For the most part, No-Limit Texas Hold’em has been the most popular form of poker over the last two decades. But mixed games have also grown in popularity over the previous few years.

Crazy Pineapple is a version of Hold’em more players may want to consider.

The game isn’t played as much in casino/poker room cash games. But some tournament series will occasionally offer a Pineapple event. 

Here’s a complete guide to playing this fascinating and fun game.

Table of Contents

How to Play Pineapple

Pineapple is a game similar to Texas Hold’em that follows many of the same rules and betting patterns. 

But there are a couple of interesting twists.

  1. When a hand begins, players are dealt three cards instead of two, as in Texas Hold’em. 
  2. Players will then discard one of those cards, and the game continues as a traditional hand of Hold’em. 

The game uses all the same mechanics as Hold’em: the blinds, flop, turn, and river. But, in Pineapple poker, the time that a player discards determines the version of the game being played. 

In a traditional game of Pineapple, players discard before any betting has even taken place.

So, players determine the two cards they plan on using right away.

There are a couple of other curious versions of the game.

Crazy Pineapple

Crazy Pineapple

Crazy Pineapple is another derivative of the game and offers players some extra options regarding their hands. 

This time, players go through preflop betting and keep all three cards.

Once the flop comes out, players even bet before discarding any cards. The play then continues as in an ordinary Hold’em game. As in regular Pineapple, players have some serious considerations when discarding a card.

Some potential draws may hit after a player has already mucked, which may have paid off. For some players, it seems they will inevitably discard a card that would have made a decent hand - had they kept it.

That’s part of the fun, and at times, frustration that comes with playing Crazy Pineapple.

Lazy Pineapple

In this version of Pineapple poker, the “lazy” part of the game signifies when a player discards their third card. In Lazy Pineapple, sometimes known as Tahoe, players keep the third card throughout the game. 

Hence, the “laziness” of waiting to discard until the last possible moment.

Players can only play two of three cards to make their final hands. This game gives players more options and the ability to make the best hand possible. But It takes some of the guesswork out of the game.

Some might argue that Lazy Pineapple takes some of the fun out of the game. For many players, the fun of Pineapple is the early discarding and trying to determine which one to throw away.

Super Hold’em

Super Hold’em is another Hold’em variation that is often lumped together with the family of Pineapple games. 

In Super Hold’em, players use all three cards throughout the hand, like Lazy Pineapple.

But in this version, players can use any combination of all three cards after the river. The game may seem more like Omaha. But players can use three, two, or just one of their cards to make their final hand at showdown.

This difference is crucial from Omaha, where players must use two of their cards and three of the community cards. 

Players use the same betting structure and blinds as seen in a traditional game of Hold’em.

Pineapple Poker Strategy

Pineapple Poker Strategy

Adding a card to a player’s hand, even when one of those gets discarded, can change the game quite a bit. 

So how should a player approach the game?

  • One thing to remember is that, with three cards, players are more likely to hit premium hands
  • Big pocket pairs can be more prevalent, as can flopping three-of-a-kind and other big hands.

Using traditional Hold’em strategy isn’t a good idea. In Pineapple, especially Crazy Pineapple and Lazy Pineapple, premium hands will win in general. 

So, be ready to fold better hands than you might otherwise in Hold’em.

There are some hard decisions to be made, especially if the game is a no-limit version. A huge bet may be a challenge to call, even when you hold what might be a good hand in No-Limit Hold’em. 

Players are more likely to have a pair in their hands. So, it’s crucial to adjust for more sets and full houses.

  • Players are much more likely to have the best hands possible on the board at any given time. 
  • Drawing to what could be an inferior (second- or third-best) hand is a losing proposition.

A player often makes his hand but still loses to something bigger. Compare this to Hold’em, where a hand may not be the best possible, considering the community cards. But it can still often win the pot. In Pineapple, that’s typically not the case.

It’s essential to note that, as in Hold’em, Pineapple can be played as a Fixed Limit, Pot Limit, or No Limit game. These differences will affect strategy also, as they do in Texas Hold’em.

Are you new to playing Pineapple poker? 

Here’s a quick look at some crucial differences between Texas Hold’em and all the versions of Pineapple listed here.

  Texas Hold’em Pineapple Crazy Pineapple Lazy Pineapple Super Hold’em
Cards dealt 2 3 3 3 3
Cards available at showdown 2 2 2 2 3
When is one card discarded? NA Before betting or flop After flop betting round After betting on river (player can only use two cards) Never, player can use all three cards to make hand

History of Pineapple Poker

The exact history of Pineapple isn’t easy to track down. Some have argued that the game is a bit of a hybrid of Hold’em and Omaha. It seemed like a natural progression from fans of those two games.

Others have argued that the game became popular in South America, especially in Colombia and other Spanish-speaking countries. 

The exact origin remains unknown. And the game also remains undiscovered by many regular poker players. But Pineapple does have a small group of hardcore fans.

Finding a Game

Casinos in California are known to spread the game. An occasional tournament may even show up. The Borgata in Atlantic City began hosting occasional tournaments as part of its annual poker series. 

Unfortunately for fans of the game, many view Pineapple as a gimmick or an odd version of “real” poker.

Online players may have even more difficulty finding the game.  Some operators ran versions of the game during the poker boom.

But it has become much more difficult to find it in an online setting in recent years.

Those looking to get in some Pineapple action would do better dealing it as part of a home game. The game is easy to follow and teach, making it a perfect option to introduce to a poker night with friends.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you play Pineapple?

  • The game is dealt just as Texas Hold’em, except players are dealt three cards. There are a few versions of the game. But players generally discard a card before the flop, after the flop, or after betting has completely ended on the river.

How does discarding affect the game?

  • Unlike traditional Hold’em, players can expect premium hands more frequently. After all, players get to select from three cards. So, the odds of hitting a big hand is much greater.

Where can I play Pineapple?

  • A home game might be the best option as it isn’t spread too often at casinos. Players may find the game on occasion in a poker room. But locating it online is unlikely, for the most part.
Sean Chaffin is a poker writer who appears in numerous websites and publications. He is also the host of the True Gambling Stories podcast