Recent Strategy Articles

We pick out a spot in tournament Stud-8 to talk odds, starting hand strength, and the concept of freerolling in a split-pot game.

First-five setting strategy for the lowball variation must be adjusted, and some early-game tactics that are slam-dunks in Pineapple OFC should be tossed out the window!

It seems like it's hard to mess up Fantasyland. After all, you see all your cards at once. Beyond avoiding an obvious mis-set, are you acheiving highest situational hand strength and max value from your opponent(s)?

Pineapple OFC is rarely a game you can make decisions based on intuition. Here's a spot I went with my first instinct, but only after a quick math fact-check.

July 24, 2014 -- A street-by-street examination of an extended flush draw in Pineapple OFC. Often delayed gratification is worth it!

July 21, 2014 -- When you have the option to pair the middle row or complete your back row flush, when it is right or wrong to flush it out? Pineapple OFC.

Classification of QTTJJ, a Cannibal. Odds given to make full house with JJTT, as well as pairing the Q. Both Standard-OFC and Pineapple-OFC.

3 settings of 4 7 J 3 5. Is setting a gutshot in the back the best way to get value from this lowly-looking starting 5?

Warren Buffet says "risk comes from not knowing what you're doing". And in Pineapple-OFC, that means MATH. We did our homework and crushed this hand with AA on top.

3 settings of A56TA. You know how AA is 80% likely to beat 22 preflop in NLHE? Well, 1 in 5 times it doesn't - and that's exactly what happened with our 3-flush back row draw.

3 settings of Ad 8d 10c 2h 4h in lowball 2-7 Pineapple. With street-by-street analysis and scoring based on royalty equity, scoop equity and Fantasyland EV.

Standard OFC: Overvaluing small pairs in front Part II - scoop equity, royalty equity, & 'gamble E.V.'

Standard OFC: Beginner Strategy - A common mistake is overvaluing small pairs in the front row

Pineapple OFC: Taking an alternate line while in Fantasyland to improve your scoop equity.

Standard OFC

Standard OFC: That back row straight came in - but what was the math behind it?

Poker coach and author Derric Haynie talks about the complexities that make Open Face Chinese Poker a game for the future.

Standard OFC: Think twice before you set that back row monster....are you thinking vertically as well as horizontally? It's about overall hand strength.

Standard OFC: You're dealt a sorry first 5. Can a medium pair in front save the day? With front-row royalty equivalency facts that often escape attention.

Standard OFC: A key decision point on the bubble of an Open Face Chinese tournament, analyzed with pictures and percentages.

Standard OFC: 3 to the straight flush - it's sexy, alluring and fun. Should you go for it?

Standard OFC: An exploration of all scoring possibilities in heads up Open Face, with tips on improving PPH (points per hand) average.

Pineapple OFC Articles

3 settings of 4 7 J 3 5. Is setting a gutshot in the back the best way to get value from this lowly-looking starting 5?

Warren Buffet says "risk comes from not knowing what you're doing". And in Pineapple-OFC, that means MATH. We did our homework and crushed this hand with AA on top.

Pineapple OFC: Taking an alternate line while in Fantasyland to improve your scoop equity.

3 settings of Ad 8d 10c 2h 4h in lowball 2-7 Pineapple. With street-by-street analysis and scoring based on royalty equity, scoop equity and Fantasyland EV.

Pineapple OFC: Awww Yeah! Vegas Open Face takes on Open Face Odds in a heads up Pineapple match. Analyzed by both players.


Pineapple OFC: Before carelessly discarding unwanted cards, consider whether you can create an illusion of good draws for your opponent.

Pineapple OFC: Vegas Open Face guest blogs with a blow-by-blow analysis of a live Pineapple Open Face hand.

OFC Theory

Standard OFC Theory: You are dealt 35667, out of position. How to think about setting your hand, not forgetting there's an elephant in the room -- 8's through J's. Introduction to array sorting.

Standard OFC Theory: Strategy analysis of set 1 of 35667, with array sorting, draw ranges, and 6th street probabilities examined.

OFC Theory: Did you know there are 7,462 unique starting hands in Open Face Chinese poker? Ok, great - now rank them.

OFC Theory: The "Cooperators": hands that can be split into complementary draw ranges within the total array of unknown cards.

OFC Theory: The "Cannibals": Cards that merge draw and value ranges, adding to one row while simultaneously subtracting from another.

Alt Lines: Pineapple / Heads Up / Qh Qs 5s 6h 9c

Feb 2, 2015 - by Ben McClelland

If you have QQ in your starting 5, should you always go for Fantasyland? Today's Alt Lines examines three alternate settings of the above starting hand, with odds and scenarios discussed as the hand plays out:

1) Fantasyland
2) Full House
3) Double-Flush


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.


Two Cent Tips: Pineapple Fantasyland

December 21, 2014 -- Poker pro and chess champion Jen Shahade recently won the TonyBet $10k High Roller Pineapple OFC tournament held at the Prague World OFC Championships, and afterwards she talked about the importance of not making mistakes while in Fantasyland. [Read Jen's comments and more about the event at the Pokernews article HERE]

It seems like it would be hard to play Fantasyland wrong, since you can see all your cards at once, often can see your opponent's first-five set, and seemingly have very few decisions to make. Is this really the case? Pineapple OFC requires constant attention and good decision-making, and getting yourself into the right mode of thinking can help you be profitable no matter what the situation. To illustrate, let's look at this Fantasyland hand.

See full article here

Don't Rush the Flush - Part I

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.

In other words, don't rush the flush!

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.

Alt Lines

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.

Two Cent Tips


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.

Read Full Article Here

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