Badugi Poker

Badugi originated in Asia and is a variant of draw poker. It shares many similarities with Lowball, as it’s the lowest hand that wins. It differs significantly from most popular poker variants however, as the Badugi hand ranking system is much different. The strongest hands are those that have no pairs and four low cards, one of each suit.  This is known as “Getting a Badugi” and the best Badugi to get would be (for example) As-2h-3d- 4c. If no player achieves a “Badugi”, the next lowest three-card hand wins, with the top ranked card of the duplicated suit being ignored – eg As-2h-3d-XX (where XX may have stood for Four of Spades – or any other Spade). Here we we have a look at the rules of Badugi Poker:

Badugi is normally played “Flop Limit”, and Ace is always considered low.

The Start of the Game
Badugi Poker is played with a single deck of cards, with the deal rotating around the table as in Hold´em. The first dealer is determined by the dealing of a single card to each player, with the highest ranked card winning, and thereafter the dealers´ duties are passed in a clockwise direction around the table.  The two players to the left of the dealer are called the “Small Blind” and the “Big Blind” and these players place “forced bets” (known as “blinds”) prior to any cards being dealt. The bets represent 50% and 100% respectively of the lower amount quoted as the stake level for a table* and the reason for the blinds is to ensure that there is money in the pot at the very start of the betting.

*On a table advertised as $1/$2, the amount of the Small blind is $0.50 and the Big Blind is $1.00. In tournament play, the blinds increase as the game progresses, and will be relative to the smaller amount for that level – ie when blinds are “10/20”, the Small Blind pays 5 chips, whereas the Big Blind pays 10 chips.

Thereafter, the dealer deals four “hidden” (face down) cards to each player, which only they can see.

The First Round of Betting
Once the cards have been dealt, a round of betting proceeds, where players can “Call” the amount of the Big Blind, “Raise” by the amount of the Big Blind or “Fold” their cards, in which event they take no further part in the hand.

The action can revolve around the table a maximum of four times before the betting is “capped”.

 The First Change of Cards
Once the first round of betting has been completed, players have the option of discarding any number of cards from the four they have been dealt, and replacing them with fresh cards from the pack in order to improve their hand. This action starts with the player to the left of the dealer, and travels around the table in a clockwise direction until each player has had the opportunity for an exchange of cards.

The Second Round of Betting
Once each player has discarded their unwanted cards and replaced them, a new round of betting takes place starting with the first active player to the left of the dealer. Players have the opportunity to “Check”, “Raise”, “Call” or “Fold” their cards, and on this round of betting, the minimum bet amount is the lower amount of the table stake – ie If a $1.00/$2.00 table, bets are made in units of $1.00. The action can revolve around the table a maximum of four times before the betting is “capped”.

The Second Change of Cards
Once the second round of betting has been completed, players have another opportunity to discard any cards from their hand, and replace them with fresh cards from the pack in order to improve their hand. This action again starts with the player to the left of the dealer, and travels around the table in a clockwise direction until each active player has had the opportunity for an exchange of cards.

The Third Round of Betting
Once each active player has discarded their unwanted cards and replaced them, a further round of betting takes place starting with the first active player to the left of the dealer. Players have the opportunity to “Check”, “Raise”, “Call” or “Fold” their cards, and on this round of betting, the minimum bet amount is now the higher amount of the table stake – ie If a $1.00/$2.00 table, bets are made in units of $2.00. The action can revolve around the table a maximum of four times before the betting is “capped”.

The Third Change of Cards
Once the third round of betting has been completed, players have a final opportunity to discard any cards from their hand, and replace them with fresh cards from the pack in order to improve their hand. This action again starts with the first active player to the left of the dealer, and travels around the table in a clockwise direction until each active player has had the opportunity for an exchange of cards.

The Final Round of Betting
Once each active player has discarded their unwanted cards and replaced them, a final round of betting takes place starting with the first active player to the left of the dealer. Players once more have the opportunity to “Check”, “Raise”, “Call” or “Fold” their cards, and on this round of betting, the minimum bet amount is again the higher amount of the table stake – ie If a $1.00/$2.00 table, bets are made in units of $2.00. The action can revolve around the table a maximum of four times before the betting is “capped”.

Showdown
After this final round of betting, there is a Showdown, where the lowest ranking “Badugi” wins the pot. As mentioned above, the best “Badugi” to have is A234 of mixed suits, and this would beat Ah-2s-3c- 8d. If a hand reaches showdown and no player has a “Badugi”, the player with the best three-card or two-card hand wins the pot. For example, if you hold 8h-5d-3s-Ah, you have two hearts, so the highest one is ignored, leaving a 5-3-A-x.  That hand is known as a ‘Three Card Five’, and would lose to any “Badugi”, but it would beat 7h-5d-4d-3s (the highest diamond is ignored, making a ‘Three Card Seven’, 7-4-3-x). All three-card hands, in turn, beat all two-card hands. For example, Ad-As-2d-2c is a ‘Two-Card Deuce’ (2-A-X-X, because there are two pairs). It’s even possible to have a ‘One Card’ hand; for example, Qd-Jd-8d-4d has four cards of the same suit, so three of them are ignored, leaving just the 4d, a ‘One-Card Four’.