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The Fundamentals Of Badeucey: An Introduction

by Kevin Haney |  Published: Sep 23, 2020

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Badeucey is a split-pot game where the object is the make the best deuce-to-seven (27TD) low along with the best Badugi. Aces are high and straights count against you so the best possible deuce to seven low is 7-5-4-3-2 that is not a flush. On the Badugi side aces are also considered high, thus the best possible Badugi is 2-3-4-5 with all different suits such as 2Club Suit 3Heart Suit 4Diamond Suit 5Spade Suit.

The game was introduced more than a decade ago and is a fixture of many mixed-game rotations. Action players tend to really enjoy it as pots are often contested multi-way and a good run of cards can send your chip stack soaring. Not all players are fans of the game though as the Badeucey round typically takes a long time to play, it can be intimidating for potential new recruits, and some feel that there is not enough of a skill component to the variant.

Some of these criticisms are probably more valid than others. It is true that the game can initially sound very confusing and prevent new blood from joining a game where they may have otherwise taken a shot. As a mixed-game player, it’s very important to think about the long term growth of the game. Perhaps you can add a game or two that new players may like or maybe it is possible to take the time to carefully explain the rules and assuage the main fears that they may have.

Also, the Badeucey round does indeed take longer to play than virtually any other game, mostly because there are three draws and a reshuffling of the muck is often required due to running out of cards.

However, another reason why it tends to run so slow is because many of the decisions are not crystal clear and others are flat out difficult. There is quite a large skill element in the game as we must balance the goals of making a good Badugi along with a good low all while trying to analyze what range of hands your opponents may be holding. The same players who state that luck plays too great of a role in Badeucey will often tank and mutter something to the effect of, “Sorry everyone, I have no idea what I’m supposed to do here.”

Getting lost in a hand can happen to everyone; however, it will happen less if you start out with a firm grasp of the fundamentals.

Fundamentals of Badeucey

As in all split-pot games, the goal is to scoop, and this greatly impacts the hands we choose to play and how we play them. In all split-pot games we must be more selective, particularly from early position, as we don’t know how many players will contest the pot.

Since everyone is dealt five cards and has the ability to draw two to a tri hand, a Badugi is obtained more often and is on average much stronger than when playing Badugi by itself. We are also trying to make a good 27TD low and on this side the best low we can make is capped by the highest card. From the onset, our goal is to build hands that are strong on both sides and this means we should often initially discard nines and higher even when they make a Badugi.

For example, if we have 2Club Suit 3Heart Suit 4Diamond Suit 9Spade Suit KSpade Suit we have a nine Badugi, but the best 27TD low we can make is a nine. Whether we are contesting the pot heads-up or are in a multi-way pot our best course of action is to draw two cards. Keeping the 9Spade Suit caps our potential on both sides which is something we don’t want to do when holding 2Club Suit 3Heart Suit 4Diamond Suit. Made nines have reverse implied odds while the 2-3-4 is the strongest three card Badugi and the best draw in the game.

The situation is quite different if we open 5Club Suit 6Heart Suit 8Diamond Suit 9Spade Suit KSpade Suit on the button and pick up a single caller in the big blind. Here we should probably keep the nine, especially if the big blind is drawing three. We cannot improve much on the badugi side thus we should keep the nine and also try make a nine low for what is referred to as a “nine/nine.”

Generally speaking, the average lows shown down are slightly worse than in 27TD played on its own. This is because many players will initially discard a low card with a duplicate suit that they normally would have kept in straight 27TD in an attempt to make a strong Badugi. For example, when dealt the 2Club Suit 3Heart Suit 7Spade Suit 8Spade Suit it would most often be correct to discard the eight on the first draw and attempt to make stronger hands on both sides.

In addition, one-way hands such as 2Spade Suit 3Spade Suit 6Spade Suit 8Heart Suit that could make a strong low should be folded unless it is played as a late position steal against tight players in the blinds. This hand is very marginal, however, there is potential to steal the blinds outright, your opponent may fold early on in the hand, or failing all of that we have the potential to make a strong low. This holding also has some potential to develop a legit two-way draw, such as when you obtain either the 2Diamond Suit or 3Club Suit.

Initially your initial starting hand selection and strategy should be geared towards making a five-card eight low and a seven badugi (or better hands) which will often put you in a position to scoop pots. Typically, with two draws to go that should still be your strategy, however as the hand progresses sometimes you may need to keep made low hands without a chance to win on the Badugi side in order to increase the odds that you will win at least half of the pot. The object of the game is to scoop, however, sometimes you just need to hang on with a good low and forego possible scooping opportunities in order to best deny your opponent the entire pot.

Drawing Odds In Badeucey

Even when dealt five cards it is still very rare to be dealt a strong badugi on the initial deal thus most of the hands you will be playing are three unsuited cards such as 2Club Suit 3Heart Suit 7Diamond Suit. On the first draw how often will you improve this hand drawing two cards? In order to answer this, we must first define what we would consider improvement.

Since it is still relatively early on the hand, we should remain focused towards building strong lows and Badugis and will therefore consider any card a nine or above as unimproved. In reality sometimes we will keep a nine Badugi (most likely heads-up) and later in the hand tens and even jacks can be kept especially when they also make a Badugi but for now we will only consider non pairing cards eight or lower as potential helpers.

Four cards, the 4Spade Suit, 5Spade Suit, 6Spade Suit, and 8Spade Suit are extremely helpful in that they make a strong badugi in addition to a solid one card draw on the low side. Twelve other cards, the remaining fours, fives, sixes, and eights will give you at least a solid draw low draw and some of them such as the 4Diamond Suit are particularly useful in that they also reduce your incomplete. Still any of these twelve cards will probably help you enough that they should be kept as you are still building towards an eight low along with a good Badugi. If successful your hand has definite scoop possibilities and is one that is not easily scooped.

There are 47 cards left in the deck, 16 of which that will help you and 31 that will not. Thus the probability of not improving at all (i.e. not making at least a four-card eight) is (31/47)*(30/46) = 43 percent.

This means that we are a 57 percent favorite to improve one way or another. The table below shows the different ways we can improve and the approximate probabilities associated with them: (All probabilities below represent making an eight-or-better hand)

When you are fortunate enough to make both a strong low and Badugi you should be excited about your scooping prospects and should look to bet or raise for both value and protection.

Holding a premium badugi is also a strong position to be in as you will often be in a highly valued free-roll position where you have two more draws to make a good low. With a five or six badugi you should generally look to put in as much action as you can. If another player appears to really like their hand, we may eventually want to slow down with 3-4-5-6 as a better badugi may be out and the best low you can make is 8-6-5-4-3.

Making an eight low only without a badugi is still good improvement especially if you also reduce your tri hand in the process. If you started with the 2Club Suit 3Heart Suit 7Diamond Suit then drawing the 5Diamond Suit and 8Diamond Suit significantly improves your holding to the second best possible three card Badugi (2-3-5) along with a solid low hand. In a short-handed pot you have a very good chance of scooping or at the very least the odds are decent that you will not be scooped.

As the chart indicates 34 percent of the time we will improve upon our low draw but fail to make a badugi. As previously discussed, drawing a card such as the 4Diamond Suit is still very welcome improvement since you now have the best possible 2-3-4 tri hand and a premium draw to a seven low. This card should absolutely be kept no matter how many players are involved in the pot and how the action went down before the first draw.

Also keeping improvement to 2Club Suit 3Heart Suit 6Club Suit 7Diamond Suit is best in virtually all situations but what if we end up with a hand like 2Club Suit 3Heart Suit 7Diamond Suit 8Diamond Suit? Holding the 2Club Suit 3Heart Suit 7Diamond Suit 8Diamond Suit we should often elect to draw two once again particularly in multi-way pots. However, with position in a heads-up pot we probably increase our overall expectation by keeping the eight.

Unless your opponent is really sticky you typically have fold equity by drawing one when he does not improve upon his two-card draw. In addition, you still have two-way potential and often have the option of checking back your marginal hands on the river.

Many of the decisions we make in this game are somewhat difficult as there is much to consider. Experience definitely helps as is paying astute attention to how our opponents play their different types of holdings. However, our decisions later in the hand are always easier when we start out playing a proper set of starting hands and that will be the focus of the next issue. ♠

Kevin Haney is a former actuary of MetLife but left the corporate job to focus on his passions for poker and fitness. He is co-owner of Elite Fitness Club in Oceanport, NJ and is a certified personal trainer. With regards to poker he got his start way back in 2003 and particularly enjoys taking new players interested in mixed games under his wing and quickly making them proficient in all variants. His new mixed-games website Counting Outs is a great starting resource for a plethora of games ranging from the traditional to the exotic. He can be reached at haneyk612@gmail.com.