Five Quick Tips—How to Play Badugi Poker

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FIVE QUICK TIPS

HOW TO PLAY BADUGI POKER

Badugi is a poker variant similar to lowball poker. Unlike most forms of poker, the goal of Badugi is to achieve the lowest possible hand using four cards and all four suits; traditional poker hand rankings are mostly ignored. The game is played in online and live card rooms all around the world. Badugi is also featured in Dealers Choice events and the Triple Draw Mix, but it has not yet made its way into the World Series of Poker. For newer players, the game can seem strange and confusing. Luckily, there are a few simple tips that can help you increase your odds of success at the Badugi tables.

1. LEARN THE RULES, NO REALLY

For new players, often the biggest obstacle they will face is learning the rules, which can seem strange and confusing. Badugi is unique, and unlike Texas Hold'em, it doesn't share similar rules with other mainstream poker variants. For many, their first exposure to this type of gameplay will be when they sit down to play for the first time, which is why it's essential to do a bit of research first.

Learn the basic rules and the hand rankings, as a minimum, before you sit down at a table. Know that hands are counted from the highest card downwards, that four kings is the worst possible hand, that aces are low, kings are high, and that 4, 3, 2, ace of four different suits is the best possible hand. If you are still unsure what any of that means, go back and reread the rules before you play.

2. TAKE EVERY ADVANTAGE YOU CAN GET

Because you took the time to learn the Badugi Poker ruleset first, you already have an advantage. There will always be a few players at the table who have no clue how to play and expect to pick it all up on the spot. It will quickly become obvious who these people are because they will take baffling actions that make little sense, like refusing to fold, even when they are clearly beaten. These are the people you want to seek out and target. Get in hands with them and take their chips.

You want to avoid playing against good players as much as possible; beating someone who has little understanding of the game is far easier. It may sound harsh, but poker is essentially about finding weakness and exploiting them. So, take every advantage you can get, and take solace in the fact that if the roles were reversed, most people at the poker tables would happily relieve you of your stack in a heartbeat.

3. DON’T DISCARD AND REMEMBER TO FOLD

As a general rule of thumb, avoid playing hands that force you to discard three or more cards. Drawing additional cards can potentially make your hand worse. In some cases, it's better to acknowledge that the hand can't be improved, fold and live to play another day. Don't hesitate to let go of your weaker hands if they don't improve after the first draw is over. Poker is a marathon, not a sprint; sometimes it pays to be patient.

4. KEEP IT SIMPLE

In Badugi Poker, the goal is to win the whole pot by taking half with the best 2–7 hand and the other half with the best Badugi. There are plenty of strategies you can use, with varying levels of complexity but sometimes it pays to keep it simple. A three-card hand is the winner much of the time, so don't over complicate it by chasing cards. You might also focus on playing hands that only require two cards to be completed, preferably with at least three suits to start with. That way, you have three draws to your Badugi, and you can focus on your 2–7 hand. Keep it simple.

5. PLAY POSITION AND PLAY AGGRESSIVELY

Playing position is always a good strategy, regardless of the poker variant. Wait until you are either first or last to act to play hands. In theory, it should help increase the odds of success and limit losses. Of course, you can't always play in position; you can't control when you are dealt good cards but aim to play in position as much as possible.

Badugi is usually played as a limit game—there is a limit to how much you can bet—so when you bet, do it aggressively to maximize potential wins. If your opponent is still drawing and you have a Badugi, it's time to bet and raise. Take advantage of your chances to win pots and chip up because you might only get a few chances throughout the game.