Smooth Draw in Badugi

Its important to make the distinction between a rough draw and a smooth draw in many forms of lowball poker.  Badugi is no exception.

A smooth draw is hand like a A28 3-card hand.  This is in fact the “smoothest” 3 card 8 you can draw to.  What makes it smooth are its kickers (the deuce and the Ace)

A rough draw is something like 678 3-card hand.  This the “roughest” 3 card 8 you can draw to, again because of its kickers (the 7 and the 6).

There are some situations described in the Badugi Starting Hand Chart that call for playing a smooth 3-card hand but not a rough one.  The reason for this is that your odds of winning at showdown are greater with a smooth draw than with a rough draw.

For example, suppose you are in a 3-way pot after the 1st draw:

Your Cards:  A28 tri

Opponent #1:  A3 2-card hand

Opponent #2:  Q853 Badugi (this actual about the average badugi one is dealt before the draw)

In this example you will win at showdown 40% of the time! If you knew your opponents hands you would want to get as many bets in as possible before the draw

Now lets look at the rough version of you 3 card 8:

Your Cards:  678 tri

Opponent #1:  A3 2-card hand

Opponent #2:  Q853 Badugi (this actual about the average badugi one is dealt before the draw)

In this example you win at showdown a mere 29% of the time.  Now you are happy to be in the pot but you want to be in as cheaply as possible as you are no longer the favorite.

Why is this?

Well the reasons are multiple.  Here are a few:

With the smooth draw you can outkick opponent #1 should you both get a badugi with the same two high cards.  Also your opponent with the Q8xx badugi is more difficult to beat with 678 rough draw because if you were to draw a Qhi a badugi your hand would still be 2nd best.

This is note as important as in lowball games in which straights can counterfeit your low as in 2-7 triple draw because in these games its much more likely to draw a straight with 876 than it is with A28.

In Badugi we don’t have to worry about straights but the concept still applies for the reasons stated above.