In a recent column, I wrote about PartyPoker’s new game, Double Hold’em. Who knows if it will have staying power, but it was really cool to see an online poker site put something new out there. Full Tilt did so with Rush Poker, and it is definitely fun, but even that variation uses the standard Hold’em and Omaha games.
One thing that I have always found great about cards is that we can just make up new games. They may not all be worthy of play beyond our $2 home game, but we can still have fun making up new rules and coming up with the nuttiest game imaginable. Double Hold’em reminded me of a couple of my old favorite poker varieties, games that actually used to be found online.
The game that immediately came to mind when I saw Double Hold’em was Crazy Pineapple. It was easily my favorite game on the internet mainly because it was so profitable. Pineapple plays basically the same as Hold’em – flop, turn, river, and you make your best five-card hand with any combination of your hole cards and the community cards – except that instead of two hole cards, you are dealt three. In regular Pineapple, you discard one of the hole cards immediately and play proceeds as it would in Hold’em.
In Crazy Pineapple, you wait until after the flop betting round to discard the third card. Crazy Pineapple was also usually played as a High-Low Split game. It was a gold mine. Most people who played seemed to do so because they thought that third card gave them a better chance to win. Plus, the ability to throw away a card made players feel more in control of their destiny.
Unless players had the most dreadful trio of hole cards of all time, they rarely folded pre-flop. And then, of course, you knew that anyone who stayed in after the flop either had a made hand or was chasing a draw. Players who practiced proper starting hand selection, rather than just seeing what the flop brought, could clean up.
The other game I miss is Royal Hold’em. Royal Hold’em did not have a very long life at UB.com mainly because it was sort of like Tic-Tac-Toe: once everybody figured it out, most hands resulted in stalemates. In this game, only tens, jacks, queens, kings, and aces are used. And because there are only 20 cards in the deck, a game can only handle a maximum of six players.
Whereas Crazy Pineapple was both fun and profitable, Royal Hold’em was just profitable. Really, there was no strategy involved. Fortunately, most new players to the game didn’t know that. They were just blown away with how many monster hands they were dealt and how every showdown featured two huge hands. Little did noobs realize that straights and flushes, excellent hands in Hold’em, were fool’s good in Royal Hold’em.
Most hands were won with full houses or better and playing anything worse than A-K was just stupid. Even playing a “low pair” like tens wasn’t often a winning strategy. If you made a boat, it was still really easy to lose since someone else may very well beat you with a better boat or quads. New players didn’t have a handle on this, so they would play every hand, ride the excitement of monster hand after monster hand, and be shocked when they kept losing with flushes and full houses.
But alas, as everyone realized that it wasn’t worth playing anything besides aces, kings, and A-K and the games dried up. It was a great example of how poker can’t survive without fish. In Royal Hold’em, almost every player eventually became a shark and there were no more guppies to eat.