Badugi is a modern variety of poker where players make the best possible hand with low cards of different suits. The draw poker game can be enjoyed online as well as land-based card games and it is popular in South Korea and North America.

Badugi is a relatively new but popular draw poker variant, which bears many similarities to triple draw. It is played mainly in land-based cardrooms, but its growing popularity also made it available online.

History of Badugi- Where it All Started

The Badugi story started more than 40 years ago when it began to be played in North America. Even though the roots of the game can be traced to Canada and the United States, it was also played in South Korea around the same time. The name of the game seems to originate from the Korean language and it means “black and white spotted dog”. While it is impossible to determine who invented the game, it is certain that its popularity grew rapidly and became a popular game worldwide.

Where is Badugi the Most Popular? 

Badugi quickly won the hearts and minds of his players and became a popular pastime for professional card players. Poker enthusiasts were quick to see its potential and gave it a chance on real money. The fact that it was featured at a major event such as the WSOP brought it into the spotlight once again. The game is still very popular in South Korea and it is played in brick-and-mortar locations and over the Internet. In recent years, the number of poker rooms where this game can be played increased significantly. Some of the biggest suppliers of classic poker variants found it worthwhile to add Badugi to their selection.

Getting Started - How to Play Badugi

Players who are familiar with Texas hold ‘em and other classic poker variants will have no problem learning the ropes of Badugi. That’s because the games are similar in many ways and both require players to put in a small and big blind. The action moves around the table, with several betting rounds during which players can draw cards. At the end of each betting, round players can discard one or several cards, in an attempt to improve their hands. 

The best-case scenario is to make a Badugi, which consists of four cards of different suits. This is one of the main differences between this game and other draw poker variants. Instead of five cards you only use four, so there are fewer winning combinations. Ideally, you make a hand that has a few cards sharing the same suit. In Badugi, the strongest hand is the one that has the lowest cards, with Aces always counting as 1. Straights don’t matter so consecutive cards don’t hurt your hands.

Basic Badugi Strategy

Just like other popular types of poker, Badugi rewards the use of math and the ability to play the position. If you are late to act in the hand, you have more opportunities to bluff and act based on the information revealed by fellow players. Players in late positions have the advantage of accurately observing what happens at the table before it is their time to act. That’s why one of the most important lessons for new players is to play position and fold mediocre hands when they are the first to act.

Badugi is a shining example of a poker game where a tight-aggressive play style is profitable. The idea is to play fewer hands and fault most of the cards that don’t have a strong chance to improve. Bluffing is an important make any, but players are advised to use it mostly at shorthanded tables. That’s because when you play and a full table, there is a greater chance for somebody to make a Badugi. Since this is usually a pot-limit poker game, it rarely happens that players go all-in unless they play very aggressively.

To be successful at Badugi you need to be able to calculate the implied odds. Most pots are not won with the strongest hand, so you don’t necessarily need to aim for a Badugi every single time. If you have three cards of distinct suits it is not always advisable to draw the fourth to make a four-card Badugi. Keep in mind that your hand is only as good as your high card and think about that before drawing.

Additional Tips for Players 

In the later stages of the game, don’t hesitate to fold weak hands instead of drawing three or more times. The chances are you are already beaten and you are simply drawing that while wasting more money.

Pay attention to fellow players during the previous rounds and act accordingly. If somebody chose not to discard a single hand means that he is standing pat, and you’ll have a hard time improving your hand.

Never count out cards to discard before it is your turn. Many players make the mistake of preparing the cards they want to throw before it is their turn and this gives away valuable information.

Badugi can be a challenging game so don’t get greedy and try to play several tables simultaneously. It is far more important to pay attention to your peers, as the hands unfold at a faster pace. 


What is the strongest hand in Badugi?

The strongest possible hand is A-2-3-4 of different suits and this is called a four-card Badugi.

How important is bluffing in Badugi?

You need to bluff to win in the long run but do it more often at shorthanded tables than full tables.

Where can I play Badugi?

The game is available in land-based casinos and card rooms, as well as several online poker rooms.

What strategy works the best in Badugi?

Tight aggressive is the most successful playstyle in Badugi, just like in most types of poker.

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