There are hundreds of variants of poker for those looking to play something new, and the game of Badugi is perhaps one of the more unknown, yet enjoyable choices.
Played with four-card hands, the objective of Badugi is to have the lowest set of cards with no two cards of the same rank or suit. With that said, the best possible hand would be an ace (as it is ranking low), two, three, and four with each being a different suit. Going one card at a time, each player is dealt their four cards face down, and the number of players can range anywhere from two to eight. This is a blind game, meaning the player to the left of the dealer posts the small blind, and the player to the left of the small blind places the big blind.
After a round of betting has completed, starting with the small blind, players announce how many cards they would like to throw away from their hands, receiving new ones in return (immediately upon request). Not throwing away any cards is also an option, which is referred to as a standing pat. Rounds of betting continue in this fashion until either one player is left, the rest having folded, or until the end of the third drawing round.
Now that betting is complete, the best hand, or aptly named “Badugi,” wins the pot. As mentioned, a Badugi hand must be comprised of the player’s lowest one to four cards, being counted from the highest card down. The value of each hand is based on how low each player’s highest card is. Any four-card Badugi beats any three-card hand, and the same goes for a three-card hand over a two-card hand.
What is important to note is that any four-card hand that has two cards of the same suit or rank is then considered a three-card hand. For example, a hand with a two of hearts, three of hearts, five of spades, and nine of diamonds would be a three-card hand due to the two and three sharing a suit.
Another potentially confusing consideration is that despite having three low-ranking cards all of different suits, the highest ranking card can cost you a win. A hand made up of an ace, two, three, and ten would lost to a hand consisting of a four, six, seven, and nine because of the nine beating the ten. Ties end in dividing the pot equally.
So, if you’re looking to change up your typical poker routine and learn a new variant of this strategic game, Badugi might just be the game you are looking for.