Recent Strategy Articles

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.

Once You Go Pineapple.....**

February 11, 2015 - by Ben McClelland

**This is an article I wrote for Two Plus Two magazine published in March 2014, anticipating Pineapple-OFC cash game play at the WSOP. 2014 saw the explosion of Pineapple, but is it really a grindable cash game? In the article I recommend variable-value Fantasyland for cash play. What is that? Read on.....

Once You Go Pineapple OFC...
(You Might As Well Go Variable-Value Fantasyland)

Imagine waking up one morning, going out for a coffee, and everyone around you was speaking a new language. If you were out of the Open Face Chinese scene for a couple of months, that's the way it might feel right now. Just in case you hadn't noticed, we are living in a Pineapple-OFC world. Still speaking 'Standard-OFC'? Better find a translator, and quick! Because since last summer, Open Face has been evolving, and Pineapple is the mutation that's dominating the gene pool right now.

That's not to say Standard-OFC won't retain its significance. It makes a good tournament game, a group of 4 can play (unlike 3-max Pineapple), and its core tactics apply to other variations. For some it may remain a preferred variant. Developmentally it has reached its logical conclusion, however, and one can now point to an orthodox set of rules after a year or so of experimentation.

Pineapple-OFC is in a more youthful phase with rules and variations still in flux, but the immediate appeal is obvious. The inclusion of draws and discards has infused the game with more decision points and incomplete information, players have 17 cards to find combinations with instead of 13, extra cards are dealt in Fantasyland, and the game plays bigger. Many people find once they've 'gone Pineapple', Standard-OFC seems a bit humdrum. And while the variation tweaks have made the game more interesting (and less solvable), questions remain about the game's grindability.


Sticky Straight Flush

February 3, 2015 - by Ben McClelland

I have already examined two flush-draw spots in Pineapple OFC, and in each case it was deemed optimal to delay completion of the flush.

Today's article looks specifically at a gutshot straight-flush draw. How long should you "stick to it"?


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


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

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.




October 24, 2012 -- Stepping in where the EPT has fallen off, multiple poker rooms have announced Pineapple Open Face Chinese tournaments offered in the coming months. Derby Lane poker room in Tampa Bay, Florida, will host a $560 Pineapple OFC tourney on November 6, and TonyBet Poker offers its "OFC Poker World Championship", also featuring Pineapple, from Dec 8-10 at King’s Casino in Prague.

The Derby Lane Pineapple OFC event starts at 18:00 EST on Wednesday, November 6, with the $500+$60 buyin giving a 30k starting stack. Levels are 6 hands each, starting at 100. The full structure sheet can be found here:


Full Tournament Details:


The TonyBet event features two Pineapple tournaments: a €10k high roller and a €1k main event. Live and online satellites into the main are offered. More information can be found here:



September 12, 2014 -- As frequent visits to Open Face Odds' tournaments page may indicate, players may be wondering where the OFC Tournaments the European Poker Tour spread last season are on this year's schedules. We wondered the same thing, so we got in touch with Neil Johnson, Pokerstars' Global Events representative.

The short answer: they're not being spread. No OFC tournaments are currently planned for London, Prague, PCA, or Deauville. Johnson said "It should be in Monaco" for the season 11 Grand Final in April 2015.

Why is the EPT going away from a game that is only gaining in popularity? Johnson pointed to the difficulties of running a Pineapple (3-handed) tournament. He says:

"In reviewing the OFC events last year and talking to a lot of players, the consensus was that almost all players want to play OFC Pineapple which has to be played three handed and is a significant logistical burden to run as an MTT for tables, dealers, balancing, etc... No one really wants to run a three handed tourney, especially considering the vast difference between playing OFCP three handed and heads up while tables are out of balance. It could possibly be run as a shootout type, but it is a difficult tourney to run logistically although it is by far the most popular form of the game."

Johnson also pointed out that while cash game participation has been high, "that didn't really translate into tourney participation." He does admit that the tournament numbers "struggled" partially due to the players wanting to play Pineapple while the EPT was offering regular Open Face Chinese.

Generally it appears the position of the EPT is that OFC has been relegated to 'cash only' status for the time being.

We'd like to thank Neil for his frank and detailed answers to our inquiry.

We also made a suggestion that we think could help boost OFC tournament interest and significantly diminish the difficulties in running a tournament. Would an OFC mix-game work? The following variants would play 1 round at a time:

1) Standard (regular) OFC
2) Turbo OFC
3) Pineapple OFC (4-handed table, but button sits)
4) Pineapple 2-7 (button also sits)

If you'd like to read NeilJ's full response or get in on the discussion, go to the Two Plus Two forums thread here: EPT thread with Neil Johnson


August 29, 2014 -- Having a few friends over this weekend for a friendly house game of Open Face Chinese? Well here's a few suggestions on how you can spice up your games with fun variations, and some tips if you are running bad!

Dealer's choice is a great way to run an OFC home game, and you can play 1 hand or 1 round per dealer's game choice. Following are the main variations of OFC. In Part II we will go over some more complex variations, but let's begin with the main variants. All rule sets can be found on our Rules page, here - Open Face Odds' official OFC rules :

1) STANDARD OPEN FACE CHINESE: 2-4 people. The perfect variation for teaching beginners. Plays slower than Pineapple or Turbo, with hands lasting up to 10 minutes. Uses all 52 cards in the deck with 4 players. Dealt 5-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1. Fantasyland: QQ or better in front gets you 13 cards on the next deal. Find a practice module for this variation here:


2) TURBO OPEN FACE CHINESE: 2-4 people. Plays similar to the standard version, but after you deal the normal starting 5 cards, there are two rounds of 4 cards. All cards are set (no discards). Uses all 52 cards in the deck with 4 players. This is a faster version of standard OFC, with each hand lasting only a couple of minutes. Dealt 5-4-4. Fantasyland: same as Standard. Find a practice module for this variation here:


3) PINEAPPLE OFC: 2-3 people. The draw version of the game. Because this variation uses 51 cards for 3 players, a 4-handed game is not possible. However, you can play with 4 people if the dealer sits out. Dealt 5-3-3-3-3. After your initial 5 cards, you get 4 pulls of 3 cards, setting two and discarding one face-down. Because of the extra cards, this variation produces bigger hands, and consequently, bigger pots. It can be a very swingy game. Fantasyland: QQ or better in some games, often KK or better. Generally 14 cards are given to the Fantasyland player, but we often recommend this rule: QQ Fantasyland gets 13 cards, KK 14 and AA 15. Find a practice module for this variation here:


4) PINEAPPLE 2-7 OFC: A newer variation of Pineapple that makes the middle row a lowball hand. Complete rules can be found on our Rules Page. Generally speaking, this is the easiest variation to get to Fantasyland with, and it's not unusual to see several or all players in Fantasyland at the same time. Also plays 2-3 people, and is dealt exactly the same as Pineapple. Practice module is the same as the Pineapple Module:


Some advice for profitability, game pacing and run bad:

When to call Standard: If an opponent is catching like God and punishing you in Pineapple, you can slow the game down by calling Standard OFC. The slower speed of this variation stops the momentum and the swinginess. Also, if you consider yourself good at getting to Fantasyland in Standard, then this should be a variation of choice for you, since Fantasyland value is around 12 points per player. Keep in mind, however, that a 4-handed game requires you to pay out 3x6 points plus royalties when you foul.

When to call Turbo: If your opponents specialize in Pineapple, a great change of pace that can catch them gambling too hard is Turbo. Because they are getting 4 cards at once, they often deceive themselves as to their true odds because they're used to playing Pineapple (where you get 3 cards at a time). It's not the same thing by a long shot. Play this variation super conservatively and watch your opponents foul till the cows come home. You will reach Fantasyland in Turbo less often than in any other variation, but if you do get there, the value increases because Turbo is definitely the most foul-prone variant. Look for value in the front row with a pair of 9's or similar; since you're unlikely to hit many monster hands in the back row, 3 pairs in back, middle and front can boost your profitability (i.e. JJ, TT, 99).

When to call Pineapple: If your opponents are on the more conservative side or inexperienced, you can clean up by aggressively pursuing Fantasyland lines. Against inexperienced players, Fantasyland will be worth more as they will foul more often (and, conversely, against better players Fantasyland will be worth less, as they will foul less often and build their own monster hands and get to Fantasyland more often. Fantasyland value against a good player is more in the 6-7 point range). And, fouling is less severe if your opponents are not likely to make Fantasyland or big royalties. If you have an excellent grasp on the math of the game, you should fear no player, but keep in mind that the variance of Pineapple is steeper than either Standard or Turbo. If you feel you're running good, this is where you should stay since the pots play bigger. Just keep an eye out for overconfidence or natural changes in momentum.

When to call 2-7: When you need a change of pace or just an injection of fun into the game, call this most interesting variation. Because a perfect lowball middle of 75432 sends a player to Fantasyland, some players will wait too long to complete the middle and foul. Our advice is when you are dealt a great lowball first-five, like a 742 for example, you should go for the perfect lowball, but if your starting hand isn't that great then be happy with a 10-high middle, and instead find value in Fantasyland or with trips in front, which is a very makeable hand in the 2-7 variation. Also, an 8-high middle pays 2 points, the same as trips in the other variations, and small royalties like this can boost your overall game profitability.


August 15, 2015 -- So, we went into the laboratory and didn't come out until we created the Frankenstein of OFC - Jumbo Pineapple!

It plays exactly like Pineapple (except you use all 3 cards on the very last pull), with the notable exception of having a mega-tower of 4 rows - all using 5 card hands!

For those of you who needed more than just regular Pineapple. It's Jumbo.


April 6, 2014 -- This Alt Line analyzes 3 different sets of the hand pictured below. The starting 5 cards are classified as semi-cooperators, and cooperate they did (except in one set, showing in this instance the risk of playing too conservatively in Pineapple OFC).

See full article here

As in the all the Alt Line series, hand scoring is broken down into royalty equity, scoop equity, and Fantasyland EV.


March 31, 2014 -- Last night's Open Face Chinese session went down 3-handed, and featured these variations in a dealer's choice rotation:
  • Pineapple
  • Pineapple 2-7
  • Turbo Pineapple
  • Turbo Pineapple 2-7
  • Catch-44 (see last week's post for rules)
  • Catch-44 2-7
  • Turbo
  • Turbo 2-7
As you can see, 2-7 was the new addition to the mix. This variation features a lowball middle, with KK+ to qualify for Fantasyland. The middle must be 10 or better, and a perfect 75432 takes you to Fantasyland as well. Fantasyland was dealt 14 or 15 cards, depending on the quality of the FL make: KK gives 14 cards, AA+ and the 75432 give 15. Fantasyland repeats are the same as Pineapple: trips in front or quads+ in back (lowball middle must be placed while in FL).

9-high middle is worth 1 point, 8-high is 2, 7-high is 4 points, and we gave 6 points for the 75432. Since you lose the flush and boat royalties with the introduction of the lowball middle, some compensation was given. We considered a 10-point royalty for the perfect lowball, but it seemed to hit very often so we settled on 6 points, the same score as a back row full house, or JJ up front. In our rules section we have put it in as a flexible 6-10 points to be decided on by individual house rules.

Oh yeah, and the worst Fantasyland we've ever seen!

We play variable-value Fantasyland for all Pineapple games, so QQ gets you 13 cards, KK-14 and AA-15. Needless to say, this hand didn't fare very well.


March 24, 2014 -- Last night saw a 3-handed Open Face Chinese mix at the OFO house game, with the following variations in rotation, selected by dealer's choice:

  • STANDARD: The 'original' version, dealt 5-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1
  • TURBO: Dealt 5-4-4 (set all cards)
  • SEMI-TURBO: Dealt 5-2-2-2-2 (set all cards)
  • PINEAPPLE: Dealt 5-3-3-3-3 (discard 1 of 3 post-deal)
  • PINEAPPLE TURBO: Dealt 5-6-6 (discard 2 of 6 post-deal)
  • *PINEAPPLE SEMI-TURBO or **CATCH-44: Dealt 4-4-4-4 (set the first four, discard 1 of 4 post-deal)
*Invented by the OFO research team **named by Q-Tip Josh.

Variable-value Fantasyland was used in each game, so QQ got you 13-card Fantasyland, KK 14 and AA+ 15.

Catch-44 was a popular choice throughout the evening, as were Pineapple and Turbo.

The following variations are available in play-practice modules on Open Face Odds:

Stay tuned because we will be creating Semi-Turbo and Catch-44 play modules soon.


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