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20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker

20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 0001

Open-face Chinese has become one of the most popular games in poker. Top pros like Jason Mercier, Barry Greenstein and Shaun Deeb have become unofficial ambassadors for the game, while dozens of other pros can be found playing the game either late into the night or on their tablets. One of those players is Nikolai Yakovenko, who helped create the ABC Open-Face Chinese Poker iPhone app.

Yakovenko, also known as "Googles," is originally from Moscow, Russia and is now a poker player and software developer that resides in Brooklyn, New York. After several years at Google New York working on ranking algorithms, he's been developing independent software projects ever since while making both World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour final tables. Here Yakovenko, who has $313,598 in WSOP earnings, walks you through 20 rounds of pineapple OFC (which he actually played) and offers strategy and his thought processes throughout. This is the fifth piece in a series of articles that will run every Tuesday and Thursday on PokerNews

To catch up on the action, and to learn how these articles are formatted, check out the first two pieces in the series:

For more on Yakovenko, check out the recent in-depth interview he did with PokerNews.

Match Restart: Up +1,043 point after 645 rounds

Round 646 (button, against Fantasyland) – Go Big, Crazy Big

Another good start. At this point, you know what to do.

20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 101

1. ???/?????/?????/[?], ///{A-Spades}{J-Clubs}{J-Diamonds}{A-Diamonds}{3-Hearts}

20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 102

1. ???/?????/?????/[?], /({A-Spades}{A-Diamonds})/({J-Diamonds}{J-Clubs}{3-Hearts})
2. ???/?????/?????, /({A-Spades}{A-Diamonds})/({J-Diamonds}{J-Clubs}{3-Hearts})/{K-Hearts}{3-Diamonds}{6-Clubs}

These are wonderful cards. All we need is another king, or {q-}{q-} (live as far as we know) to go to Fantasyland, and we’re a favorite to fill up on the bottom.

Who knows… maybe even trip aces, trip kings is in the cards…

20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 103

These dud won’t help us. Our odds of making a big hand just went down by a third. We’re still favorites to make something decent.

1. ???/?????/?????/[?], /({A-Spades}{A-Diamonds})/({J-Diamonds}{J-Clubs}{3-Hearts})
2. ???/?????/?????, ({K-Hearts})/{A-Spades}{A-Diamonds}/{J-Diamonds}{J-Clubs}{3-Hearts}({3-Diamonds})/{6-Clubs}
3. ???/?????/?????, {K-Hearts}/{A-Spades}{A-Diamonds}/{J-Diamonds}{J-Clubs}{3-Hearts}{3-Diamonds}/{2-Clubs}{9-Hearts}{5-Spades}

Two more draws! Two more draws!

20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 104

There’s the full house, and don’t sleep on the big two pair in the middle. It helps us win points against the computer’s Fantasyland sometimes, and it also means that now we can play {a-}{a-} on the top with a king kicker, in case we get that lucky.

1. ???/?????/?????/[?], /({A-Spades}{A-Diamonds})/({J-Diamonds}{J-Clubs}{3-Hearts})
2. ???/?????/?????, ({K-Hearts})/{A-Spades}{A-Diamonds}/{J-Diamonds}{J-Clubs}{3-Hearts}({3-Diamonds})/{6-Clubs}
3. ???/?????/?????, {K-Hearts}/{A-Spades}{A-Diamonds}({9-Hearts}{5-Spades})/{J-Diamonds}{J-Clubs}{3-Hearts}{3-Diamonds}/{2-Clubs}
4. ???/?????/?????, {K-Hearts}|/{A-Spades}{A-Diamonds}{9-Hearts}{5-Spades}({5-Hearts})/{J-Diamonds}{J-Clubs}{3-Hearts}{3-Diamonds}({3-Clubs})/{6-Diamonds}

20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 105

Man, we just can’t get to Fantasyland these past few rounds. We also lost two points by locking up our middle too early, but keeping two spots open up top for {Q-}{Q-} is worth it in the long run.

20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 106

Again, the computer can’t make much in Fantasyland, so we escape with a small loss. Our luck might be turning around.

Round 647 (first to act) – Not Quite the 416

20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 107

I can’t turn down a straight flush possibility. Not until I see that {6-Clubs} in somebody else’s pile.

20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 108

1. /({9-Spades}{3-Diamonds})/({7-Clubs}{9-Clubs}{5-Clubs}), ({Q-Hearts})/({A-Hearts}{3-Clubs})/({8-Hearts}{10-Hearts})
2. /{9-Spades}{3-Diamonds}/{7-Clubs}{9-Clubs}{5-Clubs}/{2-Clubs}{J-Hearts}{10-Clubs},

In Pineapple, you only get four draws after the first five cards are set, so it’s imperative not to waste any of them. Our straight flush is still live, but if we don’t make the ten-high flush now, we’re wasting a round. Can’t do that.

20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 109

1. /({9-Spades}{3-Diamonds})/({7-Clubs}{9-Clubs}{5-Clubs}), ({Q-Hearts})/({A-Hearts}{3-Clubs})/({8-Hearts}{10-Hearts})
2. /{9-Spades}{3-Diamonds}/{7-Clubs}{9-Clubs}{5-Clubs}({2-Clubs}{10-Clubs})/{J-Hearts}, {Q-Hearts}/{A-Hearts}{3-Clubs}({7-Diamonds})/{8-Hearts}{10-Hearts}({2-Hearts})/[?]
3. /{9-Spades}{3-Diamonds}/{7-Clubs}{9-Clubs}{5-Clubs}{2-Clubs}{10-Clubs}/{J-Diamonds}{3-Spades}{5-Spades},

Obviously we pair the three. Playing the semi-dead jack up top does nothing for us, so we put it in the middle.

20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 110

Our computer opponent backs off of his flush. An odd choice perhaps, but perhaps not considering that he has ace-middle and queen-top outs for Fantasyland. With so many face cards live, I’m a little scared. We do draw our own queen, though.

1. /({9-Spades}{3-Diamonds})/({7-Clubs}{9-Clubs}{5-Clubs}), ({Q-Hearts})/({A-Hearts}{3-Clubs})/({8-Hearts}{10-Hearts})
2. /{9-Spades}{3-Diamonds}/{7-Clubs}{9-Clubs}{5-Clubs}({2-Clubs}{10-Clubs})/{J-Hearts}, {Q-Hearts}/{A-Hearts}{3-Clubs}({7-Diamonds})/{8-Hearts}{10-Hearts}({2-Hearts})/[?]
3. /{9-Spades}{3-Diamonds}({3-Spades}{J-Diamonds})/{7-Clubs}{9-Clubs}{5-Clubs}{2-Clubs}{10-Clubs}/{5-Spades}, {Q-Hearts}/{A-Hearts}{3-Clubs}{7-Diamonds}/{8-Hearts}{10-Hearts}{2-Hearts}({8-Diamonds}{10-Spades})/[?]
4. ({Q-Spades}{6-Hearts})/{9-Spades}{3-Diamonds}{3-Spades}{J-Diamonds}/{7-Clubs}{9-Clubs}{5-Clubs}{2-Clubs}{10-Clubs}/{4-Spades}

20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 111

Ok, we miss our Fantasyland, and now I’m real scared.

20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 112

For once, Mr. Silicone bricks out. With the early bottom flush, we even win a few points on the hand.

Note that after a bunch of early clubs, we didn’t get any more the rest of the way. So in a strange way, we maxed out on what just wasn’t a very good hand.

Round 648 (button) – Little Furniture

20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 113

For some reason, I love these kinds of starting hands. Perhaps they appeal to my sense of order, referred to in a previous installments as “the pyramid.”

1. ({Q-Clubs})/({J-Hearts}{J-Spades})/({5-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}), /({A-Spades}{5-Spades}{2-Hearts})/({8-Hearts}{9-Diamonds})

There’s nothing inherently awesome about two connected, unsuited, middle cards on the bottom, and a three-card wheel with an ace in the middle.

But look! Take any card from the deck, and it falls naturally into our hand. Wheel cards go in the middle, medium cards on the bottom, and kings and queens up top. Order! No messy choices!

Don’t ask why the computer played {j-}{j-} in the middle with smaller cards on the bottom.

OK, do ask. I programmed the damn thing. Unfortunately, one of the weaknesses of my AI is that it places too much value on straight draws early. This makes some sense, as the straight is more likely to get there than a full house, but something about its estimate is off here. {J-}{J-} on the bottom was clearly the better play. Let’s see if we can take advantage of our drunken silicon friend.

20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 114

1. ({Q-Clubs})/({J-Hearts}{J-Spades})/({5-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}), /({A-Spades}{5-Spades}{2-Hearts})/({8-Hearts}{9-Diamonds})
2. {Q-Clubs}/{J-Hearts}{J-Spades}({A-Diamonds})/{5-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}({7-Spades})/[?], /{A-Spades}{5-Spades}{2-Hearts}/{8-Hearts}{9-Diamonds}/{4-Clubs}{7-Clubs}{4-Hearts}

Someone must have spilled vodka on his motherboard as the computer continues to make perplexing choices. That ace belongs up top.

Meanwhile, as I said before, our hand ain't much, but playing it is easy.

20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 115

1. ({Q-Clubs})/({J-Hearts}{J-Spades})/({5-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}), /({A-Spades}{5-Spades}{2-Hearts})/({8-Hearts}{9-Diamonds})
2. {Q-Clubs}/{J-Hearts}{J-Spades}({A-Diamonds})/{5-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}({7-Spades})/[?], /{A-Spades}{5-Spades}{2-Hearts}({4-Clubs})/{8-Hearts}{9-Diamonds}({7-Clubs})/{4-Hearts}
3. {Q-Clubs}/{J-Hearts}{J-Spades}{A-Diamonds}({K-Diamonds}{K-Clubs})/{5-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}{7-Spades}/[?], /{A-Spades}{5-Spades}{2-Hearts}{4-Clubs}/{8-Hearts}{9-Diamonds}{7-Clubs}/{8-Clubs}{J-Clubs}{3-Diamonds}

The computer continues to tilt, and meanwhile we have a choice to make.

But it’s not much of a choice, really. Remembering our math, if all four tens are live, we have an almost 40% chance to pull a ten on the last draw alone! With two draws left after this one, going for the gutshot is well over 50%, even assuming that somewhere in his drunken stupor, the computer might have thrown away a ten.

20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 116

In one of its few good plays of the round, the computer goes to the last draw needed a one outer but keeping its Fantasyland chances alive. If you’re very likely to foul, you might as well leave yourself with a high-upside play. Meanwhile, we get nothing.

1. ({Q-Clubs})/({J-Hearts}{J-Spades})/({5-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}), /({A-Spades}{5-Spades}{2-Hearts})/({8-Hearts}{9-Diamonds})
2. {Q-Clubs}/{J-Hearts}{J-Spades}({A-Diamonds})/{5-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}({7-Spades})/[?], /{A-Spades}{5-Spades}{2-Hearts}({4-Clubs})/{8-Hearts}{9-Diamonds}({7-Clubs})/{4-Hearts}
3. {Q-Clubs}/{J-Hearts}{J-Spades}{A-Diamonds}({K-Diamonds}{K-Clubs})/{5-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}{7-Spades}/[?], /{A-Spades}{5-Spades}{2-Hearts}{4-Clubs}({3-Diamonds})/{8-Hearts}{9-Diamonds}{7-Clubs}({J-Clubs})/{8-Clubs}
4. {Q-Clubs}({K-Spades})/{J-Hearts}{J-Spades}{A-Diamonds}{K-Diamonds}{K-Clubs}/{5-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}{7-Spades}({5-Diamonds})/[?], /{A-Spades}{5-Spades}{2-Hearts}{4-Clubs}{3-Diamonds}/{8-Hearts}{9-Diamonds}{7-Clubs}{J-Clubs}/{2-Clubs}{6-Clubs}{2-Spades}

20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 117
20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 118

But on the final draw, order is restored. Our smart gamble pays off, while the computer fouls and reboots itself for the next round.

1. ({Q-Clubs})/({J-Hearts}{J-Spades})/({5-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}), /({A-Spades}{5-Spades}{2-Hearts})/({8-Hearts}{9-Diamonds})
2. {Q-Clubs}/{J-Hearts}{J-Spades}({A-Diamonds})/{5-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}({7-Spades})/[?], /{A-Spades}{5-Spades}{2-Hearts}({4-Clubs})/{8-Hearts}{9-Diamonds}({7-Clubs})/{4-Hearts}
3. {Q-Clubs}/{J-Hearts}{J-Spades}{A-Diamonds}({K-Diamonds}{K-Clubs})/{5-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}{7-Spades}/[?], /{A-Spades}{5-Spades}{2-Hearts}{4-Clubs}({3-Diamonds})/{8-Hearts}{9-Diamonds}{7-Clubs}({J-Clubs})/{8-Clubs}
4. {Q-Clubs}({K-Spades})/{J-Hearts}{J-Spades}{A-Diamonds}{K-Diamonds}{K-Clubs}/{5-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}{7-Spades}({5-Diamonds})/[?], ({2-Clubs}{2-Spades})/{A-Spades}{5-Spades}{2-Hearts}{4-Clubs}{3-Diamonds}/{8-Hearts}{9-Diamonds}{7-Clubs}{J-Clubs}/{6-Clubs}
5. {Q-Clubs}{K-Spades}({6-Spades})/{J-Hearts}{J-Spades}{A-Diamonds}{K-Diamonds}{K-Clubs}/{5-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}{7-Spades}{5-Diamonds}({A-Hearts})/[?] FOUL, {2-Clubs}{2-Spades}({9-Clubs})/{A-Spades}{5-Spades}{2-Hearts}{4-Clubs}{3-Diamonds}/{8-Hearts}{9-Diamonds}{7-Clubs}{J-Clubs}({10-Spades})/{7-Hearts}

20 Rounds Part V: Yakovenko's Step-by-Step Strategy Guide for Pineapple OFC Poker 119

Check back on Thursday for even more great Pineapple OFC strategy as Yakovenko's match continues.

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