If you have played Texas Hold'em before, then you already know how to play Pineapple Poker. However, understanding the format will not mean that you will master the game in one hand, no matter how good you are at Texas Hold'em. While the basic structure is the same, the skills necessary to excel in the game involve a twist. The difference being that in Pineapple Poker, you are dealt three hole cards starting out instead of just two, and you get the opportunity to immediately discard one of these cards during the start of the hand. After that, the game proceeds exactly like regular Texas Hold ‘em.
Learning how to discern which cards to hold and which to discard will take some practice. It won’t always be the obvious choice. While this game isn’t typically found at many online poker sites, it will probably show up more in the future, as players demand new ways to challenge their poker skill sets and develop their talents at different types of poker games. A poker player who can play a variety of variations is a more well-rounded player than those who only know how to play a few different types of poker.
Pineapple Poker play starts out with players placing their initial bets. The small blind (left of the dealer) and the big blind (left of the small blind) must put their bets in first. Three cards are dealt to each player, face down. At this point, one card is discarded by every player; the discard takes place before the flop, and then the first round of betting takes place. All players who wish to remain in the hand must match the big blind; otherwise, they will have to fold. Small blind can match the large blind or lose the small bet and fold. Alternatively, any player can raise, to which other players must call or fold.
After all betting is final three community cards are dealt face up on the table (the flop). After the flop falls, all players must bet again. Betting options at this point are to check, fold, call, or raise the bet to all players. Then another card is dealt face up to the table (the turn) to make four community cards. Another betting round is carried out, just as the two previous ones. A final community card (the river) is dealt on the table, face up. Final betting takes place, and then ultimately the showdown, in which all remaining players must show their cards. The best five-card poker hand made from one or both of a player’s hole cards, along with three or four of the community cards, wins the pot. Should two players have equal hands, they will split the pot.
Another variation of this game is Crazy Pineapple Poker, which can also be played in Hi/Lo format. While Texas Hold ‘em has become the reigning king of poker, Crazy Pineapple Poker is slowly becoming more and more popular because it’s actually a refined form of Texas Hold ‘em. Crazy Pineapple allows players more options to play, which makes the game more interesting than Texas Hold ‘em. Once you master Crazy Pineapple, you have mastered all Hold ‘em games.
The difference between Pineapple Poker and Crazy Pineapple lies in the point in the game in which you make your one-card discard. Like the rules described above, players in a game of Crazy Pineapple are dealt three cards, but the discard comes after the flop, not before. So after the hole cards are dealt, the first round of betting precedes the flop, and then, once the flop is dealt, players will discard one card. In regular Pineapple Poker (described above), the discard is made before the flop.
The discard decision becomes a critical point in the game for players, as the decision will govern the future of the hand. Analyzing your hand to determine its chances in relation to the flop is sometimes an easy decision, but other times it proves very hard. This is what makes the game completely different from Texas Hold ‘em. It changes the mindset of the game totally, which is what makes playing new variations of poker so fun and challenging.
Yet another similar variation of Hold'em Poker is Tahoe Poker, which has not caught on yet, but is carried out in the same fashion as Pineapple Poker and Crazy Pineapple Poker with the same starting three-card hand, but in this variation, no cards are discarded at anytime throughout the game. This game is a bit easier than the others, so it might be a good starting point to learn how three cards can win a hold ‘em hand. Once you’ve developed an understanding of this, you can then move on to Pineapple and then Crazy Pineapple in order to gradually develop your strategy for playing other variations of Hold ‘em Poker.