The History of Badugi Poker
Badugi is one of fastest growing poker games in the United States today. This triple draw variant of lowball poker is also relatively unheard of to many people but it is a fun game to play and is popular elsewhere in the world. In fact, the history of this game is thought to begin in South Korea and there are other mysterious facts about this game that are still not clear today.
The Korean or US origins of Badugi
The first thing we need to say is that there are many myths and theories about the game and who actually invented or created this game. Some of the earliest history of badugi places this game in South Korean in the 1960's and 1970's and this is about the time many people believe the game originated. In fact, the name "badugi" itself is a foreign word which is believed to be an English translation of the Korean language: 바둑이. There was a myth going around that badugi was actually translated to mean "spotted dog", but there is actually no such word existing in the Korean language.
There are a few reasons why people believed "spotted dog" was the origins. The first was that players needed to get a four-card hand, each with a different suit or mark. Some suggested this as collecting a spotted hand. Also, there was a cartoon in South Korea with a spotted dog named "Paldugi", which has striking similarities to the name badugi and the TV show was around during this 1970s era. Although, there was no logic in naming a whole poker game after a cartoon character so this theory is weak. It turns out with later research that the poker game pre-dates the cartoon itself.
Another theory was that a man named Paul Eskimo Clark invented the game. Paul Clark claims credit to creating the game during the Vietnam War as a type of entertainment for the military and troops. Some experts believe that this game spread around the region to South Korea after Paul invented the game. Most people believe that he learned the game there and that he was actually the first person in history to introduce badugi poker to the USA, which is more credible in the poker world.
Different names and pronunciations of badugi poker
One thing that is certain is that there is plenty of uncertainty to go around when trying to pronounce this game or how it is spelled. The most common name for this game is padooki if you are in South Korea. Other names include Padookie, Padugi, Paldugi, Badooki, Badougi and probably many others. In fact, high stakes and high limit gambling halls and poker rooms in Las Vegas usually became confused and listed this game under a number of different names.
The pronunciation or how you pronounce "badugi" poker is even more mysterious and even the professionals don't have it exactly correct. The most common way that people speak or say badugi is (bah-doo-gee). Many other people pronounce it (Pah-Doo-Gee) or (Pah-Doo-Key), which is similar to the Korean version of the word and game "padooki". Some people suggest that the "ba" in badugi actually pronounced as "pa". There is a lot of confusion that goes around, but most people nowadays pronounce it as (Bah-Doo-Gee) so don't worry too much about that. It is sometimes interesting to ask other players at a poker table how they pronounce it.
More modern and current history
Only recently in the history of the game has badugi become playable online against people over the internet. In fact, there used to be more poker rooms that did this, but it was not so popular and they abandoned the game. For instance, The Tribecca Table Network, which consisted of VC Poker and the famous Doyles Room were some of the first to support this game among a few other small sites. iPoker Network came along later and took over this company and this is when badugi dropped out of poker rooms for awhile. As of today in April 2010, there are only two major online poker sites that offer badugi and they are PokerStars and Carbon Poker. Carbon Poker is also part of Merge Network, which also contains Poker.com.
Badugi at Carbon Poker is not as popular due to the lack of players. PokerStars.com has always been one of the biggest sites in history for poker and they regularly have a few hundred people playing badugi at any given time and that number is likely to grow as this game becomes more popular since it included the game in late 2008. So check those two sites out if you are interested. Carbon poker is the second largest and fastest growing poker rooms so there is a good chance they will add the game to their site as well in its future history. I would recommend PokerStars because of the large number of players and huge variety of games, plus I have been a loyal player there for many years and love the place for practicing as well.