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Badeucey: A Survey Of Starting Hands And Initial Discard Decisions

by Kevin Haney |  Published: Oct 07, 2020

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In Badeucey, multi-way pots are commonplace and in heads-up confrontations players will often go to showdown with any reasonable three-card badugi, deuce-to-seven (27TD) low, or a combination of the two. Since many hands will end up going to the end it is imperative to play quality holdings, particularly from the first two positions at the table.

Once we get to the cutoff or later, we can begin to loosen our standards, however, it’s important not to go too far because while we do have some fold equity many of our opponents will pay the tolls and make us show them a better hand both ways. In this issue we will survey the various different starting hand types that we can play and from what positions.

Pat Hands

The value of pat hands varies considerably; the very best hands you can be dealt are the eight-or-better lows that also contain a badugi. Any holding of this type from the 2Spade Suit 3Club Suit 4Diamond Suit 5Heart Suit 7Heart Suit (two-way nuts) to the 3Diamond Suit 5Diamond Suit 6Spade Suit 7Heart Suit 8Club Suit (worst eight-low with a rough eight badugi) is worthy of an open from any position. Having a good three-card badugi along with a good made low (e.g. 2Spade Suit 3Club Suit 5Diamond Suit 6Spade Suit 8Club Suit) also has a lot of value as is and we should pat.

When we are dealt a holding such as 2Spade Suit 3Diamond Suit 5Diamond Suit 7Heart Suit 8Diamond Suit our best play is usually to break and discard the eight. If we pat this hand our three-card badugi 2-3-7 has little chance to win that side and our eight low can easily be beaten. Also discarding the five and drawing to the 2Spade Suit 3Diamond Suit 7Heart Suit is another option, however, on the 27TD side the 2-3-5-7 start probably has too much value to break.

With pure one-way low holdings that have no badugi potential we must exercise good judgment. We are going to be playing our seven lows and smooth eights as we may win without a showdown and failing that should win the 27TD side the majority of the time. However, from under-the-gun in a six-handed game we should fold lows possibly as good as 3Diamond Suit 4Diamond Suit 5Spade Suit 6Spade Suit 8Spade Suit as we have no idea how many players will contest the pot and these holdings have reverse implied odds.

One-Card Draws

Note: For the remainder of the article we will often use parentheses to indicate the portion of the hand that is of different suits. For example (2-3-4-7) is equivalent to a hand such as 2Spade Suit 3Club Suit 4Diamond Suit 7Heart Suit and (2-3-4)7 indicates that the seven shares one of the suits of the other cards e.g. 2Spade Suit 3Club Suit 4Diamond Suit 7Spade Suit.

For the most part, whenever you get dealt an eight badugi or better you have a premium or very good holding worthy of any open from any position. Starting hands such as (2-3-4-6) and (2-3-5-7) are premium because the badugis are low and you also have a very good draw at a 27TD hand. (3-4-5-6) is also a great hand even though you cannot make a seven low because it’s going to be difficult for anyone to beat you in Badugi. One-card eights such as (2-3-7-8) and (3-5-6-8) are also quite good because you have so many outs to also make an eight low.

The (4-5-6-7) is more marginal; however, it’s worthy of an open from any position as a seven badugi is relatively hard to overcome and it’s still possible to make a seven low. Only with very marginal badugis such (4-5-7-8) and (5-6-7-8) should we possibly exercise some caution and muck from early position.

When you are dealt hands such as (2-3-4)7 and (2-3-7)6 it is almost certainly best to play them as one-card draws. These draws have too much value on the 27TD to do anything else regardless of the number of opponents and how many cards they are drawing. The (2-3-4)7 has a lot more value than (2-3-7)6 due to the lower three-card badugi, however, both of these holdings should be played the same way.

With other holdings where we have a tri and a possible one-card draw to a low we must consider a number of factors including the potential of our three-card badugi to win unimproved, the value of the one 27TD draw we may be foregoing, and how many players are contesting the pot.

For example, (2-3-5)8 contains a three-card badugi that can win unimproved and its 27TD draw is quite good so we should probably keep the eight regardless of how many opponents we face. With a holding like (2-3-5)6 we should usually be drawing two cards. In 27TD the 2-3-5-6 is not a premium low draw as a four makes a straight thus we have fewer outs to make a seven or eight low. In a four-way pot, it’s almost certainly optimal to draw at the (2-3-5), however, in a heads-up pot we may be best served drawing only one.

Premium low draws with only two suits such as 2Spade Suit 3Heart Suit 4Spade Suit 7Heart Suit are interesting hand types to consider; while it seems like we strictly have a one-way hand that isn’t really the case. Four cards, the five and six of either clubs or diamonds will give us a premium tri along with a nut or second nut low. The other four fives and sixes won’t give us a three-card badugi but they will make what should be a lock low. In addition, there are eight pairing cards (the twos, threes, fours, and sevens of clubs or diamonds) that will give us a legitimate two-way draw e.g. 2Diamond Suit 3Heart Suit 4Spade Suit 7Heart Suit. On the first draw we have around a 34 percent probability to obtain any of the possible improvement described above.

Therefore the 2Spade Suit 3Heart Suit 4Spade Suit 7Heart Suit type holding is probably playable from any position; regardless if everyone else plays or if the pot ends up heads-up, the hand has value. We should not take this concept too far as a holding such as 2Spade Suit 3Spade Suit 6Spade Suit 8Heart Suit has much less value and should only be a late position steal. It is drawing to a less powerful low and since it has three spades it only has six pairing tri cards that will give you a two-way draw.

Two-Card Draws

Three-card badugis such as (2-3-5), (2-4-7), (3-5-7), (3-4-5), and (2-4-8) are the hands we are most often playing in Badeucey. When analyzing the strength of these holdings we must consider the value they have with regards to both the Badugi and 27TD sides, however, we should give slightly more weight to the starting hands with greater Badugi potential.

For example, the (3-4-5) can make a very strong badugi right away and have a freeroll against the field which mostly overrides the fact that it is quite a mediocre starting 27TD hand. Also when the pot is contested head-up the (3-4-5) has decent potential to win the Badugi side unimproved.

The suggested opening hand chart by position for three card badugis is as follows:

(3-4-5) and (3-4-6) would only be steal raises in 27TD; however, their badugi potential makes them playable from any position in Badeucey. Other holdings such as (2-3-8) and (2-4-8) are somewhat weak on the badugi side, however, they have the ability to reduce their three-card badugis and they build smooth eight lows. The (2-7-8) is probably overvalued by many players; getting re-raised when we have this hand feels miserable as all of our draws are mediocre at best.

As we move to the cutoff and later hands such as (2-3)5 and (2-4)7 can be opened and played as two-card draws. With these types of hands the five and the seven have enough value on the 27TD side to keep, whereas a six probably does not. It’s also important that the two lowest cards are unsuited because we can more easily improve to a good three-card badugi. The (2-7)4 has less value and as such is probably only a button open.

Three-Card Draws

Here we mostly talking about (2-3), (2-4), (2-5), and (2-7); holdings such (2-6), (3-4), and (3-5) are a bit too weak unless they are accompanied with good blockers. So what do we mean by having good blockers? This concept was introduced in the badugi articles, however, it is slightly more relevant in Badeucey because you are dealt five cards instead of four.

We have good blockers if we hold cards our opponents may need while at the same time completely unblock our potential. For example, there is quite a difference between the value of 2Spade Suit 4Diamond Suit 2Heart Suit 4Spade Suit 9Spade Suit and 2Spade Suit 4Diamond Suit 9Heart Suit 10Heart Suit JClub Suit. With the first hand we have a greater chance of stealing the blinds outright and if one of the blinds call we have a few duplicated cards that villain may need to make a strong hand. With the 2Spade Suit 4Diamond Suit 9Heart Suit 10Heart Suit JClub Suit the cards we hold do not reduce the probability of our opponents having and making hands and while we would initially discard the 9Heart Suit 10Heart Suit JClub Suit they are cards that can possibly be useful later on in the hand.

With good blockers we can open (2-3), (2-4), (2-5), and (2-7) from the cutoff otherwise we should probably wait until the button. Weaker holdings such as (2-6), (3-4), and (3-5) can be opened from the button if the rest of the hand helps our cause.

As is the case in most poker games some of the most important decisions we will make are those on the first betting round. In Badeucey, not only must we decide what hands to play we are also often forced to make some tough initial discard decisions. The best players handle these situations very well; experience certainly helps as does spending considerable time away from the table thinking through the pros and cons of various courses of action. ♠

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.