on board should fall between 3 and 10, simply because there are more cards in the deck fitting that range, all of the 4s, 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s. Small spreads decrease the likelihood that you’ll pull a third card which fits the correct range.
With the marker placed on the grid above following the deal of the first two cards, you can easily see which payouts are in play for that hand. For eight of the 14 possibilities on the grid, the 4 through 11, that payout stands at even money, but when the spread gets tighter the payouts climb accordingly.
When the dealer lays out a 5 and a 7, for example, this spread of just 2 offers a payout of 4 to 1 on your wagers because the odds that the third card dealt out will fit the spread are much lower.
Calling or Raising
Once you’ve seen the first two cards and determined both the spread and the associated payout, you’re only decision is whether or not to place an additional wager equal to your ante. Also known as a raise, this optional bet provides the strategic element to Red Dog, as you’ll always have the opportunity to increase your wager when you see a favorable spread on board.
You can either raise the stakes or call, which simply means leaving your original ante bet alone, on each hand of Red Dog. After that the dealer lays out the third card, and based on whether or not it falls within the spread set by the first two cards, you’ll either receive the associated payout or lose your bet.
As the grid suggests, you may see consecutive cards dealt out as the first two cards. For example, the 6 and 7 hitting the board leaves no spread at all, which means your ante bet will be pushed, or returned.
A push also occurs whenever the first two cards on the board are identical, as again, no spread has been created. However, when you see two matching cards as the first two cards dealt, you now have a chance to score the game’s largest payout of 11 to 1. This occurs whenever the third card dealt out happens to match the pair on board, creating three of a kind.
Best Online Casinos to Play Red Dog
The following list showcases reputable online poker sites currently operating worldwide, where you can play Red Dog card games:
The casino gaming software providers listed below host Red Dog tables online:
- RealTime Gaming
Strategic Considerations for Red Dog Online
After you’ve played a few hands of Red Dog online to get the hang of things, it may appear that such a simple game might be lacking when it comes to strategic considerations. After all, the dealer lays two cards out and you hope the third one falls in between them, so what could you possibly do to gain an edge?
As it turns out, however, the Red Dog game can be broken down on a mathematical level to determine the proper play given any situation. Much like the basic strategy tables celebrated by blackjack aficionados for decades, Online Red Dog strategy boils down to a set of hard and fast rules which any player can commit to memory.
How to Decide When to Raise
The crux of the game comes when you make the decision whether or not to raise and double your ante bet, or to just call. The table below illustrates the changes in expected value which occur by raising, given each of the possible spread scenarios which can occur:
|Expected Gain by Raising|
|Spread||Pays||Win Prob.||Ex. Value|
As demonstrated by the data compiled in the table above, raising your ante bet only represents a profitable play when the spread totals 7 or higher. This means that optimal strategy while playing Red Dog mandates only calling on all spreads of 6 and lower, and raising whenever the spread reaches 7 and higher.
Another critical aspect of the game to keep in mind when trying to gain an edge in Red Dog Poker concerns the number of decks in play. As mentioned in the introductory section, fewer decks in play increase the house edge, which runs counter to the situation posed by blackjack. In that game, the casino usually adds decks to a shoe in order to increase the house edge, but in Red Dog Online, more decks in play means, better odds for players.
A game of Red Dog using just a single deck offers a house edge of 3.155 percent, but simply by adding one more deck to the equation, players can enjoy a lower house edge of 3.077 percent. Increasing the shoe to four decks further reduces the house edge to 2.884 percent, while a six-deck shoe drops the house edge to 2.798 percent. In the rare instances, you can find an eight-deck shoe for Red Dog, the house edge of 2.751 puts the game among the most favorable offerings in any online casino.