How To Play Badugi?

Badugi poker has re-emerged in the poker world. As a poker variation, the Badugi card game is a draw game similar to Triple Draw. After being under the radar for decades, this game has returned to the big scene. This article will teach you how to play Badugi and the rules worth knowing. 

What is Badugi?

Badugi poker is usually part of the mixed poker games in which the players deal with different games in turn. The game is a variant of draw poker and a four-card Lowball variant that is said to have originated from Asia. As it is the lowest hand that wins, you can say that it is quite similar to Lowball. However, the game departs significantly from the most popular poker variants you may be accustomed to, as it offers quite a different or even unique hand ranking system (which we’ll discuss later). With Badugi, players with no pairs and four low cards have the strongest hands with one of each suit. 

Players must make the best “Badugi,” a rank or suit of four cards with no duplicate. This poker game is most commonly found in cash games and is on rotation for high-stakes mixed games. However, Badugi is also considered part of other game mixed-game variants like Badacy and Badeucy.

Badugi also has a betting structure similar to the traditional casino poker games you may be used to. However, unlike a standard poker game that uses five cards, Badugi uses four cards instead. Its features also include three-betting and drawing rounds, which allow you to draw between 0 and 4 cards. 

Where does it originate from?

The exact origin of Badugi is shrouded in some level of controversy and surrounded by speculations. As mentioned earlier, many people believe that Badugi poker originated in Asia. However, some have also suggested that the game originated in Canada during the 1980s and had the name, Off Suit Lowball.

Perhaps its link to Asia stems from the fact that the name Badugi comes from the Korean word “badug” or “baduk”, which refers to a black and white pattern. The term Badugi is used by Koreans, in general, to refer to a dog that spots black and white colours. Furthermore, the board game known as “Go” was also referred to as “baduk” in Korean. 

The rules of Badugi

As you probably know, all poker variants come with different rules regarding their gameplay strategy. When learning how to play Badugi, it’s important to know the following rules:

  • A full table should sit not more than six players
  • Each player receives four cards, all faced down, to begin
  • The game makes use of blinds, as you’ll find in Omaha and Texas Hold’em
  • The game is played using a fixed-limit betting structure

A dealer is chosen randomly, after which the two players to the left of the dealer will post the small and big blind, just like you’d do in Texas Hold’em. Once these two players have posted the blinds, the dealer will dish four cards each to every player. The dealer can only deal one card at a time while going in a circular motion around the table. After the dealer completes dealing the card decks, and every player has received four cards, they all take turns placing or making their first bets. Here a player can choose to raise the original bet or call it if they prefer. Also, the players can choose to play the game as a fixed limit, no-limit, or pot-limit, which will impact the raise that each player can make. 

In a no-limit game, players are free to bet all their chips at any time. But in a pot-limit game, the limit of the bet a player can make is determined by the pot size. However, when it comes to a fixed limit Badugi poker game, all the raises and bets are predetermined and fixed, like the name suggests. 

Once the game is done with all the pre-flop, the remaining players then get the chance to draw. Here, each player can choose to stand-pat or replace as many as four of the cards they have with new cards. After you’re done with the first draw, another betting round starts. Here also, a player that stays in hand can draw up to four cards or choose to stand-pat. 

After the second draw, a new betting round will start, after which the players can make their final draws. They can then bet again during the third round of betting. The players must turn their hands over once all the betting and drawing ends, and the winning hand is chosen based on the Badugi hand rankings. 

Badugi Hand Rankings

In Badugi, any four-card Badugi beats a three-card hand. Here are a few of the possible hand rankings:

  • King-high, four-card rainbow hand = King-high Badugi
  • 9-high, four-card rainbow hand = 9-high Badugi
  • 6-high, four-card rainbow hand = 6-high Badugi
  • 4-high, four-card rainbow hand = 4-high Badugi


While Badugi is fun and pretty easy to learn, it’s best to practice as often as you can to get better at it. You can take advantage of various online gaming platforms to learn how to play Badugi. But be sure to take the time to learn and understand the rules.


What is rough Badugi?

A “rough Badugi” is any Badugi that is unlikely to be a winner in a multi-way pot. 

What is the best hand in Badugi?

An ideal hand combination in Badugi is A234, in all the different suits. However, other full Badugi hands can also be strong. 

How many draws Badugi?

There are three draws when learning how to play Badugi, with a round of betting after each draw. Betting on the first draw is in the small bet amount. Betting on the second and third draws is done in the big bet amount.

Are pairs bad in Badugi?

In Badugi, pairs and two cards of the same suit aren’t good. Any hand with these cannot be a four-card Badugi.

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