Badugi poker is a rather unique game in the world of online poker. The only game I can really compare it to is 27 Triple Draw. These two games share several similarities but are still quite different. Before I begin discussing the rules of Badugi poker I want to give you a quick overview of the Badugi action you will find at online poker rooms. Badugi poker is still somewhat uncommon in the online poker arena but ever since Pokerstars added it to their lineup it has been growing at a healthy rate. Before the recent addition at the world’s largest poker room Badugi was only available on a small to medium sized network (Merge) with little traffic to be found at the Badugi tables. PokerStars only offers Badugi in fixed limit format but on the Merge network it is also available in pot limit format.

The Badugi poker rules can be somewhat confusing to most players. Lowball poker games in general are not very popular off line so the experience you gained from playing in family card games at your grandmother’s house probably won’t help you much here. In my opinion Badugi is the most un-orthordox game amongst lowball poker games.

Badugi Poker – The Blinds & Deal

Badugi poker uses blinds like Texas Holdem so that aspect of the game should be pretty familiar to most players. After the blinds are posted each player will be dealt four cards. Players will then decide if they want to fold, complete the blind or raise.

Badugi Poker – The Draws

The reason I mentioned that Badugi is similar to 27 Triple Draw is because it is a lowball game and there are 3 draw phases. Players can draw 0 to 4 cards. After each draw there will be a chance to bet. The betting system also works the same way as in Texas Holdem and Omaha. If the table stakes are $2/4 the first two bets will have a cap on $2, but you can raise of course. The next two betting phases will be capped at $4. Once the betting is completed after the 3rd draw the players will show their hands.

The Objective In Badugi Poker

Up until this point things have probably seemed fairly simple but this is where things get kind of confusing. The goal in Badugi poker is to get the lowest unsuited and unpaired 4 card hand. Having 4 unsuited cards isn’t mandatory though. The best possible hand in Badugi is A-2-3-4, unsuited. If no one has 4 unsuited cards then the player with the 3 lowest unsuited cards will win. Here are some examples below that will help you grasp this concept.

  • Ah-4s-8d-Qc beats Ad-2c-3s-5s because four unsuited cards always beat three regardless of the highest card.
  • Ac-3s-5d-5s beats 2s-3c-6h-7h because only 3 cards will come into play since no one has four unsuited cards.

It helps to look at the hands in Badugi like tiers. You have the “4 unsuited card” tier which will beat any hand in the “3 unsuited card” tier. The same holds true for 3 unsuited cards against 2 unsuited cards. If I have 10d-Jd-Qh-Ks and you have 2h-3s-4s-5h I will win because 3 unsuited cards will always beat two. Having low cards just is not enough in Badugi, they have to be unsuited too. This is where many players get confused and make mistakes. Once you understand these general concepts things are pretty simple.