Introduction to Badugi Poker 

Badugi Poker is a version of traditional poker that originated in Asia (Korea), but it is immensely popular in American and European casinos and has found its way into various online poker sites on the internet. Badugi Poker has become a popular alternative to the more popular poker variants thanks to its fast-paced gameplay and interesting twists on hand rankings and poker rules. 

In a nutshell, Badugi Poker is a triple draw card game of poker, and the thing that makes this version of poker so different than its more popular counterparts is that the lowest hand is the one that wins. Similarly to Texas Hold’em, players go through three rounds of gameplay in betting, and the ultimate goal is to create the lowest hand made of four cards you receive. 

It takes some time for experienced poker players to adjust to the need of creating low hands instead of high hands. But when you master the game, you’ll be able to compete for lucrative prizes that are offered by one of the most exciting games available on circuits today. 

In this article, we highlight the most important features of Badugi Poker and share some tips that you might find useful when playing this version of poker for real money. 


Badugi Rules

As it’s the case with every card game, Badugi Poker is regulated with a set of rules, and all players must abide by them. Here are some of the most notable ones: 

  • Badugi Poker is a ‘’blind’’ game, meaning the player that sits left to the dealer is required to put in the small blind, and the player left of the small blind must put in the big blind.
  • Every player receives four cards face down, one card at each round. The player that is positioned left to the dealer receives their cards first, and then the circle moves on to other players around the table (in the clockwise direction).
  • Once all players are dealt four cards, the first betting starts with the player to the left of the big blind. 
  • Once the first betting round is completed, players move on to the first drawing round. 
  • The player who is left to the dealer announces how many cards he or she would like to throw away and receives new ones in return. 
  • The dealer deals all of the cards to that player at once and moves on to the next player that is scheduled to play. 
  • A player can opt to keep all four cards. This is known as rapping pat or standing pat
  • Once all players (except the ones who chose to throw away no cards) have received all cards, the second betting round begins and it starts with the player left to the dealer. 
  • This pattern repeats until either one player remains on the table, or the players complete the betting round after the third drawing round.

How to Play Badugi Poker

Now, let’s explain step by step how a Badugi Poker game looks like. 

 

  • First Round Betting: The player left to the big blind starts the game, and is followed by the player that is left to him. Players can either fold, call, or raise. After the decision is made, a player to his/her left must do the same. After all players around the table place their bets, the game of Badugi Poker moves on to the first draw round. 
  • First Draw Round: The round starts with the player left to the dealer and proceeds in the clockwise direction. Players announce how many cards they wish to discard, and they can draw up to four poker cards. In this round, players need to decide how many cards they want to replace, and which cards they wish to retain. Players can opt for a standing pat − they decide to draw no cards. Players that opt for standing pat either have a good hand or they want to bluff other players into thinking that they have a good hand. 
  • Second Round Betting: The second round of betting begins when all the remaining players on the table have completed their first draw. It begins after all players have discarded in the last round and new cards will be drawn from the deck. Each player will be dealt the same number of cards that were discarded. 
  • Second Draw Round: The second draw round follows the same pattern of rules as the first round. Any player remaining in the hand can discard any or all four cards, or, alternatively, can decide to draw no cards (stand pat). 
  • Third Round Betting: This round is similar to the second round of betting. However, there is one significant difference between the two rounds − the low stakes betting rise to high stakes as a betting increment. 
  • Third Draw Round: This round is the players’ last chance to make the most out of their hand. It follows the same pattern as the second draw round. In this hand, the dealer can choose to include the discarded cards (reshuffled).
  • Final Betting Round: This is the final round of betting, and it begins after the third draw round. This is the round when the stakes are the highest. If there is more than one player left at this stage of the game, players will move on to the showdown stage. 
  • The Showdown: Only players that are left in the game take place in this round. The players with the lowest hand win the pot. The player who made the last bet needs to show the cards first. When this is not possible, the first remaining player left to the dealer needs to show their cards. Similarly to Texas Hold’em, players can choose to show or muck their cards if they have losing hands. 

 

Variations of Badugi Poker 

The most common type of limits you can find with Badugi Poker is fixed limit. Pot limit is not as common and it can be found at sit & go tables or in multi-table tournaments. In fact, it’s almost impossible to see a pot limit Badugi Poker ring game, but they do occur from time to time, especially when there are a lot of players around. 

Pot limit Badugi Poker is actually a combination of no limit and fixed limit poker. Since the no-limit option doesn’t exist (it would drastically reduce the significance of the skill factor), this is the highest variance of Badugi Poker. When you are playing at a pot limit, this means that players can raise or bet a maximum that is equal to the current pool. This means that when the pot is very large, players can make substantial bets, and the maximum amount of money you can bet will progressively grow as the round goes on. 

At the beginning of the game, the bets are more limited because the pot is small, so you are making your decisions based on mathematical odds, like in the fixed limit game. Note that bluffing doesn’t work since you won’t be able to scare off other players with big money bets. Later on, as the limits increase, bluffing becomes more effective. Essentially, it’s much harder to force people to fold in fixed limit games. 

Your bluffing strategy can be effective at the beginning of a hand using standing pat with betting, but it can work even more effectively later on when the betting stakes are much higher. So it really all comes down to observing how many players are drawing cards and which cards you receive in the draw rounds. What happens during the starting round will have a huge impact on what happens later. If the pot gets bigger early on, then you can expect the betting maximum to skyrocket at the end. You can control the pot by calling and checking your opponents, thus keeping the pot smaller and limiting. 

The best way to win cash in PL Badugi Poker is to slow-play your hand. Placing smaller bets will sometimes trick other players into thinking that your hand is weak and that you are trying to semi-bluff. This can lure them into raising and building on a pot a little more. Obviously, you should do this only if you have a very powerful hand as a strategy to maximize your profits. Keep in mind that someone else might also be using this strategy.


Conclusion 

Badugi Poker is a fast-paced game sought out by players at various gaming sites and land-based poker rooms around the globe. Not only do they seek the thrill of a four card game of poker, but they also enjoy the interesting aspect of creating the lowest possible hand of poker, which is different to what they’ve gotten used to doing while playing more popular variants of poker like Texas Hold’em where the goal is to create the highest hand. As you improve your Badugi Poker skills and move on to a more advanced level, you will learn how to bluff more successfully and implement pro strategies.