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Crazy Pineapple For Advanced Players

PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2008 3:17 pm
by JoeyKnish
Article take from :

Disclaimer: The following is a satire. However, all the advice given is (I believe) valid for real-life Crazy Pineapple games. The "for Advanced Players" series of poker books by 2+2 Publishing is a valuable resource for almost any poker player. On the other hand, if you've read these books, I hope you'll find this article both humorous and serious.

Crazy Pineapple For Advanced Players
by Jerrod Ankenman

Any player that learns and follows the advice in this article can become a winning Crazy Pineapple player. Much of the advice that has appeared in print about this game is incorrect. This article corrects all this. The appearance of this article will probably change the makeup of your local Crazy Pineapple game, because, as you know, everyone reads to learn more about poker. I am profoundly afraid that the appearance of this article will cause the players in my local game to play better, but I believe that the increased interest in the game of Crazy Pineapple is worth it.

Crazy Pineapple, as opposed to holdem or seven card stud, is toward the fairly difficult end of the spectrum of poker games in terms of how hard it is to learn the game. My evidence for this (not that I need any, being an expert Crazy Pineapple player, and having consistently beaten the 20-40 Crazy Pineapple game at the Mirage) is that whenever I try to teach this game to people, they always have more questions than they do for other games.

The rules of the game are:

It's a flop game, with two blinds.
Use your normal holdem structure here.

Everyone gets three cards.
There is a round of betting.
A flop of three community cards is dealt. There is a round of betting.
Everyone remaining in the pot discards one of their cards. A turn card is dealt.
There is another round of betting.
A river card is dealt.
At least one of the players bitches and moans. There is another round of betting, during which the bitching and moaning player either folds or raises, depending on how tricky he thinks he is. Then the hands are shown down, and everyone figures out what they have. Players may use any combination of the two cards in their hand and the five cards on the board to make as good a "high" and as good a "low" hand as they can. There is an 8 qualifier, as is usual in casino hi-lo games.

These are the rules for all /real/ Crazy Pineapple games, like the 20-40 at the Mirage. If your game differs, you will need to adjust the strategy you use to match your new structure. You could also purchase my other article, "Crazy Pineapple for people who play in Badly Structured Games" from Conjelco.

Hand Selection

Hand selection is one of the most important parts of crazy pineapple. As is usual in poker, the more cards you are dealt in a flop game, the less hands you should play. And this is true for Crazy Pineapple just as for holdem and Omaha. You should play a number of hands somewhere between what you do for those two games.

As is true in all high-low games, your object is to scoop the pot. Trying to play hands that have possibilities both ways is definitely a winning strategy in Crazy Pineapple.

A(A2) is, of course, the best starting hand in Crazy Pineapple. You have a pair of aces, which might hold up all on its own for high, as well as the possibility of flopping a set of aces, hitting a flush draw or a nut low draw. You have many possibilities.

Of course, other hands are playable too. You're always looking for hands with coordinated cards that can hit the flop in many different ways.

Things to look for:

Big pairs (as usual, big pairs are strong. Watch out though, the odds that an opponent will make two pair are improved in this game, so you might want to play overpairs a little more cautiously than you would in holdem.) Big means AA, KK, QQ. 99 is not a big pair. It might be playable, but you'll need a set to win (probably). Suited aces, particularly with low cards, for their scoop potential. Three low cards. (234, A34) Bare A2 or A3.

Also playable in loose games are:

Bigger three card straights with two suited cards (as (QJ)T, or the like). These hands play much like suited connectors in holdem; better against more opponents, seeking implied odds. Middle pairs with suited connectors, like 8(87). Again, a hand that seeks implied odds. You'll have to get off this hand quickly if the flop misses you. Single pairs lower than top pair are almost worthless in this game. Kinda like bottom two pair in Omaha8. However, unlike Omaha8, bottom set has real value in crazy pineapple. As a result, hands like 33A might be better than you think.

Things to avoid:

Three suited cards (although not as bad as a flush in Omaha, this still doesn't help your odds any. Aces suited with three cards are ok. Others, probably not.) Trips. (imagine that!) Unconnected cards. Danglers. Though you'd still play AA8, you don't have to like the 8.

Bear in mind that in a loose game, you can usually play a few more hands than this, and can sometimes play for only half the pot. High hands are much stronger in pineapple than in Omaha8, because you don't always have to hit the flop as hugely in order to win the high and sometimes scoop, when no low is present. Sometimes when playing Omaha8, players get caught up in playing only for low, often correctly. Don't let that tendency carry over to Crazy Pineapple. You'll want to play quite a few more high-only hands in this game.

Play on the flop

Play on the flop is probably the most critical part of crazy pineapple. As in all flop games, the flop defines your hand to a great extent. In a tight game, stealing on the flop can be profitable; however, in the more common loosey-goosey game, someone will find a hand to play against you.

You should usually wait until after the flop betting has completed before you discard your card. Discarding quickly can occasionally give away a little information, and you'll look a lot cooler if you take a moment to study your opponents before deciding what card to discard. Even when the board is AJ9 rainbow and your hand is AA2.

As in all forms of poker, the number of opponents, the size of the pot, and the quality of those opponents is extremely important in deciding what kind of draws and/or made hands to play. In a looser game, many more draws can be played, and it can be correct to play for only half the pot in some circumstances. As in Omaha8, a loose crazy pineapple game can be profitable simply by virtue of the size of the half pots you win from A2 and other such one-way holdings. (A2 is not really a one-way holding in pineapple, only in Omaha. But hands like this (23) exist in pineapple as well). However, a tough game of pineapple requires that you scoop in order to show a real long-term profit.

Top pair is generally not a very powerful hand in pineapple, and can be very tricky to play. Many of your opponents will be playing pairs, and flopped sets are much more frequent than in holdem. (Because of the three cards dealt to each player initially, there are more combinations that produce flopped pairs).

However, hands like AK do have a backdoor low possibility that should be taken into account. For example, on a board of K82, AK can win with top pair and scoop if no low card comes, or it could scoop high and low if two more low cards come and noone else has a good low (or at least get an extra quarter of the pot). That doesn't mean it's necessarily playable, it just means that you definitely need to consider those things when evaluating hands on the flop.

Still though, it is often correct to fold top pair best kicker in the face of heavy action from players who know what they are doing. For example, if you hold AcKd and the board is KJ2, and there is a bet and raise from good players in front of you, it could be correct to muck, as you are likely up against at least two pair, a set and/or a straight draw. Low cards on the board complicate matters, particularly if your opponents are aggressive with low draws or made lows. You might want to take a card off against a board of K85, but a bet and a raise should drive you out. Like all high-low games, when played by tough, aggressive players, is a game of jamming. It's important not to get caught in the middle, and it's important to know how to manipulate betting situations to get the best EV out of a threeway pot. An excellent reference for these topics is Ray Zee's _High-Low Split for Advanced Players_, another of the incredibly deep and completely correct books by 2+2 Publishing.

Hands less than top pair are mostly useless, unless they contain a good draw, in which case they can become strong hands, much as in low-limit holdem. But bear in mind that if the hand doesn't have two-way potential, you could be drawing for half the pot, often an unenviable position.

A good rule to use for play on the flop in pineapple is this:

If you have a decent chance of scooping, play. If you have an excellent chance of winning one way, play. If you only have a decent chance of winning one way, muck.

The Discard

There are usually relatively few serious decisions to be made on the discard in crazy pineapple. The two main categories of decision you will run into time and time again are:

Best Hand or Draw?

Sometimes a situation like this will come up:

You hold [Ad] [Ah] [Qd]. The flop is [Kd] [Th] [2d] . You are faced with the decision of whether to discard the Qd and play the overpair of aces, or to discard the Ah and draw for the nut diamond flush.

In this situation, you need to consider the other players, their plausible hands, and what the action has been. If you raised the flop and were reraised, it's probably correct to discard the ace and draw to the nut flush. If there wasn't much action, it's likely that your aces are the best hand, and you might want to hold on to them and play it out, hoping for blanks or for the board to pair. It's very important in crazy pineapple to be able to accurately estimate two main things: How good of a hand it will take to win, which depends on the number of players and the board, and how many bets it will cost on the way to the river (particularly if the game is tough).


Another situation that occurs fairly frequently is the following:

The board is something like [6s] [6h] [2c] . You were in the big blind and got a free play with [Td] [6c] [3s] . Now you must discard. In a lot of situations, particularly when the action is down to headsup or three way on the flop, it would be correct to take the lower kicker, because of the backdoor low potential. Obviously, if you thought that one of your opponents had a six with a kicker better than a 3 but worse than a ten, you wouldn't make this play. But the additional chance of scooping or getting 3/4 is worth the slight risk. Particularly in short-handed play, good one-card lows can be worth an occasional half-pot.

On the Turn and on the River

Play on the turn and on the river is much like holdem and/or other high-low split games. Advanced players are invited to consult another of 2+2's incredible books, _The Theory of Poker_ by David Sklansky, for general comments that apply to all types of poker, and Ray Zee's book on high-low poker for issues that relate specifically to split-pot games.

Hand-Reading and Deception

Mason Malmuth has not granted permission for me to reprint the Hand-Reading and Deception sections from the other 2+2 books. Readers interested in these two topics are invited to read this section from any one of the following books. Note that you won't need to read it in each book, because it's the same, except for the examples.

Holdem for Advanced Players (D. Sklansky, M. Malmuth) Seven Card Stud for Advanced Players (D. Sklansky, M. Malmuth, R. Zee) High-Low Split for Advanced Players (R. Zee)

But don't read that horrible tournament book. (DISCLAIMER: I've only heard what other people had to say about it, I haven't read it myself).


Crazy Pineapple is a fairly complex game, in which an expert player can get a fairly large edge against less skilled players. While this article will not make you an expert Crazy Pineapple player overnight, following the advice given here, being disciplined, and gaining the proper experience will make you a winning Crazy Pineapple player.

Jerrod Ankenman