How to Play Badugi Poker

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What is Badugi Poker?

Badugi is a four-card lowball poker variant where players must make the best "badugi" - four cards with no duplicates in rank or suit.

More commonly found in cash games, it is on rotation for high-stakes mixed games and is part of other mixed-game variants like badeucy and badacy.

It is believed that badugi originated in Canada during the 1980s under the name 'Off Suit Lowball'.

The name allegedly comes from the Korean word baduk or badug which refers to a black and white pattern, with badugi a common name for a black and white spotted dog. The board game Go was called baduk in Korean

Here we go over the poker rules for Badugi.

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How to Play Badugi

Badugi is played with a button as well as a small and big blind. Badugi is usually played as fixed limit, and there is a betting round before the first draw, where players may choose to discard between zero (standing pat) and four cards.

Each player in turn decides how many cards they want to draw. Discards are not returned to the deck and kept separate.

There is a second betting round, followed by another draw. The third betting round precedes the final draw. After the final draw there is a fourth and final betting round, after which the hand goes to showdown.

Read More: George Danzer Discusses Betting and Bluffing in Badugi

Badugi Strategy

Just like many poker games, position is very important in badugi.

This is because:

  • You get to see how many cards your opponents are drawing
  • You get to see how much your opponents are betting
  • You get to decide whether to bluff by "standing pat" or drawing zero cards
  • You get to put in an extra raise if you want

Of similar importance is making sure you don't draw too many. WSOP bracelet winner George Danzer says that you shouldn't be drawing three or four from early position, otherwise you'll be putting yourself at a disadvantage.

Also, you should be aware that it can be difficult to make a badugi. If a player has a three-card badugi such as A233 in the first round, the probability of making a four-card badugi by the final draw is 51%.

Therefore, it can be prudent to try and bluff with some ofo your good three-card badugis.

Badugi Opening Ranges

Here are some two- and three-card badugi starting hands that you can use the next time you're playing badugi.

Three-Card Badugi Starting Hands

In badugi, starting off with three cards of different suites under five is a really strong position. Hands like the following should be played from any position, drawing one after the first round of betting:

  • A23
  • A24
  • 245
  • 235
  • 245

Two-Card Badugi Starting Hands

Although not as strong as a three-card starting hand, you can often play very strong two-card badugi starting hands from late position, drawing two after the first round of betting:

  • A2
  • 23
  • A3
  • 24
  • A4

Read More: Badugi WSOP Mixed Games Strategy

Badugi Hand Rankings

In badugi, any four-card badugi beats a three-card hand. For example KQJ10 beats A233.

Here are some sample hands:

  • 432A - 4-high, four-card rainbow hand = 4-high badugi
  • 6543 - 6-high, four-card rainbow hand = 6-high badugi
  • 9762 - 9-high, four-card rainbow hand = 9-high badugi
  • KQJ10 - King-high, four-card rainbwo hand = King-high badugi

Here are the top ten Badugi hands, assuming that each card is a different suit.

2Ax2x3x5xFive Perfect
6Ax2x3x6xSix Perfect

Read More: Thinking Outside the Hold’em Box: Badugi

Badugi at the World Series of Poker (WSOP)

Although there is no badugi bracelet event, badugi does feature in three mixed game events at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) - the $1,500 Dealer's Choice, the $10,000 Dealer's Choice and Mixed Triple Draw Lowball.

WSOP Mixed Triple Draw Lowball Winners

YearEntriesPrizepoolWinnerPayout (USD)
2016236$536,900Chris Vitch$136,854
2017225$506,250Jesse Martin$130,948
2018321$722,250Johannes Becker$180,455
2019296$666,000Dan Zack$160,447

Badugi Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a "rough badugi"?

Any badugi that is unlikely to be a winner in a multi-way pot e.g. KQ97 or QJ103

What does "stand pat" mean?

A player may choose to stand pat or draw zero cards when they are happy with their hand, or want to bluff.

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