How to Play Crazy Pineapple Poker

pineapple poker

Pineapple is played the similarly to Texas Hold’em except every player starts with three cards instead of two.

Somehow Pineapple poker and its brethren Crazy Pineapple and Lazy Pineapple have always been more of a private than a casino game.

Yes, it’s been introduced into the European Poker Tour – and removed again. It’s never been played at the WSOP and you can only play it online for play money.

However you’ll find it at almost every home game there is. And if you want to introduce it to yours, this is how it works.

Pineapple - Set-Up and Game Play

The game play of Pineapple follows the Texas Hold’em rules but the set-up is slightly different. Pre-flop every player gets three cards instead of two.

Check out our Texas Hold’em Rules page for a detailed description.

Then, everybody evaluates their hands and discards one of them before the first betting round begins (as usual this is with the player under the gun).

NOTE: You don’t have to show the card you’re getting rid of!

Variants – Crazy Pineapple

As in a regular Pineapple game every player gets three cards.

However, in Crazy Pineapple, you keep your first card for the pre-flop betting round and the flop betting round.

Only before the turn is dealt do you have to get rid of one card.

Variants – Lazy Pineapple

Lazy Pineapple, also known as Tahoe Pineapple, has its name because you don’t have to bother throwing away a card until the action is finished.

Contrary to the other variants you keep all three cards through all the betting rounds. Only when the river is dealt and the last betting round is finished do you have to discard one.

Basically you can also just put that one down and show the other two.

Further Variants

There are more variants to this game which get an honorable mention here but are not considered to be part of the Pineapple family.

In Three Card Hold’em, you not only get to keep your three cards, you can also use all three of them to make your five card hand. In Pineapple you can only use one or two (or none, if you play the board) as in Texas Hold’em.

Irish Poker is a variant that transgresses Texas Hold’em and Omaha. Here you get four cards, but you have to get rid of two of them after the betting round on the flop.


Just as in Texas Hold’em Pineapple can be played Fixed Limit, Pot Limit, or No Limit.


Just as in Texas Hold’em there can be 2-9 players from heads-up to full ring.

Differences to Texas Hold’em

Although Pineapple poker is obviously a close cousin of Texas Hold’em, it’s still not the same.


An important difference to Hold’em is that the third card offers you additional information.

It shows you a card that can’t be in any of your opponents’ hands and that can’t appear on the board. This is not always significant, but it can be.

An example:

If you get three cards of the same suit it makes it less likely that you hit a flush on the board as there is now one card missing in the deck to make that flush possible.

Or, if you receive three of a kind – you’re “rolled-up," as they call it in Stud poker – it means that you’ll almost never hit a set as you have to throw one of your cards away so there’s only one card of the same value in the deck.

Keep in mind that as every player gets to choose his two hole cards out of three the quality of hands will generally be higher than in Hold’em.

So if you hit top pair on the flop your hand is significantly weaker than it would be in Hold’em.

Also, if there is a possible flush with three suited cards on the board, chances are higher that somebody has it.

Basic Pineapple Strategy

You have to bring a little bit of Omaha thinking into your strategy. Look for hands that are connected, either by value or by suit.

High pairs are of course always a good starting hand but lower pairs are tricky to play as you can mostly only win by hitting a set.

NOTE: In Pineapple the chances of hitting a set on the board are higher than in Hold’em – by a tiny fraction.

The reason for this is that you already have one card in your hand that will be taken out of the game.

However the difference is so small that it’s not really relevant for your game.

In general, don’t play too many hands just in the hope to hit something on the flop. This will go wrong in most of the cases, especially in Crazy Pineapple, when everybody has three cards to connect with the flop.

Slovak double barrel

Good Starting Hands

Again, as general advice, look for high pairs and connected cards.

A pair of aces with a suited third card is the strongest combination for Pineapple poker.

Interestingly, an Ao-As-Ts and even an Ao-As-5s are a little stronger than Ao-As-Ks.

The reason for this is when aces get cracked this happens often by a straight, and a straight has to have either a ten or a five. If you hold either of these cards the chances of someone else finding a straight are lower.

Broadway pocket pairs coming with a suited card are followed by Broadway pairs with a high, non-suited card.

Other than that try to stick to hands with high cards – one is preferably an ace – with one of them the same suit as the ace.

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