Badugi, a.k.a. Asian poker or Padooki, is a variety of triple-draw lowball that can be found in casinos both on the Net and on land. Although this game is fairly easy and rather similar to other forms of poker, to differentiate it, you should focus on the games individually, so as not to get confused. This is a fast-paced poker game and requires a quick thought, which isn’t hard to master.
Badugi is a four-card poker game that can be played at limit, pot-limit, or half-pot-limit level. The goal of this game is to hold the lowest “badugi.” The definition of a badugi is a four-card hand that holds no two cards of the same value or same suit. The game begins with up to six players. After blinds are placed, all players are dealt four cards face down, which are to remain hidden from opponents. The first of four betting rounds follows; the player to the left of the big blind begins the betting, and it continues clockwise. Players can call, raise, fold, or check.
Then, the first of three draws takes place, in which players can draw up to four cards, or choose to not draw any cards (a.k.a. “standing pat”). If you happen to be dealt a hand with two or more cards that have the same value or the same suit, always keep the lowest valued card and discard the rest.
Play continues with surviving players proceeding to the next round with bets increasing on the third round, until four betting rounds are complete. Discarded cards may be reshuffled as necessary. Once the fourth betting round is done, remaining players enter a showdown to declare the winner. All participating players show their cards from last bettor clockwise, or muck, and the best badugi hand wins. Winner takes all or “scoops the pot.”
At showdown, all cards that make a pair or share a suit must be removed from each player’s hand. If a player holds a badugi, all hands with fewer cards lose. Therefore, if a player’s hand has 4 cards, any hands with 3 cards, 2 cards, or 1 card are out. Remaining hands with the same number of cards are compared, and the hand with a lower value wins. Aces are always low and the best hand contains no pairs and no repeat suits (or a “rainbow hand”). The best badugi hand is A-2-3-4 in all four suits.
Badugi is not being offered by many online poker rooms, we recommend you to try Carbon Poker which accepts US players and you can also play Badugi for free there.