Badugi poker is one of the oldest poker variants which although is quite similar to the triple draw, is quite different from it in many ways. The primary difference between the two is that you get only four hole cards and not five. Furthermore, the hand rankings in Badugi poker are quite different from the conventional poker.
The main objective of the game
The primary objective of a Badugi poker is to win the pot amount on the table by either betting other players out of the game or by emerging the winner in the showdown phase of the game. This objective remains the same whether you’re playing Badugi in an online casino such as Bet365 or an offline one. (Just a reminder – Do ask for your Bet365 bonus if you play there!). The easiest way to increase your profits in Badugi is by using the right strategies for bloating up the pot whenever you get a good hand and avoiding betting anything when you get a mediocre or poor hand.
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The structure of the game
Badugi is normally played with a maximum limit of eight players. The reason why you can’t have more than eight players in this game is because the active players get more cards (as draws), so having nine players playing may exhaust the deck a little too soon. Badugi is mostly played using the fixed limit betting structure, with the blinds system (rather than the ante system).
Badugi tables in an offline or online casino environment, for instance as in case of Bet365, can be distinguished based on the betting stakes applicable to them. On a side note, you can also use your Bet365 bonus if you choose to play Badugi poker at that portal. So, if you come across a £ 10 / £ 20 Badugi table, it would mean that it features a small bet amount of £ 10 and a big bet amount of £ 20. The blinds applicable at such a table would normally be £ 5 as the small blind and £ 10 as the big blind.
The lower betting limit or the small bets come into play before the draw of the cards and after the first draw. On the other hand, the higher betting limit or big bets come into play after the second and third draws.
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Shuffling and dealing of cards
The game starts after the blinds are placed by the concerned players. These are forced bets in the form of a small blind and a big blind for creating some pre-draw action in the game. While the small blind is placed by the player sitting to the immediate left of the person dealing the cards, the big blind is placed by the person next to that player (second player to the dealer’s left).
Talking about the blind’s sizes now, the small blind is usually half of the small bet amount and the big blind is the same as the small bet amount. Hence, if you’re playing at a £ 10 / £ 20 Badugi poker table, the small blind would be £ 5 and the big blind would be £ 10.
Once these blinds have been placed, every player is dealt four facedown cards by the dealer, starting from the player sitting to the dealer’s left, and continuing clockwise from there on. After all the players are dealt their cards, they indulge in the first betting round.
Pre-draw betting - The first betting round
The betting action in the first round begins from the player sitting to the immediate left of the big blind. This player may either call the big blind, fold his/her cards or raise the bet to the double of the small bet. Once this player is done playing his/her move, the remaining players would act depending on his/her action. They may either call the big blind, fold their cards or raise the big blind if the first player had ‘checked.’ In case the first player had raised the bet, the remaining players can either re-raise the bet (to three times the small bet), fold their cards or call the highest bet. Please note that raising is normally capped at four times the small bet amount in Badugi poker and players may only fold or call from thereon.
The first betting round is concluded after every player at the table has either folded his/her cards or called the highest bet. Please keep in mind that the players have the option of checking if the big blind isn’t ‘raised’ and the action is still on it.
The First Draw
All the players still in the game get the opportunity of the first draw post the completion of the first betting round. The draw starts with the first active player sitting to the dealer’s left, and continues in clockwise direction around the table, until every player on the table has had his/her chance to draw.
When you get this chance, you can draw four, draw three, draw two, draw one or stand pat. In case you choose to stand pat, it means that you’re satisfied with your original hand and don’t wish to draw any cards. Alternatively, you may exchange four, three, two or one card/s with newer one/s from the deck.
First draw betting - The second betting round
Once every player has had his/her chance to draw, it is followed by one more round of betting. The betting action starts with the first active player to the dealer’s left and continues clockwise from thereon. The players in the game may fold their cards, raise the bet, bet, call or check depending on the action of the players before them. As also specified earlier, it’s the small bets that are used for betting purposes in this round and the raises are capped at four times the small bet. The game proceeds to second draw after every player has folded his/cards or matched the largest bet.
This draw works exactly the same way as the first one. It starts from the first active player to the dealer’s left and moves clockwise from thereon. Every player gets the chance of drawing four, three, two or one card/s. Instead, he/she can even opt to stand pat. This is followed by another round of betting known as the second draw betting.
Second draw betting
Once the process of second draw is complete, the players engage in another betting round. It happens exactly the same way as the previous one, but this time the bet size increases to the equal of the big bets or the higher betting limit. Hence, if you were playing at a £ 10 / £ 20 Badugi poker table, you’d be placing £ 20 bets and £ 20 raises in this betting round. The raises are capped at four times the big bets.
This round of draw happens the same way as the earlier ones starting from the first active player sitting to the dealer’s left and then in clockwise direction. Every player gets a chance to draw up to 4 cards or stand pat. It’s followed by the final betting round which happens in the following way.
Final round of betting
This betting round happens the same way as the previous ones, starting with the first active player to the dealer’s left and then in clockwise direction. The players may either fold their cards, raise the bets, call the bets, bet or check. All the remaining players after this round proceed to the showdown stage of the game.
At this stage of the game, all players still in the game flip up their hands and compare them with the other active hands on the table. Whoever has the best five card Badugi poker hand wins the amount in the pot. However, the hand rankings used in Badugi poker are completely different than the ones used in Texas hold ‘em. Let’s go briefly over them.
Hand rankings used in Badugi poker
These rankings are very different compared to the normal poker hand rankings, so you must pay close attention to them. The first thing you must keep in mind is that if you do proceed to the showdown stage, you’ll need to remove any paired or suited cards from your hand. So, for instance if there are three suited cards in your hand, you’ll actually be in possession of a one card hand. The same way, if you’ve got a pair, you’ll actually be in possession of a two card hand.
Rule no. 1 - Four card hands are higher than two card hands which in turn are higher than one card hands
Hand ranking / Hand / Example
No. 1 / Four card hand / Js 6h 5d 2c
No. 2 / Two card hand / 9d 9h 7c 2d
No. 3 / One card hand / 2d 6d 9d Ks
No. 4 / No card hand / Jd 10d 8d 7d
In case there are two hands that consist of the same number of cards, they’re are evaluated based on their value. You pay close attention to the highest card of each hand. The lowest the high card is, the better it is for the hand.
Rule no. 2 – Evaluate every active hand’s highest card – The hand with the lowest-value high card wins
Hand Ranking / Hand / Example
No. 1 / 8 Low / 8d 7s 6h 5c
No. 2 / 9 Low / 9d 5h 3s 2c
No. 3 / J Low / Jc 9s 7d 3h
No. 4 / K Low / Ks Jc 9h 3d
In case two players get the same high card, you’ll need to refer to their hands’ second highest cards. The person having the lowest value second highest card would win the hand. The comparisons can go down till the last card if required.
Rule no. 3 – Evaluate the other cards of the hands
Hand Ranking / Hand / Example
No. 1 / 8 Low / 8d 5h 4c 2s
No. 2 / 8 Low / 8d 5h 4c 3s
No. 3 / 8 Low / 8d 6h 5c 3s
No. 4 / 8 Low / 8d 6h 5c 4d