Badugi is a fun game to play. It’s a draw game, so players have multiple attempts to improve their hand. It’s easy to learn how to play, too, primarily because the blinds and betting rounds work the same way as holdem and omaha. So while I wouldn’t recommend playing badugi as your regular grind, it’s a great game to play if you’re looking for something different.
Badugi Poker Rules
The objective of the game is to make a badugi – a badugi is a 4 card hand, each card a different suit and value. Badugi is a lowball game, so the lowest 4 card badugis win. For example, the best badugi you can make is A-2-3-4 rainbow.
With that said, here is what a hand of badugi looks like.
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Posting Blinds, Dealing the Cards & First Betting Round
Before the cards are dealt the blinds must be posted. The blinds are posted by the first two players to the left of the dealer button. The first player is the small blind (and posts the small blind) and the player to his left, and two seats to the left of the dealer, is the big blind (that posts the big blind).
Once the blinds have been posted the cards are dealt. Each player receives 4 cards faced down, one at a time. The cards are dealt clockwise around the table.
After the cards have been dealt the first betting round begins. The betting action starts with the first player to the left of the big blind and moves clockwise around the table until each player has acted. Each player has the option to call, raise or fold.
The round (and all round after) will end if one of two things happen:
- All but one player folds. This player will win the pot, the hand will end and a new one will begin.
- Two or more players are left after the betting round. The remaining players will then move on to the drawing round.
The First Draw & Second Betting Round
During the drawing round each player will have the option to exchange their cards for new ones. Players can draw as many, or as few, cards as they want. You can also stand pat, or draw no cards. The draw round starts with the player closest to the left of the dealer button, and works clockwise around the table until each remaining person has had the opportunity to draw.
After the first drawing round the second betting round will begin. Players will have the option to check, bet, call, raise or fold, all depending on the action in front of them.
The action ends when all players have acted. The round will end the way as the first betting round.
The Second Draw & Third Betting Round
This round is identical to the previous one. The remaining players will have the opportunity to draw as many or as few cards as they want, or they can stand pat. After all players have drawn, the third betting round will begin. Players will have the same options as the last round.
The Third and Final Draw & Final Betting Round
The final draw and betting round is identical to the last round.
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After the last betting round players will flip over their cards to see who has the best hand. The best hand will be the 4 lowest cards, all of a different suit and value.
Hands that have pairs or two (or more) cards of the same suit automatically lose to any 4 card badugi. 3 card badugis beat 2 card badugis and 2 card badugis beat 1 card badugis.
To determine the winning the highest card in each hand is compared. The lowest card wins, but if two (or more) hands share the highest card, then the third card in the hand is compared, then the second and last.
Hands that tie will share the pot. Suits don’t break ties.
After a winner has been determined and the pot awarded, the dealer button will move one seat to the left, cards shuffled, blinds posted and a new hand will be dealt.
What Hands Win in Badugi
The lowest 4 card hand of different suits and value wins. The “best badugi hand” will be different each hand played, so here are the top 10 badugi hands in order from best to worst. Use these as a guide to determine the winning hand:
How the Betting Works in Badugi
The betting in badugi is straightforward. Here is how it works, using $1 / $2 blinds as an example.
- The small blind that is posted is $1 and the big blind is $2.
- The first two betting rounds use the small blind. So every bet or raise is in $1 increments. The last two betting rounds use $2 for every bet and raise.
- Badugi is (usually) played using fixed betting. So all raises are in increments of the current bet size. For example, a bet of $1 can be raised to $2, then to $3 and so on.