Badugi, traditionally played in Asia, is gaining more and more popularity in Europe and the United States with the help of online poker. No books have been published yet about the game, the usual poker writers haven’t shared their secrets of the game so far. So, here is the perfect opportunity to learn.
If you have some knowledge, like majority of beginners, about Texas Hold’em and Omaha then Badugi will be completely different from those games you have played before. It’s a draw poker type of game where the best hand contains four different suits and the lowest one is the winning combination. Aces are always low, so the best Badugi hand is A-2-3-4 of four different suits. If you do not have four different suits then the lowest in three different suits is your best hand (no badugi). A-2-3 is a fairly strong hand, which in many situations is able to win a showdown. If during the draw, your hand is A-2-3 and everyone else is drawing, you still have the best hand, so be aggressive.
Before the Deal
Similarly, the blinds need to paid in this game as well, just like in Texas Hold’em. The player on the dealer’s left pays the small blind and the player to his left pays the big blind. Badugi is commonly played in limit, pot limit, or half pot limit forms.
Each player receives four cards face down, the deal starts with the small blind, goes one by one clockwise until all players receive all four cards. Just like in Hold’em, the player sitting behind the big blind acts first. If he wants to play, either he must call the big blind or raise. The first draw comes after each player had a chance to act.
Each active player can draw up to 4 cards, but if they want, they can stop drawing anytime. After this, there is a round of betting, then the second draw, then another round of betting, and finally the third draw and the last round of betting. If someone called the last raise, then there is a showdown, when the remaining players reveal their cards. The strength of Badugi hands should be checked starting with the highest card so, for example, a 5-6-7-Q (Queen high) beats an A-2-3-K (King high).
It is important to start with three low cards of different suits, because if you do not make a Badugi (4 different suits), and your opponent does not make a Badugi either then the three low cards can win in the end. It is worth playing and drawing with any three cards lower than 7. How high your 4th card should be will depend on the number of opponents, whether they are drawing or not and also you should think about how strong they are once they stand pat. From late position, you should perhaps play with any two cards of different suits that are not higher than 5. Always enter with a raise, and if you have an advantage in the number of cards being drawn (they draw 2, you draw 1) you should always bet.