Though the rules for Badugi are different from those in traditional poker variants like Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hold’em, there are a few common winning strategies. In both, one of the keys to winning is knowing the type of opponent you are playing against. This information will help you take decisions that can bring you the pot.
There are four categories of players you will most likely face at a Badugi table – those who don’t know much about the game, those who take poor decisions, tight players and adaptable opponents. Figure out which type your opponent is, based on their tendencies at the table:
Players who don’t know the game
It is easy to identify whether you are facing a player who does not know much about the best strategies in Badugi. Look out for the player who:
• Draws to a 3-card J, or retains a J pre-draw because he believes this will help get different suits in one hand.
• Is likely to think opponents have a Badugi when they pat. Patting is a move many use when they have a strong hand or when they snow. If a player does not know this and believes it’s always a sign of the former, he will fold.
• Rarely opts for a bluff-raise to get players with weak Badugis to fold.
• Doesn’t fold weak hands even when action at the table indicates he is beat.
Players who make bad decisions
A sign that your opponent makes bad decisions in Badugi are when his actions are contrary to those that an average skilled player would take. These players rarely observe the moves their opponents make before acting. This is reflected in bad calls that typically cost them pots. For instance, a player may face a raise, and he may call it. Or, after the first draw, he may fold to a small bet despite having good odds like 7:1. Other actions that show that your opponent is weak, are when he open-raises before the first draw or folds to a 3-bet.
Players who adopt a tight style
When you face an opponent who follows a tight style of playing, observe his moves. He will make the same decisions in situations that are similar, making him a predictable opponent. The benefit of having such an opponent is that you can figure out the strength of his hand from his moves.
For example, a tight player will always fold when he has a weak hand, and enter the pot with big raises if he has a strong one. Such players rarely stay in a hand after an opponent makes a big bet after the second draw. This is because they don’t consider the implied odds of raises made later or the possibility that their opponents are bluffing. If a tight player bluffs, it too will have a pattern. Track this for a few hands and you can use it against your opponent.
The three categories of players described above are the weakest, making them easiest to beat in Badugi. If such players enter a hand, you should ideally enter too. In cash games, you can get the pot from under them quite easily. In tournaments, you can send them to the rails if you adopt moves that can counter their tendencies. However, the players to be wary of are those who adapt to their opponents.
Players who adapt
Skilled Badugi players are good at picking moves based on who they play against. Enter a pot against this type of player only if you have a very strong hand or know the strategies he uses. Such players use snowing techniques (bluffing by giving the impression that they have a powerful hand comprising low ranking cards although actually their hand contains weak pairs). They also call with 3-card hands that are quite weak. Their raises are made from the right positions. The players are aware that their position at the table is as important as the strength of their hand. They use bluff-raises to encourage players with weak Badugis to fold.