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How to Play Badugi

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Badugi Poker GameBadugi (sometimes called Padooki) is a draw game that is believed to have originated in Asia, but is gaining popularity in the rest of the world. Although the game can be played as pot-limit or no-limit, it is most commonly spread as a limit game.

If you are playing in a full game, there will usually be 6 players dealt into each hand. A small round puck, called the dealer button, sits in front of one player and is rotated clockwise after the completion of each hand. Before the cards are dealt, the player sitting to the immediate left of the button is forced to post a bet called the small blind, and the person to their immediate left posts a big blind (which is usually twice the amount of the small blind). The amounts of the blinds are typically determined by the betting limits of the game: usually the big blind is equivalent to the amount of the small bet. For example, in a $20-$40 limit Badugi game, the small blind would be $10 and the big blind would be $20.

After the blinds are posted, each player is dealt four cards face down. Each player must then act on their hand, beginning with the player to the left of the big blind and continuing clockwise around the table, with the player in the big blind being the last to act. The first player may either call the amount of the big blind, raise, or fold their hand. The players that follow have the same options, but may also re-raise if facing a raise in front of them. The players who have posted the blinds already have live money in the pot, meaning that the chips they have put in before the deal is considered part of their bet. For example, in a $20-$40 game, where the blinds are $10 and $20, the small blind only needs to put in $10 more to complete the action in an unraised pot. When the action reaches the player seated in the big blind, and the pot is unraised, they have the option of checking or raising before moving on to the next round.

Once the pre-draw betting round is complete, play continues with the first of three drawing rounds. Beginning with the first participating player to the left of the dealer button, every person discards between zero and four cards and is re-dealt an equal number of cards. The replacement cards are dealt immediately, before it is the next player’s turn to draw. When a player chooses to discard zero cards, it is called “stand pat.”

The first drawing round is followed by a round of betting, again beginning with the first active player to the left of the dealer button. This player may chose to check (pass on the action and not put any additional money in the pot) or make a small bet ($20 in a $20-$40 game). Each following player may check if there has been no bet, call a bet that has been made, raise another small bet, or fold their hand. Betting is complete when each player has put the same amount of money in the pot or folded. Next comes another drawing round, followed by a round of betting – this time increased to big bets ($40 in a $20-$40 game). After that, the remaining players go to the final draw which is also followed by a round of betting (again, big bets). If two or more players remain after the final round of betting, there is a showdown, in which the players must show their hands face up, with the best Badugi hand winning the pot.

In Badugi, hands are ranked differently than other poker games. The goal is to make the lowest four-card hand (with the Ace being low) containing no pairs and no cards sharing the same suit (also called a “rainbow hand”). Although each player holds four cards, the rules of Badugi require certain cards to be removed to make a one, two, three, or four card Badugi hand. At showdown, players must remove any cards that make a pair or share a suit with any other cards. For example, if you held 3d 8c Ks Kc at showdown, you would have a three card Badugi hand because you must discard the Kc (as it is paired with another king and also shares a suit with the 8). A four card Badugi hand is often referred to simply as “a Badugi.” This beats a three card Badugi hand, which beats a two card Badugi hand, which beats a one card Badugi hand. If there are two Badugi hands that contain the same number of cards, they are compared by the highest card. If there is a tie for the highest card in the hand, then the next highest card is compared and so on. If the ranking of the cards in the two hands are identical, the pot is split between the players (called chopping the pot). The best holding in Badugi is A234 with all different suits.