Badugi poker is a lowball draw poker game. That means you can discard cards you don’t like and “draw” new ones to try to make a better 5-card hand. Like 5-card draw.
Badugi is an easy game to learn. I’ll show you how below. Read on to see an example hand from start to finish, rules and winning badugi hands.
The Objective (How You Win)
The objective to the game is to make a better badugi than the other players.
A badugi is a hand that has no pairs and each card is a different suit. Your goal is to make the lowest badugi possible. The lowest badugi at showdown will win the pot.
Here are a couple examples of badugi hands:
These are examples of 4-card badugis. But you can make a 3-card badugi too. In fact, you can make a 1 and 2-card badugi.
Because these hands have pairs and/or more than 1 of the same suit, these aren’t 4-card badugis. They are 2 and 3-card badugis.
Very important: A larger badugi will beat a smaller badugi. For example, a 4-card badugi beats a 3-card badugi. And a 3-card badugi beats a 2-card badugi.
Now that you know what a badugi is, lets look at a hand of badugi from start to finish.
A Hand of Badugi
An entire hand of badugi will have 3 drawing rounds and 4 betting rounds. Badugi is (usually) played using the fixed-limit betting structure. So you’ll want to familiarize yourself with that if you’re not already.
Before the cards are dealt the blinds most be posted. Blinds are forced bets that seed the pot to encourage action. There are two blinds, a small blind and big blind. The small blind sits one seat to the left of the dealer button and the big blind sits two seats to the left of the dealer button. In a 2/4 game, the small blind would post 2 and the big blind would post 4.
Once the blinds have been posted the cards will be dealt. Each player is dealt 4 cards, one at a time, faced down, starting with the small blind and working clockwise around the table.
Next will be the first betting round. Starting with the player to the left of the big blind, each player will have the option to fold, call or raise. Action continues clockwise around the table until each player has acted. This betting round uses the small bet.
If the pot goes un-raised, then the small blind will only need to complete the difference (between the small blind and big blind) and the big blind will have the option to check. Of course, they can raise or fold too, if they want.
1st Drawing Round
Next is the first drawing round. Starting with the first player to the left of the dealer button, each player can choose to discard 1-4 of their cards. You’ll be drawn new ones to replace the cards you discarded. You can also stand pat, which means to not draw any cards.
After each player has acted, a new betting round will start. The betting starts with the first player to the left of the dealer button. Each player will have the option to check, bet, fold or call, which will depend on the action in front of you. This betting round uses the small bet.
There will be a 2nd drawing round after the betting round is finished.
2nd Drawing Round
This round is identical to the last, except that during the betting round the big bet is used instead of the small bet.
3rd Drawing Round
This round is identical to the last round.
After the last round there will be a showdown. Players will flip over their hands to determine who has the best badugi.
The first person to flip over their hand is determined by the last betting round. If there was action, then the last person to raise is the player to flip their hand over first. If there was no action, then the first remaining player to the left of the dealer button will need to flip their hand over.
Once the first hand has been turned over, each remaining player will have the option to muck (fold without showing) or flip their hand over if they want to try to win the pot.
After the pot has been awarded, the dealer button will move one seat to the left, blinds will be reposted a new hand of badugi will be dealt.
There are a couple of rules to be aware of when playing badugi:
- Each betting round will be capped at three raises.
Badugi Winning Hands
There are lots of winning badugi hands. It all comes down to having a better hand than the next guy. But here is a shortlist of the top badugi hands, followed by a brief explanation of how to determine what the best hand is.
Top 10 Badugi Hands
In order from best to worst:
- 4-card badugi beats a 3-card badugi
- 3-card badugi beats a 2-card badugi
- 2-card badugi beats a 1-card badugi
…. and a badugi is a hand with no pairs and one of each suit.
How to Determine the Best (Lowest) Badugi Hands
Determining the lowest hand can be confusing at first. Here’s how you do it.
You start by looking at the highest card and comparing that to your competitors. The lowest (of the highest card) wins. For example:
The first hand wins since 4 is lower than 5 and 6.
If the highest card is a tie, then you move on to the next card. For example:
The second hand is the best hand because the 4 is lower than the 5.
If that card is a tie, then you move on to the 3rd card and if needed, the 4th (last) card too.