The historic World Series of Poker in Las Vegas is known as the premier poker event on the global tournament circuit, and the upcoming 43rd annual edition of the WSOP will once again feature Badugi in a bracelet event. After touring pros expressed nearly universal approval of Badugi’s introduction to the WSOP schedule last summer, the increasingly popular triple draw lowball variant will return as part of Event # 52, the $2,500 10-Game Mix tournament.
Along with such staples as No Limit Hold’em and Seven Card Stud, players will be required to demonstrate their proficiency in Badugi over the course of the event if they hope to earn this bracelet for multidiscipline excellence. For the growing number of players who love the addictive and entertaining poker import from Korea, the WSOP’s decision to include Badugi for the second time is an encouraging sign going forward. Speculation about adding a full-fledged Badugi bracelet event to the WSOP schedule as soon as next year has already begun, and Badugi players of every caliber are hoping this complex and challenging variant is finally recognized on poker’s grand stage.
These hopes have been fueled by the recent addition of Badugi-only and Badugi/Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw tourneys to the WSOP Circuit national schedule. When a total of 38 players at this year’s Bicycle Casino Circuit stop ponied up the Badugi event’s $235 buy-in, tournament organizers were served notice that Badugi is here to stay. The Bike, located in Los Angeles and recognized by poker pros as one of the casino industry’s true gems, has long been home to Badugi tournaments as part of its renowned World Poker Tour stop, the Legends of Poker tournament series. If tournament directors for the WSOP are searching for a model when it comes to adopting Badugi as an annual major event, they should look no further than the Bicycle Casino for inspiration.
The rousing success of last year’s $2,500 10-Game Mix tournament at the WSOP, the first bracelet event ever to feature Badugi, was proof positive that this unique game has a place in poker’s most prestigious series. When Chris Lee triumphed over a final table which included poker powerhouses Shaun Deeb (4th Place) and John “J-Dags” D’Agostino (6th Place), he parlayed prior experience playing Badugi into a slight edge over his competition and captured a prize of $254,955 in the process.
As the game of poker continues to evolve, both in response to external pressures and the whims of its players, the development of formerly “fringe” variants will inevitably continue. The old guard of card games, Texas Hold’em and Seven Card Stud, are both superb games that will always be classics, but as we all know variety is the spice of life. That is why cash game players and tournament specialists, both in online poker sites and brick and mortar casinos, continue exploring the nuances of a game like Badugi.
While traditional flop games can be effectively boiled down into flop-based formulas and drawing percentages, triple draw variants like Badugi confront players with a constantly changing set of in-hand circumstances. For the World Series of Poker, which famously began as the proving grounds through which poker’s best players crowned their champions, including Badugi within the 10-Game Mix event is a natural extension of its original mandate to test a player’s complete poker acumen. Here’s hoping the WSOP takes the next step in 2013 and organizes the world’s most prominent Badugi-only tournament as a bracelet event.