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)?
OFC Theory: The "Cannibals": Cards that merge draw and value ranges, adding to one row while simultaneously
subtracting from another.
OPEN FACE ODDS
PINEAPPLE OPEN FACE STRATEGY
Categories: Pineapple, Discard
DISCARD FOR DECEPTION
"All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near."
-- Sun Tzu
September 12, 2013 -- Pineapple is a newer variation in Open Face Chinese Poker. It's wild, it's woolly, it's swingy as heck. Gamblers love it.
Some players feel that there is no edge to be found, and you might as well be playing bingo. While I have not played enough games or done enough analysis
to comment adequately on variance, odds or solvability, I can say this without reservation:
It's really fun! And, while playing a number of hands, I stumbled on some observations that may come in handy.....
Since you are getting 12 cards to work with after your initial 5 are dealt
(see Pineapple OFC rules here) there is a natural tendency to go for monster hands. Don't be surprised
to see a big pair (AA, KK, QQ) set immediately in front, with any manner of speculative draws supporting it in the middle and back.
You might think you could play snug and conservative and watch your opponents try to extricate themselves from the hot water they've
landed in. But the gambles come in at a shockingly high rate in Pineapple, and if you're not gambling too,
you'll often find yourself scooped, paying big royalties, and playing against one or even two villains who are in Fantasyland.
That's not to say solid play can't pay off in Pineapple OFC. In a future post entitled "How Much Gamble is TOO MUCH Gamble?" I will
address this topic. For the time being, let's just posit that Pineapple remains an unsolved, free-for-all, gamble-fest.
Is there any competitive edge to be found, besides trying to out-crazy your opponents?
Why don't we turn to Sun-Tzu for advice here. In any poker, and almost any game of strategy, deception is a key tactic.
It is the essence of a bluff, after all - one of the most commonly used tactics in games like NLHE and Triple Draw. Since
Open Face Chinese is, well, face up, deception is a harder concept to employ, although there still is a place for it.
With 4 discards face down per player, Pineapple OFC allows for more opportunities to use this tactic.
You won't run across
these spots often, because most of the time you are going to be trying to complete multiple draws
in your twisted plan to reach Fantasyland. Generally speaking, you will need all the cards you can get your greedy little hands on,
and probably a few more too.
But every once in a while you will find yourself with cards in a pull that add little or no immediate value to your hand, and you will have
a choice of several 'dead' cards to either set or discard. Ultimately these cards add no equity nor do any damage to your hand.
They are pretty vanilla. But here is the simple yet elusive point to be aware of: while these cards are equally and interchangeably unimportant
to your hand, they may have great value to your opponent, either as an out they need or as additional card information known.
And, unbeknowst to them, you hold that card in the hole. What to do with it?
Before choosing which card to set and which to discard, take a careful look at your opponents' draws.
Then, think through these two scenarios:
1.Will setting a specific card give extra information to your opponent regarding their hand's trajectory?
2. Can you maintain the illusion that your opponent's draws are better than they think by discarding one of their outs?
In this spot, I've already set the 8c and have the 4h and 5s to choose between for the discard.
Neither card adds any immediate value to my hand, although
both cards provide an over to the 2's and 3's my opponents have in their middle rows, so if I pair either one,
I could take the lead there. The 4 is more live than the 5, so it's marginally better to set the 4 here. What makes the decision easier is the fact that my
opponent on the right side has a 5 in their bottom row. They will be looking to two-pair (or better) the back, which is the only way they can
take the lead there, and also the only way they can take the lead in the middle without fouling, short of catching a 3.
If they catch an ace, for example, they'd definitely consider pairing the middle. They would be counting
six outs for their back row, but I know they'd only have five after my discard. This play satisfies the requirements of scenarios #1 and #2
above - setting the 5 gives more information to my opponent, and discarding it promotes the illusion of a better draw than they
This play is subtle, and the edge it gives you is slight. It's not a power move. But there's a fine line between a good draw and a bad
draw in Pineapple, and the more you can do to keep your opponent in the dark as to their true odds, the better. What you'd really
like is for them to wander blind in the dark -- and fall off the cliff!
Perhaps most important is the habit you create of thinking through all your decisions in a game that requires carefully measured
attacks and responses.