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Badugi Poker Rules: Learn the Official Rules of Badugi Poker

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A popular lowball variant of poker you'll find in some casinos and online is Badugi.

Once played primarily in high-stakes games, online poker sites began offering it 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 is necessary. It's also a lot of fun.

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 is a lowball game, the ace is always low. So the lowest possible hand is A-2-3-4 rainbow.

Limit Betting Format

Similar to Texas Hold'em, Badugi is played with a 'Button' to designate the dealer and the two players to the left of the button will post blinds.

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.

Max Draw of Four Cards

After the blinds are posted, a round of betting ensues followed by the first round of draws. There are three drawing rounds in Badugi with a round of betting afterwards.

Players may draw up to four cards. Note that 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.

Showdown

After the last betting round, the remaining players show their cards to determine a winner. If only one player has a Badugi hand they win the pot no matter the strength.

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

Some hands nobody will have a Badugi. In these cases the player with the best three-card hand wins the pot.

In rare occasions nobody will have a three-card hand and the best two card hand will win.

Basic Badugi Strategy 

While learning the game, 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. If you choose to draw two cards, try to have two cards seven and under.

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.

Also, 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.

A Game That Rewards Solid Play

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.