Badugi Poker Rules – Learn Strategy And How To Play This Card Game


9 minutes

Posted by: Ivan


Badugi is a draw poker variation that’s become very popular over the past decade. It’s fun, fast-paced, and very exciting. Regardless if you play it at home, on an online site, or at your local poker room, you’re always guaranteed a great time.

So, how do you play Badugi, and is this game difficult to learn? We’ve made the most comprehensive Badugi guide on the Internet to help you find everything you need to know about this game, all in one place!

What Is Badugi Poker?

Badugi goes by many names. It’s most commonly known as badougi, padooki, or paduki. As we mentioned above, it’s a draw poker variant that uses an identical betting structure as a classic poker game.

But, unlike standard poker, Badugi only involves four cards at any time of the game. Players can draw in and discard their hands to draft the best Badugi hand and beat their opponents.

The origin of Badugi isn’t entirely clear, but the game has certainly been played at least since the 1980s, perhaps even earlier in South Korea.

Looking at the etymology of the game’s name, it literally translates as “black and white spotted dog” in Korean. It derives from the word badug (baduk), which refers to the white and black pattern of the ancient board game Go.

If you play Badugi in a casino setting, you should expect a fixed betting limit and two blinds. The betting limit for the first two rounds is called a small bet. On the third and fourth rounds, the limit is a big bet, traditionally twice the size of the small bet.

Don’t confuse these betting limits with the (big and small) blinds. The big blind is equal to a small bet. Conversely, the small blind is generally equal to half a small bet.

Badugi can be played in different betting structures that provide for a wider betting range. This includes pot-limit, half-pot-limit, and seldom, no-limit Badugi.

Badugi is very popular worldwide. And, even though there’s still no WSOP Badugi event, you can find this game in many other competitions, cardrooms, and popular online platforms such as PokerStars.

Badugi Rules – How to Play Badugi

Badugi is very simple and straightforward to play, mainly because it has a lot of common ground with traditional poker. This is best seen in the betting actions, as you’ll have actions available at your disposal in Badugi that are relatively similar to those in other popular variations like Texas Hold’em. When playing Badugi, you can:

  • Check – Passing on the action to the next player without making a bet.
  • Bet – Making the first bet of the round.
  • Raise – Increasing the size of the existing bet in the same round.
  • Re-raise – Raising again after someone else has raised during the same round.
  • Call – Matching the opponent’s raise with a bet of equal size.
  • Fold – Forfeiting the option to win the pot.

To make sure you understand every aspect of playing Badugi, we’ll go over step by step how an average game of Badugi plays out. Here’s how to play Badugi:

  1. Starting with the player on the dealer’s left side and moving clockwise, every player will receive four cards, facedown, one card at a time.
  2. Once all of the players have four cards, the betting round can start. This is a blind game, meaning that the players to the dealer’s left side make a small blind bet, and the player on his left side continues with the big blind.
  3. After all of the players have made their move and the betting round is over, players will start drawing cards.
  4. The player in the small blind poker position says how many of his original cards he wants to discard. He receives the same number of new cards in return at once. During the drawing round, you’re not obliged to take any new cards. You can keep your initial hand intact the entire game. This is commonly known as a standing pat.
  5. Once every player has made their decision during the draw, the round ends. After this, a new betting round begins with the player on the dealer’s left side.

After this initial pattern is completed, the betting and drawing continue for a maximum of three drawing rounds.

There’s one scenario in which the game can end earlier than this. This is if everyone folds, and there’s only one player left.

If there’s more than one player left at the end of the final round, there’s a showdown. The players who are left compare their hands, and the player with the best Badugi hand is the pot winner.

Badugi Rules – Badugi Hand Rankings

Badugi hand rankings are different from those in traditional poker. Rankings go from low to high, with the notable exception that aces are low. This minor change makes a significant difference, which we’ll address a bit later on.

A Badugi poker hand consists of one to four cards of distinct suit and rank. Any card of duplicate rank or suit in your hand is disregarded when comparing hands.

A four-card hand that consists of four different suits is called a “Badugi.” Here are the most important Badugi hand ranking rules you should know:

  • Your hand must be made up from the lowest one to four cards.
  • The value of your hand is based on how low the highest card in your hand is.
  • All Badugi cards must be of different suits and ranks.
  • A four-card Badugi always beats a three-card Badugi, which always beats a two-card Badugi.

So, with all of this in mind, the best possible hand in the game is an A-2-3-4 hand, with all four cards made up from different suits. Oppositely to this, the worst hand you can have are four kings.

To better understand this, let’s take all of these Badugi rules and apply them to one hand as an example.

Suppose you have four off-suit cards that look like this: 2-3-6-8. Your opponent also has an off-suit hand, which looks like this: A-2-3-9.

Although most beginners will make the mistake of saying that the opponent’s hand is better, this is not true. Since the highest card is always the first one compared, your eight is smaller than the other player’s nine, meaning that you always come on top as the winner.

How to play badugi

But, what if you have a hand that includes four off-suit cards with two identically-ranked cards, for example, a 2-5-Q-Q hand. On the other hand, your opponent has a hand consisting of 2-4-4-K?

In this case, you’ll again come up as the winner. This is because both hands are reduced to a three-card hand. And, when compared, your 2-5-Q hand is better than the opponent’s 2-4-K hand.

Factors That Impact Optimal Badugi Strategy

Another aspect that makes Badugi similar to other poker variations and games with a fixed order of play is that your position can play a significant role in your success at the game.

Just as in Hold’em, for example, if you’re the last player to act, you’ll be in the best position to bluff, as you can observe the actions of all of the players that act before you.

Besides this, if you’re in a late position, you’ll have a much easier time determining just how strong or weak your hand is based on the decision that the players who bet before you make.

In this game, the pot odds can be an excellent tool for justifying or disputing your decision of calling with a particular hand. You should always keep in mind all of these elements if you want to make sure you play as optimally as possible with each hand.

A general rule of thumb is that you should play Badugi much tighter than other draw games.

This means that you should fold more hands pre-draw and not throw your money into the pot too often.

From this perspective, if you hold a 4-card Badugi, there are ways you can estimate your odds of winning. For instance, if you have a Badugi with an eight high-card, you can tell that there are only up to five cards that will fill the opposite player’s hand.

The number of players betting is also a very important strategic aspect to consider. This is so because the more players that are playing, the higher the chance is that there’ll be a 4-card Badugi.

Badugi strategy

In line with that, bluffing in a six-player game is not as wise as doing so in a game with less than four players. In a six-player game, the last thing you’d want is to find yourself bluffing with only a two or three-card hand, as you can quickly lose out.

Tips for Playing Badugi

Although Badugi is similar to many other draw games, you can’t apply a lot of tactics from these games to improve your Badugi strategy.

That said, there are some tips to remember that will allow you to maximize your success in the game. Here are our best Badugi strategy tips:

  • If you have to discard three or more cards in one of the later betting rounds, you should most often fold and save yourself the trouble.
  • Always observe your opponent’s actions during drawing rounds. Logic dictates that opponents who stand pat most often have a strong hand. That said, be vigilant in case they’re bluffing to make you fold your strong hand.
  • If you have a bad hand with three or more face cards in a six-player game, you can discard all of them and continue playing. If you’re playing against only a couple of opponents, consider folding right away.
  • Bluffing, or snowing as it’s called in Badugi, works very well in the game. Focus on developing your bluffing, as it can be a very lucrative tactic in Badugi. Just make sure not to go overboard with it.

All in all, the Badugi card game is a very interesting and quite different poker version. If you’ve been looking for something to spice up your home game nights, this could be a great pick. And, with these tips, you should be able to pull in some nice pots.

Badugi – Summing Up This Fun Draw Poker Game

An exciting aspect of Badugi is that you never know what cards you can get, no matter how smart or tactical you play it on the draw.

Although there might not be as many strategic adjustments you can make as in other poker variations, Badugi still requires strong poker skills. You should know how to read and calculate pot odds, implied and reverse implied odds, and have great observational skills.

We’ve shared with you all of the information you need to know to play Badugi in your local casino or online successfully. All that’s left now is for you to try the game on your own and apply all of the knowledge you’ve learned here.

While some players debate the ratio of skill and luck in this game, one thing is sure – if you took the time to read the entire page, you’d have a significant edge over most of your Badugi opponents.

Ivan Potocki

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