When it comes to alternative versions of poker, players have several interesting options to choose from. Those who have grown out of Texas Hold’em often seek out new ways to play poker. Badugi poker is a fun, different version of the game played with four-card hands.

Learning how to play it is not difficult at all. Take a look at the steps required to become a player of Badugi poker.

Get to Know the Basics of the Game

Get to Know the Basics of the Game

Theory comes before practice. First, you have to study the rules and basics of this particular type of poker. Badugi is a special draw poker game that employs specific criteria.

It is normally played with fixed limits and it relies on lowball hand rankings. This means that the lowest hand wins the pot, not the highest.

Badugi uses a standard 52-card deck. Cards are shuffled before every hand. The players receive one, two, three and finally four cards of distinct suits and ranks throughout the game. At least 2 players can play Badugi (up to 8).

Learn the Hand Rankings and Game Objective

Learn the Hand Rankings and Game Objective

In Badugi poker, Ace is the lowest card. King ranks as the highest. Hands are counted from the highest card down. Another important rule to remember is that all cards used in the final hand must be of different suits and ranks.

The best possible hand is a “four-card 4”. It contains an Ace of hearts, a two of clubs, a three of diamonds and a four of spades.

To make it easy for you to understand the rankings, remember that there are four types of hands in Badugi:

  1. Badugi (four different cards of all different suits)
  2. 3-Card (at least three different cards of different suits)
  3. 2-Card (at least two different cards of different suits)
  4. 1-Card (a hand that contains one card of individual value or suit)

For example, a hand with 4 Aces, each of a different suit would be a 1-Card. The value here determines the ranking. Badugi beats 3-Card, 3-Card beats 2-Card and so on.

Within these four hand ranking categories, there are also weaker and stronger hands. For instance, if you compare a hand that has 8,7,6,5 and a hand that has 8,6,5,4, the latter would win.

Remember the Big Blind-Small Blind Structure

Remember the Big Blind-Small Blind Structure

Small Blind and Big Blind bets apply on the start of the game, to stimulate betting. They are assigned to the players to the left of the dealer. Once the blinds are placed, the gameplay can begin, in the established order (clockwise).

First Round of Betting

First Round of Betting

The dealer will proceed with distributing the cards. Each player receives 4 cards, placed face-down. After participants receive their hand, the first betting stage can begin.

Players have multiple options at their disposal. They can option to fold their hand, call the current bet or raise it.

First Drawing of the Cards

First Drawing of the Cards

Once the first round of betting is complete, the game allows players to discard cards. One can choose to discard one or more cards, or even all of them and draw new ones.

If you don’t want to discard any cards, you can choose the option to stand pat.

When all players acted on their turn, the dealer will deal the exact amount of cards that have been discarded. If more cards are needed than what is left in the deck, the deck will be reshuffled.



Two more rounds of betting and drawing take place in the similar manner like the first one. First, there is the second round of betting, then second draw, followed by the third round of betting and the third draw.

The third draw is the last chance for remaining players to make the best hand possible.

The Final Betting Round into Showdown

The Final Betting Round into Showdown

One last betting round is played after the third draw. If there are at least two players remaining in the game, a showdown takes place.

The final 4card hands are compared and the one with the better Badugi hand wins. In the case of a tie, the two “finalists” share the pot.

If at any stage of the game only one player remains (others have folded), they take the pot.

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