Monthly Archives: April 2010

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

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 Carbon Poker 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

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

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

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

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

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When and how to bluff in razz poker

Bluffing is actually a pretty big deal in razz because the game has the property of high variance. I will write a little bit about bluffing in razz poker and you can read the full detailed guide in my article about how to bluff when playing razz poker. Players who are involved in a game with high variance will want to knock players out early in the game. The reason is because razz poker deals out 7 cards and you need to make a 5 card hand. Each player’s hand will vary by a lot and it is likely that they will come up with some type of good hand with that many cards being dealt.

Also, there is a strategy that players need to take advantage of when bluffing and that is to steal the pot or take the antes and bring-in bet as well to beef up your own chip stack. Players are more likely to fold when you bluff right after being dealt the starting 3 card hand because there are 5 rounds of betting and the pot usually grows by a lot. That means players are less likely to be committed to wagering this much money unless they have a decent hand.

Also, you do not want chasers to stay in either since high variance properties of razz poker will allow for these chasers to finally catch the hand that they are chasing and end up winning the whole pot, even if they started with a poor hand. So one of the main points of straight bluffing at the beginning of a hand is to knock out these players early by raising. You should have a low and powerful door card showing as well in order to make your bluff more relevant and convincing and other players should have high and weaker door cards.

The goal in any hand of razz is to get the fewest number of competitors on the table, ideally heads up with one other player or just to have them all fold. Your odds are pretty much 50/50 if you knock out everyone except one player. If there are 6 people playing with a good chance of all of them making decent hands, your odds are 1 in 6 of winning. 50/50 is much better odds to play with considering your opponent may have a hand that looks like it might be powerful but it actually isn’t.

Later in the round, you will want to semi-bluff because many players will usually call the bluff after they have invested so much money into the pot so far. Semi-bluffing should be done on 5th street or later on after you have a 5 card hand. Note that on 5th street, the blinds get doubled from what they were on 3rd and 4th street so this is also a time for players to fold before the money starts getting much bigger, so keep this in mind as well.