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Badugi Poker | Basic Rules & Strategy for Badugi Poker

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A popular lowball variant of poker you'll find in some casinos and online is Badugi poker and it's cousin, Badeucy Poker. Once played primarily in high-stakes games, online poker sites began offering Badugi a few years ago and now it has a huge following across the globe. 

The game is even part of the Dealer's Choice Event at the World Series of Poker. If you want to be a well-rounded mixed-games player, learning Badugi poker is a must. It's also a lot of fun.

Badugi is a variant of draw poker and shares a lot of game features as Lowball poker.

The lowest hand wins in Badugi, but it differs quite a bit for other Lowball variants because the strongest hand has to have one card of each suit.

What is a Badugi?

A Badugi hand is:

  • A four-card hand with one card of each suit

Pairs hurt your hand but straights do not. As Badugi poker is a lowball game the ace is always low. So the lowest possible hand is:

  • A-2-3-4 (rainbow)

The worst possible Badugi is K-Q-J-T

How to Play Badugi Poker

Similar to Texas Hold'em, Badugi is played with a 'button' to designate the dealer. The two players to the left of the button are the small and big blinds and post forced bets before the beginning of each hand.

Most Badugi games use a Limit betting format. The size of the bet at the deal and after the first betting round is the size of the big blind. The bet size after the second and third draws are double the big blind.

Badugi poker

Badugi Deal and Draws

Once the blinds have been paid each player is dealt four cards face down. A round of betting ensues where players can check, bet, raise or fold depending on the action in from of them.

Once all players have matched any bets or raises (or all players check) the first round of draws occurs. Players may draw up to four cards.

(Note: some casinos will not give you four consecutive cards in a draw. If this is the case you will get three cards and then your final card after the other draws.)

Once all players have drawn their desired number of cards, a second round of betting then takes place. The same conditions apply as for the first betting round. Players can check, bet, raise or fold depending on the action in front of them.

Once all bets are matched another draw occurs, followed by a third betting round. There are three total drawing rounds in Badugi with a round of betting afterwards.

Badugi Showdown

After the last betting round, the remaining players left in the hand show their cards to determine a winner. If only one player has a Badugi hand (remember any four-card hand with each suit represented) they win the pot no matter the strength. 

If more than one player has a Badugi, the player with the lowest hand wins.

For some hands, nobody will have a Badugi. In these cases the player with the best three-card hand wins the pot. On rare occasions nobody will have a three-card hand and the best two card hand will win.

Badugi Poker Hand Ranking

Top 10 Badugi Poker Hands
A 2 3 4
A 2 3 5
A 2 4 5
A 3 4 5
2 3 4 5
A 2 3 6
A 2 4 6
A 3 4 6
2 3 4 6
A 2 5 6

Some important notes on Badugi Hand Rankings:

1. Any completed four-card Badugi is better than a hand with lower cards that doesn’t have all four suits. That means:

  • K-J-9-8 of different suits is better than a A-2-3-4 where any two cards are the same suit

2. The highest cards in each hand are compared first to determine the winning hand followed by the next highest card and so on until there is a different card. If players have the exact same four ranks all in different suits it's a split pot.

3. One half of a pair is not counted towards your hand so if you have a pair the best you can have is a three-card hand.

4. Higher ranking cards of the same suit are also discarded in ranking your Badugi hand. Eg. if you have Td and 6d the Td does not count in your hand.

Basic Badugi Strategy Tips

badugi poker rules

1. While learning how to play Badugi you want to try to stick with hands with at least three non-paired suits to start. The lower the cards in your starting hand, the better. Most rainbow hands with three cards nine and under are highly playable.

2. If you choose to draw two cards, try to have two cards seven and under.

3. When you happen to pick up a Badugi on the draw, push the hand hard and make your opponent pay to outdraw you. Even if the Badugi is king-high, play fast because it can be tough to catch one.

4. When you don't catch a Badugi, don't be scared to call a single bet on the end when you have a strong three-card hand. There are many hands you will win with a strong three-card hand.

Badugi is a game that rewards solid play due to the Limit betting structure. Stick with a basic structure in the beginning and expand as you get more comfortable and learn the styles of your opponents.

Badugi Odds

Badugi odds aren't particularly hard to figure out and mostly have to do with the odds of improving your hand on a draw.

In a nutshell, the worse your hand the better chance you have of improving it. The more draws you have, the higher the odds of improving your hand are.

If you're playing at a full 8-player badugi table a 3-card hand will rarely be good enough to win as someone will likely have a Badugi.

To improve a 3-card to a Badugi you have to draw a card of the correct suit (the one you're missing) and it must not give you a pair. That means you have 10 outs. Your percentage chance of improving your hand then depends on how many draws are left.

A shortcut to working out your odds is:

  • 2 x number of outs x number of draws
Outs 1 Draw 2 Draws 3 Draws
1 2% 4% 6%
2 4% 8% 12%
3 6% 12% 18%
4 8% 16% 23%
5 10% 20% 29%
6 13% 24% 34%
7 15% 27% 38%
8 17% 31% 43%
9 19% 34% 47%
10 21% 38% 51%

So if you have a full 10 outs before the first draw you have a 51% chance of hitting your Badugi by the time all three draws are complete.

"Snowing" in Badugi

When you are "snowing" in Badugi you are basically trying to convince your opponent you have a Badugi when you don't.

That means you're "standing pat" on your draws and betting into your opponents, hoping they give up. For example if you have a solid 3-card hand and your opponents are still drawing on later streets, there's a good chance you can bet them out of the hand as they're odds to hit are low.

It's much easier to represent a Badugi and stand pat on later draws if you're in position. Read more about position here:

How to Play Badeucy

Badeucy (or Baduci) is a split-pot game that is a combination of Badugi and 2-7 Triple Draw poker. 

In Badeucy you want to try to scoop the full pot with the best 2-7 hand and the best Badugi. A couple of important differences between Baduci and Badugi:

  • In Badeucy aces are also high for your Badugi hand
  • All players are dealt 5 cards instead of just 4

This makes the best Badugi hand now 2-3-4-5 as the ace is considered a high card.

As in Badugi there are three drawing rounds in Badeucy with a round of betting after each round. Like most Fixed Limit games the first two betting rounds are at the  small bet amount and the second and third rounds are done in the big bet amount.

Play Badugi Online Free

badugi poker online free

If you're looking to play Badugi poker online, PokerStars should be your first stop. It spreads the most Badugi games online and at several stake levels. At PokerStars you can also compete for a WCOOP bracelet in Badugi.

More poker sites are beginning to offer Badugi games but it's still not the most common form of poker you'll find online. Some skins on the iPoker network, like Bet365 Poker, do run Badugi games.

PokerStars has the most extensive mixed games selection as well which can include Badugi in some variations. Check our PokerStars review for more and to access our $600 PokerStars bonus: