While the game of Badugi can often befuddle many casino-bred poker players, those who came of age during the online poker boom are far more comfortable with the triple draw lowball variant. As a testament to the mounting popularity of Badugi with online players, the game has been featured as a championship event during PokerStars’ annual World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) since 2009, attracting larger than expected fields of eager entrants.
This enormously positive reception to Badugi by the online poker community was certainly noticed, as the game was added to the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) series the following year. The immediate inclusion of this once obscure form of poker within the SCOOP schedule is remarkable, and players around the globe have certainly benefited from their exposure to the challenges of Badugi. With the latest incarnation of the massively popular PokerStars SCOOP series coming up in May, let’s take a trip down memory lane and recap the year-to-year Badugi action from online poker’s biggest stage.
Ahead of the curve on yet another poker trend, PokerStars added Badugi to the SCOOP schedule in 2010 and hoped to capitalize on the WCOOP’s successful introduction of the game one year prior. Beginning with a $25,000 guaranteed, $16.50 buy-in tourney to get things rolling, the 2010 SCOOP schedule also featured a $50,000 guaranteed event for a $162 buy-in. The real action, however, was reserved for the high-stakes version of the event, a $1,575 tournament with a $75,000 guaranteed prize pool which brought many of poker’s most polished professionals to the online arena. When former World Series of Poker Main Event champion Greg “Fossilman” Raymer joined Team PokerStars Pros Barry Greenstein and Vanessa Rousso to form a field of 69 players, the prize pool inched over the $100,000 mark to form the largest Badugi tournament ever assembled at that time.
Last year’s edition of the SCOOP series once again saw Badugi spread in three tournaments of escalating stakes, with the finale returning as a $1,575 main event. A total of 50 players sat down for this one, creating a prize pool of $75,000 which was contested by both Badugi specialists and newcomers to the game. Poker fans around the world were also treated to a unique show when the final table of this event was streamed to viewers via PokerStars.tv coverage. The tournament’s eventual winner, a player named “Amke,” won a hand that showed poker traditionalists what Badugi is all about, when his 4♣ 3♥ 2♦ A♠ wheel monstered an opponent’s 5-3-2-A Number Two in a pivotal pot.
With the 2012 SCOOP series right around the corner, online poker players are gearing up for yet another chance to compete with the best in the world, and those looking for every edge available are chomping at the bit for the Badugi events. This year PokerStars has scaled back buy-ins for SCOOP events across the board, but they have elected to run another set of three Badugi tournaments for players of every bankroll level. The 2012 SCOOP slate of online Badugi action begins on Monday, May 7th with the $7.50 low-stakes tourney, and continuing with the $82 medium stakes option. The seasoned pros and young guns taking their shot at glory will convene for the $700 buy-in Badugi main event, and if past results are any indication the tournament will feature world class Badugi play and a five figure payday.