Try a sweet, Crazy Pineapple -- new poker game

Apr 28, 2009 5:11 PM
The Inside Straight by Joe Awada |

New game is rage of Reno area

Judging by the early registrations, this year’s World Series of Poker could attract a record number of entrants. Last year’s WSOP drew 58,000 players, who shared in a total prize pool of $180 million.

Set to kick off on May 26, the World Series will feature 57 bracelet events, up from 55 last year.

Not on the list of WSOP events is the Crazy Pineapple World Championship. That event was held earlier this month at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe, which hosted the 2009 Sierra Poker Classic, a WSOP satellite event.

If you’ve never heard of Crazy Pineapple, you’re probably not alone. Although it’s popular in the Reno area poker rooms, it hasn’t found a home here in Las Vegas.

The game is actually fun to play, and is best described as somewhat of a cross between Hold’em and Omaha Hi-Low.

Here’s how it works: The game is similar to hold’em with its two blinds, but players are dealt three hole cards instead of two. After the deal, there’s a round of betting, then a flop of three community cards are dealt.

After another round of betting, players still in the hand must muck one of their hole cards. The rest of the hand is dealt like hold’em with a turn and river followed by successive rounds of betting.

The quirky twist with Crazy Pineapple is the game is played for both high and low hands. And, like Omaha Hi-Low, there must be an eight qualifier for there to be a low hand.

As you can see, it’s really a simple game to learn, but there’s actually quite a bit of strategy with the low hand element. Of course, with only two hole cards at the river, the game is less volatile than Omaha, with its four hole cards.

The championship event held at the Sierra Poker Classic was a first for Crazy Pineapple, though I hope it won’t be the last. The winner was Tom Christopher, a 52-year-old contractor from Las Vegas.

Tom outlasted a field of 35 players who each coughed up the $200 entry fee. For his trouble, Tom took home $3,124 in prize money.

In lieu of a gold bracelet, gold ring or trophy, Tom was presented with a ripe pineapple for his achievement.

As to where Crazy Pineapple got its name, I’m still searching. I asked GT Editor David Stratton, a native of the Hawaiian Islands, about it, but he questioned whether I was the one who was "pupule" ("crazy" in Hawaiian).

When I explained the poker game, he said the only game he remembers from the islands was mah jong, played religiously by grumpy old men along the Kapalama Canal near Honolulu’s China Town.

So if anyone can shed some light on the origin of the game, please let me know. Perhaps we can get a game going here in Vegas – we might even add some tiki torches and grass skirts for effect.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Joe Awada

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