How To Play Badugi

How To Play Badugi?

Let’s introduce you to the unique draw poker variation, Badugi. Rumor has it that this game originated in Asia — Korea to be precise. The name was generated from the Korean word baduk, which translates as ‘white and black pattern.’ For instance, the Koreans call a black and white dog — baduk.

Low Values Poker Game

Later on, there was a rising popularity of this poker variant in the mid-1980s first in South Korea, and then in Canada’s Winnipeg and Ontario regions. Unfortunately, it’s popularity was reduced, so nowadays we can find Badugi in some specific casinos, but in the mixed games section.

Badugi is known for its low card values; the best way to describe this game to someone is to compare it to the lowball. This brings us to the main thing that led you to this article. How to play this exciting game?

The rules are not so complicated, and we shall try to make it as simple as possible. After reading this, we recommend you to try Badugi with your friends and get more familiar with the game before you head to a casino to try your luck.  

Badugi Hands Rankings

Let’s talk about one of the most essential things in a card game, the strongest and the weakest combination a card draw can give you.

When it comes to poker and its variations since there are so many, we can classify them in three major categories:

  1. Stud poker games such as Razz or Seven Card Stud;
  2. Flop poker games, like Omaha and Texas Hold’Em (these are also the two most popular ones);
  3. Draw poker games, among them the most popular ones are 2-7 Triple Draw and Five Card Draw.

Badugi belong in the final variant, but there are differences between it and other poker games. Namely, most of the poker card games are using a five-card hand, while Badugi has four. We can say with certainty that the game with the most similarities to Badugi is Triple Draw.

Badugi hand values are the closest to lowball, and the player’s primary objective is to seize the pot by having the lowest hand in the round.

However, even though Badugi has similar features to lowball and Triple Draw, it is quite unique; not only because the low hand is the one that wins, but it’s also a matter of different suits and ranks of cards.  

As we previously mentioned, the Badugi hand rankings are a bit different than in most traditional games of poker. Each player will receive four cards in total, and the objective is to make a hand with distinct suits and ranks. If you have a paired rank or the same suit of cards, they will be discounted. In addition, Badugi uses a standard 52-card deck.

There are four types of hands in Badugi, and we will disclaim them from the strongest to the weakest:

  • The ‘Four Card’; for example, is the combination of four of hearts – three of clubs – two of diamonds – Ace of spades; this is the best one since the cards have the lowest values and are all of different suits.
  • The ‘Three Card’; let’s say you have at least three cards with different ranks and suits, for instance, four of hearts – three of diamonds – two of spades – Ace of hearts. In this particular example, we are stuck with two cards of the same suit. In Badugi, the highest card isn’t counted, meaning that the Ace of hearts will be considered, but not the four of hearts.
  • The ‘Two Card’; now, this can be a mixture of at least two cards of different suits and ranks. For example four of spades – four of hearts – three of diamonds – Ace of diamonds. In this case, the only cards which count are the Ace and the four, because we have one pair and two cards of the same suit.
  • The ‘One Card’; even though this combination is the weakest one, it has to be mentioned. In case you have four of diamonds – three of diamonds — two of diamonds – Ace of diamonds, or Ace of hearts – Ace of diamonds – Ace of spades – Ace of clubs, the only card that counts is the one Ace.
Badugi Hands Rankings

Badugi Gameplay, the Dealing, the Rounds and the Blinds

Now, a word or two about the gameplay itself. This game uses a mandatory blind bet, the same as Texas Hold’Em poker. The small blind and the big blind are assigned to the players left of the dealer, and this determines the order in which the cards are being dealt.

At the beginning of the first round, all of the participants have the possibility of waiting for the big blind and before playing; or they can make their blind bet instantly as long as it matches the big blind; after this, they will be dealt with the cards straight away.

The first hand starts once all of the blind bets are made. The number of cards each Badugi player receives is four, and they’re facing down. After the dealer distributes all the cards to the players, starting from the player on the left of them, the first betting round will commence. The first player is the one left of the big blind, and each player then goes on to decide whether to raise, fold, or call.

If no one wishes to raise, the player with the big blind can check their hand if he wishes to do so; meaning, they can keep their hand without the obligation to make a bet.

This makes the first betting round officially over, which implies that all of the players still in the game have the possibility to discard as many cards as they please; depending on the number of the discarded cards, they draw the same amount from the deck.

Here is where the famous ‘standing pat’ can take place. If you are unfamiliar with this term, we’ll elaborate. The players who have chosen not to draw any new cards from the deck, and instead keep the ones they already have, have to notify the dealer as well as the other players of this decision; either vocally or by knocking the table.  

Once all the players have made a decision to discard or not, the second betting round can take place. The new hand looks exactly like the first one, and the third one, for that matter. The difference is in the fourth (the last) one.

The Final Betting and the Showdown

Just like in the other poker variants, the final betting round is the most stressful one. Here is where the poker faces, the infamous bluffs, and the showdown take place.

The rules of the last round are the same as in the first one. Here is the difference: once the betting is done, all of the remaining players have a showdown, and the player with the best Badugi hands is the winner of the pot.

There is an exception to this rule, and it applies when there are two players with a winning card combination. We call this situation a tie for the best hand. How do they manage the pot? Naturally, the two players split the winnings equally.

So, folks, that’s it, we believe that the game of Badugi isn’t complicated. You can master the rules and enjoy this unique poker type with only a little bit of practice.

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