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.
A Study in Stud 8
by Ben McClelland
CONCEPTS: Hand Quality, Pot Control, Equity Curve, Hand Odds, Split-Pot Freerolling
August 20, 2016 -- Today we welcome in another poker variant to the Open Face Odds family - Stud Hi Lo, also known as Stud 8.
Much of the same street-by-street odds analysis we have applied to OFC is useful in other poker variations, so let's get under
the hood! Today we'll take a look at this HU spot in a Stud 8 tournament, examining street-by-street odds, starting hand strength and the concept of
freerolling in a split pot game.
Pineapple 2-7 is one of the popular variations of Pineapple Open Face Chinese poker.
Part of its appeal is that the lowball middle allows more paths to Fantasyland, and a player will find themselves
getting there about twice as often as in the regular variation. But while lowball allows more flexibility,
first-five setting strategy must be adjusted, and some early-game tactics that are slam-dunks in Pineapple OFC should be tossed out the window!
So what makes 2-7 so different?
First, let’s take a look at the rules. In Pineapple OFC, your rows must be sequentially
stronger from front to back. In 2-7, only the front and back follow that rule, while the middle row must have a
10-or-better lowball hand. Fantasyland qualifications are KK+ in front or a lowball wheel (75432) in the middle.
Some rule sets even allow consecutive Fantasylands (2 in a row) for making a middle wheel and KK+ in front.
KK front Fantasyland
Lowball Wheel Fantasyland
KK front & Wheel Fantasyland
Scoring is different too. Since any pair or better in the middle row is a foul in 2-7, trips, straights, flushes and any
other royalties scored in the regular Pineapple variation are dropped. Instead, a 9-high low scores 1 point, 8-high
2 points, and 7-high 3 points. The value you lose in the middle row is made up in the number of times you get to
Fantasyland, and you will find yourself getting there roughly twice as often in lowball. Fantasyland repeat
qualification is trips in front, quads or better in back. Oh yes, and there is a twist: You can actually foul
in Fantasyland! If you don’t get enough low cards to make a 10-high
middle, you will misset. This happens rarely but it is a small factor in calculating Fantasyland EV.
March 21, 2016 -- The next big thing in Open Face Chinese Poker is here, and it's called 'Side-by-Side' OFC or 'Same Card'.
'Same Card' is dealt like Pineapple OFC, but with the twist of players setting the same hand against each other.
The other significant rules change is that everyone sets their hand face down, so all information is 'hidden' until the end.
When each player is finished setting the hand (under a time limit), the results are revealed. The hands are then scored against each
other simultaneously, and for that reason there is no 'button' or concept of 'position'. If you get to Fantasyland in the 'Spicy
Pineapple' app above, you are
auto-dealt and auto-set a random 13-card Fantasyland, which adds bonus points to the hand.
Anyone who has
played OFC-P knows how differently a hand can play out depending on setting decisions (see Open Face Odds'
alt lines series for more on this concept).
The example above shows how 5 different players, having been dealt the same cards, came up with 5 completely different ways to
play the hand.
The wide variety of
outcomes to any single hand provides this puzzle for players to solve: Can you outwit and outplay your opponents
with the same exact cards?
Finding optimal answers to this question is the heart of the game's strategy, but of course it isn't easy.
Skills needed to play well include:
- First-five setting prowess
- Odds knowledge
- Familiarity with assorted equities (royalty, scoop, FL, # of players)
- Ability to 'switch gears'
- Peer convergence-divergence adjustments
Mastering the skill set needed to play optimally is a challenge, but one thing is crystal clear: a higher skill level clearly
translates to winning. And this is where the true brilliance of 'Same Card' OFC emerges: it allows more than 3 players to compete.
The Spicy Pineapple app, for example,
allows up to 5 players at a time. So why is this so significant? Let's look at why it's a big plus for both online casinos
There is no reason to think an online poker client couldn't offer the game comfortably for up to
around 6 or 7 players at a time. Rake now becomes a reasonable incentive for the operator. The fact the entire game is 'hidden information' should
ease fears of solvability and bots. And the beauty is all the popular variations of Pineapple OFC can be played as 'Same Card':
Pineapple, 2-7, Progressive. Now a wide variety of the game people love to play is available in a format online casinos should love as well.
One of the drawbacks to 'regular' Pineapple OFC is that only 3 players can play at any given time.
This creates a high-variance and swingy environment, and while edges can be found, the payoff is limited.
So how does 'Same Card' OFC improve the game for players? Let us count the ways:
- There is more money on the table.
- It's a lower-variance climate. You can 'come in 2nd' in a hand at a profit, it's not just winner-takes-all
- Having an edge can be very profitable - instead of one or two players, four or more players can pay
you off in any given hand.
- Misset or fouling now carries more significant consequences (stacking off to four opponents instead of one or two),
which promotes higher-level play as well as creating a better balance in risk-reward scenarios.
- More players creates a better social environment.
- Tables don't break as easily as in the 3-handed variant.
- Table wait times are shorter since there are more seats on the felt.
- 'Same Card' is a very grindable cash game, but also plays extremely well in tournament format.
Although it can only play online because of its unique mechanics, this latest twist on OFC has explosive potential.
Aside from potentially tweaking the Fantasyland component of the game, Open Face Odds' opinion of 'Same Card' OFC is it's a
nearly perfect OFC multi-player game. There may be future variants that play well online AND in a live casino environment, but
this is a brilliant take on Open Face with more than enough pizzazz to please players and online casino operators alike.
PINEAPPLE OFC CALCULATOR (beta v 1.2)
March 17, 2016 -- Need to know your odds when you're playing Pineapple OFC? Worry no more and use our odds calculator.
Set for each pull (12 cards to come, 9, 6, and 3), you'll always know how likely you are to hit your out(s) at any given
point in the hand.
Beta v. 1.2. Currently designed for Heads Up play only. 3-handed play in a future version of the calculator, as well as features such as runner-runner flush, full house, 3-to-straight odds, and so forth.
Any feedback would be welcome:
info@openfaceodds attn. Ben
OFC TOURNAMENTS UPDATE
March 7, 2016 --
Easter weekend, you can play Open Face Chinese tournament at the Gran Casino Castellon, as part of the Levante Poker Challenge. Join
Francisco 'Kikuxo' Fernández for a free OFC tutorial at 16:15 Friday March 24, followed by a 45/5 tournament starting at 21:00. 20,000 chips, 20 minute levels.
Pineapple OFC 2-7 (low or lowball) requires many adjustments from regular Pineapple OFC, perhaps most importantly in the choice of first-five settings.
It is a difficult adjustment, since many of the standard setting strategies of regular Pineapple OFC must be discarded, and the new tactics
can easily feel unnatural. Here is a case in point: QQ in your starting 5.
An aggressive strategy in regular Pineapple OFC would have the QQ go on top, like so:
But in lowball, queens do NOT take you Fantasyland. Instead, it's Kings or better to get you there. Queens up top would still yield a 7-point
royalty; however, in this hand, the QQ top would prevent a Fantasyland go.
So, as a general rule of thumb in lowball: Early-game QQ is to be used as a building block rather than a Fantasyland qualifier.
The better set, then, is as follows:
This edition of P-E-P features a discusssion of AI's and Simulators as it relates to OFC and how computers and humans think;
an introduction to 'Chinese Holdem' (the next great OFC variation?), live tournament reporting, Phil Hellmuth's Twitch doings, and how popular is
Open Face Chinese? Is it just a fad?
Someone had to do it. Here's the breakdown of topics:
0:00 -- Intros and general nerdiness. Boring mathy books that no one wants to read. How many starting hand combos are there in Open Face Chinese?
Range-balancing in 5-card draw, and the difference between a dealt 4-flush in 5-card draw and Open Face. What do you do if you are
dealt a flush right away? Derric explains the difference between 85% and 95%. Ben says Fantasyland is not always the way to go.
12:54 -- Back in the Wild Wild West, it was Pocket Cowboys. What do you call the original open face chinese? Traditional, Regular,
Standard? Derric is bored by 'regular' OFC. Is OFC solvable? Why Pineapple OFC took over. Heads up is WAY different than 3-handed.
Intro to TonyBet's Progressive Pineapple variation. Expected value of 14-card v. 15-card Fantasyland. What's the best AI to play against?
Places to play on your phone or PC.
37:37 -- How Progressive Pineapple wrecks current setting strategies! Backing into trips up top. Ben's 100-hand experiment
going for trips every time. How Progressive Pineapple will probably help define hand values and setting strategies. Ben and
Derric wax philosophic on the vast library of OFC strategy that one day will be written.
44:00 -- Ben challenges Derric to set the hand Ah 2h 4h 8h 8c. Runner-runner flush draw odds. Odds of making a boat with a single pair+kicker start, like 558. A brief intro to Ben's Cannibals and
Cooperators classification system. Who is the best type of OFC player?
Is OFC more exhausting to play than Holdem? Chess Combinatorics v. OFC "Calculatorics".
57:33 -- High Hand of the Day
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.
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:
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
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.
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.
TAMPA BAY AND PRAGUE TO HOST OFC PINEAPPLE TOURNAMENTS
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:
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
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)
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:
STANDARD OFC PRACTICE MODULE 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:
TURBO OFC PRACTICE MODULE 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:
PINEAPPLE OFC PRACTICE MODULE 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:
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.
JUMBO PINEAPPLE OFC
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.
ALT LINES: 2-7 PINEAPPLE HAND
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).
As in the all the Alt Line series, hand scoring is broken down into royalty equity, scoop equity, and Fantasyland EV.
HOME GAME UPDATE
March 31, 2014 -- Last night's Open Face Chinese session went down 3-handed, and featured these variations
in a dealer's choice rotation:
Turbo Pineapple 2-7
Catch-44 (see last week's post for rules)
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
HOME GAME UPDATE
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.