After the unwanted hole card is discarded the game proceeds exactly as in Hold’em.
In addition to all aspects of strategy known to Hold’em players, there is the added decision of deciding which card to discard. The third card gives you valuable information that will help you plan your betting in upcoming rounds. The need to discard immediately also means that you may have to decide what type of hand you are playing for at the outset.
Choosing a Discard
You discard before the first round of betting, so the hole cards leave you with the same hand you would start with if you were playing simple Hold’em. This means that if the best hand you can get after the discard is still a poor hand, it is even worse than in Hold’em. Clearly, this play is no less important than any other decision you will make during the course of the game.
Let’s say you were dealt a low pair but the third card is suited to one card of the pair. You may choose to keep the pair or break the pair and play for a flush.
Do you stay in a pot where you have a low pair but can break it and play for a straight?
If you are dealt three-of-a-kind you really have only a pair but you know that the odds of making trips have been cut in half.
Whatever card you discard, you know that its value to your opponents is reduced if it shows up in the flop or thereafter.
As the examples above show, position is no less important and may be even more important in Pineapple Poker than in Hold’em. In Hold’em, you know your opponents are betting based on the cards they were dealt. In Pineapple, they are betting based on the best two cards out of the three they were dealt. In first position in Pineapple, it is best to fold even borderline Hold’em hands. The chances that an opponent improved with the third hole card are simply too great.
As If That Wasn’t Enough…
There is a variation of Pineapple Poker called Crazy Pineapple Poker. Here, the players discard their unwanted hole card after the flop. Obviously, this makes Crazy Pineapple hands better than Pineapple hands.
An Experienced Player Will Benefit
The single most important element to remember is that both Pineapple and Crazy Pineapple are, in the end, Texas Hold’em. If your experience level at Hold’em is weak, you should play at a low-stakes table. The advantage you get from having a third hole card is shared by everyone, and experienced Hold’em players will benefit more than inexperienced ones.