Badugi is a poker game of
Korean origin. Because of this you will sometimes see the alternate spellings of Badougi, Paduki or Padooki. It is a triple
draw lowball game where suited cards count against you. The way the game is played is pretty straightforward. In this article,
you will learn how to play Badugi poker games, along with a little basic strategy.
The goal of the game is to make a “Badugi,” or a four card low hand with one card of each suit and no pairs. Keep in
mind; you may only play one unpaired card from each suit. If you should pair up or match one of your suits, a card will
not play, and you will have a three card hand. A Badugi (7♣ 5♠ 4♥ A♦) beats a three card hand
(6♠ 5♣ 4♦ 2♦), a three card hand beats a two card hand (6♦ 6♥ 6♣ 2♥), and
a two card hand beats a one card hand (8♠ 7♠ 4♠ 2♠). When a player does not have a Badugi, the best
possible combination is the one that plays. In the example above, 6♠ 5♣ 4♦ 2♦ would be read as
6♠ 5♣ 2♦, 6♦ 6♥ 6♣ 2♥ would be read as 6♣ 2♥, and 8♠ 7♠
4♠ 2♠ would be a one card 2♠.
As you can see, hands are ranked first by how many cards play, and second by the denominations of the cards in the hand.
If two hands contain the same number of playable cards, the best Lowball hand wins. Lowball hands are counted from the
top down, and the hand with the lowest high card wins. 7♣ 5♠ 4♥ A♦ (seven low) would beat 8♣
3♥ 2♦ A♠ (eight low) but lose to 6♥ 5♦ 4♣ 3♠ (six low). All of these hands would
be considered a Badugi, and beat any three, two or one card hand. The best possible Badugi is 4♣ 3♠ 2♥
A♦ (the suits of the individual cards don’t matter, as long as it is a rainbow hand.)
Badugi has a format similar to a traditional triple draw game. A nominal dealer button indicates last action after the
first draw. Before the cards are dealt, the player to the left of the dealer button posts a small blind, and the player
to the left of the small blind posts a big blind.
Cards are dealt clockwise, starting from the small blind, until each player has four cards. Before the first draw, the betting
starts with the player to the left of the big blind, also call the “under the gun” position. This gives the big blind last action
before the first draw. After this first round of betting, players take the first draw. Players may draw any number of cards,
from zero to four. Drawing zero at any time during the course of the hand is called “staying pat.” After the first draw, and
on all subsequent draws, the betting begins with the small blind position, giving the button last action for the remainder
of the hand. Players take a total of three draws, with a fourth round of betting after the third draw. After the pot is awarded,
the button is moved one player to the left, and the next hand begins.
Badugi can be played with two to six players. It is usually played as either a limit game, half pot limit, or a
pot limit game. When it is played as
a limit game, the first two betting rounds are small bet rounds and the second two betting rounds are big bet rounds. This
means that if you were playing $3/$6 Badugi, the bet would be $3 on the first two rounds and $6 on the second two rounds.
Because there are three draws, it is not uncommon for the dealer to run out of cards during the third draw round. When this
happen the dealer will shuffle the discards back into the deck, and complete the deal. This makes it possible to receive cards
you have previously discarded. Naturally, this makes it more difficult to complete your hand.
Here are some Badugi strategy tips for the beginner: Even though there are three draws, starting hand selection is very
important. As the hand progresses, it becomes increasingly expensive to chase, and increasingly difficult to complete a
quality Badugi. A good way to avoid this trap is by starting with a strong hand to avoid getting behind in the first
place. Also, the comparative value of the lowest cards in your hand will often determine the winner of the pot, so it is
a good idea to start with a premium low holding. In other words, build your hand from the ground up. Also realize that a
completed Badugi is often more valuable than a one card draw at the nuts. Generally, you should try to complete your hand
early rather than on later rounds, even if your hand’s low ranking suffers a little. Remember, draws are difficult to
make, and any four card hand beats any lesser hand. If you are the first one to complete a Badugi, consider charging a
steep price for players who are still drawing. If someone stays pat, they have either completed their hand or are
planning to snow (bluff). If your completed hand contains high cards, you may be forced to break your Badugi and draw or
muck your hand on the subsequent betting round. Be careful, players will sometimes stay pat with the intention of getting
you to break a made hand. The pots can grow very large, and many are won without a showdown, which creates a strong
incentive to bluff. Bluffing is a huge part of the game. You must be able to run a bluff and sniff out a bluff in order
to have success at Badugi.
Now that you have an understanding about how to play Badugi poker games, you might want to test the waters by playing Badugi online,
where you will find plenty of small stakes games that are ideal for experimenting with new games and strategies.