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Get the flush out: Straight up Pineapple

If I bust early from my first PCA Main, I already have plans to console myself with a sugary pineapple cocktail.

Jen Shahade - PCA - 12.26.13 article.jpg

Pineapple is the high variance cousin of Open Face Chinese poker, where meekness is harshly punished and heuristics of regular OFC go out the window. It's just like regular Open Face, except that after the first five cards, you are dealt three cards each turn, and discard one. In fantasyland (most play with queens up top as the minimum fantasyland qualifying hand), you receive 14 cards instead of 13, and discard one. You can find the full rules through this link.

Like many, the first time I played Pineapple, I got crushed. If you're an Open Face fan without much Pineapple experience, I'd like to help you avoid the same fate.

1. Game select: Either play for low stakes when starting out or look for players on the tighter side who also don't have a lot of experience in Pineapple. Nits are punished more harshly than maniacs in pineapple. In regular OFC, if you're dealt AA669, playing for the boat is fine. In Pineapple, fire those aces in the middle for a likely trip to fantasyland. If you fail to make aggressive plays, your opponents will rack up triple-digit scores on you before you can say "Bahama Mama."

2. Get the flush out: One of the recurring quandaries in traditional Open Face is when to split pairs for a three-flush. The stronger the pair is, the more likely we are to stick with it, while small pairs are prime candidates for splitting. In Pineapple, we usually want to ditch the flush and keep the pairs together. We make boats or quads much more often and flushes are not as strong in the back. To top it off, many cards completing the flush - the ace, the king and the queen - are too useful for building up to fantasyland.

3. Pair in order: In regular Open Face, you're happy to get a live kicker to try to build a boat in the back. In Pineapple, you want to make sure that the two pair you're building in the back do not get fouled by the two pair you're building in the middle.

4. Wake up in fantasy: If you're playing with appropriate aggression, you'll go to fantasyland very often in Open Face Pineapple. In regular OFC, fantasyland is rare, and when you're in it, you mostly want to maximize your bonus points because your opponent fouls or gets scooped so often. Pineapple is different because villains have stronger hands, but also a narrower range, which we can play against more deliberately. Let's say you are deciding between two options with the same bonus point value such as, a. boat/queens/sixes or b. trips/two pair/queens. Queens in the middle would be a high percentile hand in regular Open Face. In Pineapple, our opponent will almost never have queens in the middle, because she would be trying to put them up top.

Melissa Burr - 12.26.13 article.jpg

Having a winning Open Face session in the traditional format often comes down to getting to fantasyland more than you're taken to it. In Pineapple, a lot of the variance is based on picking up monsters in fantasyland (that extra card, for instance, makes trips up top at least twice as likely). So don't get discouraged if your first fantasies are flops. That spectacular trips/boat/quads hand may be right down the next waterslide.

Good luck and hope to see some of you at the PCA!

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