Badugi is the latest poker game to hit the scene, and smart players are learning how to play it well now. This article will give you some valuable tips and advice. It’s a great game to specialize in because not that many knuckleheads know how to play it yet. And the ones that do seem to have misguided notions about proper strategy. In short, there is some pretty easy money to be had at the Badugi tables, even the higher stakes ones. With the recent addition of this game to Poker Stars, it’s only going to get better.
Badugi is a form of Triple Draw Lowball, with a couple of extremely important changes. The first is that you only get four cards. So it’s not really a traditional poker game as you are trying to make a four-card hand. What’s really unique about it, however, is that each playable card in your hand must be a different suit. The highest card in your hand which matches the suit of any other card in your hand doesn’t count. So very often a three-card hand will win, sometimes even a two-card hand.
A hand consisting of four different suits is known as a Badugi. They are fairly hard to come by. The worst Badugi therefore is king-high. Any Badugi (a 4-card hand) beats any three-card hand. Any three-card hand beats any two-card hand, but you will only be showing down 3-card hands in rare circumstances.
The trick to this game is the betting sequence. You need to get in tune with it and bet when you are supposed to, whether you have made a hand or not. When you run into resistance you had better have a hand or give it up.
Most of the time a king-high Badugi should be played aggressively from the start. Make them pay to outdraw you, because it is somewhat difficult to do. If your opponent stops drawing and starts raising you need to gauge their aggressiveness and sometimes call them down to pick off a bluff. Other times give it up. Whatever you do don’t break the Badugi and draw - it’s either call them down or fold.
You want to be drawing better than your opponent most of the time. That’s how you win. So the trick is to play tight without seeming like it. Therefore you should raise a lot early and play those early face-card Badugis aggressively in order to get action on your good hands.
The first thing you probably should do is become a good Triple Draw Lowball player, before moving to Badugi. It will teach you the flow of the game. Read Daniel Negranue’s chapter in Super System 2. Get some experience and learn how to play a patient, tight game.
I don’t know if Poker Stars in planning on offering a Pot Limit version of the game or not, but if they do you will be able to find me there. That’s the greatest game on earth in my opinion. I used to kill the half-pot-limit games at Doyles Room back i n the Tribeca days.
See you at the tables.