Poker Home Games – Midnight Change-up

January 13, 2008

I used to play with quite a few different groups of poker players. I had a regular group from high school (which lasted through college and even a couple year past that), and a couple work-related groups as the sources of our main games. Cool people, it was just as much about enjoying a Saturday night as it was getting together for a serious game of cards. But the point is, the group was easy-going, everyone got along, nothing seemed to mess that up.

Except for midnight baseball.

For some reason, that game drew a big, juicy dividing line in the sand each time it became dealer’s pick. A handful of people just refused to play it. Almost like it was against their religion (odds are it was against their wallets’ religion, as they tended to be the ones who’d lost hundreds over the years to its cruel, unrevealing grip.)

That always irritated me, because I would play anything. Even in-between, which I loathe, I’d play it as a courtesy because everyone else played the games I chose when it was my deal.

Well, if you’re one of those people, you’re REALLY gonna hate midnight change-up. And, if you happen to be someone who likes midnight baseball….well, you might hate this version, as well.

The recipe for this game is a big, heaping wad of midnight baseball garnished with a sprinkle of follow the queen….sort of.

I’ll explain the rules below.

1.) Everyone (3-7 players works best) is dealt 7 cards, all face down. No peeking.

2.) Everyone stacks their cards into one pile, shuffle them, whatever you want to do, but you can’t look.

3.) As in any baseball game, 3’s and 9’s are wild. (House rules as to whether you want to play with the match or fold rule if a 3 comes up…but it might not work well in this variation, and you’ll see why in a minute.)

4.) We now progress with typical rules of midnight baseball. One person flips up, round of betting. Second person flips cards until his hand beats the previous person’s hand, and then another round of betting. This continues until all cards are showing, or everyone but 1 person has folded.

5.) OK, here’s the catch. The wild cards can change in this game. If a 7 comes up in someone’s hand, that person has the option to pay a fee (I would recommend at least 4X the ante) and have a fresh card (off a second deck) flipped up and kept aside. If he so chooses, then that up card replaces either the 3 or the 9 (again, which of the two is replaced is the choice of the person who bought the new wild card.)

6.) This wild-card swing can continue to happen so long as more sevens show up in the players’ hands.

**Note** Some baseball games play with the “4 rule”, meaning if a 4 is turned up, that person has the option to buy another card for a fee. In midnight baseball, it has to be revealed to everyone just like the other cards. House choice as to whether this rule is included in midnight change-up.

***Strategy*** This might be my new favorite version of baseball. You’ll really question whether you want to stay in early, even if you have a wild card supporting a great starting hand. Likewise, if it’s the middle of the hand and you’re put to the choice of matching or folding a $35 pot, only to wonder if a 7 is going to come up and potentially wash away your wild card….that’s a heavy decision.

But it all adds to the fun. I mean, dumping $80 into a pot only to watch your 4 Aces turn into top 2-pair is fun, right?

For a normal game, check out FullTilt Poker and play with the pros.