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Poker Strategy: Badeucey Fundamentals with Randy Ohel

by Steve Schult |  Published: May 06, 2020


The World Series of Poker is the one time of the year where all of poker’s variants, not just no-limit hold’em, are on display at the highest level. Randy Ohel is a fixture in those other games. He is a successful regular in the high-stakes mixed game scene, both in tournaments and in cash games.

Ohel has a WSOP bracelet from his victory in the $2,500 2-7 triple draw in 2012, and has cashed in several other variants, including runner-up finishes in the 2018 10,000 2-7 triple draw, the 2016 $10,000 seven card stud eight-or-better championship, and the 2014 $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. championship.

The Florida native and Las Vegas resident has more than $2 million in live tournament earnings, almost exclusively in mixed events. Ohel has delved into the coaching realm of poker and is currently taking students to learn non-hold’em games. He can be found on Twitter @RandyOhel.

In an effort to provide readers with a solid fundamental strategy of mixed games, Card Player sat down with Ohel to break down a badeucey hand from the $1,500 dealer’s choice event at the 2019 World Series of Poker.

For those that may not be familiar with the game, Badeucey is a split-pot triple draw game that combines badugi and 2-7 lowball. Half the pot will be awarded to the best badugi hand and the other half is given to the best 2-7 low hand. In this game, the nuts would be 7-5-4-3-2 with the 5-4-3-2 being different suits. For the badugi half, if neither player can make a four-card badugi, the best three-card badugi will win the hand, just as in a normal badugi hand.

With 15 players and three left in the $1,500 Dealers Choice event at the 2019 World Series of Poker, Jim Collopy raised under-the-gun in a round of badeucey. Mike Ross made it three bets from the cutoff and Collopy called. Both players took two cards. Collopy checked and Ross bet. Collopy check-raised and Ross made it three bets. Collopy called.

Collopy stood pat and Ross took one. After the second draw, Collopy led out for the 30,000 big bet. Ross raised to 60,000 and Collopy moved all in for 68,000. Ross called. Collopy stood pat and Ross took one. They chopped the pot with Collopy’s 9-7 winning the five-card half and Ross’s 6-4 badugi winning the badugi portion.

Steve Schult: Since this is a 2-7 variant, how important is it to start with both a 7 and a 2 in your hand? Mike’s badugi is strong, but his five-card draw is somewhat weak since he can make a straight. How important is it to have a strong two-way draw?

Randy Ohel: It’s always important to start with a deuce, but even in regular triple draw, the 7 isn’t super important.

SS: I thought you wanted to be drawing at both ends of the low.

RO: I mean, it’s nice. But it’s not like “Oh, you can’t play the hand because it doesn’t have a 7 in it.” But it is kind of like “Oh, you can’t play that hand because it doesn’t have a 2 in it.”

SS: Is a deuce a necessary requirement for starting hand selection?

RO: You have a much weaker hand. You likely have a hand that you can open in late position or defend the blind or something. You wouldn’t have a hand from upfront that doesn’t have a 2 in it. Unless you have a pat hand or something like a strong four-card hand.

SS: What are playable hands from up front then, if we assume a full six-handed game?

RO: You’re looking for similar starting hands to triple draw, but with three different suits. But you can play something like 2-5-8, which you wouldn’t play in regular triple draw. Basically, you’re looking for three cards to an eight or better with three different suits. You’d like to have a deuce in there, but you can play like 3-4-5 because it’s a very smooth three-card. There are different types of hands that you can play, but for the most part, fairly similar hands.

SS: What are hands that are considered good enough to three-bet?

RO: People play that spot differently. Some people three-bet with a lot more draw two than other people do. Any time you are going to draw one, you are going to want to three-bet. A lot of people have a lot of different strategies as to whether to three-bet their smoother hands.

SS: You mentioned during one of our interviews about 2-7 triple draw that since everybody was looking for the same cards, it’s not advisable to steal from late position with trash because those cards are likely to be loaded up in the blinds. Does the same principle apply here or does the different suits aspect of the badugi portion of the hand change the strategy?

RO: It’s not as quite as strong of an effect, but there are similar principles in play. You would never defend your big blind with 3-4 in regular triple draw, but you would in badeucey. In badeucey, there is some importance to have smooth prospects for badugi side. You will have possibilities of making a smooth badugi without having that great of a chance at the low.

SS: How would you approach a one-way low hand like 7-5-3-2 with three clubs?

RO: Those are some of the hardest hands to play. First of all, it matters which three clubs you have. If your lowest two-card is a 2-7 versus your lowest two-card being a 2-3. It will affect whether or not the hand will be at all playable or maybe if you want to draw two with it. Maybe you would defend the big blind and draw two or three.
As a more general statement, the smoother the two-card hand, the more playable it is going to be from more positions and stuff like that. If you get dealt 7Club Suit 5Spade Suit 3Spade Suit 2Spade Suit X under the gun, you just have to fold.

But you would open that hand from the button, and you might draw two or three. You would never draw one. Maybe if someone opens and there is four- or five-way action or something like that and you’re closing the action, then you could just call and draw one to try and get half of a big multiway pot.

SS: That’s kind of what I’m getting at. You’re never drawing one and going for half.

RO: Not unless you get a super weird spot. Spots that really aren’t supposed to come up where there are a ton of people in already. Then do it.

As a rule, you’re not looking to do that.

SS: Back to the hand in question. They both take two on the first draw and Jim immediately makes a 9-low and a 9-badugi. I realize this is a general question, but how strong of a hand is that? Are you ever breaking this?

RO: Unless it’s one of the strongest versions of that hand, which would be 2-3-4 offsuit, 7, and the right 9. That might be the hand where you end up drawing one because the three-card is so strong, and the three-card has showdown value. There is a lot of importance in this game in the three-card having showdown value.

SS: He has the 2-3-5 three-card.

RO: You could potentially end up breaking that. Or you can pat it. The way the hand is actually played out; he was clearly up against an opponent who had a strong badugi. And he’s not going to scoop the pot even by breaking, really. He has one or two outs or something.

And he is ahead for the other side, so in that type of spot, he’s not going to break it. It might have been an interesting decision if his opponent had patted at some stage. But against someone who is not pat, you’re not looking to break that.

SS: Just for clarification’s sake, if he were playing a cash game where he would have to play all the streets, he’s not going to check-raise and pile money in, right?

RO: You could still check-raise the flop. Either check-raise or lead. You can do them each some portion of the time. But once he gets three-bet and it goes pat-one, you’re never going to put in another bet if you don’t have to. And even here, I think he made a tremendous mistake by betting on the turn.

There’s no reason not to save the extra 9,000 or whatever it was. Even though 8,000 is nothing, it’s also not nothing. It’s literally not nothing and that matters more than it being figuratively nothing. You can at least try and double that 9,000 because you’re always trying to escape. You can just check and call the rest of the way down.

His opponent also would have the option in a cash game to just call on the flop and get in a raise on the turn. Which is less relevant here when the players are nearly all in. That’s a play very much in consideration for the player in position with the six badugi.

SS: And if he just takes one after calling in position, would that make it look like he has four cards to a low, but still only three to a badugi?

RO: He could have any of those hands. When he gets checked to and he bets, all he is saying is that he improved his hand. Then he gets check-raised and he calls. All he is saying is that he is drawing.

Then when he caught something suited, he can just call on the turn and when he caught a strong badugi, he’s raising on the turn. And he’s getting one extra small bet as opposed to three-betting on the flop. In this case, it’s a little bit different because he’s almost all in. I wouldn’t be three-betting on the flop if I were that guy.

SS: When someone three-bets the flop in this spot, is this generally a good badugi that’s trying to freeroll his opponent for half?

RO: You wouldn’t even been necessarily wrong to just say “always.” First of all, I just don’t like the three-bet at all. And that’s the reason. Because there is zero balance anymore. It’s kind of a catastrophe to three-bet and draw one when you don’t have a badugi because you are just so far behind for both sides of the pot.

And you could say, “Oh I’m three-betting with this hand for balance,” and really, you’re just getting in a ton of money behind when you could’ve just called on the flop. And for that reason, that’s the reason why you just call with all of those hands instead of raise for all of those hands.

I don’t really see anybody three-bet and then check back the turn. Like “Hahaha, I got you with my drawing hand.” I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. They just always have a hand that they are freerolling you with.

SS: Now on later streets, hypothetically, you make a very strong one-way hand, but no badugi, are you playing that aggressively or are you just calling down since you’re only going to get half?

RO: It depends on whether your opponent has said that they have a good badugi yet or not. Then there is no reason to be aggressive. But if your opponent doesn’t have a good badugi already.

Let’s say you have a number two (7-6-4-3-2), with a three-card seven badugi, you could very easily play that aggressively and try and get your opponent to fold a better three-card than you by showdown. You could try and bluff him off half.

But if he has put in a ton of raises or something, he is obviously going to show the hand down, then you just shut down. It’s whether your opponent has told you that he is going to show it down and whether he has said he has a good hand.

Let’s say we open 2-3-7 offsuit and the button calls. We both took two and I caught 6-4 suited and I bet, and he calls. It’s going to go pat-2 and I’m just going to keep betting. Maybe he’ll fold a three-card six or something. It’s very different if he raises me on the flop or raises me on the turn.

If he raises me and says he is going to show it down, which is basically what a raise says there, then I’m going to slow down. Badeucey is a showdown game. Once somebody raises you, they are basically saying they are showing this hand down. And once that happens, the jig is up, you are not going to be stealing half of this pot. ♠