If you enjoy poker games, yet you crave something new, Badugi is the next best thing. What is Badugi? Basically, it is a variation of draw poker, fairly similar to lowball; for instance, 2-7 triple draw.
However, the difference between Badugi and other poker types is in the hand card number.
Namely, a standard Badugi hand uses four cards, in contrast to the regular five-card hand you have in poker. Moreover, this game uses a standard 52-card deck, like most poker games.
The main objective in Badugi is to make a hand comprised of four low cards. All of these have to be of different suits, and ranks. So, we can say that less is more in this case.
Remember these rules when enrolling in this draw game:
- The Ace card is considered a low one (always);
- Pairs and flushes go against your hand;
- Straights do not go against your hand.
When talking about hands in Badugi, there are in total four different hands that you can make (we will present them ranked from the strongest to the weakest one).
‘Badugi’; this is any hand that contains four distinct cards of varying suits and ranks (4 of diamonds – 3 of hearts – 2 of spades – Ace of clubs);
‘Three Card’; this mix can be any three different cards and all of them with distinctive suits (4 of spades – 3 of clubs – 2 of hearts – Ace of spades). You see, in this example, we have two same suited cards. Therefore the highest card of the same suit doesn’t count, in this case, four of spades.
‘Two Card’; this is a combo of any two distinct cards of varying suits (4 of spades – 4 of diamonds – 3 of clubs – Ace of clubs). In the case you are dealt with this combination, where you have two same suited cards and a pair, the only cards that count are the four and the Ace.
‘One Card’; if any hand has just one card of a single suit or value. For instance, Ace of diamonds – Ace of hearts – Ace of spades – Ace of clubs, or 4 of diamonds – 3 of diamonds – 2 of diamonds – Ace of diamonds. In both cases, the only card that counts is the Ace.
The Blinds in Badugi
In order to stimulate constant action at the poker table, Badugi uses blind bets, just like many other flop-based games such as Texas Hold’Em. The big blind and the small blind are accredited to the players left of the dealer. This determines the order of the cards being dealt.
When the game starts, the players have the neat option of waiting for the big blind to grasp their position, before they begin the game.
They can also post their blind equivalent to the big blind and they will be dealt cards straight away, with one exception, though — when the player is in a position to place a small blind. In that case, the players must also wait for the next hand in order to play.
The Rounds of Betting and the Deal
The First Draw
Once all the blinds are placed, the hand is dealt. In a game of Badugi, the number of cards being dealt is four, as we mentioned previously, all of them facing down. The dealing commences with the player who sits left of the dealer.
After all the cards are distributed to the players, the first round of betting takes place. The player sitting left of the big blind begins, and if a player wishes to fold, raise, or call, they may do so at their own leisure.
If none of the players has chosen to raise, then the person with the big blind has the option of checking their hand. This means that they can keep the hand, without making a bet.
After the first betting round is complete, each player still participating has the option of discarding some or all of the cards they have and draw new ones.
If the player prefers not to discard any of the cards, they have the possibility of ‘standing pat.’ This means that the players can choose not to draw any new cards, keep the existing ones. If they wish to acknowledge the dealer and the other players, they can either do so verbally or by ‘knocking,’; in other words, they tap the table using their knuckles.
Here is a useful hint — usually, participants use the standing pat when they own a strong hand. Have this in mind to calculate your odds against the opponent who ‘knocks.’
Also, to keep your poker face movement and mimicry—if you are nervous and you think your voice can blow your cover—let the dealer know you’re using a standing pat by ‘knocking.’ This will keep the veil of mystery intact.
Anyway, back to the Badugi gameplay, once all the participants have discarded, they can draw new cards from the deck. Every player will be distributed with the same number of cards which they previously discharged.
The Second and the Third Draw
When the first round is done, the second one takes place. Again, beginning with the player left of the dealer. If no one placed a bet, you have the possibility to check your hand and make one yourself. Once you are in this position, if your hand is weak, you can fold.
What’s more, if the card you have is pretty decent or strong, you can also raise or call.
Upon completing all the bets, the draw can begin. Just like in the first draw you can discard your cards, or stand pat, if no one else remains but you.
After the new draw, a third round can take place. This is also the players last chance to combine the cards into the best possible hand.
The Fourth Draw, Last Betting Round and the Famous Showdown
Once the third draw, and round, are done, the fourth and last round begins. Once it starts, the same rules as in the first three apply.
When the fourth round of betting is done, all the remaining players have a showdown. The player with the best Badugi hand takes the title of the winner and walks away with the whole pot.
But, in some cases, just like in any other the poker variant, there can be a tie for the best hand. If this happens, the pot will be split two ways by the tied participants.
But, let’s just hope your hand does not have any tied opponents, so you can fully enjoy your hard earned money. We have to mention that Badugi represents an extremely interesting poker variant and, if you haven’t already, definitely give it a go.
We provided you with just enough information to get you started, so practice it a bit in a friendly environment before you hit the casino floor and try your luck with the professionals.