Balls Poker Rules
The game of 'Balls' is much like any other game that makes use of wild cards - it can get very juicy. The game is a variation of 5 Card Stud, with the only real difference being that all twos are wild. Before the game begins, the dealer must also choose another card (value) in the deck to be wild. This extra wild card does not need to be the same card all the time and can change before the start of each hand. The choice is completely down to the dealer. If you are playing in a home game, the dealer will be the player who has the button.
All players are dealt five cards (face down). There is also a "Ghost Hand" dealt. Simplistically, this hand belongs to an imaginary player and also consists of five cards (we will get onto how this hand plays it's part).
After the initial deal, all players in the game hold their cards in the middle (off the table). There is differing variations of the game, where the dealer counts to 3, 4 or 5 however this is not necessary to play the game - you're choice. All players who want to fold their hand, drop their cards and sit out. Keeping your cards elevated indicates that you want to stay in the hand.
If there are multiple players who remain in, the player with the best five card poker hand (to refresh on how hands are ranked, see our poker hand rankings) has a chance to win the pot whilst the losers would each replace the value of the pot. By loser, i mean the players who stayed in the hand and do not have the best hand. However, to win the pot, the player that is left holding cards in the middle must compare his/her hand to that of other players first and then to the Ghost hand. If the player beats the Ghost, the hand is won and the game begins again. When the pot is won and the game begins again, the dealer should pick a new wild card (2's remain wild).
If the Ghost hand wins, all players who were left in the hand (these are the players who kept their cards elevated) must match the pot not collectively replace the pot). If the pot had £50 and three players stayed in the hand, should two players lose, they would both put £50 in the pot. If the player with the best hand also loses (.i.e. fails to beat the Ghost), he would also put £50 to the pot. When i said juicy, i wasn't kidding!
The game repeats and the pot grows until a player beats all the players and the Ghost to take down the pot. The game is fairly aggressive by nature in that you don't want to be playing average hands as you would have to replace the value of the pot if you lose. The game is often played with a more aggressive blind structure to ensure that there is plenty of temptation.
To date there is no online poker room that offers an online version of this game but it is a fun game and would be a great addition or alternative at any home game.
Next steps - Check our Poker Games section for listings of games played online.