Despite how much fun it is to play, somehow Pineapple poker (and its brethren Crazy and Lazy Pineapple) have always been more of a private poker game than a casino poker game. It's been introduced in small events on the European Poker Tour, but then it was removed again. And it’s never been played at the World Series of Poker. If you want to play Pineapple Poker online, you can only play it for play money right now on free poker apps.
Pineapple Poker Rules
The game play of Pineapple follows the rules of Texas Hold’em (check out our Texas Hold’em Rules page for more) but the set-up is slightly different. First, pre-flop: Every player gets three cards instead of two. Second, everybody evaluates their hands and discards one of them before the first betting round begins (as usual this begins with the player under the gun).
NOTE: You don’t have to show the card you’re getting rid of!
How to Play Crazy Pineapple Poker
As in a regular Pineapple poker game each player gets three cards at the beginning of the hand. In Crazy Pineapple, though, 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. All other rules and betting stipulations are the same as Pineapple.
How to Play 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.
More Pineapple Poker Games
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.
Limits: Just as in Texas Hold’em, Pineapple can be played Fixed Limit, Pot Limit or No Limit.
Players: Just as in Texas Hold’em there can be 2-10 players from heads-up to full ring.
Pineapple Poker vs. 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's 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.
Open Face Chinese Poker Pineapple
OFC Pineapple Poker, or Open Face Chinese Pineapple, is a fun variation many poker pros like to play in their downtime. Pineapple OFC is basically a sped-up version of OFC with a maximum of 3 players instead of 4.
Both games start with each player dealt 5 cards which they then set into their Top, Middle or Bottom Hands. In normal OFC each player will then be alternately dealt one more card in turn which they then add into one of their hands until they have all 13 cards set.
In Pineapple OFC each player gets 3 cards in every subsequent deal instead of just one. They then choose 2 cards to set into their hands and discard the one they don't want. Instead of nine rounds of play like in standard OFC (the first five cards dealt at once then 8 more individual cards), Pineapple OFC only has five rounds of play.
Because of the extra cards dealt each time you can make more big hands and foul less in Pineapple OFC but you can only have a max of three players. Scoring, bonuses and Fantasyland rules are all applied the same as they are in standard OFC. Check the video below for a full rundown or click the link to read our extensive and detailed guide to Open Face Chinese Poker.
Pineapple Poker Strategy
You have to bring a little bit of Omaha poker strategy into your thinking. 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.
Pineapple Poker 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. If you want to have a go and introduce Pineapple poker to your home game, find out how to play it below.