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Badugi

Originally from Asia, Badugi is a form of draw poker that's similar to Lowball, because it's the lowest hand that wins the pot. Badugi uses a hand ranking system that is different to popular poker games like Hold'em and Omaha, and the aim is to make a four card low hand of different suits - this is called a 'Badugi'.

How to Play

Similar to more traditional poker games like Hold'em, Badugi uses forced bets called blinds, with the player sitting to the left of the dealer paying the 'small blind', and the player to their left paying the 'big blind'. Typically, the small blind is equal to half the size of the big blind.

In Badugi, a marker called 'the button' or 'the dealer button' indicates which player is the nominal dealer for the current game. Players are dealt a total of four cards, all face down. In the first round of betting, the player sitting to the left of the big blind has the option to fold, call or raise. Each player has the same options and the action continues until the blinds have acted.

After this first round of betting there is a draw. Each player selects which cards he wishes to discard (if any) by clicking on them. He can discard all of his cards if he wishes. To discard a card, click on it and then press 'Discard'. Clicking the same card for a second time cancels your decision. Discarded cards are then replaced by new cards appearing in your hand. Choosing to 'stand pat' means you are happy with the four cards you have been dealt and do not wish to change any.

Now it's time for the second round of betting. The first player to the left of the dealer who has not yet folded is the first to act. He can check, bet or fold and the action continues in this fashion, until the betting is over for that round. After this betting round there are two more draws and betting rounds working exactly in the same way of the previous ones.

Now comes the showdown. The player with the best hand after the final round of betting is awarded the pot.

Badugi is played in Fixed Limit format at PokerStars.it, which means betting is in pre-determined, structured amounts. All bets and raises occur in small increments of €2 in a €2/€4 game for the first two rounds of betting, and in big bets for the last two rounds (€4 in a €2/€4 game).

In draw games like Badugi, it is possible for more cards to be needed than are remaining in the deck. In this case, the cards are reshuffled, and play continues using the new deck.

Basic Strategy

The key to the game is to try and make a Badugi - a four-card low hand of each different suit. This means that the best starting hand possible is 4-3-2-A (of different suits).

Hands are ranked by their highest card, with straights being ignored and aces being low. If a player has 9-8-4-3 of different suits, this loses to a player with 8-7-3-2 of different suits. Similarly, 6-3-2-A loses against 5-4-3-2.

If more than one player remains in the hand after all draws and betting rounds are complete, and no one has a Badugi, the player who has the best three-card or two-card hand wins. For instance, a hand like 6h-4d-3s-Ah is referred to as a 'three card four' (4-3-A-x), and loses to any Badugi, but would win against 7h-5d-4d-3s (a 'three card seven', 7-4-3-x).

Position is also vital when playing Badugi, as a player in late position has information on the kind of hands their opponent might have, based on how many cards they have discarded (if any).