How to Play Badugi

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Just like in Texas Holdem, you’ll find a dealer button, the small blind, and the big blind. Unlike Texas Holdem, Badugi is a four card lowball where you must try to have one card of each suit, and no pairs.

Starting with the player to the left of the dealer, everyone is dealt a total of four cards face down (1 card per player 4 times, not 4 consecutive cards per player). The first betting round takes place beginning with the player to the left of the big blind, just like in Holdem. Betting also works the same way, where players fold, call, raise, or check when that is an option. The same concepts of limits found in Holdem can be applied to Badugi as well (no limit, limit and pot limit). I’ll explain these betting rules in more details at the end of these Badugi poker instructions.

The Drawing Rounds in Badugi

When drawing rounds occur, players can throw away any number of their cards (0-4) and receive replacement cards. This begins with the player to the left of the dealer who chooses which cards to keep and which card to throw away. The player is given replacement cards immediately. The process is repeated for all the remaining players involved in the hand. If for any reason the dealer would run out of fresh cards, all previously discarded cards can be reshuffled and redistributed.

At this point, a second betting round occurs, followed by a second drawing round. Next, a third betting round take place, followed by one last drawing round. A fourth and final betting round takes place and a winner is declared at the showdown.

Badugi winning hands

At the showdown the player with the lowest Badugi wins, A-2-3-4 all different suits is the best hand. If no player has a Badugi (i.e. they have a pair or they have 2 cards of the same suit) then one card of their pair or same suit doesn’t count. In this case, the player with the best three or two card hand wins. So 5-6-9-K beats A-2-3-3 and 6-7-7-8 beats A-A-2-2.

Badugi Betting Rules

As indicated above, there are a total of four betting rounds. Betting takes place after the initial deal, and following all drawing rounds. Below of the specific betting rules applicable the type of Badugi limit you are playing:

Betting Rules for No Limit Badugi

The minimum bet amount is the value of the current bet. When there are not bets in play, the bet amount is the value of the big blind. For example, in a 5/10 table, where the small blind is $5 and the big blind is $10, you must raise to at least $20, assuming there were no other bets. There is no maximum raise amount, and you can bet your entire stack of chips, which is called going “all in”. Here is an example: Blinds are 10/20. Player 1 calls $20. Player 2 raises to $60. If someone else wants to raise, they must raise to at least $120 as the current bet is now $60. Calling means you put in a total of $60 so the big blind that already has $20 invested would need to add an additional $40 to call and stay in the hand. Folding means that he would lose the $20 already invested. Finally, anyone can go all in at anytime, even if they can’t cover the current bet. For instance, if the current bet is $400 and I only have $300 left, I can still call and be “all in”, but I can’t win more than $300 per player involved in the hand. For more information on how to deal with this situation, see this article on side pots in poker.

Betting Rules for Limit Badugi

In Limit Badugi a maximum of four bets is allowed per betting round. This includes an initial bet, a raise, a re-raise, and a cap (final raise). In Badugi, betting amounts are fixed, and are based on the big blind. So in a 10-20 limit game, the value of the big blind is actually $10 and not $20. So the small blind is $5, the big blind is $10. Out of the four Badugi betting rounds, the first two are based on the $10 increment, while the last two are based on the $20 increment. It may sound complicated, but it’s really not.

Here’s an example: In a $10/$20 limit game, blinds are 5 and 10. On the first betting round, the first person to act can call the $10, raise to $20, or fold. There are no other options. Typically, there can only be an initial bet and maximum of 3 raises in total, but that could vary in certain poker rooms. Once the maximum number of raises is attained, each remaining player must call or fold, but can no longer raise. The exact same thing happens on the second betting round. On the third and fourth betting rounds, everything works the same way with the exception that the bet amounts double, so calling begins at $20 and the initial raise is to $40. Additional raises are done in $20 increments.

Betting Rules for Pot Limit Badugi

This works exactly as no Badugi, except that the maximum bet is caped. The cap is based on the total value of the pot, after you would call the bet. So for example in a $10/$20 pot limit game, after the blinds are posted, the first player can fold, call the $20, or raise to $50 which represents the total pot value had they called the bet. (small blind + big blind + call = 10+20+20). The next player can now fold, call $50, or raise up to $130 (small blind + big blind + the raise + call = 10+20+50+50). Now the next player can do the same and raise up to $340! (small blind + big blind + the raise + reraise +call = 10+20+50+130+130). You can go “all in” when your total chip count does not exceed the maximum raise allowed. So in the last example where $340 was the maximum raise, someone with $300 could go “all in”. Remember that you don’t necessarily have to raise up to the maximum amount if you don’t want to, but you must raise by as much as the current bet at least. While these amounts may be tricky to track, the software in poker rooms will let you know what the maximum betting amount is so you don’t have to worry about all the calculations.

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