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Initial Decisions In 2-7 Pineapple: Part 1

by Kevin Haney |  Published: Sep 07, 2022

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In Deuce-to-Seven Pineapple (2-7 POFC), as in any pineapple open face Chinese variant, the quality of your initial set decisions play a huge role in your success (or failure) in the game. A pair of kings or better up top is worth big royalties and will also send you to Fantasyland (FL or The Land), therefore building these holdings should be our core strategy.

In order to not foul, these big pairs need to be covered by a better high hand on the bottom and most of the time we should try and build two pair or trips in the back. We should not pursue flushes in the back nearly as often as we would in high only POFC.

When we go flushing in 2-7 POFC, everything must go exactly right in order for us to earn a trip to FL. It’s not like POFC where we can make a flush on the bottom, kings in the middle, and queens up top; in 2-7 POFC we are required to place five unpaired low cards to at least a ten low in the middle and those will often compete against the flush we are attempting to build.

That being said, on some initial deals it is sometimes the best play to keep flush possibilities open in the back, but only when most if not all of the following conditions apply:

❏ We can put at least one low card in the middle, although two is preferable
❏ Our flush cards are very live
❏ Our flush draw isn’t using a valuable ace or king that is probably best placed up front
❏ We aren’t breaking up a premium low draw in the middle such as 2-3-4-7 (or even just 2-3-4, 2-3-7 etc.) that can possibly make a wheel and send us to FL

Attempting to build a straight from the start is also something we should very rarely do. Those hands are only worth two bonus points and will also often compete against the hands we are trying to make in the middle and up top.

A wheel (i.e. 2-3-4-5-7) will send us to FL, but other good lows such as sevens and eights are not worth so much (four and two bonus points respectively) that we should go out of our way to build them at the potential expense of other lines. A wheel is always worth pursuing but otherwise the middle can almost be viewed as a “dumping ground” of sorts for low cards that don’t help anywhere else.

In all of the following examples we are going to assume that hero is out of position and thus has no knowledge of any other cards. When we have position, we should of course use the extra information we have as tiebreakers for our closer decisions.

Let’s warm up with an easy standard 2-7 Pineapple set:

Here it’s obvious that the deuce and the seven go in the middle and the king gets placed up top to give us fifteen-card FL potential. On the bottom, we are mostly trying to build two pair or trips to cover a potential pair of kings up top. These are the types of 2-7 hands that tend to play themselves as it’s usually obvious where future cards should go.

Queens and jacks will go on the bottom, a king will go up top, and non-pairing low cards go in the middle. An ace would either go on the top or bottom mostly depending whether or not we have already paired the jack or the queen. If we have already paired on the bottom, the ace is best up front as we will often make two pair or better in the back. This preserves our potential to make a full house or quads on the bottom and gives us more outs up front to make a big pair.

Here we changed the seven to the nine and our best play is still to start with two low cards in the middle. A nine low is only worth one bonus point; however, there appears to be no better option. We have FL potential with this setting and want to increase the likelihood of making a qualifying low.

This is a below average initial deal where we don’t have any great options, but the first setting would be my preferred even though we are capping ourselves at a ten low. Any other setting will make it difficult to get to FL and also increase the odds of not making a qualifying low.

It’s a slightly different matter when we have straight-flush draws and it’s probably best to set the following deals accordingly:

A straight flush is worth fifteen royalties and a royal is worth 25. Even if these monster holdings don’t materialize, a flush draw offers more outs to your holding that won’t necessarily compete against other lines. In addition, a flush on the bottom is worth four bonus points as opposed to only two when we make a straight.

Now let’s talk about some initial sets containing big pairs:

Here we start with a pair of kings and set it up top and will try and cover it with a pair of aces, two pair, or better on the bottom.

When dealt a pair of aces I won’t always place them up top especially if we don’t hold any other pair to put on the bottom that will often materialize into two pair or trips. Also, in the first hand since we have a potential wheel brewing, it may make sense to play in a more conservative manner.

In the second hand we lack wheel potential, thus we are risking less by getting more aggressive and placing our aces in the front. Some players always put aces up top while others may often place them in the back. If placing them in the back is a mistake, it probably isn’t a huge one as we can still put kings in the front and it also keeps the door open for trips up top.

We should always place other high pairs such as queens or jacks in the back. While these pairs are worth good royalties up front and are much easier to cover, it’s probably not worth the extra risk of fouling as they are not a pathway to FL. In addition, by placing them on the bottom we keep open the possibility of making aces, kings, or trips in the front.

To conclude this issue we will look at some situations where we are dealt a good low from the start:

In the first hand, breaking the second-best possible low is probably optimal as a five will get us to the Land and a six can end up becoming two pair or trips as easily as any other rank.

Breaking up the made low in the second hand also appears to be the best play as the chances are quite good that over the course of the hand we will get either a three or five which is good for four bonus points (as opposed to two) and overall a seven low has a much greater chance of winning the middle than a rough eight. One can possibly even make the case that we should only keep 2Heart Suit 4Spade Suit 7Heart Suit in the middle.

This was a nice warm-up, next issue we will continue our discussion by examining some more thought-provoking initial setting decisions. ♠

Kevin Haney is a former actuary of MetLife but left the corporate job to focus on his passions for poker and fitness. With regards to poker he got his start way back in 2003 and particularly enjoys taking new players interested in mixed games under his wing and quickly making them proficient in all variants. If interested in learning more, playing mixed games online, or just saying hello he can be reached at haneyk612@gmail.com.