Poking Around: What to Know about Badugi Poker

Poker table with chips image

📖 Published on: June 14th, 2024

✍️ Updated: June 17th, 2024

⏳ 8 mins read


The universal game of poker continues to evolve over time. With more variety and continuous game dynamics that are challenged in many poker games, it’s no surprise that many other poker enthusiasts and pros prefer exploring unique variants like Badugi.

This intriguing lowball game offers a fresh twist where the goal is to create the lowest possible hand with four unique suits. Ready to dive into the world of Badugi and master its strategies? Keep reading to become a Badugi pro!

Understanding the Origins of Badugi Poker

Badugi is a draw poker variation that has its roots in Asia. Since the lowest hand prevails, it is quite similar to Lowball. It is distinct from the majority of common poker variations, though, primarily because of the altered hand ranking method. With four low cards—one from each suit—and no pairings, the strongest hands are those. We call this a Badugi.

What are the Rules of Badugi Poker?

When it comes to the basic principles of playing Badugi poker, the most important thing to remember is the blinds and the deal portion of the game. The bets you place or the amount you wager is known as the Blinds.

The player typically sits to the left of the dealer or if you’re playing online, on the left of the button posting a small blind, and the player to their left posts a big blind. When it comes to the small blind, the size is usually half of the big blind.

Poker players image

After the blinds are posted, each player is dealt four cards face down, known as 'hole cards.' Players then have the opportunity to draw up to four new cards to improve their hands, discarding the ones they don’t need. This process repeats over three rounds of betting and drawing. The goal is to form the best possible Badugi hand, which consists of four cards of different ranks and suits. Hands are ranked by their highest card, and remember, the lower the better in this unique lowball variant!

Let’s Talk about the Deal

Four cards are dealt face down to each player. Next comes the first betting round, in which you have the option to call, raise, or fold. After this initial betting round, any remaining players in the hand now have the choice to draw.

The idea behind the draw is that you can select which cards you want to keep and which ones to discard in favor of fresh cards that you think will strengthen your hand. After selecting the cards you wish to discard, click the "Discard" button.

If you'd like, you can decide to discard all four cards. When there are no bets, in which case you can check, players can choose to fold or place a wager in the subsequent round of betting.

Following the conclusion of this betting round, there is another draw and betting round. The last draw and betting round come next, and if there are still players in the game, a showdown takes place. The pot is shared by the player holding the best hand.

Where is Badugi Poker Legal in the US?

If you want to play poker online, Badugi Poker is a fantastic option for individuals looking for a different (and more difficult) game. Before playing, it's crucial to understand whether online poker is allowed in each state. Check the laws in your location before playing online poker, as every state has different legislation.

New Jersey, for instance, offers a wealth of poker sites, including Badugi. Delaware, with one of the oldest regulated markets, allows interstate play. Pennsylvania, with PokerStars, is a prime spot for Badugi. Nevada, home to the World Series of Poker, shares player pools with NJ and DE. Michigan and West Virginia both legalized online poker in 2019, with sites launching soon.

What are some basic beginner’s friendly strategies for Badugi Poker?

Making a badugi, or a four-card low hand with four separate suits and no pairings, is the goal of the game. Therefore, 4-3-2-A is the finest starting hand that can be formed (with each card being a different suit). Aces are always played as a low card in badugi, while straights are ignored. Hands are ranked according to their highest card.

An opponent having 8-7-3-2 (an "Eight Badugi") of various suits would defeat a player holding 9-8-4-3 (a "Nine Badugi") of different suits. Similarly, 5-4-3-2 (a "Five Badugi") would defeat 6-3-2-A (a "Six Badugi"). The next-highest card is taken into consideration if the top cards in the hand are tied, and so on. A 6-4-3-2 (a "Six-Four Badugi") would also defeat a 6-5-4-A (a "Six-Five Badugi").

Badugi poker graphic image

The player with the best three- or two-card hand wins the pot if the hand goes to showdown and no one has a Badugi. For instance, if you have two hearts and hold 6h-4d-3s-Ah, the uppermost heart is disregarded, leaving a 4-3-A-x. The hand in question is referred to as a "Three Card Four," and while it would not defeat any Badugi, it would defeat 7h-5d-4d-3s (ignoring the highest diamond to create a "Three Card Seven," 7-4-3-x). Every two-card hand was defeated by every three-card hand.

Quick Glossary of Badugi Poker Terms to Remember

Don’t get so overwhelmed just yet. Badugi poker can be smooth sailing if you familiarize yourself with a few key terms. Here are our top 10 Badugi Poker terms to keep in mind when playing your hand in the game:

  • Badugi: Four cards of varying rankings and suits make up a badugi hand.
  • Draw: Getting a better hand by tossing out and getting new cards.
  • Blinds: Included in forced bets posted prior to the deal are the big blind and the minor blind.
  • Check: To move the action to the following player without placing a wager.
  • Raise: To raise the stakes from the existing level.
  • Folding: This term describes the act of throwing away your hand and losing the round.
  • Showdown: The last round in which the winners are decided by the players who have to expose their hands.
  • Hole Cards: The four cards that are dealt face down to every participant.
  • Three-Card Hand: When no player possesses a Badugi, this hand is used. It consists of three cards of different suits and rankings.
  • Two-card Hand: If no player possesses a three- or four-card hand, the two-card hand is employed. It consists of two cards of different suits and ranks.

Learn the Ropes of Badugi Poker

There you have it, the essentials of Badugi poker! This exciting and unique poker variant offers a refreshing challenge for both new and seasoned players. Whether you're playing online or in person, understanding the rules, knowing where to play legally, and employing some basic strategies can give you a great start. So, grab your deck of cards and dive into the world of Badugi—who knows, you might just find your new favorite poker game!

Learn more about other poker variations like Pineapple or Pot Limit to spice up your Sunday night poker ritual here at GambleSpot.

Similar articles

Are you sure?

This will delete all chat history, and I will not remember what we were talking about.

Todays Hot Deals