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Fun Home Poker Game Rules - Baseball

Fun Home Poker Game Rules - Baseball 0001

The Game

Baseball is a classic home poker game, played by countless kids in high school and surviving even to this day in cash games all around the United States. I've never seen it spread in a casino, but it remains in my mind one of the best variations of poker invented.

It is a form of 7-card stud involving wild cards and extra cards. There are many varieties of baseball. I'll present a couple of them here.

The Deal

Deal the first round as you would a typical 7-card stud hand – that is two down cards dealt one at a time followed by an up card. There is then a betting round, followed by another up card, a betting round, a third up card, a betting round (when the betting limits typically double as in stud), a fourth up card, followed by a betting round, and then a final down card, followed by a betting round.

The Rules

Here are the rule variations that make it different from regular 7-card stud.

1. There are two ranks that are wild, 3s and 9s. I recall someone once trying to cleverly explain how this is connected to baseball. There are 3 strikes so 3s are wild. There are nine players on a baseball team (before the designated hitter anyway). So 9s are wild. Frankly, I never cared. 3s and 9s are wild – that's it.

2. Traditionally, as the game was first invented, when players receive a 3 dealt to them face up they must match the pot immediately or fold immediately. The more common practice today is to ignore this pot-matching rule entirely or to severely limit it – say to five big bets. I have only played without this pot-enlarging rule.

3. A player dealt a 4 face up receives another face up card dealt to him immediately. This was explained as being connected to four balls producing a walk. But how is an extra card like a walk? No matter. Just take your extra card.

4. Hands are played high-low with a declare at the end following the final down card and the fifth round of betting. Straights and flushes don't hurt your low. Hence, the A2345 (known as the "wheel") is the perfect low.

5. There is a sixth betting round after the declare. Some house rules limit the betting for those who are "locked" with half the pot because they are the only person declaring high or low. Thus, if two players declare high and a third player declares low, the low player is prevented from increasing the size of the pot by initiating or augmenting the betting with raises. Other house rules divide the pot immediately and only allow betting in a side pot between those who actually have a contest – the two hands declaring the same way. Still other house rules have no limits on how "locked" hands can bet or raise. If it's your house, you decide.

6. One variation of baseball is "night baseball". Players receive all of their cards face down, do not look at them, but instead turn their cards up one card at a time, with a betting interval after each exposed card. Everything else remains the same. This is also called "no peak baseball". Frankly, I call it "luck baseball" – but that's another matter.

7. One variation of baseball is "baseball with rain". In this variety of the game, when the Queen of Spades is dealt face up to any player the game ends immediately, the pot stays in the middle, and another hand is dealt immediately – with the winner of the new hand winning the entire pot, including the pot from the game called on account of "rain" (the Queen of Spades). Some guys love this variation especially at the end of the night when they're toasted. I never understood their infatuation – but that's just me.

Here's an example of a standard game of baseball – with the pot matching rule suspended – played high low but without rain. This is how I grew up playing the game and how I play it in my home game when it is called. That's not to say that the other variations are less legitimate. This is just how I learned the game.

Dealt clockwise from top to bottom. 7 players. Mongo is the dealer. Action starts on the high hand. Checking and check-raising allowed. Showing exposed cards only.

Dealer antes $2.00 for the table – instead of each player anteing $.25 or so. The game is played limit: $1 limit on the early rounds, $2.00 on the later rounds. Limits may double on the second up card if a pair is exposed.

Huntz 7h

Schlomo 9s

Moishe Ks

You{3-Spades}{4-Diamonds} Ad

Cassandra 4c 6d (dealt extra card when dealt the 4c)

Betty 3c

Mongo Ac

Betty and Schlomo each have wild cards – that can be any card. Zeus and Mongo each have Aces. The two wild cards and the two Aces are all equal in value at this time. When cards are tied, action begins to the left of the dealer among these high cards. So Schlomo goes first. Cassandra was dealt a 4c and then immediately dealt a 6d as is required in baseball.

The betting is as follows:

Schlomo 9s $1.00 (the 9 is a wild card)

Moishe Ks Call $1.00

You {3-Spades}{4-Diamonds} Ad Call $1.00 (you're heading toward a monster so far)

Cassandra 4c6d Call $1.00

Betty 3c Raise to $2.00 (3 is wild)

Mongo Ac Call $2.00

Huntz 7h Fold

Schlomo 9s Raise to $3.00

Moishe Ks Call $2.00

You {3-Spades}{4-Diamonds} Ad Call $2.00

Cassandra 4c6d Call $2.00

Betty 3c Call $1.00

Mongo Ac Call $1.00

Pot has $2.00 from antes and $3.00 from 6 players = $20.00

Fourth Street

Schlomo 9sQd

Moishe KsKc

You{3-Spades}{4-Diamonds} Ad7d

Cassandra 4c6d8c

Betty 3cJd

Mongo AcTc

Betting begins with Moishe who has the high hand with a pair of Kings.

Moishe KsKc Bets $2.00 (pair may make double bet)

You{3-Spades}{4-Diamonds} Ad7d Call $2.00 (you want to encourage high hands to stay)

Cassandra 4c6d8c Call $2.00

Betty 3cJd Call $2.00

Mongo AcTc Call $2.00

Schlomo 9sQd Call $2.00

Pot is $20 plus $2 from six players = $32.00

Fifth Street

Betting begins with Moishe who has the pair of Kings with the Ace kicker.

Moishe KsKcAh Bets $2.00

You{3-Spades}{4-Diamonds} Ad7d5d Raise to $4 (you seem to have a lock on low)

Cassandra 4c6d8c8h Call $4

Betty 3cJdQs Fold

Mongo AcTcKh Call $4

Schlomo 9sQdTs Call $4

Moishe KsKcAh Call $2

Pot is $32 plus $4 from 5 players = $52

Sixth Street

Betting begins with Cassandra who has three 8s.

Cassandra 4c6d8c8h8d Bet $2.00

Mongo AcTcKhTd Call $2.00

Schlomo 9sQdTs4h2c Fold

Moishe KsKcAh3d Call $2.00

You{3-Spades}{4-Diamonds} Ad7d5d9c Raise to $4.00 (you have a straight flush and perfect low)

Cassandra 4c6d8c8h8d Call $2.00

Mongo AcTcKhTd Call $2.00

Moishe KsKcAh3d Call $2.00

River (7th Street)

Pot is $52 plus $4 from four players = $68.

Betting begins with Cassandra who is high with the three 8s.

Cassandra 4c6d8c8h8d Check

Mongo AcTcKhTd Check

Moishe KsKcAh3d Check

You{3-Spades}{4-Diamonds} Ad7d5d9c {J-Spades} Bet $2.00

Cassandra 4c6d8c8h8d Call $2.00

Mongo AcTcKhTd Call $2.00

Moishe KsKcAh3d Call $2.00

Pot is $68 plus $2 from four players = $76

You now have the declare round. This game is played with a simultaneous declare. Each player puts either one, two, or three chips in his hand. One chip in the hand for low; two chips for high; and three chips if the player is going high and low. He then hold his hand over the table and at the same time all players expose how many chips they are holding. A player must have the best high and the best low hand (or tie in either direction) to win with a declaration of high/low. If he loses in either direction his hand is dead and the pot is awarded based on the remaining hands in the pot.

You know you have the best possible low and are insured of at least a tie if you declare low. If you declare high/low, on the other hand, there's a chance that someone has a higher straight flush or five of a kind. Even so, based on the boards and the betting action you doubt that anyone has a higher high hand than yours – even considering that there are a total of four unseen wild cards. You decide to gamble and declare high/low.

The players declare as follows:

Cassandra HIGH

Mongo HIGH

Moishe HIGH


You are all competing. Since you declared HIGH/LOW you must win (or tie) with your high hand. You have no competition for your low hand since no one declared low. The betting after the declare begins with the high or the high hands showing. That would be Cassandra

Cassandra 4c6d8c8h8d Check

Mongo AcTcKhTd Check

Moishe KsKcAh3d Check

You{3-Spades}{4-Diamonds} Ad7d5d9c {J-Spades} Bet Bet $2 (You feel confident based on their checks)

Cassandra 4c6d8c8h8d Call$2

Mongo AcTcKhTd Call$2

Moishe KsKcAh3d Call$2

Pot is $76 plus $2 from four players = $84.

You reveal your hands as follows:

Cassandra 9dQh4c6d8c8h8d2d Four 8s

Mongo 5c6cAcTcKhTdJc Ace High Flush

Moishe Kd8sKsKcAh3d6h Four Kings

You 3s4dAd7d5d9cJs 8 High Straight Flush (wheel for low too)

You win the entire pot of $84.

With eight wild cards and the extra cards generated by the exposed 4s, baseball is a game with high hand values and lots of action. Still, there is a lot of skill involved in trying to figure out which way your opponents are likely to declare and in estimating, based on your opponents betting action and exposed cards, where your hand is likely to rank for both high and low. If the fog of drinking, having a good time, and laughing it up isn't too thick, the skillful player has a shot at winning a large share of these large pots.

What do you think?

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