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Poker Strategy | Poker Variants

How to Play Badugi

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Badugi is a poker game which is usually played by anywhere from 2 to 8 players.  In learning how to play Badugi, it is important to master the basics of how it is played, as well as the essentials about which cards to play, how long to stay in the hand and how to frequently win more.

Badugi can be played at limit, pot-limit, or no-limit stakes in a cash game or tournament format.  It is played with a small and big blind, just like Texas Holdem.  After the blinds are posted, each player is dealt four cards.  The object of the game is to make the lowest possible four-card hand, with one card in each of the suits, and with no cards in the hand being paired.  Because aces are played as low in Badugi, the best possible hand is A-2-3-4 of different suits.

After a round of betting before the first draw, each player is allowed to discard as many cards as he wishes to try and better his hand.  There are three draws in all, with betting rounds after each draw.  
•    The betting rounds after each of the draws are started by the first player left of the button, and rotates around to the dealer position, who always gets to act last on every betting round after the draws.  
•    Players have the option to check or bet until someone has started the action, after which they can fold, call or raise (or re-raise if a raise has already been made).  
•    A maximum of three or four raises (depending on house rule) are typical for each round of betting.  
•    After the third draw and the final betting round, the hands are compared.  Any four-card Badugi (all four suits with no pairs) beats all hands that have either pairs or more than one card in each suit.  If more than one player has a Badugi, their highest cards are compared, and the player with the lowest high card wins.  If more than one player has the same lowest high card, the next highest cards are compared, and so on, until the tie is broken.  If two or more players have the exact same best hand, they split the pot, otherwise, the player with the lowest Badugi wins.

If no player has a four-card Badugi, the lowest three-card hand wins the pot (with A-2-3 of different suits being the best three-card hand).  It is very rare when at least a three-card hand doesn’t win the pot, but if no one can show even that quality of hand down, the pot is won by the best two-card hand.

In better understanding how to play Badugi, you should consider which cards are appropriate to play, and which should be folded.  Before the first draw, any pat hand (four-card Badugi), any one-card draw to a seven or lower, or, in late position, a two-card draw to a five or lower are appropriate hands to play, and even to raise with.  If you are the first player into the pot, raise with these hands to try and winnow out the competition.  Re-raise with a pat hand if someone else has raised before you.  If others have gotten into the pot, and you don’t have a made hand, simply call and see how many cards everyone is drawing before getting into a raising war.

Continuing on to the second and third draws, as well as the showdown, should be based on whether or not you complete your hand, as well as what the other players seem to have, based on their betting and their draws.  If you are drawing fewer cards than your opponents, and have a good hand, you should usually bet and make them pay to try and draw against you.  As you become more familiar with how to play Badugi, you will begin to get a sense for which players always have the hands they are representing, and which ones are just trying to buy the pot with aggressive betting.  Keep good notes on your opponents, and you will know what to do in most situations.

*An Introduction on How to Play Badugi

*Introduction to Badugi*

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