Badugi is a lowball triple-draw poker form with its own hand ranking system. Utilizing four cards, instead of the standard five-card poker hand
, the dissimilarity of Badugi compared to the classic poker favorites is part of its appeal. As interest in Badugi Poker continues to grow, so too will the availability of this unique game in online poker rooms
With an unusual rule-set, the objective in Badugi Poker is to form the lowest hand utilizing one card from each suit. Players may only use one card from each rank, as well. A hand with one card from each suit is called a Badugi, and the lowest Badugi wins the pot. If no player forms a Badugi, the lowest three-card hand wins, or if there is no three-card hand then the best two-card hand wins, and so on.
Players are dealt four cards, all of which are kept private until the final showdown round, and the first of four betting rounds commences. Played with blinds, Badugi is most often played as a fixed limit game, however, Badugi can be played with a no limit or pot limit betting structure.
Players have three draws in which to exchange as many cards as they would like, or may stand pat at any point in the game. Each drawing phase is followed by a round of betting. Upon showdown, every player who has not folded reveals their final hand, and the best hand wins the pot.
Believed to have originated in South Korea due to the popularity of Badugi in the country in the late sixties and early seventies, no one has been able to prove the true origins of Badugi. There are a multitude of theories and claims on the subject, however, including that Paul "Eskimo" Clark - three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner - invented Badugi to pass the time while serving as a medic in the Vietnam War, where it spread quickly throughout the area before he introduced the game to the United States upon his return.
Until the recent inclusion of Badugi at select online poker sites
, a variety of spellings were associated with Badugi, including Padookie, Paldugi, Badougi, and Badooki; the most common alternate spelling is Padooki. Much of this variability is due to the fact that the Korean consonant sounds in the word are not literally transferable to an English spelling. However, since making it into the realm of online poker, Badugi has become the generally accepted spelling and pronunciation of this poker form in the United States.
Badugi was first introduced to the online poker
arena on sites like the Tribecca Table Network's VC Poker and Doyles Room, among a few other small web-based poker rooms. However, when iPoker
took over Tribecca, Badugi was omitted from the game selection of the revised online poker rooms, presumably due to the lack of traffic at the Badugi tables. In 2008, PokerStars
added Badugi to their online poker choices, and has managed to generate enough interest in the game to maintain sufficient traffic at both real and play money Badugi tables.