One of the less common poker forms, Badugi Poker
is a lowball, triple draw betting card game - believed to have originated in Korea - that can be played by up to eight people. Unlike the classic 5 Card Draw Poker
, Badugi players receive only four cards, and attempt to form the best possible hand with the assistance of three drawing phases. The primary objective in Badugi is to achieve the lowest unpaired cards in all four suits (example: As-2d-3h-4c).
Badugi is typically played with a fixed limit betting structure. This limits the bets and raises in the first two rounds to the amount of the small bet, then bumps the betting/raising limit up to the big bet for the last two rounds. However, Badugi may also be played with Pot Limit, Half-Pot Limit, or No Limit betting structures.
Implementing two blinds, the small blind and big blind, these forced bets are placed at the beginning of each hand of Badugi Poker. The player seated to the left of the dealer button issues the small blind, with the next player in clockwise rotation providing the big blind. The big blind is generally the amount of a full, minimum bet; with the small blind usually being half that. These are live bets, meaning that each of the players in the blind positions have contributed a bet - or portion of a bet - that will be applied to their wager in the first round of betting. These two players will have a chance to call, raise, or fold at the end of the first betting round.
The cards are dealt clockwise, one at a time, with each player receiving a total of four cards. Like other draw poker games
, these cards are all kept private until the showdown. The first betting round commences with the player to the left of the big blind, who must either call the blind bet, raise in accordance with the limit structure, or fold without contributing any chips to the pot. Action continues clockwise around the table until all players who have not folded have contributed an equal share to the pot.
The first drawing cycle ensues following the completion of the initial betting round. Beginning with the first active player on the left side of the dealer button, each player is given an opportunity to exchange anywhere between zero and all four of their cards. For every card a player chooses to discard, they receive a fresh card from the top of the deck.
Once the first drawing phase concludes, the second betting round is launched. The blinds are only presented before the hand is ever dealt, therefore, in this and each subsequent round of betting, the active player to the dealer's immediate left (or left of the button in casino and online Badugi Poker) is the first to act. Unless that player has folded, this would be the player who posted the small blind.
As before, once the wagers have been settled, each player may exchange as many of their cards as they wish. After the second drawing phase is terminated, the third betting round begins. In Limit Badugi, the betting and raising limit is lifted to the big bet amount for the remainder of the hand.
With all bets equalized among the abiding players, each participant receives one last opportunity to improve their hand before the final betting round. Once every player with an active hand has either stood "pat" (waived the opportunity to exchange any cards) or has exchanged as many of their cards as necessary, each party is equipped with their end hand. The closing round of betting proceeds as before, clockwise from the dealer.
Upon completion of the last betting round, if two or more players have not folded their hands, the remaining players enter the showdown stage of Badugi Poker. Revealing their hands, the player with the best Badugi hand is awarded the pot.
This poker game employs very different hand ranking rules than the standard poker forms. A Badugi Poker hand can only be formed with one card from each suit and rank. A player with two Aces at the end of a hand is only able to use one of those Aces to form their final hand. Between two clubs in the last round, a player must choose just one.
Forming a Badugi hand from one card of each suit, and one card of each rank, the winner is decided first by which player has the most cards in their hand. A four-card hand, representing all four suits, and four different ranks, is called a "Badugi". A "Badugi" will beat any three-card hand that is formed, regardless of the rank of the cards. If there is no "Badugi" hand, the three-card hand will beat any two-card hand, and so on.
When a game ends with two or more Badugis (qualifying four-card hands), the tie is settle first by comparing the rank of the highest card from each hand, with the lowest of the high cards being the best. If the highest cards are equal, players must then compare their second highest cards, and so on. Therefore, a rainbow hand of 9-6-3-A would beat a hand of 9-8-2-A. A simple trick to this method of lowball analysis is to line the cards up from highest to lowest, then read the hand as a single, numerical entity. In other words, 7-6-2-A could be read as 7,621. This makes it easy to see that 7-5-4-3 (7,543) is a lower number, and therefore the victorious hand.
In the event of a true tie, in which two or more players present the exact same hand rank, the pot is divided between the hands. Suit ranking is not used to break ties in Badugi Poker. It is possible, though unlikely, to have up to a four-way tie in Badugi
In the course of a Badugi Poker game, it is not unusual to run out of cards in the latter drawing rounds. This situation may be handled differently based on the house rules of the venue for Badugi Poker. In some cases, all of the mucked cards and discards are reshuffled to complete the game. Other house Badugi rules prefer to only reshuffle cards from mucked hands, leaving the discards in piles placed in front of each player (this method reduces the likelihood that a player will re-draw a card they have already discarded). The online poker site
, reshuffles all of the discarded and mucked cards, but the software is designed to ensure that players will not receive a card that they have previously discarded.