How to Play Pineapple Poker
Pineapple poker is a version of Texas Hold’em in which players get three hole cards instead of two.
In the standard version of Pineapple, players discard one card before the preflop betting round begins. Unlike Texas Hold’em, you’re not locked into playing the two cards you’re dealt – you can choose two out of the three you’re dealt and discard the other.
Several other variations of this game exist as well. Let’s take a look at Pineapple poker and some of its offshoots.
What Is Pineapple Poker?
Pineapple poker is played just like Texas Hold’em, but with one major difference. All players are dealt three hole cards instead of two.
Before the preflop betting round begins, all players discard one card, face down. The hand then plays out just like it would in a standard game of Texas Hold’em, with players using two hole cards.
The object of each hand in a Pineapple poker game is to make the best possible five-card hand according to standard poker hand rankings, using any combination of your two hole cards and five community cards.
It’s important to understand the rules of Texas Hold’em poker before you jump into a game of Pineapple. We’ll do a quick rundown on how to play Pineapple, but be sure to check out our comprehensive guide to No-Limit Hold’em (and other Hold’em variants) for a detailed look at how to play poker’s most popular game:
Pineapple Example Hand
The universe of poker games includes many different versions of Pineapple. Let’s take a look at a theoretical example hand from the regular Pineapple version.
Like all versions of Hold’em, Pineapple uses a system of blinds and a dealer button. The blind positions are to the direct left of the dealer button.
Players in the Small Blind and Big Blind positions post mandatory bets before the round begins. In a game of $2/$5 Pineapple, for instance, the small blind would put $2 in the pot before the hand begins, and the big blind would put $5 in the pot.
Each player gets dealt three hole cards to begin each hand. You then discard one card (this third card remains face down and is returned to the dealer), and play the rest of the hand with your remaining two hole cards.
After each player discards one card, the first round of betting begins. Let’s say you’re dealt:
This is a pretty easy decision, as you want to discard the and play pocket aces as your hole cards.
Beginning with the player to the direct left of the big blind, each player gets the chance to either call, raise, or fold. Let’s suppose this player is you; you would want to raise with the best of all starting hands, pocket aces.
In this example, you raise to $6. The player on the button calls, and the player in the big blind calls. Just like a hand in a standard hold’em game, the three players that still remain in the hand then proceed to the flop.
The pot is $20, and the dealer puts out the following flop:
Per the rules of all hold’em card games, the small blind (or the next remaining player to the left of the small blind) is first to act in all postflop betting round. In this case, that’s the player in the big blind. This player checks.
The action then moves to you. You have a strong hand with your pair of aces, and you decide to bet $10. The button calls, and the big blind folds.
The dealer then puts out the turn card, and the board now looks like this:
You’re first to act, and the pot is $40. You bet $30, and your opponent (the player on the button) calls.
The dealer then deals the river card, and the final board looks like this:
The pot is $100, and you bet $75. The button player calls, and it’s time to go to showdown.
You show your pocket aces and your opponent shows . You have the best hand and win the pot.
As we can see from this example hand, the gameplay in a Pineapple hand is identical to Hold’em, aside from the fact that all players get three hole cards, and discard one.
Other Pineapple Variants
The standard version of Pineapple sees all players get three hole cards, discard one before the preflop betting round, and proceed through the hand with two hole cards.
Many different versions of Pineapple games can be played, however, with slight variations on the standard version. These variants include:
Crazy Pineapple Poker
In Crazy Pineapple, the hand begins just as the standard versions of Pineapple. Each player gets three hole cards, but you don’t discard before the preflop round.
Instead, you keep all three hole cards through the preflop and flop betting rounds. You discard one card before the turn is dealt.
Lazy Pineapple Poker
In Lazy Pineapple, you keep all three hole cards throughout all betting round in the hand. When the hand goes to showdown, you can use any combination of two hole cards and the community cards to make the best hand.
Keep in mind that you can’t use all three hole cards to make a hand, however.
For example, if you get to the end of a hand with as your hole cards, and the board reads , you unfortunately don’t have four-of-a-kind fives. You do have a full house, however with fives full of twos.
Irish Poker combines elements of Omaha and Hold’em into a unique Pineapple variant.
Players start with four cards, much like the popular game of Pot-Limit Omaha. Just like Crazy Pineapple, you keep all four hole cards through the end of the flop betting round.
Before the turn is dealt, you must discard two cards. The rest of the hand then plays out like a standard Hold’em hand.
Check out our guide to Irish Poker for an expanded look at this fun poker game.
Pineapple Poker Strategy
No matter what version of Pineapple you’re playing, it’s important to keep a few things in mind in terms of strategy.
If you’re playing the standard version of Pineapple, you can generally stick to the starting hand ranges you would play in a regular game of Texas Hold’em. Keep in mind that the card you get rid of in the discard round is no longer in play.
For example, if your starting hand is Qh], keep in mind that you’ll have a slightly lower chance of making a flush because you have to discard a heart.
In Crazy, Lazy, or Irish Poker Pineapple, look for starting hand combinations that include high pairs, suited cards, and connected cards. The strategy in these games somewhat resembles Omaha starting hand strategy, where you like to see hand combos that can make strong hands in several different ways.
Games Related To Pineapple Poker
The following games resemble Pineapple in one way or another, but technically don’t belong in the category of Pineapple that we’re discussing here:
Open Face Chinese Pineapple
Open Face Chinese Poker (OFC Poker) is a fun card game that includes an OFC Pineapple variant. OFC is a completely different game than Texas Hold’em, and as such OFC Pineapple is a totally different game than the Pineapple Texas Hold’em game discussed in this article.
For a deep dive into Chinese Poker, check out this guide from Upswing Poker.
Pineapple Poker Final Thoughts
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about Pineapple, for any variation, is that the game plays as a two-card poker game in terms of the hole cards. No matter how many hole cards or what round the discards take place, you must use some combination of two hole cards and the board cards to try to make the winning five-card hand.
For example, if you get dealt a trio of aces as your hole cards, you don’t (unfortunately) have three-of-a-kind. You must discard one of the aces and go forward with just a pocket pair of aces (which is still pretty good).
You’ll find the Pineapple poker variant in some live poker rooms and online poker rooms, but you’ll probably see it more often in home games or as part of a mixed game.
Pineapple can be played as a no-limit, pot-limit, or limit game.