How to Play Badugi Poker

Badugi is a four-card poker game, which is similar to playing five-card draw. It is one of those relatively newer variations of poker that not many poker players would be familiar with playing. Some of the best poker sites don’t even have Badugi on their software yet.

Badugi Poker Rule Basics

This game isn’t very similar to other traditional poker games like Hold’em and Omaha. Badugi is played with two to six players. It is usually played as a fixed limit, half pot limit, or a pot limit game. The goal is to get “Badugi”, a four card low hand of different ranks and suits. The winner of a hand is determined by which player has the most cards.

A “Badugi” will beat any three-card hand, regardless of the ranking of the cards, and a three-card hand is better then any two-card hand, and you get the picture. Duplicates of the same rank (like paired cards) or suit (like flushes) are not counted. So, for example, if you were holding As-3s-4s-9h, you would have a two-card hand at showdown (As-9h), since the other two spades you’re holding would not be counted. In a case where the game ends with two or more qualifying four-card hands, the player with the lowest of the high cards decides the winner. If the highest cards are the same, players must then compare the value of the second highest cards.

The Betting Rounds in Badugi

Badugi Poker is played with a fixed-limit betting structure. There are four different betting rounds. In the first two rounds of betting the bets and raises are equal to the amount of the small bet amount. In the last two betting rounds the limit is increased to the big bet, or double the small bet. For example, if you were playing a $3/$6 fixed limit Badugi game, the bets during the first 2 betting rounds are $3 and for the final 2 betting rounds all bets/raises are $6.

In the beginning of a Badugi game, all players are dealt four cards face down, starting from the player to the left of the dealer button, and play proceeds clockwise around the table. Betting takes place in each round of betting. During the first betting round players have the chance to discard 0 to 4 cards from their initial hand to try and make a better hand.

Players have the option to call, raise or fold their hands and the same betting structure taking place in the first and every subsequent betting round. In the fourth and final betting round in Badugi, all remaining players still involved in the hand must reveal their cards and a winner is determined based on the Badugi hand rankings.

When determining the best Badugi hand, keep in mind that aces count as a low card. The most important thing to remember when playing the game is that you’re wanting to make the best possible low hand, so you want to want to play starting hands that hold cards of seven or lower. In a Badugi game with many players, a qualifying four card hand is not going to be sufficient in and of itself, as someone else will likely have a four card hand as well, so you will need to have the lowest ranking cards at showdown to have any chance of winning the pot.

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Founder/CEO of MDG, professional writer, and sports handicapper as well as small stakes poker player.

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