Badugi Poker has never enjoyed the spotlight shared by Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Seven Card Stud. It has mostly stayed in the shadows, drawing a small stream of dedicated fans and those who are exploring new games. Because table traffic is sparse, few poker sites offer the game. Moreover, none of the top-rated online poker rooms offer no download Badugi Poker.
This will likely change in the future since a growing number of large and mid-tier rooms are designing “Instant Play” environments for their members. In the meantime, we’ll give you a crash course on how to play online Badugi Poker below. You’ll learn the rules, hand rankings, and a few useful tips to get started. We’ll also point you to three popular poker sites that offer Badugi Poker.
How To Play Badugi Poker
If you have ever played draw poker games, badugi will seem familiar. The game is played in a similar fashion. Each hand begins with a small and big blind. Once the blinds have been posted, four cards are dealt face-down to each player. This is followed by the first round of betting.
Next, each player has the option of exchanging one to four cards for new ones from the deck. Alternatively, players can choose to keep all of their cards. This is the first draw of Badugi.
A second round of betting starts, followed by a second draw.
Then, a third round of betting starts, followed by a third draw.
Finally, the fourth and last round of betting begins. If there are two or more players left at the end of this betting round, they go to a showdown. The remaining players reveal their cards, and the best hand takes the pot.
Be sure to check out our articles on tips for playing Badugi Poker.
Badugi Poker Hand Rankings
One of the key differences between draw poker and badugi is that the latter game ranks hands according to an “Ace to five” system (similar to Razz Poker). This ranking system takes a little time to get used to, but will seem like second nature after a few hands.
Five important ground rules…
- Your hand’s value is based on your highest card (Aces are low).
- Straights do not influence the value of your hand.
- If you have a pair, one of the cards is discarded. With a triple, two of the cards are discarded.
- With suited cards, the highest card is discarded.
- A 4-card hand always beats a 3-card hand; a 3-card hand always beats a 2-card hand; a 2-card hand always beats a single-card hand.
Let’s use a few examples to clarify the rules above. Suppose you’re holding a 7-5-4-2 with each card in a different suit. Your hand would lose to a 6-5-4-3 (again, all different suits) based on the highest card (i.e. 7 versus 6).
Suppose you’re holding a 8d-7h-6c-5d, and another player was holding an 8h-6d-4c-3s. Your 8 of diamonds would be discarded, leaving you with three cards (7h-6c-6d). Because a 4-card hand always beats a 3-card hand, you would lose, even though your highest remaining card (i.e. 7h) is lower than the other player’s highest card (i.e. 8d).
Let’s make a change to the above example. Suppose you’re holding a 8d-8c-6h-5d, and another player is holding a 8h-6d-4c-3s. In this case, one of your 8’s would discarded, once again leaving you with a 3-card hand. Thus, you would lose to the other player’s 4-card hand.
The best possible hand you can have is an A-2-3-4 in four different suits. This is known as a low Badugi.
Now that you know how to evaluate hand rankings, let’s go over a few quick tips.
Badugi Poker Tips For Building Your Chip Stack
- First, know your starting hands. If you’re holding four cards of 7 or lower, or holding two cards of 5 or lower, you’re in good shape. Otherwise, cut your losses. Chasing a low hand with high starting cards is an uphill battle. An expensive one. Be sure to have a full understanding of the rules of Badugi Poker.
- Second, watch the other players’ draws. If you’re exchanging cards on the hand’s third draw, and you notice another player is not, you’re probably in trouble. Unless you’re planning to get lucky, know when to cut your losses.
- Third, track the odds of other players pulling a Badugi. For every card they exchange, only one in four will make the fit (due to a Badugi requiring 4 distinct suits).
Where To Play No Download Badugi Poker
As we mentioned earlier, none of the top online poker rooms currently offer no download Badugi. However, we encourage you to visit the three poker sites below, download their software, and try the game for yourself. That way, you can decide whether it’s worth playing.
If you have never played Badugi Poker, take a few moments to try it. Visit the three poker sites above, register your accounts, and hit the tables. You’ll find that Badugi offers a playing experience unique among other poker variants.