Where to play badugi poker online

May 5th, 2010

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post on the blog about the history of badugi and I also mentioned a few places that offered the game. I wrote two articles that might be useful about where to play badugi online and playing badugi at PokerStars. So I will write a little guide about where you can play the game and the advantages of playing badugi at one poker room vs. another.

PokerStars is probably the best place to play badugi poker, mostly because of the sheer volume of players playing the game online at any given time. If you are into high stakes games, this is also the place to be because of their high limit blinds up to $200/$400. The high stakes can be a disadvantage because the lowest limit stakes are $0.25/$0.50, which I consider to be a bit high for the average player who enjoys the penny and nickel games. Although, they do have freerolls and many tournaments available with badugi in it.

PokerStars.com also offers badugi in fixed limit and pot limit games. Typically, you will find fixed limit games in the ring games but the pot limit games will be found in tournaments. There is almost no half-pot games though and you will rarely find badugi pot-limit rules in the ring games. On the bright side, they are offering 100% match bonuses up to $600 on your deposits and players can earn Frequent Player Points as well as leveling up a VIP status.

The second best place is Carbon Poker, which is a bit smaller than PokerStars, but is one of the only online poker rooms that has badugi available. The obvious drawback is the lack of players. You can get to know all of the players much easier and find their weaknesses but sometimes you just want more people to play against. Sometimes there is almost no activity, but there are a large number of players that come in during peak hours.

One of the advantages of Carbon is the fact that they have lower limit games such as $0.02/$0.04 penny games, but their upper stakes go up to $10/$20, which is fairly high, but not like PokerStars. They also have a much larger proportion of pot-limit and half-pot limit badugi games on their ring tables. The tournaments, along with sit and go’s and freerolls, include badugi poker. One thing that is really unique is their bad-beat bonuses. If a player runs into a bad beat during a hand, they can instantly win the “bad beat” jackpot, which can regularly be as high as $100,000. Their bonus is also equal to PokerStars with 100% match up to $600 on deposits.

If you are into online poker, I would recommend visiting these two places and reading about their services, especially if you are a fan of badugi and are looking for a place to play it online. Remember, both rooms have free “play money” games, which are great for practicing while you read our guides or if you are just learning the game.

A short history of badugi and it’s origins

May 3rd, 2010

Obviously, badugi sounds like it is foreign, unlike Omaha or Texas Holdem and it is also a game that is relatively unknown, but quickly becoming more popular. The history and the story behind the game is actually very interesting and the game itself is relatively modern, which might come as a surprise to many. I wrote a detailed article about the history and origins of badugi poker awhile back, but I will write a short summary of it here on the blog.

The origins of badugi are not so clear but one thing is certain is that the game was likely invented in the 1970’s. The most common theory is that the game was created in South Korea and eventually made it’s way to the United States by a man named Paul Eskimo Clark. Paul was a soldier in the Vietnam War and it was told that he learned the game from a Korean and Paul eventually introduced it to the US.

Although, Paul Clark himself claims to be the inventor of the game and that someone else brought it to Korea instead. Although, many of the experts agree that the first theory was correct. The name of the game is just as mysterious because badugi is also known as padooki and a few other names that were widely used in Las Vegas gambling halls. Some believed at one time that the name originated from a Korean cartoon character about a dog but historians debunked this theory because the game was invented and named a few years before the animation. There is even more mystery behind how the name itself is pronounced. The most common pronunciation is (Bah-Doo-Gee) and this seems to be the accepted way of saying it and even the professionals use this one.

Badugi is becoming much more popular due to PokerStars and Carbon Poker, both which accept the game. Typically, there are between 100 and 500 players on given day playing this game online. Besides the ring and cash games, there are also major tournaments for badugi and even freerolls. The entire history and details about the game at these poker rooms is in the article, but these two places have the game available to play online and it’s only been around for just a few years as other places discontinued the game.

“Snowing” and bluffing strategy in badugi poker

May 1st, 2010

The term “snowing” is actually not exclusive to badugi, but is used in many different types of draw poker. I wrote a detailed article about how to use snowing strategy in badugi. Basically, snowing is just a form of straight out bluffing and it works well in fixed limit games especially. The whole idea to the snow strategy is to “stand pat” and keep betting, raising or re-raising early in the round.

By standing pat after the starting hand is dealt, players begin to assume that you have a powerful 4 card badugi right off the bat and that your hand is so good that you do not need to draw any further. There are certain times when want to pull this bluff and it largely depends on what position you are on the table. Ideally, you want to be the last one to take action, or on the button position. This ensures that you see what everyone else has done before hand and you get the maximum amount of information.

If players are not raising the bet or they are all drawing cards, this would be the best time to use the snow strategy by standing pat and raising the bet. Hopefully, people fold out of the hand and surrender the blinds to you. Make sure you are reading your opponents to determine whether they usually slow-play their hands or not because this can be dangerous. It’s all about taking notes and using certain strategies against certain people.

Another good time to implement the strategy is if you are dealt a bunch of cards of the same suit. If you remember from my previous few blog posts, this means there are much fewer outs of a particular suit, thus making it extremely difficult for anyone else on the table to get a 4 card badugi. The more cards of a particular suit you are dealt during draws, the better it is when you are bluffing. Hopefully, you can get a badugi anyways and turn the game into a semi-bluff or just a powerful hand. Since we are talking about bluffing, we would have to assume the hand is crappy. Remember that “snowing” means you should be standing pat. If players are drawing 2 or more cards per round, it might give you an opportunity to pick up on a good hand before snowing again.

There are times when you would want to restrain from snowing the table. One of the most helpful signs to back off is when you see someone else standing pat, but they are not betting or they are just checking their hands. This is a classic sign of a passive slow-player who is trying to trap the aggressive players. You also do not want to snow when you are the first to act and you have no information about what the other players might be holding. Check out the article mentioned above for some great tips and pointers for badugi bluffing strategy.

Badugi table limit rules: fixed, pot and half-pot limit strategy

April 29th, 2010

One thing that may come as a surprise to most people is that badugi does not have a no-limit table, at least in the major poker rooms. The reason is that there are no community cards showing and players going all-in would drastically reduce the skill of the game, especially when it comes to bluffing. I wrote three articles about fixed limit badugi, pot limit badugi and half-pot limit badugi poker. These articles explain the rules and good strategies behind each type of table limit and you might be surprised how much strategy changes as these limit rules change.

Fixed limit or FL badugi is generally considered the game that requires the most skill. The reason is that all-out bluffing, sometimes known as donk-bluffs, are not as easy to use. Players are limited to fixed increments of the blinds. For example, $1/$2 stakes means that $1 is the small blind and $2 is the big blind. In the first two betting rounds, players can only bet with increments of the small blind and the last two rounds let players bet with big blinds. The betting is capped at a maximum equal to the blinds.

When playing fixed limit badugi, players may not ruin the pot odds as easily because no one can go all-in or raise a scary amount of money that will force people to fold. So players need to come up with other strategies. One of the main strategies involves the starting hands because what you do at the beginning will influence everything else later on, including the perception that other players have on your hand strength.

Pot limit (PL) badugi is in between fixed limit and no-limit in that players may wager in increments equal to the size of the current pot. So at the beginning of the hand, the pot will be small and the bets will be smaller as well. Although, the bets at the end of the round can be huge and force people to go all in. Bluffing becomes a bigger and more powerful strategy later on in the round than it does at the beginning.

Half-Pot limit (HPL) is the least common type of rule and the betting stakes fall between fixed limit and pot limit. The only difference with half-pot is the fact that players may only wager increments equal to half of the pot, which dampens the effect of ruining the pot odds later by making larger bets.

Fixed limit is the most common type of badugi you will find at PokerStars but the tournaments are usually pot limit and will contain a few half-pot games as well. Check out the articles to learn about strategy that can be used in ring games and tournaments, which are two different animals. I will write about the “snowing” strategy tomorrow sometime and this is one of the most popular forms of bluffing in badugi when playing fixed limit games.

Using probability odds, percentage charts and “outs” in badugi poker

April 27th, 2010

There are some great techniques that players can use to calculate the odds in badugi. I would advise readers to visit my article about badugi poker odds in order to view the complete table showing percentage odds of making a badugi vs. the current outs. I also provided a mathematical formula or equation to calculate the approximate odds along with visual illustrations of understanding your probabilities.

Most of the odds concepts revolved around trying to find the probability of turning your 3-card hand into a 4-card hand at any given point in the game or during each of the three draw rounds. Obviously, your chances are best after the starting round when you have plenty of drawing opportunities.

The first thing to recognize is the fact that a standard deck of 52 playing cards contains 13 different suits, which is the same in any other poker game. When you want to keep track of a specific suit, probably the one that you need, then you want to pay attention to the “outs”. There are a number of things to look out for and some might not be as obvious.

Let’s assume you have a hand such as A-2-3-4 but the 2 and 3 are suited. You would get rid of the three and be left with a hand of A-2-4. Let’s also assume that you need a card suited hearts in order to make a 4 card hand. So far, you do not know how many hearts the other players have or how many are still left to be dealt. You have also not gotten any hearts, so you need to assume that there are still 13 hearts or “outs” left in play.

This is not it though. If you are trying to draw hearts, you must also avoid drawing an Ace, 2 or 4 of hearts, since these would be worthless to your hand. In actuality, you only have 10 outs or possible cards that can meet your goal. It turns out that the odds or probability of getting a badugi in any given draw round is roughly 20%. Also, your total odds of getting it within 3 draw rounds is slightly less than 60% to be exact.

View the table in the article I mentioned, it will display your odds and probability of getting a 4 card badugi in the 1st draw round, within two or three rounds for a number of “outs” ranging from 1 to 10. The less outs there are, the worse your odds get. Another thing to remember, and can be very advantageous, is when you get a ton of cards of the same suit.

For example, if your starting hand contains 4 cards of the same suit (let’s say spades) and you trade all but one in a draw round (or all of them), then get a bunch more of the same suit, then the outs for that suit are very low. If you keep drawing and get a three or four card hand, the chances of anyone else getting spades will be much, much lower as you can see from the percentage chart. There is more strategy and information at your disposal in badugi than you might have imagined. Read the article to learn your odds of improving a weak 4-card hand into a strong 4-card hand. It might seem crazy, but the odds are better than you might think!

Badugi hand rankings and starting hand values

April 25th, 2010

Starting hands are a make or break deal when it comes to badugi, especially since bluffing largely depends on it during fixed limit games. Read our detailed full article on badugi starting hands and ranking values. This guide contains very in-depth details about the subject, contains a full table of the top 10 starting hands as well as graphic visuals of how to determine which cards to throw away when you get pairs, same suits or both.

The most important thing to remember is that if you get even a lousy 4 card hand, such as 10-J-Q-K (the worst 4 card hand possible), this will beat out all and any 3 card hand. In turn, any 3-card hand beats 2-card hands, which beat all 1-card hands. Any 4-card hand is known as a “badugi”. The goal is to get the lowest cards possible without getting cards of the same suit or pairs. If you do get cards with matching spades, hearts, clubs or diamonds in a type of flush, you must ignore and throw out all but one. The same goes for pairs, three of a kind or four of a kind.

The highest ranking cards (the strongest) are actually the low cards. You want to get the low cards such as Aces, 2, 3, etc. In fact, the “royal flush” of badugi is A-2-3-4 where each card is of a different suit. Aces count only as low. The face cards like Jack, Queen and King are the weakest cards in this game. So if you get a matching suit or pair of cards, the weakest cards get thrown out. For example, if you have an Ace and King of hearts, you would throw out your King and keep your good card.

Determining which hand is most powerful is simple: Your hand is only as powerful as it’s weakest card. For example, if you have a hand of A-2-3-K, then a person with 9-10-J-Q would actually beat it because the Queen is lower than King. Which of these hands would win: A-3-5-6 or A-3-4-6? If you chose the second hand, then you are correct. The two highest cards (the sixes) tie up, so you must rank the second lowest cards to determine the winner. The 4 is lower than the 5 so it would win. If a player gets a complete tie or the exact same hand, then the pot gets split and it doesn’t matter what the suits are either.

Now if you get a pair of cards in your hand, such as A-3-6-6, you must discard one of the sixes. This would make a 3-card hand of A-3-6. Fortunately, you have 3 rounds of drawing where you can trade in your worthless six and try for something better. The same type of thing goes for suites as well. The worst possible hand you can get is if you are dealt K-K-K-K or four of a kind. Then you must get rid of all of your kings except one, leaving you with a 1-card hand. Check out the articles mentioned above for more ranking examples and visuals.

The rules of how to play badugi

April 23rd, 2010

The rules of this game are very simple and I wrote a few useful and detailed articles about how to play badugi and the rules of badugi. So basically, this game is just a type of lowball triple-draw poker with a little bit of a twist. There are also four rounds of betting and this game is almost never played with no-limit rules because people going all-in would drastically reduce the skill of the game because there are no community cards showing.

The first thing that happens in the game is each person is dealt 4 cards and two people will pay the blinds, a big blind and small blinds. These blinds rotate around the table along with a dealer button. The main objective goal of the game is to get the lowest 4-card hand possible and each card must be of a different suit and none of them can be paired. All 4-card hands (known just as a badugi) beat out any 3-card hand. 3-card hands out-rank all 2 card hands and so on.

Ace counts as low and is the best card to hold in the game. The most powerful hand is A-2-3-4 with each card being a different suit. If you get a paired card, such as a pair of aces, then one of them will not count. The same goes if you have matching suites of spades, hearts, clubs or diamonds. Players have three rounds of drawing opportunity to trade in their useless cards in hope of getting the right 4 card combination.

Surprisingly, 3-card hands are common, especially when fewer people are playing badugi poker. Each draw round is followed by a round of betting, so there are 4 total rounds of betting in a single hand. In the first two rounds of betting, players may only bet in increments of the small blind, the last two rounds allows player to wager with big blind stakes. For example, if you are on a table with stakes of $1/$2, then the small blind would be 1 dollar and the big blind is 2 dollars.

It is also important to note that you will usually only see fixed limit or pot limit badugi ring games. There are also half-pot limit rules as well but this is not as common. Fixed limit badugi requires additional strategy since players are less inclined to fold during bluffing. You will also see that there is some serious strategy involved and I will go into it with later blog posts.

Basically, this is just a simple summary of the rules. You can read those articles on our site through the hyper-links above and read the full details and step-by-step process, which is something I would recommend if you want to thoroughly learn how to play.

Get ready for our new and completed section on badugi poker

April 15th, 2010

I am back from a little break after writing up our complete guide for razz poker. Currently, I am almost done writing a similarly designed section dedicated to badugi poker and I will be on here very soon to introduce the articles and write a short summary of each of the guides.

This section will include special strategies for different types of badugi situations, such as sit and go, tournaments, ring and cash games, bluffing or “snowing” and other articles about pot limits and fixed limit strategies. Also, we have a great hand ranking guide and basic rules on how to play badugi poker. You may have seen our old badugi page which went live last year, but we completely overhauled it and added 20 new guides.

Check back to our blog in the next few days or go ahead and view the nearly completed badugi poker guide.

Using strategy in razz poker tournaments

April 3rd, 2010

Tournaments are much different than regular ring games and so is the strategy. I wrote a few detailed guides about razz poker tournament strategy guide and strategy for razz poker sit and go games but I will go through a short summary of these here on the blog. Basically, a sit and go tournament works much the same way as a regular tournament. The only difference is that sit and go tourneys are inherently smaller scale contests while a regular tournament may accept 10,000 players or even more than 100,000 at a single time as you will find at Pokerstars. Also, regular tournaments start at a scheduled date and time whereas a sit and go starts immediately once the require number of people have registered and joined the event.

This page is about razz strategy when playing in these tournaments. The first thing you will notice is the very aggressive and reckless players betting away everything they have. One of the strategies you should do at the beginning of the round is to become a tight player and let these other reckless players drop out like flies for awhile. This happens in every single tournament where tons of people will drop out within the first few minutes of the game.

After about a half hour or so, many of the weak players are gone and players are warmed up and ready to loosen up a bit. Now there are two main goals in a tournament and the most important one is to make it to the bubble, which is where you “make it into the money”. Usually a tournament might pay out money to the top 100 people in a 1000 player tournament or so. This top 100 places is known as the bubble and these players will win enough money to recover their buy-in costs plus a small profit. The top 75 players may win twice as much money and the higher up you climb in the ladder, the more money you make.

So in razz poker or in any other type of poker tournament, the strategy is to become more conservative as you near the bubble. Tables will run extremely slowly as everyone wants to hang around long enough to make it into the money, then you can lose and still profit a little. It is always good to play when you have nothing to lose. A few things to take advantage of during this time of the game is to bluff and be more aggressive. Players are more concerned about not taking risks and risking being kicked out right before reaching the bubble, so they will fold. The goal is to steal the antes and blinds much easier. Note that you should do this when you have a decent amount of chips. If you have a short stack, the larger players will purposely attack you in order to “push you off the hill” and get closer to the bubble.

Once you reach the bubble, players obviously become much looser since they all make guaranteed money. You should still stay conservative and make it higher up the ladder once people become loose. There will be many players hanging on by a thread trying to get into the bubble and many of them will suddenly drop out soon after.

Eventually, you should make it to the final table. If you are playing razz and make it to the table in a large tournament, that is an impressive and amazing feat, specially if there are 10,000 players. I’ve done this before and it took over 5 hours to do! When you get to the final table, you will want to call only when you get the wheel cards (A-2-3-4-5) as starting hands. Be conservative until more people drop out. If you are losing and do not have many chips left, wait until you get these powerful hands and attack aggressively. Again, if the table is really tight and you are the chip leader, it might be wise to bluff and steal the antes. It just depends on what kind of players are there.

Once players drop out and you are nearly heads up, it may be wise to start bluffing again. Your chances of winning hands are best when there are fewer people playing. If there are tight players, keep being aggressive but not all the time though in case they finally do get that good hand. In a heads up situation, even sub-par starting hands and final hands can be good since there are only two people and the chances are higher that no one has a good hand. This happens a lot during heads up where people can become much looser. Still, you should stay smart and at least get some kind of hand before betting a ton of money. In the end, both players are going to win big.

Playing razz poker when being dealt pairs of cards

April 2nd, 2010

One of the worst things that can happen to a player in razz is for them to get a pair of some card, three of a kind, four of a kind or full house. This blog post will give a few details in summary of my article about how to play with pairs in razz poker. We all know that if you are dealt a pair in razz, they do not count. You have to discount one of the pairs or essentially throw it out of the game. For instance, if you are dealt a starting hand of K-K-A, then you have a pair of kings and one of them doesn’t count, so you only have a 2 card hand of K-A instead.

There are a few strategies you can do when you are dealt a pair or if someone else does. The worst possible scenario is when you have a pair showing on your open cards or the ones facing up so everyone can see. It is even worse if you are attempting to bluff and have put in big money into the pot because everyone knows pairs are terrible. Usually they will attack that and raise a lot of money in order to get you to fold. You can also use the same strategy and many experts recommend doing this as well, especially if there are two pairs or multiple pairs.

If the pair is concealed, straight bluffing might be best to your advantage only if you have a very low door card and the other players have fair cards facing up. The reason is that you should always ignore your concealed hole cards (the ones that only you can see) when bluffing. For instance, you might have a hand like K-K-A with the ace facing up, but everyone else might assume you have other very low “wheel” cards that make up the most powerful hand of A-2-3-4-5. This is straight bluffing and it is especially risky to do if you stay in too long, but it is great for cutting the number of players down early and stealing the antes.

Check out the article mentioned above for the entire step by step guide on how to deal with pairs.