Rumor has it that Badugi came from South Korea to the United States in the 1960s and remained relatively unknown until PokerStars introduced the game to the modern world of online poker. Whatever its origins, Badugi is certainly a unique game that offers a breath of fresh air for anyone tired of the same old Texas Holdem games.
There are few places to play Badugi, and even fewer places to play it online. The best Badugi poker site is PokerStars. None of the other sites with the game are what I would consider safe places to play. As it stands currently, PokerStars is your best option by a long shot. Not only is it a safe poker site, but it is the largest in the world. You’ll be in good hands with PokerStars.
How to Play Badugi Online
Badugi is a fairly simple game to pick up and play despite it being so completely different than every other form of poker. If I had to pick one game to compare to Badugi, it would be 2-7 Triple Draw. Both games feature a number of drawing rounds in which players attempt to get the lowest possible hand. That’s where the similarities end.
Each hand begins with each player receiving four cards. After the cards have been dealt, a round of betting takes place. Next, each player is given the opportunity to discard up to four cards and receive one new card for each discard. This is followed by a second betting round.
A second drawing round is hosted followed by a third round of betting. Finally, a third drawing round is hosted along with the fourth and final betting round. Hands are compared at the showdown and the best Badugi hand wins the pot.
The object in Badugi is to get the lowest possible 4-card hand with no straights, pairs or cards of the same suit. Aces always count as low. Therefore, the best possible hand in Badugi is A-2-3-4 all of different suits. Any four-card combination of all different suits is called a Badugi.
If you end up with a pair or two cards of the same suit, you must discard cards until your hand consists only of unpaired cards of different suits. For example, a final hand of 2s-4h-5d-6h would force the player to discard the 6h to end up with a 3-card hand. Discarding in this manner doesn’t disqualify your hand, but you will lose to anyone who wasn’t forced to discard.
To sum it all up, four-card Badugis always beat three-card hands. Three-card hands always beat two-card hands. If two or more hands reach the showdown and consist of the same number of cards, the hand with the lowest cards wins. Hands are compared starting with the highest card and working down.
For example, a hand of 2-4-6-8 would lose to a hand of 3-4-5-8. The 8s in this hand are tied so we would move down to the next-highest card in each hand. In this case, the second-highest card in the first hand is a 6 while the second-highest card in the other hand is a 5. The second hand wins the pot.
Where to Play Real Money Badugi
We only have a limited number of real money Badugi poker sites to choose from, so picking a place to play is fairly simple. There are two main things to look for in the best Badugi sites:
Security is an obvious qualifier because there’s no point in playing if the games aren’t safe and fair. Next up is traffic, which is necessary to keep small games such as Badugi active. The more traffic a site has, the easier it is to find ring games and tournaments at the stakes you prefer. These two simple qualifications narrow it down quite a bit as far as choosing the best Badugi poker sites.
You already know which sites I recommend but if you’re intent on finding somewhere else, keep these factors in mind. In all likelihood, you won’t find anywhere else to play Badugi for real money on the internet. It is not a very well-known game and is tough to find both online and in the real world.
If you do decide to give the game a try, a little strategy will take you a long ways. Badugi games are chock full of poor players who are completely unprepared for the game. One of the many ways in which Badugi differs from most other poker variations is a lack of information. In most other games, you get to see at least a couple of your opponents’ cards. No cards are ever revealed in Badugi until the very end.
With little information to go on, a premium is placed on position. You can get away with playing a wider range of starting hands when in late position because you get the benefit of seeing how your opponents bet and how many cards they draw before you have to act. This information is vital in helping you make the best decision possible given what you know.