OFC Theory: The "Cannibals": Cards that merge draw and value ranges, adding to one row while simultaneously
subtracting from another.
Seeing Spots -- Part I
December 13, 2014 -- Constant decisions have to be made in Open Face Chinese. Pineapple OFC
is particularly head-scratching, as you will always have at least 3 cards to decide what to do with! You often must
choose between at least two options, and discarding a card that could improve a row can be frustrating. But a firm grasp of the
math can be a great help in deciding whether to trust - or be suspicious of - your first instincts.
The following spot presents a small dilemma:
An obvious first choice here is to complete the full house in back for value.
Neither opponent is doing very well in the back row, so it appears
that I am well on my way to a back row win and a 6-point royalty times 2, or 12 easy points.
But what about the middle row? Adding the 4 makes 2-pair, taking a lead against the 55 on the right and hedging against a possible
AA from the villain on the left. And a JJJT back row still takes a substantial lead there. So I am adding scoop equity
by two-pairing the middle, as well as giving myself an opportunity to bink a high pair in front and go to Fantasyland.
And, surprisingly, a 3-outer (JTT) is still 58% to come in even after discarding the T.
July 21, 2014 -- ABC app creator Nikolai Yakovenko tweeted out the following
Pineapple Open Face spot the other day:
Response was varied, with some saying complete the flush, and some saying pair the 8's.
But is there an optimal way to play this spot?
Flushing the back here allows for a middle-row flush draw 85cc. It also completes the back row flush and 4 point royalty, adding equity to the hand.
On the other side of the argument, pairing the 8's in the middle and adding the kicker 5 or J allows for a two-pair-or-better
middle, opening the door to a big-pair, Fantasyland-inducing front row.
So what are the odds and strategy for either play?
A) PAIR THE MIDDLE: If the flush is denied here and 885 or 88J is set in the middle, the flush still
is completed 90% of the time, 90% being the equivalent of a slam dunk in poker. Remember there are still 9 cards to come, with 8 live diamonds. Additionally, the chance to
two-pair the middle is 75%, with a 41% chance to hit trip 8's for a +2 royalty. Setting the pair also takes a big lead in the
middle row, adding scoop equity to the equation.
B) FLUSH IT OUT: If, on the other hand, you complete the flush here and set 85cc in the middle, you are well under 50% to draw the 3
clubs you need to complete the 2nd flush. And now 2-pairing the middle is only ~30% likely to happen, drawing to
runner-runner 8's and 5's, and trips is now 13% at best, drawing to the 555 set.
THE ANSWER IS A: You lose ~45% middle row and scoop equity as well as 28% middle-row-trips equity, to gain a 10% likelihood in
completing the back row flush. Even if you look at the opponent board and see they're in a tough spot and likely to foul
(so why not get greedy and go for the middle row flush),
you're giving up a lot of potential Fantasyland EV by not setting the pair. There's no guarantee you'll
catch QQ or AA in the front, but it's even less likely you'll catch those cards AND make your middle row flush (remember also
that any A or Q of clubs would probably go into the flush draw).
After looking at the math, it's a clear case to pair the 8's in the middle.
If you'd like your very own set of heads up and 3-handed Pineapple odds charts, you can purchase them here for a couple bucks:
PINEAPPLE OFC CHARTS
And, if you haven't given the ABC app a try yet, you can find it in the Apple app store here:
ABC CHINESE POKER APP
Cracking the Pineapple
"Risk comes from not knowing what you are doing."
-- Warren Buffet, billionaire
"Pineapple OFC wouldn't be so popular if it were more appropriately named Math"
--Richard Lyndaker, poker player (Twitter)
April 29, 2014 -- Alas, it is true. To play Pineapple OFC well, you must know your probabilities.
There's just no other way around it. The witticism in Mr. Lyndaker's tweet cleverly sums up the
mathematical reality behind the game, one that ties in appropriately to the Oracle of Omaha's quote:
You either know what you're doing, or you don't.
What that means in Pineapple is knowing your odds. Sure, Pineapple is fun, it's sick, swingy and crazy,
you get lots of cards, big hands are always around the corner, gambles often pay off, and Fantasyland is always in play.
All of that is true, and that's part of what makes the game exciting.
But behind the curtain, it's draw poker, and that means math. Knowing your numbers is going to give you an edge,
not only for your hand's trajectory, but it also gives you an understanding of how much risk your opponent
is putting themselves in.
I recently played a hand online that perfectly illustrates how knowing one's exact odds can be helpful, and also
how NOT knowing (or caring about) them can quickly make you a loser.
Out of position on the second pull, I am dealt AQ3, and I've got a decision to make. I'd like to pair Aces in front for a 9 point
royalty and a trip to Fantasyland. With 10's already set in the middle with a few unders to a QQ8 back row,
I feel I can make this work. However, I'd like to know my exact odds to unfoul before I take that route.
Here is the situation before setting:
I don't have a fancy odds calculator to plug in the scenario, nor do I have time to do so. But I have done
my math homework, and I know my basic probabilities here.
May 13, 2014 -- This edition of "Alt Lines" takes a look at 3 different settings of
4⋄ 7♥ J♠ 3♠ 5⋄.
A 2-2 double flush set is explored, as well as the probability for a gutshot straight to complete in the back row.
March 13, 2014 - Part I covered setting small pairs early in the hand without proper backup. Now we will go over the same scenario, only
later in the hand. This hand is heads up.
In this spot, the 3 of hearts could be set in the front to pair 3's. The rationale behind the play is usually
one of the following:
1) Trying to win the front row
2) Trying for a scoop
3) Trying to avoid getting scooped
4) My opponent is going to foul, it's a freeroll
To help us understand why each one of these is incorrect, let's get the odds calculator out.
The max number of outs left for a middle row pair after setting the 3 in front is 7. I will give the odds
for 7 outs in this situation, as well as 6 and 5 outs, as it is likely that your opponent has one or two of your
outs in their hand. The two percentages reflect in position/out of position.