Basic poker strategy for Badugi
Now that Full Tilt poker has joined PokerStars in offering their customers Badugi games I have decided to give out some basic tips for one of the most perplexing games in all of poker, Badugi. Now I’m by no means an expert in Badugi, but I have been playing the game longer than most -I was introduced to Badugi some 10 years ago-so I have the basics of the game pretty much down pat.
First off let me explain the basic game-play of Badugi. Badugi is a triple-draw game where each player is dealt 4-cards. The object of the game is to make a Badugi, which is having four unmatched cards in your hand each of a different suit. Badugi is played for low, so a 4-3-2-A is the best hand possible -of four different suits. If your hand contains a pair, or two of the same suit you will only use your best three cards of differing suits for your hand -a 3-card Badugi. A 3-card Badugi is beaten by any 4-card Badugi regardless of the card ranks.
The key to playing Badugi well -as with any Draw Poker game-is to play solidly pre-flop, especially if you are involved in a “showdown” game, where virtually every hand makes it to showdown which drastically reduces the value of bluffing.
A good strategy for Badugi starting hands is to only play three wheel cards to a Badugi. Since many hands will fail to materialize into a 4-Card Badugi you’ll want to have a hand with strong showdown value as a three-card hand. For instance, even though you see a lot of Jack-high Badugi’s winning, starting with a hand like 8-7-2 is monumentally different than a 5-3-A. The reason is that when neither player makes a 4-card Badugi your 3-card hand is very weak and unlikely to win at showdown. You will also find yourself showing down a lot of second-best 4-card Badugi’s when you do hit your hand.
The only exception to this is when you are on the button or in the cutoff. In these situations you will find that you can steal-raise quite a bit with virtually any three-card Badugi to start. You’ll find that people will liberally defend their blinds, and if they draw 2 or 3 cards and you draw a single card you have a lot of firepower to just c-bet the flop whether you improve or not. If your opponent does call -if he raises you should just fold and give up on the hand most of the time-it’s ok because you have position.
In this situation if your opponent draws 1 then you can do the same and just control the betting with your position. If your opponent draws two or more then you can stand-pat and bluff the second-draw. By doing this you are forcing your opponent to drastically improve to continue on in the hand, since you have shown a lot of strength throughout. Remember, even if your opponent calls and draws one again, you can simply stand-pat and bluff the final draw, since the odds are against him making a 4-Card Badugi, and it would be a serious “Hero Call” for him to call unimproved. If he does call then you to value-bet the hell out of him in the future!