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Badugi Strategy: How to Beat Three Common Types of Players

In the latest instalment of the PokerListings/CardRunners Strategy project coach Mike "predator006" Six schools us on how to win at Badugi!

Mike "Predator006" Six is a PLO8 specialist ranging in stakes from 200-2000. He's been playing since mid-2005 and advocates game selection and proper bankroll management. He also enjoys obscure games like badugi, baduci and Chinese poker.

He found that players online were generally awful at badugi, so he started taking notes on different lines that the few winning players were taking and taught himself.

If you're not familiar with the game click through and get started with our Badugi Rules and Game-Play tutorial.

Take it away Mike.

Contrary to popular belief, the word ‘badugi’ is not Korean for ‘bad poker player,’ although most who play it fall into that category.

Because there isn’t a whole lot of public information about these games competent players have a huge edge!

Badugi can be played online on both Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars. Although it has not yet been included as a WSOP event, there was a recent $1,000 tournament at the Commerce, and there was also a SCOOP event on PokerStars that generated a $28,000 first prize.

With the game’s increasing popularity, some well-known players have tried it successfully, including Shaun Deeb and Jean-Robert Bellande. The game, along with its close cousins baduci and badacey, is now found in many mid- and high-stakes mixed games in Las Vegas.

(Bellande claims to have invented baduci, but the claim has not been verified.)

How to Beat Badugi: 3 Player Types

Jean Robert Bellande 4

I have found that most online poker badugi players fall into the following categories:

First, there are players that have don’t have a clue how to play the game. These players will do things like drawing to a three-card Jack and choose to keep the Jack pre-draw because it gives them three different suits.

These players also don’t understand the value of position and how to use it, nor could they tell you the difference between a smooth and a rough hand. They also rarely if ever three-bet a strong three-card hand pre-draw. Other characteristics of these players include:

  • They will believe you have a badugi when you pat, whether you have it or are snowing.
  • They will never make bluff-raises to try to break weak badugis.
  • They will rarely fold bad badugis even when it is obvious that they are beat. These players often think they get sucked out on when their A5TQ badugi loses a big pot.

Secondly, there are the bad decision makers. Online, these players often click on their decision without seeing what the other players' actions are before them.

They do baffling things like calling a raise and reraise pre-draw and then folding to a small bet after the first draw, when they are getting 7-1 odds or better. Sometimes, these players will open-raise pre-draw and fold to a three-bet. If you find this kind of player, stick around and hope they rebuy when they bust.

Thirdly, there are players who are entirely too straightforward. These players do not adapt and are typically tight ABC players.

In heads-up pots, they will rarely continue to a big bet after the second draw because they don’t include the implied odds of future raises or the chance that the opponent is bluffing. Another example of this player’s tendencies can be found in a three-handed raised pot pre-draw. If the player that is first to act bets after the first draw, I will typically raise with a good part of my range, including decent three-card hands.

This ABC player behind you will fold for the extra bet into a large pot. One of the most important patterns of these players is that they are either very consistent on calling with all three-card hands or they never do.

If they ever snow, make a note, because they will take a similar line when they snow again. Once you notice their patterns, figure out a good counter strategy and run them over.

Lastly, there are players that adapt their style to their opponents. They are typically tricky to play against. These players often incorporate snowing techniques and calling with three-card hands into their strategy.

They raise often in position and value this position more than their hand strength. Good tri hands are three-bet pre-draw. They sometimes bluff-raise to try to get weak badugis to break or fold. These players are obviously the toughest to play against.

Stick to One Badugi Table!

One of the drawbacks to online badugi play is for players used to multitable grinding. This is much harder in badugi. I feel comfortable playing 12 tables of other games simultaneously, and have maintained up to 24.

When I have tried to play more than one badugi table, however, I have always lost my edge and started to spew. For the recreational player looking to have fun and make a good win rate, badugi is a great change from your typical grind.

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Jet City Apps
2012-07-08 00:29:09

Just release a Badugi iPhone app and windows phone app. Android app will be release in about a month. I would imagine that most players would want to try it on normal difficulty, but for advanced players we have hard mode, which from experience is difficult.

Search Badugi or Badugi Lite from Jet City Apps. I believe it will make you a better player.

Jesse Walker
2011-08-28 20:25:49

I’d be curious if anyone has any thoughts on pot limit or half-pot limit Badugi. Being a US badugi enthusiast I can only play at Merge post Black Friday.

Mike Six
2011-03-24 02:50:18

6 tables!!!! Holy moly. Here’s the problem…a winning player should be able to drastically improve their winrate by playing less tables, BUT as you move up in stakes you will encounter much tougher players. Depends on what your goals are eh?

As far as discarded suits, I have two comments. #1 – I ALWAYS will know the optimal card to discard if I get a pair. I assume this is from the focus I have from just playing 1 or 2 tables. It may not seem like it, but it will matter in the long run. #2 – When seeing 4-5 of the same suit from A-9, it is a good candidate for snowing, BUT it is more important to do it against the right player, not just because of the lack of card combinations.

Good Luck!

Badugi Grinder
2011-03-23 04:08:38

I started playing Badugi serious during the past month and worked it up to 6-tables with a quite a decent winrate 10K+ hands, despite playing fairly ABC. I don’t know yet whether to focus on higher volume, higher stakes (when the games are running) or on playing more aggressive, including some of the plays you mentioned. I’m gravitating towards the latter, but it’s hard to do when with 6 tables.

One other thing I’d like to mention is paying attention to discarded suits, which can help make better discard decisions when you draw pairs on later streets. Makes me wonder how many good players keep up with that.

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