In Between


This is a gambling game in which a player bets on whether a third card will have a rank between those of the first two cards dealt. It is sometimes played as an option in Dealer's Choice Poker or can be played as a game in its own right.

There are various betting formats. Perhaps the most usual one is where the dealer acts as banker, puts up a stake and plays against each of the other players in turn until either the pot is empty or a set number of deals have been played. Alternatively, all may contribute equally to the pot at the start and play until the pot is empty.

There is a casino version in which only one set of cards are dealt. Having seen the first two cards all players may bet against the house on the third card, and the payout is on a fixed scale of odds depending on the difference between the first two cards.

The game has several alternative names including Acey Deucey (because A-2 is the best initial pair of cards, with the widest spread between them) and Yablon (according to John Scarne's books). The casino version is usually called Red Dog, which is somewhat confusing since that is also the name of a different gambling game with a similar choice of betting mechanisms, sometimes known High Card Pool or Shoot.

The version used in home games with dealer as banker will be described first.

Players and Cards

In Between is a game for two or more players. It is probably best for around 5 to 8. It is normally played with one standard 52-card deck of cards.

The rank of the cards in descending order is A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 (low). (There is a variant in which a player's first Ace can be designated as low, below the 2.) Suits are irrelevant.

Deal and play are clockwise.

Deal and Play

In a dealer's choice poker game the dealer will be the player whose turn it was to name the game. Otherwise the dealer may be a volunteer, or be chosen by some convenient random method, or one could play a series of games with the turn to deal passing to the left after each game.

The dealer begins each game by putting chips into the pot. The dealer's minimum stake - for example $50 - should be agreed before the game begins. The game will continue with the same dealer until either the pot is empty (the dealer's entire stake is lost) or a predetermined end point is reached (for example three complete deals or 'rounds'), at which time the dealer collects whatever is in the pot and the game ends.

The dealer does not receive any cards. The cards are shuffled and cut, and the dealer deals one card face up to each of the other players. Then beginning with the player to dealer's left, the dealer plays against each player in turn as follows:

  1. The dealer deals a second card to the player face up.
  2. The player places a bet in chips next to the pot. The bet may be any amount up to the total that is in the pot at that moment. Or the player may 'fold', choosing not to place a bet.
  3. If the player bet, the dealer deals a third card to the player face up.
    • If the rank of the third card is between the first and second card, the player wins and takes an amount equal to the bet out of the pot.
    • If the third card is outside the range of the first two cards (higher than the higher card or lower than the lower card), the player loses and the bet is added to the pot.
    • If the third card is equal to either of the first two cards, the player loses double, and must pay twice the amount of the bet to the pot. This is sometimes called 'hitting the post'.

If anyone bets the whole pot and wins it, that is the end of the game. Otherwise, when everyone has had their turn, if there are more rounds to be played the dealer gathers the cards, they are shuffled and cut again, the chips in the pot remain there, and the dealer deals another round.

If the agreed number of rounds have been played and there are still chips in the pot the dealer collects the contents of the pot and the game ends (or it is the next player's turn to deal).

Note that in this game there is no concept of 'table stakes'. Players may introduce money into the game (buy more chips) whenever they wish to. The rationale is that unlike poker, this game never requires a player to bet more than they can afford to remain in the game, so there is no need to set an upper limit.


Rather than the dealer playing a maximum number of rounds, it may be agreed to play 'twice through the deck'. In that case after everyone has played the dealer does not shuffle but continues to deal another round from the remainder of the deck. If there are not enough cards remaining to deal everyone their first card, at that point all the cards are shuffled and the deal is restarted. If the deck runs out after everyone has received their first card, then all the used cards are shuffled and play continues. When the deck runs out for the second time, the cards are shuffled and the round in play is completed, after which the game ends.

Version with an Ante

In this version, before the deal all players contribute an equal ante to the pot. The dealer deals to all players, including him- or herself.

As usual, each of the players in turn, beginning with the player to dealer's left, receives their second card, folds or bets any amount up to the value of the pot, receives their third card and settles up. After all the others have played, the dealer bets in the same way.

After the dealer's turn, if anything remains in the pot all players add a new ante to the pot and the turn to deal passes to the left.

The game ends when a player wins the whole pot, or when the players agree to stop playing and divide the contents of the pot between them.

There are several variants of this game:

  • Some play that a player who receives an Ace as their first card may declare it either high as usual or low, ranking below the Deuce (2). Aces dealt as a player's second or third card are always high.
  • Some play that if a player's first two cards are equal, they have the option to pay an extra ante (or sometimes a smaller amount) to the pot to split them into two hands, which they then play separately.
  • Some play that if a player's first two cards are equal or adjacent the result is a 'push': with these cards the player's ante is returned.
  • Some deal two cards face down to each player. Then each in turn can either fold without showing their cards, or expose their two cards, place a bet and receive a third card.
  • Some require each player to place at least a minimum bet equal to the ante.

Casino Version (Red Dog)

In this version the casino dealer deals just one set of three cards and the players bet on whether the third card will be between the first two in rank. There is no pot - instead the house pays out according to a scale of odds depending on the difference between the first two cards.

Before any cards are dealt, each player must place an 'ante'. The dealer then deals two cards face up.

  • If the two cards are adjacent (e.g. Jack and 10, Ace and King, 5 and 6) the result is a 'push' and all players' antes are returned.
  • If the two cards are equal in rank the dealer immediately deals a third card. If that is also the same rank the house pays out at odds of 11 to 1 (everyone's ante is returned together with winnings of 11× the ante); if the third card is different the result is a 'push' and all players' antes are returned.
  • If there is a 'spread' of at least one rank between the first two cards, each player has the option to 'call', leaving just their ante in place, or to add a 'raise' bet up to the value of the ante. A third card is then dealt and if it is between the first two cards in rank, the players are paid at odds that depend on the 'spread', which is the number of ranks between the first two cards, as follows:
    Spread Payout
    1 5 to 1
    2 4 to 1
    3 2 to 1
    4 or more 1 to 1

So for example if a player places an ante of $1, the first two cards are a 3 and a 9 (spread of 5), the player raises $1 and the third card is an 8, the player will have the bet of $2 returned together with winnings of $10.

The player's only decision is whether to raise, and the best strategy is to raise the maximum only if the spread is 7 or more.

Other Web Pages

Here are Arthur Buderick's Poker Game Rules, which include In Between as one of the options in a Dealer's Choice Poker game.

Detailed rules can be found in the FAQ of the newsgroup rec.gambling.misc, where it is listed under the name Red Dog.

The Red Dog page at, previously published by The Pogg, analyses the different variants of this game available online and offers optimal strategies.

Roland Scheicher has written an article on Red Dog for the German Wikipedia.

This page is maintained by John McLeod,   © John McLeod, 1997, 2002, 2005, 2021. Last updated: 30th January 2021