Badugi is a betting game that became popular in the United States around 2004. Badugi uses the same betting structure as poker, but a good Badugi hand is almost the opposite of a good poker hand. As a result, Badugi has become popular with poker players, and is often used as a brief respite from poker in dealer’s choice games.
Object of Badugi
The object of Badugi is to form a four-card hand with the lowest cards possible, without duplicating either ranks or suits.
Badugi uses one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards are, in fact, where it’s at.
If playing with blinds, the two players responsible for the small and big blinds post them; otherwise, all players ante (see “Blinds and antes” for more information). Shuffle and deal four cards to each player.
Rank of hands
The end goal in Badugi is, like in poker, to have the best hand. However, Badugi does not use standard poker hands. Instead, Badugi hands favor variety in suits and ranks.
A Badugi hand cannot include two of the same rank or suit; if it does, one of the duplicates is disregarded, yielding a three- or even two- or one-card hand. A full four-card hand is called a badugi. Badugis outrank three-card hands, which outrank two-card hands.
If two hands with the same number of cards are compared, the lowest card in the hand breaks the tie. If the lowest card of each hand is the same, then the second-lowest card would be compared, and so on. If two hands have exactly the same composition in number of cards and ranks, then they tie, splitting the pot.
Play of the hand
After everyone has received their cards, the first of four betting rounds occurs. Betting follows the standard rules of betting in poker.
After the betting has concluded, players are given the opportunity to draw new cards. The draw works much like that in Five-Card Draw—each player, starting with the player to the dealer’s left and proceeding clockwise, discards any number of cards face-down into the discard pile, and is dealt an equal number of cards face-down in front of them to add to their hand. Players may also decline to exchange any cards, which is known as standing pat.
When all players have had a chance to exchange cards, another betting round follows. This pattern continues until a total of three drawing rounds and four betting rounds have taken place. All remaining players then expose their hands, and the player with the best hand takes the pot.