A lowball variant that has been increasing in popularity over the last couple years is Badugi. The object of Badugi is to make the best four-card Badugi hand. A “Badugi” is a four-card hand that has one card of each suit without any rank matches. If multiple players have a Badugi hand, then the player with the lowest Badugi wins. A-2-3-4 is the lowest hand. This game is played in triple draw format and many games are in limit betting structure.
Strive For One Card Draws
You will not be dealt a pat Badugi hand that often, so you will have to draw a majority of the times to make your hand. Obviously, the more cards you have to catch, the longer odds of you making your hand. You really want to strive to play hands where you only have to draw one card to your hand.
Make Players Pay to Outdraw Your Made Hand
Sometimes you will be dealt a Badugi, and sometimes you will catch one after the first draw. You need to bet in order to put the pressure on your opponents still drawing and make it costly for them to draw. Also, it may cause them to change their strategy should they be drawing to a high Budugi, such as a queen high.
The Lower, The Better
In Badugi, the lowest hand wins when two people hit a Badugi hand. As such, you want to put some effort in getting a low Badugi hand. Part of this also means paying close attention to your cards. If you start with 10s-8c-Js-4h, hold the 10-8-4 and then draw a 7s, then you need to drop the 10s. Yes, that sounds like a no-brainer, but new players will focus more on catching all four suits and lose chances to improve their hands.
Don’t be Afraid to Call One Bet With a Solid Three-Card Hand
If nobody hits a Badugi hand by the end of the third draw, then the player with the best three card hand wins. Let’s say for example that after the second draw you held Ks-Ah-2d-3s and dropped the king. You then got the Qs. Ok, you missed your Badugi. Your other two opponents drew one as well. You and another player check to the late position player, who bets. There is a chance that this player is trying to buy the pot due to your weakness, but he may be betting a three-card hand. In this case, you have the best three-card hand possible, so as long as you are sure that your other opponent isn’t trying to sandbag you, make the call. You will be surprised the number of times three-card hands win, especially in tournaments and sit and gos.
The above are just a few tips to get you started on Badugi. PokerStars is one online room that offers Badugi for both real money and free play. Try out some low stakes or even free play games to get acclimated to the game. This little game can be frustrating, but also surprisingly addictive.