When I was growing up, my family often played cards at night and on Sunday afternoons. Like many people who grew up in the 1950s, my parents relied less on television for entertainment and more on games that could be played with family and friends.
Prior to the introduction of television into our society, people got together with friends and family on Saturday nights and played card games. Bridge, Canasta, Pinochle and even poker were all the rage. A deck of playing cards is inexpensive and there are hundreds of different card games people can play for entertainment.
In my family, we mostly played poker card games, normally “dealer’s choice.” Dealer’s choice meant that the deck rotated clockwise around the table and each person playing got a chance to deal the cards and pick their favorite game. One of the best games we played was called “Night Baseball.”
Night Baseball was a game where the dealer dealt each person nine cards. All of the cards were dealt face down and in a pile in front of each player and the player was not allowed to look. The game got its name from the fact that there were nine cards dealt (as in nine players on a baseball diamond) and the fact that players were not allowed to look at their cards.
The game usually required an ante to begin. An ante is the amount of money each player puts into the pot to get the game going. In my family, the ante was usually a nickel.
The first player to the left of the dealer would turn up a card and then commence betting. Most people would not raise on the first turnover as it would be impossible to try to guess what else was in their deck as well as those around them. Moving clockwise, the next person would then turn over a card to beat the prior player’s card. If, for example, the first player turned over a King, the player next to him or her would have to continue turning over cards until he or she produced an Ace or a pair. If the person was unlucky enough not to be able to beat the King, which is not likely with nine cards, the person would go out. When the next person beat the King, they would then be allowed to either raise or call the ante.
As with other poker games, although nine cards were dealt, only five determined the hand. Straights and Flushes were allowed. In some variations of the game, there would be wild cards. A wild card is a card that can be used to be any card in a deck. In Night Baseball, we often had threes and nines as wild cards and if a four was turned up, the person got an additional card from the deck, but usually had to pay the pot for this card.
The pot could accumulate a lot of money if the initial cards turned over were low cards. The game got exciting as each player tried to beat the previous player’s hand. Night Baseball is a relatively easy game to play, with or without wild cards, and can be just as much fun playing for poker chips as it can for money. Even children can enjoy this simple and fun card game.