Originally from Asia, Badugi is a form of draw poker that’s similar to Lowball, because it’s the lowest hand that wins the pot. Badugi uses a hand ranking system that is different to popular poker games like Hold’em and Omaha, and the aim is to make a four card low hand of different suits - this is called a ‘Badugi’.
Similar to more traditional poker games like Hold’em, Badugi uses forced bets called blinds, with the player sitting to the left of the dealer paying the ‘small blind’, and the player to their left paying the ‘big blind’. Typically, the small blind is equal to half the size of the big blind.
Players are dealt a total of four cards, all face down. The first round of betting then ensues, where you can either call, raise or fold. Players who are still left in the hand after this point can now draw. This means that you get the chance to discard any cards (up to all four) that you don’t want, and replace them with new ones that will hopefully improve the strength of your hand. To discard a card, click on it and then press ‘Discard’. Another round of betting then ensues, with players again being able to bet or fold - you can also ‘check’ if no bets have been made when it’s your turn to act. After this betting round, there are two more draws and betting rounds. If more than one player remains, each must show their cards. The player holding the best hand wins the pot.
The key to the game is to try and make a Badugi - a four-card low hand of each different suit. This means that the best starting hand possible is 4-3-2-A (of different suits).
Hands are ranked by their highest card, with straights being ignored and aces being low. If a player has 9-8-4-3 of different suits, this loses to a player with 8-7-3-2 of different suits. Similarly, 6-3-2-A loses against 5-4-3-2.
If more than one player remains in the hand after all draws and betting rounds are complete, and no one has a Badugi, the player who has the best three-card or two-card hand wins. For instance, a hand like 6h-4d-3s-Ah is referred to as a ‘three card four’ (4-3-A-x), and loses to any Badugi, but would win against 7h-5d-4d-3s (a ‘three card seven’, 7-4-3-x).
Position is also vital when playing Badugi, as a player in late position has information on the kind of hands their opponent might have, based on how many cards they have discarded (if any).