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Red Dog

You can generally tell whether a new game is player-friendly by how long it remains popular. Other games that have the players bucking an unreasonable casino advantage might be popular for a short while, but as more and more players lose more often than they win, they’ll eventually stop playing. Double Down Stud is a good example of this, as it is already disappearing, the other games that don’t give players a fair shot will probably soon follow.

Red Dog, is a game that was introduced into Nevada in the Eighties and lasted a while, until the players got wise to the terrible house edge, and it soon faded away. For some reason, Atlantic City casinos installed the game, and before long, the game also faded from the tables of the Boardwalk, where at that time any new game was welcome. But because you may run across it in your casino travels, it deserves a few paragraphs, if only to describe how bad it is.

You may have played this game as a child. It is really just “acey deucy” played in a casino. Red-Dog is played at a blackjack-sized table, and has two betting spots – “bet” and “raise”.

Red Dog starts with the player placing a bet followed by the dealer removing two cards from the shoe. These cards are placed face up in the center of the table in the boxes indicated. The player now must decide if he wants to “raise” his bet at house odds. The dealer then reveals a third card. If its value of the third card falls between the first two, the player wins his original bet at even money and the raise bet at the odds indicated. It is important to know that the odds paid aren’t the true odds, which is what makes the game such a risk for the player.

The card values in red dog are face value for Two through Ten. Jacks are 11, Queens are 12, Kings are 13 and Aces are 14.

The game rules are really quite simple. If a table shows a hand of a Five and a Queen, and the third card is a Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, or jack, the player wins. If any other card is drawn, the player loses. If the dealer deals himself a pair, he automatically deals himself a third card. If the third card is the same, the players are paid off at 11-to1. If it isn’t the same card, the players lose. The true odds on getting a third card with eight decks is 12.8-to-1, so even this payoff falls short of the true odds.

The “spread” is the key to red dog. Once again the payoffs don’t represent the true odds. It only makes sense to raise when the hand has a spread of seven or more. And that is the essential basic strategy of red dog. Even if you stick to this, you’re still bucking odds of around four percent. Those odds are not so bad, but still much worse than other casino games. And given the table “hold” percentage – the amount of money retained after all bets are paid – very few players understand the basic strategy of red dog. Why would the table keep more than 30 percent of all money played if that were the case?

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