Poker is phenomenally popular world-wide. No wonder, then, that there are so many poker variations. In Badugi Poker, you play for the low hand, there are only four cards, and there are three draws. However, the biggest wrinkle that affects strategy is that all your cards must be unsuited and unpaired.
As in lowball three-draw, there are two blinds. The small blind is to the dealer’s left and the big blind is the next player to the left. Every player receives four cards down and there is a round of betting beginning with the player to the left of the big blind. If you are familiar with betting in games with blinds you already understand the betting in Badugi Poker.
Badugi Poker Hands
Since you are playing only for low hand, the ace is a low card. Straights don’t count. But you must have unsuited and unpaired cards. So you may have to discard a card that otherwise would give you a powerful hand.
Ace-2-3-4 is the best hand you can have but even with three draws this hand is rare.
Clearly, you might not be able to play a full four-card hand. A four-card hand is also called a badugi because by just having the full four cards, it is powerful. Any badugi beats any three-card hand; any three-card hand beats any two-card hand; and so on.
Newer players, especially those who are used to playing for the high hand, are sometimes confused by the determination of a winner. If the highest card of your hand is the same as the highest card of your opponent’s hand you compare the next card. In lowball games like Badugi, the next lowest card wins the hand.
Sometimes players stay in with a good three-card hand only to lose to a king-high badugi. Three-card hands always lose to legal four-card hands.
In the first round you must at least call the big blind. Even if you have a terrible Badugi hand, such as four-of-a-kind, you can stay in for at least one draw unless your bankroll is too small. If you have four kings you can draw four cards and likely improve your hand.
Betting position is as important in Badugi as in other games.
Bluffing is usually poor strategy in five or six-player games. You can bluff out a player who plays extremely tight.
Many experienced players will stand pat for the third draw rather than telegraph their hand’s weakness. This is often a bluffing ploy so, if you aren’t comfortable bluffing, go ahead and draw on the last round.
Never stand pat if you have a three-card hand unless you are committed to bluffing. Your three-card hand will lose to any four-card hand.
Standing pat with a good three-card hand is called snowing. It is a bluffing play but a powerful one because you can win many hands with a good three-card hand if no one gets a badugi.
The overwhelming number of hands have a ten or higher card.
A badugi headed by the 8 or 9 is a winner about 90% of the time.
As you can see, having a badugi headed by 7 or less is uncommon to say the least.
A three-card hand headed by a seven can win many hands but the more players stay in the game the less likely a three-card hand will win.
Badugi – New in the World of Poker
Badugi Poker is thought to be invented in Korea but its history is still foggy. It was introduced online in 2000 and is growing in popularity.