There is some controversy over the origin of this game, which has been played at least since the 1980s. Bill Rosmus reports that in the 1980s in Winnipeg, Canada it was played under the name Off Suit Lowball in the back room of pool halls and back room poker clubs. Bryan Micon says he has been told by several Korean players that it was also played in South Korea in the 1980s. The name of the game means “black and white spotted dog” in Korean. The game Go has a similar name in Korean,baduk, derived from the same word.
Another ancestor of badugi is displayed in a game played in Toronto in the 1970s and 1980s, off on high low, and its variant leapfrog. In both games the objective was to make a 5 card hand, with a pair being mandatory. Either an «off» hand all 4 other cards different suits), or an «on» hand (all 4 other cards of one suit. Leapfrog made this much more difficult with stipulation that the cards must not «touch» each other, in terms of pip value. Oftentimes, the pot would stay, making for a juicy start to the next hand.
How To Play Badugi
Badugi is played using forced bets known as blinds, with the player sitting to the left of the dealer button posting a small blind, and the player to their left posting the big blind. The small blind is usually half the size of the big blind.
Each player is dealt four cards face down. The first round of betting then takes place, where you can call, raise or fold. Players still left in the hand after this first betting round now have the option to draw. The idea of the draw is that you can choose to discard any cards that you don’t want, and have them replaced with new ones that you hope will improve your hand. Click the cards you want to discard, and then click the ‘Discard’ button. You can opt to discard all four cards if you want. A second round of betting then takes place, with players having the option to bet or fold, unless there are no bets, in which case you can check. Once this round of betting is complete, another draw and betting round takes place. This is followed by a final draw and betting round, after which a showdown occurs if more than one player remains. The player with the best hand takes the pot.
Badugi is usually played with the classic big blind-small blind structure.
This means each hand starts with the small blind and the big blind posting blind bets. The small blind is usually half the amount of the big blind. The blinds are always the players sitting to the left of the dealer button. The action starts to the left of the BB, at the position called Under the Gun.
Each player is dealt four cards face down. The UTG speaks first. They have the option to either call the blind, fold or raise. If they fold, their cards are dead and they give up the pot. If they raise, the other players need to put the raised amount into the pot to stay in the hand. If no-one calls, the last raiser wins the pot. If there is at least one caller, the hand continues.
After the first, the pre-draw betting round, players can discard 1-4 of their cards and draw 1-4 new cards. They can also draw no cards at all, often referred to as “stay pat”. Another round of betting follows.
After that, players can choose to draw once again. On this street, however, the betting limit doubles. Now players can place a so-called big bet.
The last draw is the third one, followed by the last betting round. The showdown comes next.
The 4-card hand with the lowest high card wins the pot. This makes Badugi different from other lowball poker types – only one card from each suit counts. If you have four cards from all different suits, you have a Badugi. The best is a 4-low badugi A234, all off-suit) while the worst is a King-low Badugi. The Ace is always low.
If you have a 3-suit hand you don’t have a badugi but you can still win a hand. Now you have a 3-card hand – one card from each suit – which loses to any 4-card hand but can beat other 3-card hands. If, let’s say, you have Js7s6c4d, you’re holding a 7-low 3-card hand. You can beat KhQH2s3c, for example, but you lose to KsAc9h8d, a King-low Badugi. Same goes for 2 and 1-card hands – because they are almost never good at showdown, we suggest folding or bluffing rather than calling them down.
If the players run out of cards to draw at any point in the hand, the discarded pile is reshuffled and dealt again.
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