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Go Badugi

Badugi is part of the draw poker family, i.e. those poker games where you have to draw cards; Badugi is quite similar to Triple Draw Poker. There are some fundamental differences, though: Badugi is a so-called ‘lowball’ game (i.e. a game where the player with the lowest-ranking hand wins) where the ace is low only (i.e. it always counts as 1); the aim of the game is to build the lowest possible, off-suit hand. In order to reach this, players may swap cards up to four times. If you want to play Badugi online we recommend PokerStars. Sign up through BonusBonusBonus and get a special welcome bonus.

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Badugi - crash course

At the very beginning of each Badugi game, the two players who sit next to the dealer (the person marked with the dealer button) have to place their blinds. This happens before the cards are dealt. The blinds are there to make sure that there is money in the pot so every winning hand can actually win money. Since the dealer button moves on clockwise from player to player with each round of the game, every player has to pay a blind at some point during the game. The player to the left of the dealer places the Small Blind, the player to his left has to place the ‘Big Blind’ which is usually twice the amount of the small blind.

Cards and 1st betting round

As soon as all players have paid their blinds, each player is dealt four cards face down. Now, starting with the first player after the big blind, players may decide whether they would rather fold, call or raise. If you have a nice hand to start with, it is recommendable to start raising right away because as soon as you do not exchange any cards in the first exchange round, the other players will be warned.

bwin1st exchange of cards and 2nd betting round

Each player may now exchange up to all of his cards and after this, there is another betting round where the first player to the left of the dealer button has to start betting.

2nd exchange of cards and 3rd betting round

Again each player has the possibility of exchanging up to four of his cards, this is followed by yet another betting round where – again – the first player to the left of the dealer button hast to start betting.

3rd exchange of cards and 4th betting round

Now players may exchange cards for one last time, followed by a last betting round which is again started by the first player to the left of the dealer button.


During the showdown the winner is determined i.e. the player with the best badugi hand (i.e. as low as possible, no pairs, preferably four different suits) receives the pot. Should two player’s hands have the same value, they share the pot, suit does not matter. For example: one player has A, 2, 4, 5 and another A, 2, 3 and 5 (obviously always made up of cards of different suits), in this case the second player wins because of the one card the two players do not have in common, he holds the lower one. One special rule in Badugi says that a player who has two cards of the same suit at the point of showdown, has to discard the higher one and stay in the game with only a three-card badugi hand, a four-card badugi hand always wins over a three-card badugi hand. So, if player #1 has A♠, 6♣, 10♥ and J♦, he beats player #2 who has 2♣, 10♣, 5♥ and 8♠, because player #2 has to discard his 10♣ and is thus left with only three cards. The same rule is also applied to situations where a player holds a paired card at showdown because in that case he, too, has to discard one of them. Both rules explained above obviously also apply to situations where a player’s hand is only made up of two different suits, or worse, only of one suit. In those cases players might actually be left with only two or even one card. 

Poker ABC

If you do not like the cards you were dealt, you have the opportunity to discard (fold) them and thus leave the current round of the game. Should you be big or small blind or should you have called someone’s bet already, you lose the money. Apart from that though, since you have folded, you cannot lose any more money during this round. If you want to keep your cards and stay in the game, you can, for example, check. This means that nobody before you has placed a bet yet and that you do not either. Now the player after you has the opportunity to check himself, or to bet. If any of the players in the round bets, you need to – as soon as it is your turn – decide whether you fold, call or raise. To call means that, in case a player before you has placed a bet, you bet the same amount as he does; you call his bet. If you find you have been dealt decent cards, you can bet a certain amount of money on your hand being the winning hand. If a player before you has already placed a bet, you can raise his bet. Depending on the betting structure the amounts you can bet or by which you may raise, are fixed in online poker rooms.

  • Fixed limit: On a $ 5/$ 10 table you may bet $ 5 in the first two betting rounds and up to $ 10 in the last two. In each round players may bet once and raise three times (bet, raise, re-raise and again re-raise or ‘cap’). After three rounds of betting the so-called cap is reached, this means that in this betting round, no more betting can be done. In this case the next card is dealt – or if it was the last round – the showdown begins.

  • No limit: Here the betting structure follows these rules: Each player may bet all the money he has on the table, regardless of the size of the pot. As a rule, the minimum bet has to at least equal the amount of the Big Blind and if you decide to raise, your raise does at least have to equal that of the player before you.

  • Pot limit: In a pot limit game a player may bet a sum between the minimum bet and the total size of the pot. In a $ 5/$ 10 pot limit game the small blind is $ 5 and the big blind $ 10. The first player could call the big blind (i.e. $ 10 in this case) or raise to any amount up to the total pot size. The raise has to either equal or exceed the previous bet. So in this case, the maximum possible raise would be $ 25 ($ 5 small blind, $ 10 big blind and $ 10 the call) which means that player #3 may actually bet a total of $ 35. So should player #3 raise the pot limit, the total amount in the pot would then be $ 50.
    Now if the next player (let’s say player #4) wants to go on playing, he at least has to call the $ 35, i.e. the bet player #3 has made. Should player #4 want to raise (up) to the pot limit he would have to put $ 120 into the pot. That is the total pot size ($ 50) plus the maximum raise of $ 70 ($ 35 call + $ 35 raise). The number of betting rounds per hand is not limited and in each round calling and raising continues until every player has either called, or folded his cards.


Primarily, players go ‘All-In’, when they have a particularly good hand. This is because: when one or more other players call this move and the player who went all-in wins anyway, his winnings in this round increase considerably. Another possibility would be, that a player goes all-in to bluff and merely signal that he has a good hand, in order to make the other players fold and win himself the pot. (What the precise rules for an all-in situation are is described in the following paragraph.) Apart from the situation described above, players could also go all-in for the following reason: In case a player lacks the necessary amount of chips to call or finish a hand but has nice cards and wants to stay in the game anyway, he does not have to fold. The player can also go ‘all-in’; so he bets all of his chips (even if they are not sufficient to cover the sum he would actually need to call) and can stay in the game without being able to act any further though. All the money that is in the pot up until the point when he goes all-in, is what the player can win. All money put into the pot after he went all-in is put in a separate pot (‘side pot’). Should the player who is all-in, win the showdown, he wins the main pot, whereas the side pot goes to the player with the second best hand. When a player goes all-in and his fellow players decide to call his bet, they obviously have to call the sum he bet.

Learning by doing

Even after the best of explanations, you still need to practice playing at an online poker table. We have created reviews of the best online poker schools where you can practice your play.

Short history of Badugi Poker

Actually the history of Badugi really is short because this poker variant has only existed for a few years. This triple draw variant was created in Korea and has spread farther into the west in the past few years. In online poker this entertaining and interesting variant has not quite conquered all the tables yet, many people in online poker already see it as the new Texas Hold’em though. Generally, probably due to its relatively high degree of difficulty, Badugi is not a very far spread poker variant and usually not represented at big poker events. There are quite a few famous poker pros who like a good game of Badugi in their spare time though. There is, for example, the Australian poker star Joe Hachem, who has won quite a sum here and there, playing Badugi and enjoys this game very much.


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