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Starting Hands Revealed
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Badugi is a poker variant that comes from Korea and is just now becoming popular in online card rooms and other Internet venues.
Badugi Poker is a four-card poker game that plays similarly to five card draw, but the ranking of hands is completely different than in other poker games.
The game is set up just like Texas Hold'em or Omaha with a dealer button and a small and large blind to the left of the button.
In badugi there are three chances for a player to draw to a better hand. During each draw phase a player may discard as many cards as they like or simply none at all. After each draw phase there is a round of betting. After the final draw phase there is a final round of betting followed by a showdown.
As the largest online poker room, PokerStars is one of the few rooms where you can find good action in exotic poker games such as badugi poker.
Badugi Poker Hand Rankings
There are several specifics in how a badugi hand is played out.
Your hand cannot contain pairs or cards of the same suit and if it does, you have to discard these cards at the showdown until your hand no longer has cards of the same suit or any pairs. Once this is done, you then have your final badugi hand.
A four card hand is the best hand and will beat any three, two or one card hand. Similarly a three-card hand beats any two or one card hand.
The trick is to eliminate similar pairs and suits in your hands so that you can play a four card hand. At the same time however, it is important to consider that the best hands are determined by the lowest card and not the highest card! Keep in mind that the ace is a low card. Here are some examples.
Ah2h4h9c vs. Ac8s2c8c: in this example our first hand the Ah2h4h9c will be discarded down to a two card hand Ah9c. The other two hearts had to be discarded, and the ace was the best one to keep. In the second hand, the eight of clubs and the two of clubs need to be discarded leaving the Ac8s. The winning hand is then the Ac8s because even though each player has an ace, the eight is lower ranking than the nine. You can see the importance of playing low cards in badugi.
9c4d3h9s vs. 8h7h7cAh: in this example the 9c4d3h9s hand is the winner because the player only has to discard one nine, leaving her with a three card hand. The 8h7h7cAh hand will become a two card hand because one of the sevens and one of the remaining hearts needs to be discarded. Remember, a three-card hand automatically beats a two card hand regardless of the two-card hands cards.
Important Badugi Poker Strategies
The most critical tips to remember when playing badugi are that low cards win and that similar suits are bad news.
With that in mind, you will want to play starting hands that generally hold cards under eight. Even if you have a four card hand, in a game with many players, it is likely someone else will have one as well. It is important that you hold low ranking cards to take down the pot.
The number of players will often determine your course of action. Against fewer than five or six players, a strong three card hand could take down the pot, but like other poker variants, playing only the best, premium hands is the soundest strategy.
Make sure like Texas Hold'em that when you have a solid starting hand such as a four card seven or eight that you bet aggressively to reduce the number of opponents. With three draw phases, your challengers have ample opportunities to build solid hands. Make them pay the price along the way for being foolish.
Whatever your experience and your bankroll, badugi is a fun game. Very few poker rooms offer this or other exotic games for now. Try pokerstars for the widest selection of poker variations including badugi poker.
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