How to Play Poker
Download Poker
Poker Resources
Poker Hands
Top Articles
Download the Pocket52 App  and start your poker journey today

🔥 Get full buy-in value on all  your deposits

Updated: July 8, 2024
Badugi poker

Badugi Poker

‘Badugi’ is a four card lowball poker variant, where players have to make the worst hand possible to win. ‘Lowball Poker’ means the normal poker hand rankings used in regular poker are inverted. 

The primary goal of the players is to make their best lowball hand with four cards, and no duplicates. Basically players need to make the lowest hand combination using cards of different suits only.

What is Badugi Poker?

Badugi poker is a draw poker variant similar to triple draw. The hand rankings of normal poker are inverted in Badugi. Unlike traditional poker, Badugi hand combinations have to be made of 4 cards instead of 5.

How to Play Badugi Poker?

A game of Badugi starts with a dealer button, as well as small, and big blinds. Badugi poker has a fixed limit betting system, where there is a betting round before the first draw is made. Player’s may choose to play or discard their cards from zero to four before the first round of betting.

Each player decides how many cards they want to draw turn by turn. Discarded cards are kept separately in the discard pile.

There is a second, and third round of betting with drawing of cards between each round. After the final round, there is a fourth round of betting between the remaining players at the table before the hand goes to showdown.

Badugi Rules and Origins

Among several poker variations, Badugi is considered a lowball draw variant of poker. There are a few rules to remember while playing Badugi:

  1. The Ace is counted as a low value card or numerical value 1 in Badugi.
  2. The aim is to make the worst possible or lowest possible hand combination.
  3. Badugi is made of four cards only, and not five like normal poker variants.
  4. Pairs or cards of the same suit are considered bad hands in Badugi. A combination of one or both of them cannot qualify as four card Badugi.
  5. The lowest four card Badugi wins the pot, if there are no four card Badugi then the lowest three card hand wins.

There are several stories behind the origin of Badugi poker with some controversy behind it as well. In the 1980s, it was reported that in Winnipeg, Canada it was played under the name of ‘Off Suit Lowball’.  But the origins of Badugi can be traced back to Korea, where the word Badugi originates from the word ‘Baduk’, meaning ‘black and white spotted dog’.

Badugi Hand Rankings

The game of Badugi might be confusing for the beginners, but there are some basic rules that you can remember to make it easier. Straights do not exist in Badugi poker, so four cards in consecutive order won’t hurt your chances of winning. Aces are not high ranked, their numerical value stands at 1 in Badugi. If a player holds two or more cards of the same suit, only the lowest one is counted. In the case of pairs, only one card is counted.

1. Badugi – Basically four unpaired cards of different suits. This is the lowest possible hand. If more players have a Badugi hand, then the lowest high card wins the game.

2. Three Card Hand – This is when there are three unpaired, and unsuited cards, with a fourth card of the same suit.

3. Two Card Hand – In this hand, there are two unpaired cards of different suits, and two more cards who are a pair, but suited with one of the other two cards.

4. One Card Hand – This is the worst possible hand in Badugi poker with four cards of the same suit. The three highest cards are not counted in the example below, hence only 2 is considered.

Badugi Betting Rules

Badugi poker is played with a limited betting structure, with big and small blinds like normal poker variants. This is to ensure that every player has put money in the pot as the dealer button moves from left to right.

Each player at the table is dealt 4 cards at the start of a round, and the game begins with the player to the immediate left of the big blind. Just like Texas Hold’em, this player now has the opportunity to call the big blind, raise it or simply fold if they don’t like the cards.

The process of calling, raising or folding goes around the table until each player has had their turn. If a player has folded, that means they have forfeited the round, and for the next round of betting, only the remaining players will play.

After the opening round of betting, players starting from the immediate left of the dealer are allowed to draw cards from the closed deck. All players can choose to discard all the cards they were initially dealt, and pick up new cards or discard as many cards as they want, and pick up fresh ones. 

Players who do not discard cards are called ‘Standing Pat’ – this essentially could mean that they believe they have a strong Badugi hand already.

After the draw is complete, another round of betting takes place. The above mentioned process follows for a total of four rounds, including the opening round. There is a final round of betting after the third round of drawing, after which the showdown comes if there is more than one player still in the game, who has not folded.

Final Thoughts on Badugi

For poker players who have been used to the usual variants, Badugi might not feel like poker at first. But it is a fun variant where Royal Flushes or Straights don’t matter, and even beginners can try their hand against seasoned players. There are a few things to remember though, which can make Badugi poker easy to understand, and play.

  • Badugi is played with limit structures similar to small blind, and big blind of Texas Hold’em poker.
  • An easy way to remember the strength of Badugi hand combinations is – A Badugi hand always beats a Three Card hand, which beats a Two Card hand, and a two card hand will always beat a One Card hand.
  • The bigger cards don’t matter in a game of Badugi. The lower the numerical value of the card, the stronger it is in a Badugi. For example: 6-7-8-9 will always beat A-3-4-K.
  • If at the start of the game, any of the opponents are not drawing cards, that means they already have a very good hand of Badugi. The ideal scenario here would be to fold instead of betting into the following rounds, and losing money.


1. What is a ‘Rough Badugi’?

A Badugi hand that is unlikely to be a winner in any scenario of multi-pot Badugi poker. For example: Cards like K-Q-9-7 or Q-J-10-3.

2. What does ‘Standing Pat’ mean?

In Badugi poker a player may opt to not draw cards at all in the beginning. This may happen when they have already been dealt extremely strong cards or they are trying to bluff. This action is called ‘Standing Pat’

Share it with friends