Friday, December 15

Poker Badugi

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I love to play poker. My newest game is Badugi. It is not well-known in the U.S. but is very popular in some other countries. Every player gets four cards. The object is to get the lowest hand, with aces being low. Straights do not count, so the lowest hand is A, 2, 3, 4. But there is a twist. Each card must be of a different suit. So a hand like: Ace of spades, two of clubs, three of hearts, four of spades is just a three-card low hand of 3, 2, A. the four does not count because it is also a spade. Similarly, Ace of spades, Ace of clubs, two of hearts, three of diamonds is a 3, 2, A. Each card must be of a different denomination and a different suit. Thus, King of spades, Queen of diamonds, Jack of hearts, and 10 of clubs satisfies all the requirements. That is called a Badugi.

Play starts with each player getting four cards. There is a round of betting and then each player gets to discard as many cards as he wants and get new ones. There are three draws allowed. It is a game that requires a constant assessment of strategy and odds. A perfect hand would be 4, 3, 2, A with one card from each suit. You will not see that one much. A 5 Badugi is a very strong hand and it will almost always win. On the other hand, a Badugi with, say, a 10 for the highest card, is one you need to think about. It is a Badugi and thus it will beat every hand that is not a Badugi, but a Badugi with a 9 or an 8 for a high card will beat you.

One of the fun things about playing this game is that if you enter a tournament you will almost always have one or more players at your first table who have no clue how to play the game. They will bet all their chips on three aces, which is a terrible hand. If you get two or three of those at your first table, you have a chance to build a big stack early on. Do not “give them a break”. Take all their chips, clean them out, and send them packing.


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