Badugi Poker is Explained

Badugi is a popular poker game that is largely based on Draw poker variations, such as 5 Card Draw and 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball. However, Badugi has some key betting rule differences from those games, especially in the way in which hands are evaluated during the showdown.

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Successful betting at Badugi poker games depends on your ability to fully comprehend the rules, correctly read opponents and make smart Badugi betting decisions in every stage of the game.

How To Bet On Badugi Poker Games

As with poker betting games such as Texas Holdem and Omaha, Badugi is a game that uses blinds as opposed to antes. This means that the player seated to the left of the dealer must post a fee, known as the small blind. The player to the small blind’s left posts a fee called the big blind, which is twice the size of the small blind.

Once the players have been seated and the blinds have been paid, the dealer begins to deal the cards, starting with the player who posted the small blind.

  1. Each player receives four cards, one at a time, facedown
  2. The first betting round begins, starting with the player seated left of the big blind poster and moving clockwise.
  3. After the first betting round ends, the first drawing round begins. The player left of the dealer discards some of the hards in his hand, and requests replacements from the dealer. Each player takes turns doing the same, in clockwise order.
  4. If a player chooses, he can keep all of his cards. This action is referred to as “standing pat.”
  5. After the end of the drawing round, the second betting round begins.
  6. Another betting round begins, starting again with the player on the dealer’s left side. The game continues to cycle between betting rounds and drawing rounds until the fourth betting round, at which point the game goes to a showdown. If all players fold except one, the game ends before the showdown.

In the showdown, the best hand (which is referred to as a Badugi) wins. The Badugi is the lowest hand, which can consist of one to four cards. Each hand is only as good (i.e. low) as the highest card. You can only use cards of different suits and ranks in your Badugi hand. Four card Badugis always beat three card Badugis, which in turn always beat two card Badugis. Finally, Aces are considered low in Badugi.

Hand Rankings

The best possible hand in Badugi is Ace – 2 – 3 – 4, each card being a different suit. One example of a three card Badugi is Ace – 3 – 4 – 4. Only three of the four cards can be used because the two 4s have the same face value. As such, this hand would be referred to as a Three-Card Four, 4 being the highest card in the hand.

Hands are evaluated starting with the highest card down. For example, let’s say Ace – Two – Three – Queen is pitted against 7 – 8 – 9 – 10. Even though three of the cards in the first hand are very low, the second hand would be the winning Badugi. This is simply because the 10 is lower than the Queen, and when the first evaluated card is lower, it automatically secures the win.

Badugi Rules

Most commonly, this low-ball card game is played as Fixed Limit Badugi or Pot Limit Badugi. Betting is restricted to specified increments in Fixed Limit Badugi. For example, in the first two rounds of a $4 / $8 Fixed Limit Badugi game, the betting increment would be $4. In the second two betting rounds, increments for Badugi betting would be $8.

In a game of Pot Limit Badugi, the betting rules are far more flexible. Each player can bet any amount ranging from the big blind value up to the current size of the pot. In this way, the first bet will always be between the value of the big blind and the combined value of the big blind and small blind, since that’s all that will be in the pot.

Players have access to the same betting decisions in Badugi as they would in a poker game such as Texas Holdem or 7 Card Stud. You can choose to bet, raise, check, call or fold, depending on the circumstances. You can check when there’s no current raise to call. You can call by adding the minimum required amount to stay in the game. You can also raise, which is equal to a call plus an additional wager. Finally, you can fold, which is the equivalent of sitting out until the next hand.

Game Variations

A simple, though somewhat uncommon version of Badugi betting is known as Half Pot Limit Badugi. This game is virtually identical to Pot Limit Badugi, except for the fact that the betting limit is half of the pot instead of the value of the whole pot. This game may be ideal for intermediate Badugi players who want try Pot Limit Badugi but are put off by the notoriously high action in that betting structure.

Strategies to Look For

Basic Badugi strategy comes down to tight-aggressive play, just as in any poker game. You’ll want to raise aggressively with very strong hands and fold as quickly as possible with weak ones. More specifically, this means folding everything worse than three cards out of a Four-Card-Seven, or Two Cards out of a Four-Card-Five. Anything worse than these shouldn’t be considered for play, unless you have a good reason based on a tell from the opposition.

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