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Mix things up by trying out a unique outrageously fun, fast-thinking poker game: Badugi Poker. Here is your ultimate guide with rules and tips to get started.
If you play one more round of Texas Hold 'Em, you're going to scream and throw your chair out the window.
Ok, so it's not that dramatic, but after playing the same type of card game forever the game can start to stale out and not be fun anymore. But what game can you play without going out and buying a whole bunch of new gear?
Well, you've come to the right people. We're here to tell you all about Badugi poker and give you a complete breakdown of the rules and how to play!
Sound good? Then let's get started!
What Is Badugi Poker?
Badugi poker is a special kind of lowball poker (which means the lowest or worst hand wins) that originated in South Korea in the 1960s. It came to America (supposedly) with the help of a man named Paul Eskimo Clark, who says he learned the game overseas while serving in Vietnam.
Badugi poker does share some similarities with more popular poker types like Hold 'Em. For example, they both share similar systems for posting blinds, with the player to the left of the dealer posting the small blind while the player two seats away from the left of the dealer posts the big blind. After that, however, Badugi is a whole different animal.
The Rules of the Game
The win condition of Badugi is the complete inverse of conventional poker. Your "score" splits into two parts: how many unique cards you have (ones that don't share a number or suit with another card) and the highest number card in your hand (keep in mind you want as low a high number as possible). As such, the best hand in the game is pulling an ace, a two, a three, and a four of different suits.
Doubles of either suits or numbers are useless regardless of number, and the number of unique cards you have has a higher in-game value than your rank (or highest number in your hand). So, someone with four valid cards beats someone with three valid cards, even if the four-card holder had an eight for their highest value and the three-card holder had a four.
Let's say you had a hand consisting of the five of clubs, the three of clubs, the seven of hearts, and the four of spades. Since the clubs match, you can only use the lower-value card so your hand would be the three of clubs, seven of hearts, and four of spades (a three-card seven-high Badugi within the game's terminology).
How to Play Badugi
Gameplay starts the dealer giving every player a hand of four cards. From there, the player to the left of whoever posted the big blind goes first. They can match the current bet (known as a call), raise the bet higher, or fold (surrender for this "round").
After everyone gets a turn to bet, the dealer discards a card to signify that a turn has passed. Every other player gets the choice to keep their hand or discard up to 4 cards from their hand, re-drawing as many as they discarded.
For the next round of betting, the small blind poster goes first. You gain a few new tactical options in this phase, like the ability to check (pass turn) if there is no current bet this turn. You can also make a bet and call/raise if someone else makes a bet (you get that as a "free action" if you wouldn't get the chance to respond in the natural turn order) in addition to any options you had in the first turn.
Once betting ends, the dealer discards a second card and you can reshuffle your hand if you desire. After that, there is a third round of betting and drawing, then a final round of betting before the hands are revealed. The winner takes all the bets in the middle of the table (known as the pot).
But what happens if two hands tie? Then you split your winnings for that round with the other guy 50/50. Gameplay resumes until one person has amassed enough money that the other player either tap out or cannot play.
There is also a spin-off game of Badugi: Badacey, where the pot gets split in half. One half goes to the player with the best Badugi hand, while the other half goes to whoever has the lowest-value hand (regardless of suits). Players also start with five-card hands rather than four.
Otherwise, most of the rules are identical to Badugi.
Badugi Strategies or How to Become the King of Games
So now that you know how to play, what strategies can you whip out to ensure you have the best chance of winning? Well, one key strategy involves knowing when to "snow". Snowing refers to when a player plays like they have a powerful Badugi hand (like the ace/two/three/four we mentioned earlier) when they actually don't so they can trick the other players into folding out of the game.
Knowing when to snow involves paying attention to what the other players do. For example, if one of your opponents discards three cards in the second phase, it's safe to assume they have a bad hand, and luck is not in their favor to turn it around with one draw. In that case, doubling down on the impression you have a god-tier hand will cause your opponent to bail so they don't lose more money.
It's also important to snow on the regular. You can make this play even safer by knowing the ratio of cards in a deck. For example, if you draw three jacks in your opening hand, you now know there's only one jack left in the game.
Believe in the Heart of the Cards
Congratulations! Now that you have all the facts about Badugi poker and how to play it, you'll be able to sweep the floor with your friends without pausing once to look up the rules!
Want to know about the wide world of card games? Then come check our blog for more posts on the topic!
Now, if you'll excuse us, we've got a fortune to go win.