How to Play Badugi

By Tim Ryerson

In poker there are three main game variations;

  • Flop games (i.e. Texas hold’em and Omaha)
  • Stud games (i.e. Seven-card stud, Razz)
  • Draw games (i.e. Five card draw, 2-to-7 Triple Draw)

Badugi is a draw game similar to triple draw. The hand values are similar to lowball poker, whereby players strive to obtain the lowest ranking hand. However, Badugi is a unique game. Players receive four cards and the objective is to create a hand of four distinct ranks and suits.

Badugi Hand Rankings

The hand rankings in Badugi are different to those of traditional poker games. As mentioned, in Badugi each player receives four cards and the objective is to create a hand of unique ranks and suits. Any cards in your hand of a matching suit or rank are discounted. This means there are four types of Badugi hands, and they are as follows (from best to worst):


Badugi Hand

A badgui hand is four cards that are all different suits and different ranks. Aces are low cards in Badugi and the objective is to create a low hand. Therefore our example is the best possible Badugi.

Here are more examples (ranked from best to worst):

  • 5s4c2had
  • 8d7h6s3c
  • kh9s6c3d

Each of these hands contain four cards of different suits and ranks. When two or more players have a badugi, the best hand is determined by the highest card in each hand. If there is a tie for the highest card, the second highest card is compared, and so on. Suits are of equal value in Badugi, so if players share the same Badugi hand then the pot will be split.

Three Card Hand

Three card Badugi hand

When a hand contains identical ranks or suits, they are not counted. In our example you can see there are two 3’s, so one of these is discounted, leaving only three unique cards of a different rank and suit. Our example is a 3-2-A hand, the lowest possible three card Badugi hand.

Here are more examples (ranked from best to worst):

  • 5s4s2cad (4-2-A)
  • 9h9d8h6s (9-8-6)
  • jsjh8d4c (J-8-4)

Two Card Hand

Two card badugi hand

This is a two card hand because there are only two cards that are unique in suit and rank. Of the three diamonds in this hand, the 4d and 3d would be discounted, meaning the hand is 2dac – which is the lowest possible two card hand.

Here are more examples (ranked from best to worst):

  • 9c7c3c2h (3-2)
  • 8h8d4c4s (8-4)
  • khkdksth (K-T)

One Card Hand

Lastly, there are the one card hands.

One card Badugi

In this hand only one card counts. Four Kings is the worst possible hand in Badugi, because a King is the highest ranked individual card (remember, Aces are low). This would be a great hand in Texas Hold’em, not so good in Omaha, but truly terrible in Badugi.

Here are more examples (ranked from best to worst):

  • 5c4c3c2c (2)
  • td9d6d3d (3)
  • 7c7d7s7h (7)

As you can see, each of these examples have four cards of either the same suit or rank. Therefore only one card counts, which would be the lowest ranked card. In the event of two players sharing a one card hand, the lower the rank the better.

Of course a badugi always beats a three card hand, and a three card hand always beats a two card hand, and so on. The rankings are actually very simple to learn and it’s hoped you understand these explanations

Badugi Hand Ranking Quiz

Which of the following hands is the best?

Badugi quiz

Hand A is a three card hand (5-4-3) because the King and three are both diamonds. Hand B is a badugi hand (King-high) because all four cards are of a different suit and rank. This means hand B is our winner.

Badugi Rules

Badugi is played as follows:

  • A full Badugi table seats a maximum of 6 players
  • Badugi is played using a fixed-limit betting structure
  • Blinds are used like in Texas hold’em and Omaha
  • Each player receives four face down cards to begin

The game starts with a round of betting, after which the first draw takes place. The first active player to the left of the dealer button can choose to draw cards to improve their hand. The player can also choose to “stand pat” and keep the hand as it is. Each player is in turn afforded the same opportunity of drawing cards.

In total there are three drawing rounds and four betting rounds (one before the initial draw). Badugi is played as a fixed-limit game so the opening two betting rounds use small bets, and the betting doubles for the third and fourth betting round. If there are players remaining after the final betting round then it will go to a showdown, with the winner taking down the pot.

Badugi shares many strategic similarities with other forms of draw poker, so these concepts also work well in Badugi. Use knowledge of your opponents and the hands they like to put money in the pot with, along with observing their betting and drawing habits, and of course poker fundamentals such as position, and you should do well in this fun and exciting game.

By Tim Ryerson

Tim is from London, England and has been playing poker since the late 1990’s. He is the ‘Editor-in-Chief’ at and is responsible for all the content on the website.

1. What type of poker game is badugi?
2. How many face down cards does each player initially receive?
3. How many drawing rounds are there?
4. The betting limits double for the third and fourth betting round. True or false?
5. What type of hand is this?

6. What type of hand is this?

7. What type of hand is this?

8. Which of these two hands would win in a showdown?

9. Which of these two hands would win in a showdown?

10. Which of these two hands would win in a showdown?