Badugi is a draw poker game and is a comparatively new variant, but is now widely played both online and in casinos. Unlike standard poker games, a Badugi hand consists of only four cards. It is a ‘lowball’ game, meaning players attempt to draw to the worst possible hand.

The hand rankings in Badugi are significantly different to typical poker games and suits play a more important role than in other lowball games. The objective is to make a four-card hand with the lowest possible hand rankings, all of different suits.

So, A-2-3-4 all of different suits represents the best possible Badugi hand. If your hand has two cards of the same suit, for example Ac-2d-4h-Kh the Kh is disregarded and you have a ‘3-card Badugi’. In all cases a 4-card Badugi beats a 3-card; a 3-card beats a 2-card and so on. If two players have the same number Badugi, the winning hand is decided by the highest ranked card. If the highest ranked cards are the same, then the winner is decided by the lower second ranked card and so on. Although avoiding duplicate suits is important in Badugi, the individual suits themselves have no value associated with them.

Badugi is most commonly played with fixed betting limits meaning that in each betting round players may only bet in fixed pre-determined increments. For the first two betting rounds this amount is known as the ‘small bet’ and for the second two betting rounds it is the ‘big bet’, which is typically twice the small bet. Betting is usually capped to one bet and three raises on all betting rounds. Badugi is also played with pot limit and no limit betting structures, but these are less common than the fixed limit variant.

Playing a Badugi Hand

A Badugi hand starts with the two players to the left of the dealer paying blind bets into the pot, before they receive their cards. The player immediately to the left of the dealer pays the small blind and the player to his left pays the ‘big blind’, which is typically twice the small blind.

Each player then receives four cards, one at a time and the first betting round begins with the player to the left of the big blind. He may call the amount of the big blind, raise to double the big blind, or fold. The action proceeds around the table to the big blind who may call or fold to any raises before him, or check if the pot is un-raised, and we move on to the first draw. If at any point in the hand all players but one have folded, the pot is awarded to the remaining player. During the draw, each player still in the hand may now discard and replace as many of their cards as they wish, starting with the small blind.

Following the draw, there is a round of betting which begins with the small blind and continues around the table. Each player has the option to bet or to check, passing the action along to the next player but remaining in the hand, unless there has been betting action in front of him. In this case they may call, raise or fold.

Following the second betting round there is a second drawing round where players may again replace as many of their cards as they wish. After this draw, there is a third betting round which follows the same pattern as the previous one, except in this case the betting increment changes to the big bet.

Following the third betting round there is a third and final draw for all players remaining in the hand. After the third draw there is a fourth round of betting. If there are still player remaining in the hand at the end of this betting round, they go to showdown, where they must turn over their cards. The player with the best Badugi hand as discussed above is then awarded the pot. If there has been betting action on the last round, the final aggressor must show first. If the final round is checked around players must show their hands in a clockwise direction starting with the small blind.