About Badugi

About Badugi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (wikipedia.org)

Badugi (also known as Badougi, Paduki or Padooki) is a draw poker variant similar to triple draw, but with hand values not dissimilar to lowball. The betting structure and overall play of the game is identical to a standard poker game using blinds, but, unlike traditional poker which involves a minimum of five cards, players’ hands contain only four cards at any one time. During each of three drawing rounds, players can trade zero to four cards from their hands for new ones from the deck, in an attempt to form the best badugi hand and win the pot. Badugi is a gambling game with the object being to win money in the form of pots. The winner of the pot is the person with the best badugi hand at the conclusion of play (known as the showdown).

Originating in the U.S. in about 2000, Badugi is now played in cardrooms around the world and online.

Play of the hand

Play begins with each player being dealt four cards face down. The hand begins with a “pre-draw” betting round, beginning with the player to the left of the big blind (or the player to the left of the dealer, if no blinds are used) and continuing clockwise. Each player must either call the amount of the big blind (put in an amount equal to the big blind), fold (relinquish any claim to the pot), or raise (put in more money than anyone else, thus requiring others to do the same, or fold).

Once everyone has put the same amount of money in the pot or folded, play proceeds to the draw. Beginning with the first player still in the pot to the left of the dealer, each player may discard any number of cards and receive an equal number of replacement cards (called the “draw”). Replacement cards are dealt before the next player chooses the number of cards to draw. The discarded cards are not returned to the deck but are discarded for the remainder of the hand unless the deck becomes depleted, at which point the discards are reshuffled to reform the deck (this could be in the middle of a draw request, but the deck should first be depleted, then reformed after which the draw may continue from the reformed deck).

The first draw is followed by a second betting round. Here players are free to check (not put in any money, but also remain in the hand) until someone bets. Again betting proceeds until all players have put in an equal amount of money or folded. After the second betting round ends, there is another draw followed by a third betting round. After that there is the final draw, followed by a fourth betting round and the showdown, if necessary.

If at anytime all players but one have folded, the sole remaining player is awarded the pot. If there is more than one player remaining at the conclusion of the final betting round, the hands of those players are compared and the player with the best badugi hand is awarded the pot.

Badugi is a very popular game in South Korea, where the game is thought to have originated. One theory suggests that the name Badugi comes from the generic name given to a dog that has spots or patches of different color on its coat, originated from Baduk. This is symbolic of the rules of the game, as winning hands consist of completely different suits and values. Furthermore, the three rounds of burying hands for lower ones are called breakfast, lunch, and supper. This is representative of feeding Badugi the three meals. There are however problems with this theory, the main being that there is no word in the Korean language that actually means ‘Spotted Dog’. The word Badugi is only ever used to talk about Badugi Poker which basically debunks the Spotted Dog theory. The truth of the matter is that no one really knows the true origin of the name Badugi.

Hand evaluation

Badugi has a different ranking of hands than traditional poker. A badugi hand consists of one to four cards (from among the four cards in a player’s hand) with distinct ranks and suits. Thus duplicates of suit or of rank are disregarded. Any four-card badugi hand beats a three-card badugi hand, a three-card badugi hand beats a two-card badugi hand, and a two-card badugi hand beats a one-card badugi hand. A four-card badugi hand consisting of all four suits is called a “badugi”.

Two badugi hands containing the same number of cards are evaluated by comparing the highest card in each hand (where ace is low). As in lowball, the hand with the lower card is superior. If there is a tie for the highest card, the second highest card (if there is one) is compared. If the ranks of all the cards in the badugi hand are the same the two hands tie. Suits are irrelevant in comparison of two hands.

Thus the best possible hand is A234 of four different suits. The worst possible hand is K♣ K♥ K♦ K♠.

Here are a few examples:

  • 2♠ 4♣ 5♦ 6♥ beats A♠ 2♣ 3♦ 7♥ (both are four-card hands) since the highest card is compared first and the 6♥ is smaller than 7♥.
  • 4♠ 5♣ 6♦ K♥ beats 2♠ 3♠ 4♦ 7♥ since the former is a four-card hand and the latter is a three-card hand. (The 3♠ is disregarded as a duplicate spade, so the hand is a three-card 247.)
  • A♣ 2♠ 2♣ J♦ loses to A♠ 5♦ 9♦ 9♥. They reduce to the three-card hands A2J and A59.
  • 2♠ 3♠ 4♦ 7♥ beats 4♠ 5♠ 6♦ K♥; both are three-card hands, but the highest in the former is the 7♥ while the highest in the latter is the K♥.
  • 5♦ 7♣ K♣ K♥ beats 2♠ 3♦ K♠ K♦ as the former is a three-card hand (after disregarding the K♣) while the latter is a two-card hand (both kings are disregarded since each is the same suit as another card in the hand).

If one can construct two (or more) different badugi hands with the same four cards (as in the final example), the better badugi hand is evaluated against the other hands. This occurs when there are at least two cards of the same suit one of which is paired. Here disregarding the paired, suited card generates a better hand than disregarding any other card.

Example hand

Compulsory bets: Alice is the dealer. Bob, to Alice’s left, posts a small blind of $1, and Carol posts a big blind of $2.

First betting round: Alice deals four cards face down to each player, beginning with Bob and ending with herself. Ted must act first because he is the first player after the big blind. He cannot check, since the $2 big blind plays as a bet, so he folds. Alice calls the $2. Bob adds an additional $1 to his $1 small blind to call the $2 total. Carol’s blind is “live”, so she has the option to raise here, but she checks instead, ending the first betting round. The pot now contains $6, $2 from each of three players.

First draw: Each player may now opt to draw up to four cards in an attempt to improve his hand. Bob, who is to the dealer’s immediate left, is given the first chance to draw. Bob discards two cards and receives two replacement cards from the top of the deck. Bob’s discarded cards are not added to the deck, but removed from play. Carol now also chooses to draw two. Finally, Alice chooses to draw one.

Second betting round: Since there are no forced bets in later betting rounds, Bob is now first to act. He chooses to check, remaining in the hand without betting. Carol bets, adding $2 to the pot. Alice and Bob both call, each adding $2 to the pot. The pot now contains $12.

Second draw: Bob draws one. Carol opts not to draw any cards, keeping the four she has (known as standing pat). Alice draws one.

Third betting round: Bob checks again and Carol bets $4. Alice, this round, raises making the total bet $8. Bob folds and Carol calls the additional $4. The pot now contains $28.

Third draw: Since Bob has folded, Carol is now first to act. She opts to draw one. Alice stands pat (does not draw).

Last betting round: Carol checks and Alice bets $4. Carol calls.

Showdown: Alice shows 2♠ 4♣ 6♦ 9♥ for a nine-high badugi (or four card hand). Carol has 3♠ 5♦ 7♣ 8♥, an eight-high badugi. Carol wins the $36 pot.

Betting structures

In casino play, it is common to use a fixed limit and two blinds. The limit for the first two rounds of betting is called a small bet, while the limit for the third and fourth betting rounds is called a big bet and is generally double the small bet. The small blind is usually equal to half of a small bet, and the big blind is equal to a full small bet.

This game is also played pot-limit, half-pot-limit, and no-limit. These structures allow for more range in the amounts bet.


Like other card games with a fixed order of play, position can be an important component in badugi strategy. Players who are last to act often have an opportunity to bluff since they are able to observe the actions of other players before they act. In addition, players in late position are able to determine the strength of their hand more accurately by observing the actions of other players.

When drawing one card, there are only ten cards which will fill the badugi, the members of the fourth suit which don’t pair the other three cards. A player holding a badugi can use this to estimate odds. For example, a player with an 8 high hand, knows at most 5 cards (A thru 8, less the three pairs) will fill an opponent’s hand.

Another aspect of the strategy of badugi involves the number of people at the table. The more people there are at the table, the more likely there is to be a 4 card badugi. Bluffing with a 2 or 3 card hand is not usually advisable when playing at a 6 player table. However, when you are playing with fewer than 4 people, bluffing becomes more effective with a three-card hand.

If a player has a three card badugi such as A♣ 2♠ 3♦ 3♥ in the first round the odds of you making a four card badugi by the final draw is 51%. If all players are still drawing A♣ 2♠ 3♦ is the best possible hand so betting or raising is the proper strategy to maximize your overall win rate. If you have a one card draw your chance of making a Badugi is roughly 21% per draw.

In badugi the pot odds justify or contradict making a call or folding a hand. Therefore it is very important to always keep in mind the important probability percentages and draw chances. If you can guess how many outs you have in order to beat your opponent then you can calculate the percentage of hitting your hand compared to the size of the call with the pot. Based on this information you should maximize the expected value of your bet. For example you have 9 outs from 47 cards. Your chance of hitting is 19.1%. Now let’s assume the pot is $10 and you have to call $2, so your pot odds are 16,6% (=2/(10+2)). This means the chance of hitting your hand is higher than the odds you have to call, so in this example you should make the call to make a profit in the long run.

Courtesy of wikipedia.org

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