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An Introduction to FL Badugi


In this article
  • The rules of FL Badugi
  • Hand value and hand strength
  • Selecting starting hands

Badugi, or Badougi, Paduki and Padooki as it's also known, is an Asian draw poker variant. It's widely accepted that it originated from Korea. Badugi has been available in a variety of online poker rooms for some time and has enjoyed a steady growth in popularity.

The rules of FL Badugi

Badugi is a triple draw lowball variant. That means that the lowest hand wins and there are three draw rounds in four rounds. It's usually played in a Fixed Limit variant. Each player can invest up to four bets in the pot in each round. For reasons of simplicity, we'll talk about predraw, flop, turn and river here.

A round of FL Badugi

At the start of every round the blinds place their bets, as in Hold'em. The big blind makes a small bet and the small blind usually bets half. Each player gets four cards.

First betting round (predraw):

The players have their cards and are deciding whether to fold, call or raise. The bet here is one small bet each. The player on the left of the big blind has to decide first.

First draw:

As long as there are at least two players still in the hand, they need to decide if they want to swap any or all of their cards. From the first draw, the next player left of the button always has to decide first.

Second betting round (flop):

Now the players can decide again if they want to check or bet or, if someone bet before them, whether to fold, call or raise. The bet here is also a small one.

Second draw:

When there are at least two players still in the hand, cards can be swapped again.

Third betting round (turn):

The players can now decide again if they want to check or bet, fold, call or raise. The bet is now a big bet.

Third draw:

Players can swap their cards one last time.

Fourth betting round (river):

This is the last betting round. The bet here is a big bet.

Hand value

Badugi is a lowball variant, meaning the lowest hand wins. Pairs and cards of the same colour are bad, as they take a card out of the hand value. Streets have no influence and ace is the lowest card.

So there are hands which are made up of four, three, two or one cards. A hand made up of four cards is called Badugi. 

4-card hands (Badugis):

A Badugi is made up of four different cards with different colours.

e.g. 1: a 10-Badugi

e.g. 2: a Q-Badugi

3-card hands:

A 3-card hand is made up of three different cards with different colours.

e.g. 1: a 3-card 7

e.g. 2: a 3-card Q

2-card hands:

A 2-card hand is made up of two different cards in two different colours.

e.g. 1: a 2-card 7

e.g. 2: a 2-card Q

1-card hand:

A 1-card hand is made up of one card with value.

e.g. 1: a 1-card A

e.g. 2: a 1-card Q

Hand strength

The aim is to be holding the lowest and thus strongest hand at the end of the round. Every Badugi beats every 3-card hand, every 3-card hand beats every 2-card hand and every 2-card hand beats every 1-card hand. Where players have equal card numbers, the lowest hand wins, where comparisons begin with the highest cards.

Here are a few sample hands to illustrate, in descending strength order:

1.  a 4-Badugi, the best hand
2.  a 7-Badugi
3.  a 7-Badugi
4.  a K-Badugi, the weakest Badugi
5.  a 3-card 3, the best 3 card hand
6.  a 3-card Q
7.  a 2-card 2, the best 2 card hand
8.  a 2-card Q
9.  a 1-card A, the best 1-card hand
10. a 1-card K, the weakest hand
Split pot

A split pot is when two or more players are holding hands of equal strength. The different colours do not have different value in Badugi, just as in Hold'em.

e.g. 1: vs. gives a split pot.

e.g. 2: vs. gives a split pot.

Starting hands

When selecting starting hands it's important to consider what happened before you, what position you're in and of course, how strong your hand is. Having reads on your opponent is very important, as these make the difference between a fold, call or raise, especially in a heads-up situation.

You should also avoid playing too many hands, as otherwise you'll often play against better hands and thus lose money in the long-term. For beginners in particular, who haven't been able to gain a lot of experience in postdraw play yet, a tight approach is more advisable here.

Early position:

You shouldn't play a 2-card hand from early position. You should restrict yourself to strong 3-card hands, so at least 3-card 6. You can play good predraw Badugis here.

Middle position:

2-card hands can't be played profitably here either. You can open raise a bit looser, say with a 3-card 7. However, you should select predraw Badugis carefully here and only take a J-Badugi into your range from a high Jack.

Late position:

From here, good 2-card hands from 2-card 5 can be played profitably. At best, first in from the button, in order to steal the blinds. Although you'll have to prepare for difficult play on further streets and perhaps throw in a few bluffs. So you should only play 2-card hands against tight players, as they will fold more often.

Moderate 3-card hands can be open raised here. So you can play 3-card 8 and also 3-card 9 from the button first in. 

First in from the button every Badugi can be played as a raise.

Small blind:

2-card hands can be played well first in from the small blind, however only against tight opponents here. If there was action earlier, you have to decide based on the odds if you want to call or fold with a 2-card hand. However, if there was a raise earlier, a fold is the best decision in most cases.

Moderate 3-card hands can be loosely open raised here, as well as every Badugi, of course. If there was action earlier, a tighter range is advisable.

Big blind:

You should protect his blind against a raise from late position with strong 2-card hands and slightly weaker 3-card hands. If there's too much action, you can also fold lightly. Badugis will either be folded or raised here.

Predraw play in general

You need to pay attention to what happened before you. You need to adjust your range according to the action. If there is a raise before you, you can only call or fold with most 3-card hands, depending on your opponent's range. In general, your range will be tighter the more action there was before you.

If you should decide to play a Badugi, then play it predraw and as aggressively as possible. After the first draw, your opponents know you're standing pat anyway. If you only call with a predraw Badugi and then stand pat, your opponents know straight away that somethings amiss. It's generally a sign of weakness if a predraw Badugi only calls in the first betting round, although sometimes an opponent is trying to slow play a monster. So put as many bets into the pot as possible predraw if you're playing a predraw Badugi, so as not to reveal your hand strength.

You shouldn't open limp. If your hand isn't strong enough for an open raise, then fold.

General tips

Play your hand aggressively in order to force your opponent to make difficult decisions. This means mostly betting if you think you have the best hand and if there aren't too many opponents involved in the hand.

Predraw Badugis in particular should be played aggressively. However, you should be in a position to separate yourself from weak predraw Badugis, if you're faced with a raise on later streets.

Never check behind if you're holding a Badugi and your opponents are still drawing. You don't want to give them draws for free.

Don't play any 1 card hands, unless you get a freeplay when you're the big blind.

Reads are very important. Pay attention to your opponent's predraw ranges and make notes if you see something.

  • Does your opponent play 2-card hands?
  • Does your opponent only play strong Badugis predraw or every badugi?
  • How often does an opponent defend his big blind?
  • What's your opponent's predraw raising range?

Pay attention to their calling, betting and raising behaviour and make notes here too, if you see something unusual.

  • Does an opponent understand odds or does he call too much?
  • Does an opponent try to bluff a lot or to catch bluffs?

It's often a good idea to fold on the second draw against Badugis, if you still need to change one or more cards. You won't normally get the right odds for a call here, so pay attention to the odds.

If you draw a card in a heads-up pot and your opponent draws two or more, it's generally a good idea to bet in the following round.


In this article you've learned:

  • The rules of FL Badugi
  • The value of hands
  • Selecting starting hands
  • General tips for playing at the tables

Comments (5)

#1 AltTabF4, 12 Feb 12 10:31

I've played quite a lot in the past and can say that Badugi is a fun game.

#2 speknaze, 25 Sep 13 22:37

Nice one!

#3 ShawnlovesShawn, 24 Jul 14 08:56

I played this game on PokerStars. I feel better about trying it again after reading this!

#4 RedSpade, 13 Oct 14 00:06

Yup like Badugi

#5 leoaxinte, 15 Feb 16 10:33

Don't play any 1 card hands?