Badugi, which is a relatively new poker variant, has hit a wave of popularity in the past few years. As a result, it is not uncommon to find Badugi tournaments in different venues, particularly online. It has even become an event in Poker Stars’ Caribbean Adventure series. While there are many strategies that can be used for tournament Badugi, there are some cornerstone ideas that should be used every time you sit down for a Badugi tourney. This article outlines the best tips that will allow you to be successful in this very entertaining tournament game.
1) Start with quality hands - Many beginning Badugi players stay with almost any hand, feeling that, with three draws, they can hit a great hand by the end. In a Badugi tournament, that is a suicidal strategy, because most times you will be forced to fold a loser, and your chip stack will quickly evaporate. Play only pat hands, one card draws to seven or better and, in late position, two card draws to five or better in unraised pots.
2) In pot limit tournaments, protect your big hands - Force other players to pay for the privilege of trying to draw out on you. When you are ahead, make pot-sized bets that don’t give your opponents the odds to call and chase.
3) Release your hand if you miss the first draw - Chip conservation is very important in Badugi tournaments. The deeper you get in a hand, the more chips you are putting at risk, and those chips are not replaceable. Unless the pot odds are irresistible (e.g. a big pot is already in play, and it only requires a minimum bet to draw to a hand that will win if it hits), folding early is your best option if you don’t hit your hand.
4) Develop a tight-aggressive image - By avoiding chasing hands in the early stages of a tournament, it will be more likely that you will be given respect when you make big plays at the pot later on. You can use that to your advantage in late position to try and steal blinds once they have gotten larger.
5) Stay aware of how your opponents play - Know which of the other players at your table are playing almost every hand, and which are even tighter than you. Know which ones aren’t afraid to stand pat without a made Badugi, and which ones make plays at the pot with regularity. Don’t be afraid to play back at someone who is standing pat hand after hand. It is unlikely he is really running that well.
6) Don’t slow play a big hand in a limit tournament - Because there is only so much money you can get into the pot in the four rounds of betting in a limit tournament, you need to jam as much money as possible in there when you have a big hand. Notice how, in a pot limit tourney, all the money can still get in the middle even if you miss a betting round to set up a raise later on against a particularly aggressive player that you know will take a shot at the pot.
By following these tips, and combining them with the other strategic ideas about Badugi, you will find yourself having much better results whenever you play a Badugi tournament, and will be well on the way to cashing and winning more than your fair share of the time.