Badugi Poker, also known as Padooki Poker or Asain poker, is a variation of triple-draw lowball. This game is popular in both land-based casinos and is beginning to show up on the Net more frequently, as well. While Badugi Poker is fairly similar to other variations of poker and is pretty easy to learn, in order to learn the game, try to think of it as a totally different game than regular poker, just so you don’t get too confused. Badugi is fast-paced and commands its players to think very quickly, but it isn’t that hard to master. Below you will find our complete guide to playing Badugi Poker.
Badugi Poker is a four-card game that is played at limit, pot-limit, or half-pot-limit levels. The player’s goal is to end up with the lowest “badugi.” A badugi is a four-card hand with no two cards alike in value or suit. Up to six players can play. After all blinds have been met, four face down cards are dealt to each player. All cards are to remain concealed from other players. A good starting hand in Badugi Poker is any four cards ranked 7 or lower. This hand is worthy of a starting bet. If you have two cards ranked 5 or lower, that’s also a good starting hand. However, if your cards have face values of 8 or higher, then your hand is not a good candidate for a badugi.
Once the deal is completed, four betting rounds then commence beginning with the player to the left of the big blind and continuing clockwise. All players have the opportunity to call, raise, fold, or check when available. After the first betting rotation is complete, the first of three draws is carried out. Players are allowed to draw (exchange) up to four cards from their hands for new cards from the deck or call “standing pat” in which no cards are drawn. A tip: if you are dealt two or more same value or same suit cards, always keep the lowest cards and discard the others. If necessary, discarded cards may be reshuffled and re-dealt. Another round of betting ensues and surviving players advance to the next draw. Repeat.
After the fourth and final betting round is over, all remaining players showdown to determine the winner. The last bettor shows his hand first (or mucks) and so on, clockwise around the table. At this point, all pairs or same suit cards must be eliminated from each player’s hand. The player(s) with the most cards left in their hand are then considered as contenders to win the hand (i.e. if two players have four cards left, one player has two cards left, and one player has only one card left, only the two four-card hands are eligible for the badugi). The remaining players’ hands are then compared; the lowest hand, or the best badugi “scoops the pot”; winner takes all. Additionally, Aces are always considered low in Badugi Poker, and the best hand has no pairs and no repeated suits; therefore, the best badugi is 4/3/2/A, all in different suits (a.k.a. “rainbow hand”).
The second best hand in Badugi is 5/3/2/A; the third best is 5/4/2/A; fourth, 5/4/3/A; fifth, 5/4/3/2; and so forth. One way to get a handle on the rankings in Badugi is to think of the hand like a number. For instance, transform 4/3/2/A into 4,321 (A being 1), which is lower than 5,321 (5/3/2/A). Therefore, the first hand is the winner because it’s lower. Another example: 5,421 (5/4/2/A) is higher than 5,321 (5/3/2/A), so the second hand in this example would be the winning hand.
While Badugi Poker is a fun and fast-paced game, you will need to be well-versed in the game to excel in it. When you thoroughly understand the rules of Badugi, you’ll be more likely to do well when you are up against someone else who really understands the game. Otherwise, you’ll likely be out at the first opponent who does know what’s going on. You can play for free online before you get into a real money game to practice and learn the structure of the game. The main thing is the hand rankings. If you can grasp this, then you’ll do fine at the Badugi table.