Learn How to Play Badugi Poker
Learning how to play badugi is not really too hard to do. If you already know how to play any variation of draw poker, then learning to play the game will be much easier. If you do not know draw poker, we will go through the step by step process anyways so you can learn this game. Basically, the whole idea is to form the lowest 4 card hand where each card is of a different suit and there are no pairs. Any 4 card hand is known as a badugi, which also means each card in that hand is a different suit.
How to bet and draw in each round
The first thing that happens in a round of badugi is the blinds are paid by players who are required to pay them. In each round, a dealer puck is shifted to the next player on your immediate left and this rotates around the table clockwise. If you are on the dealer position, the person to your left pays the small blind and the person to the left of them pays the big blinds. If you are playing on a $1/$2 badugi table, $1 would be the small blind and $2 is the big blind.
Note that this happens before any cards are dealt and that the blinds are required to be paid. After these are paid, 4 cards will be dealt to each person who plays on the table. Then people play a pre-draw round of betting. During this time of play, bets may be made only in increments of the small blind amount or $1 in the table we are using for this example and we will explain this first round below.
First round of betting - Now is when you really learn how to play badugi and start using the rules of poker. The first person to act is the one who is left of the big blind position. They may either call the blind, raise it or just decide to fold if they have poor hands. Then each person takes turns in a clockwise direction to take action.
After the first round of betting comes the first round of drawing. At this time, players will be allowed to draw between 0 and 4 cards. When one decides not to draw any cards, this is known as standing pat and it gives other players the message that you probably have a powerful hand. Usually, if you stand pat during the first draw round, then you already have a badugi or a 4 card hand with no pairs or same-suited cards, which is great. As soon as everyone has had their turn drawing cards, the next round of betting begins.
The second round of betting and drawing works exactly the same as the first round. Players begin by betting on their current hands and once the betting is done, players will draw cards once more.
Finally, a third round of betting and final round of drawing takes place. First, players make their wagers and hopefully have a good badugi hand by now. The only difference in the betting round is that players are allowed to start betting with proportions to the larger stakes amount, or $2 increments in this example table. After this is done, the third and final draw happens before the showdown.
The showdown is right after the last round of betting in badugi poker. Players bet the same way they did in the previous round of play with amounts proportional to the big blind amount. Once all bets are done and there are 2 or more people still left in play, then players reveal their cards in a showdown. How to rank the cards is not that hard to do. Whoever has the lowest cards without having any pairs or any cards of the same suit will scoop the pot. The person who makes the last bet will usually be the first to show their cards. If no one else can beat it, they can muck and choose not to show the cards if they want. Side-pots are also awarded at this time as well if someone with a low chip stack went all-in early on.
How to determine the winner and most powerful hands
One thing to note right away is that players can sometimes tie in badugi and the pot gets split between these players. So right away, we know that aces are low and are the best cards to have in badugi unless you have a pair of them. So the most powerful hand is A-2-3-4. A pair of aces in a hand such as A-A-2-3 would be bad and this would result in a final hand of just A-2-3, which would be beaten by any 4 card hand. Remember, any type of 4 card hand will beat all 3 card hands. So a 10-J-Q-K of different suits would beat out a A-2-3.
You also do not want anything suited either. If you have a hand like A-2-3-4 but all the cards are diamonds or hearts for example, the whole hand would only count as a single card ace, which would be beaten by any 2, 3 or 4 card hand. Read some of the articles on this site to get better at the rules and learn how to rank cards and hands if you are still confused. Most importantly, you should practice with play money at an online poker room. Click on some of the images below to visit and check them out. Actually playing the game is the best way to practice rather than reading about it so I highly recommend doing this.