McHaffie: MCU lesson 065 / Badugi has arrived

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Poker Player newspaper in 2005.

This is part of a series by Diane McHaffie. She wasn’t a poker player when she began writing this series. These entries chronicle the lessons given to her personally by Mike Caro. Included in her remarkable  poker-learning odyssey are additional comments, tips, and observations from Mike Caro.

Diane McHaffie index.

Diane McHaffie is Director of Operations at Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy. She has traveled the world coordinating events and seminars in the interest of honest poker. You can write her online at

Diane McHaffie

Lessons from MCU

— With bonus content by Mike Caro (pending) —

Lesson 65: Badugi has arrived

A new and exciting form of poker has come to town.

Doyle Brunson has chosen – surprise! — to be the first online site to make the game available. Well, actually, other sites in the Doyle Brunson Poker Network also offer it, but all contribute to the same virtual poker tables. The new game in town is called Badugi.


I’m not sure how this strange form of draw lowball started. Some say it began in Korea and was called Paduki. Badugi has become a hit in several of California’s casinos, where they are even holding Badugi tournaments.

Here’s what Mike has to say about it: “It’s aggravating, exciting, exasperating, and exhilarating. And then you play the next 10 minutes.” He’s right! I’ve watched him play the game. Wow! Just when you’re thrilled that you have all the right cards, except for one, you realize that the remaining card isn’t going to be easy to get. In Badugi, you’re dealt four cards and it’s lowball with 4-3-2-ace being the best hand. Well, not exactly. You can’t have any pairs, and, unlike traditional lowball, you can’t have two of the same suit. If you do, one card doesn’t exist. Then, you can only play three cards, and any four-card hand beats you. Oh,  and you get to draw three times!

So, now imagine you only need one more card of a different rank and suit than what you are holding. Come on! Noooo! Not that one! That’s the aggravating part! But if you draw the right suit and don’t pair, you feel like jumping up and down and yelling, badugi!

Low ranking cards

Like hold ’em, there are two blinds and four rounds of betting, one after you first see your cards and one after each of three drawing opportunities. At each of those opportunities, you can take four, three, two, one, or no cards (stand pat). If more than one player remains at the conclusion of that final betting round, there is a traditional poker showdown to determine who has made the lowest badugi – or who holds the lowest hand when no badugi is present, as I’ll explain. In limit games, the last two betting rounds are double the stakes of the first two.

Badugi examples

You have a badugi anytime you can use all four cards, meaning you hold four different suits and no pairs. An example of a badugi would be an 4h 3s 2c Ad, the best possible hand. Another example would be Kd Qh Js 10c, the worst possible badugi. But even though that badugi is the worst one, it’s still a badugi. And that means it beats a much better-looking hand like 7h 3d 2h Ac. Why? It’s because if you look closely, that hand has two hearts in it, and the biggest one — 7h — simply doesn’t exist. You can’t play four cards, so you don’t have a badugi, and if someone else does, you lose. Of course, you do have 3-2-A, so you’ll at least tie anyone else who fails to show badugi. If you’re dealt 3-2-A of differing suits, it’s the best drawing hand you can get, but if you don’t catch another low card of a different suit you can still lose to a K, Q, J, 10 of different suits. Just remember: badugi – meaning four cards that are different suits and different ranks — will beat any three-card hand.

I dare you

Remember, too, that although this is a lowball game, it’s unlike any you’ve ever played before. If you have a K-Q-10-3 badugi and two players each draw a card against it on the final try, you’re still likely to win!

You’ll find Mike playing badugi frequently at Doyle’s Room. Maybe you and I should log on and give him a run for his money. I’ll bet we can get badugis and beat him – at least sometimes. Now wouldn’t that be something to brag about? Come on, I dare you! Let’s play him! — DM

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