Badugi poker, a game that’s slowly but surely on the rise, is a popular poker variant. We’re seeing it more often in casinos, live and online, across the globe because it provides an action-packed, high-octane game. So if you want to learn how to play this game, all the rules, hand rankings, and have a strategy or two in your back pocket – keep on reading.
We’re not completely sure how or where Badugi came about, but it does sound a bit like the South Korean word baduk, which means black and white pattern. It’s similar to what you might find in the game Go.
However, others argue that it originated in Vegas, with the poker pro, Paul Eskimo Clark. He reportedly brought the game back with him from his time in the military service in Vietnam.
In other parts of North America, Badugi was reportedly played in the 80s as Offsuit Lowball. Wherever the game comes from and however it came about, it’s now a poker variant loved by many players around the world.
What Is Badugi Poker?
In short, Badugi is a draw game that shares many of its aspects with other draw games like 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball. However, Badugi uses a completely distinct system for evaluating the winning hand, which is aptly named Badugi.
In this poker variant, players have to end up with the lowest four-card hand. So once the cards are dealt, every player has three chances to discard a desired number of cards from their hand. Then, they can draw new cards in an attempt to make the best/lowest four-card hand.
Since Badugi is a lowball game, the winning hand is the lowest or the worst one, following traditional poker rankings. The thing to remember here is the best hand you can possibly have in Badugi poker is A-2-3-4 of different suits.
Hand Rankings in Badugi
The first thing to know about Badugi is that straights don’t exist. That means four cards in a row won’t hurt your hand and remember that aces are always low. If you have two or more cards that have the same suit, the lowest one is counted. Also, if you have a pair, only one of those cards counts.
And as we mentioned earlier, the best hand to get in Badugi is called Badugi, and it consists of four unpaired cards of different suits, e.g. A♦, 2♥, 3♠, 4♣. If two players are holding a Badugi, the one that has the lowest high card wins.
After Badugi, there’s the three-card hand/unsuited card, with a fourth card that is suited or pairs with the other three cards, e.g. 8♥, 6♥, 5♣, 4♦. Since in this example, there are two hearts, the 8 and the 6, only one of them counts. That means that this is a three-card hand of 6♥, 5♣, 4♦, which always loses to Badugi.
Next up is the two-card hand, which contains only two playable cards, as the others are duplicated in either suit or rank. For example, 3♠️ 5♥ 5♣️ Q♠️ would beat A♠️ 4♠️ 6♠️ 6♣️ because a two-card hand of 3-5 beats the A-6.
Finally, there’s the one-card hand that happens when none of the four cards are duplicated by suit or rank. That means only the two lowest cards can be used, e.g. 2♣️, 4♣️, 7♣️, 9♣️.
Since Badugi is a blinds game, it means that the player left to the dealer has to put in the small blind, and the one next to them puts in the big blind. Starting with the small blind player, and moving clockwise, every player is dealt four cards down, one card at a time.
When all players have their cards, the first round of betting starts with the player who’s sitting left of the big blind. Once the betting’s done, the players enter the first drawing round.
Starting again with the player in the small blind position, i.e. the one left of the dealer, they have to announce how many cards they want to throw away and receive. First, the dealer makes the card exchange before moving on to the next player.
Of course, if they have a good hand, a player can decide not to replace any cards, and this is what’s known as a standing pat or rapping pat.
When everyone at the table has got their new cards, the second round of betting begins, starting again with the player to the left of the dealer. The process continues until:
- There’s only one player left, the rest have folded
- The players have completed the betting round after the third drawing round
Playing a draw poker variant like Badugi or 2-7 Triple Draw means that players don’t use community cards. So they aren’t able to use the board to try and determine their opponents’ hands like they would in Omaha or Hold’Em.
Also, since Badugi is usually played as a limit game, players can’t use their opponents’ betting size to determine their strength. That is all to say that to be in with a chance, you’ll need a good strategy.
First, you should take note of your opponents’ draws because they can tell you so much. For one, a player drawing one card is likely to have a good three-card hand. However, if they’re drawing two, they’re usually working on a two-card hand, which means they have ways to go.
If they need three or four cards, their hand is probably very weak and they’re solely relying on luck. Now, if there’s a standing pat, that shows extreme strength or the willingness to bluff.
You should also remember the importance of position, as it can be a key piece of a winning strategy. Late-position Badugi players can benefit by acting after all others have bet, but they’re also drawing last.
With Badugi poker on the rise, now is the time to get acquainted with the game and get in on the action-packed play. For more tips and tricks on poker variants, hand rankings, strategies, and more – check out the CoinPoker blog.
And if you want to put all of these newfound skills to good use, download CoinPoker and take advantage of our diverse lobbies, rakebacks, promotions, and tournaments!