Badugi may not be the most popular poker variant, but it is definitely there in the game selections of the biggest online poker sites and it actually has its place in prestigious live poker events too like the WSOP. At the present time, being able to play Badugi may not be a must for a player to be successful at the green felt in general, but it certainly can’t hurt.
In order to be able to even comprehend the various Badugi strategy elements, one has to know the rules of the game. Badugi is a lowball game, which means that hands which are otherwise the worst in a different poker variant, are the best ones here. The best possible Badugi hand is a A,2,3,4 (Aces are always low in Badugi) with each card bearing a different suit. In Badugi, one has to be extremely careful with suits because they can quickly counterfeit an otherwise perfectly decent Badugi hand.
Of course, rainbow hands won’t come about all the time, because one or the other card may well be matched suit-wise, so in such a case, the Badugi hand is made by removing the higher of the two suited cards from it. Thus, there are 2 and 3-card Badugi hands too. It is important to remember that a 4-card Badugi hand is always better than a 3-card hand, regardless of the values of the cards that make them up.
The game, like Texas Holdem, starts with the posting of the blinds. Each player picks up 4 cards, one at a time, as the dealer hands them out in a clockwise direction. There are a total of 3 drawing rounds, each of them followed by a betting round, which makes for a total of 4 betting rounds. During the draws, players can have one or all of their cards replaced, and the objective is obviously to work down towards the best possible Badugi hand (mentioned above). Players can call, bet, raise, re-raise and fold during every betting round.
Come showdown, the player with the best Badugi hand wins.
Badugi is played with the NL, PL, Limit and Half Pot Limit betting structures.