Badugi poker hands may look hard to learn at first for some people, but they are actually quite simple. By learning the badugi poker hands first, you will quickly learn and understand the whole game that much quicker.
The general premise is that badugi is a lowball poker game very similar to triple draw lowball, where the lowest hand wins. Straights are not counted at all, and aces are considered the low card, not the high card. By the time you showdown your cards you will want to have 4 low cards, all of different suits, and no pairs. If you have aa,22 for example, even though they are all low cards, you really only have A,2 and 2 dead cards.
The very best hand that you can get in badugi poker is called a “badugi” and consists of an A-2-3-4, of all different suits. Here are the top 10 best hands in order:
- A 2 3 4
- A 2 3 5
- A 2 4 5
- A 3 4 5
- 2 3 4 5
- A 2 3 6
- A 2 4 6
- A 3 4 6
- 2 3 4 6
- A 2 5 6
As you can see, it isn’t always the Ace that is the determining factor of who has the lowest hand. In actuality, the best and lowest hand is determined by the last number, with only one possibility of 4 being the lowest number, that being “badugi”. As you can tell above, a 2,3,4,5 is a better hand than an A236, because the final number in the former is a 5, lower than the 6 (even though an ace is present).
Remember, all of the above top 10 hands are completely assuming that you have no cards of the same suit, as in those cases you cannot count one of those cards.
Right off the bat there are going to be hands that you want to fold, typically any hand that looks good in Omaha high is a starting point. Any overflow of high cards and you want to fold preflop for sure. In regular size games, you are going to want to try to start with at least 3 low cards of all different suits, giving yourself 3 draws to hit that one final last card that will make your badugi or at least a winning hand. One thing to keep in mind is that your starting hand selection will vary greatly depending if it’s a short man game, so adjust that accordingly depending on the number of players in play.
You need to know when a good starting hand becomes a bad one. For instance, you might start with a pretty good starting hand like A, 2, 3, K, and you will obviously be trying to get rid of that King and find a 4th low card of the missing suit that you need. If you have one or more competitors staying pat by the 2nd or 3rd drawing round, you should consider folding. If you do not hit your low card and there were people standing pat, you pretty much will be beat in all circumstances in a show down. An exception to this would be against players who bluff “staying pat” a lot, pretending they have a made hand early to bluff in the later rounds or current rounds.
Your competition can determine the strength of your hand as well, and you need to be paying close attention to their habits just like you would in any other form of poker. Obviously you can get away with a lot more against players who are prone to bluffing a lot, though sometimes they will have it so proceed with caution. Your hand will also become considerably weaker if a player who was drawing 1 more cards suddenly stands pat, because there is a chance that they have either already got badugi, or at the very least have 4 cards of all different suits and denominations.
Overall, you are going to want to stick to starting hands that have potential. That is really the key in playing great badugi, and you will find that just like a successful strategy in other lowball games, folding preflop is a very solid strategy in the long run. You only want to be in there with really good starting hands, because there will be lots of fish online just dumping their money to you by playing way too broad of a starting hand. If your starting hand has 3 low cards of different suits below 8, in a full handed game, you are good to go. Also, you will need to adjust to the gameplay and habits of the players at the table at all times.