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Students Unexpectedly Invent Open-Face Pineapple Texas Hold’em During UKSPC

  • Will ShillibierWill Shillibier
Open Face Pineapple Texas Hold’em

You know the phrase about putting 100 monkeys in a room with 100 typewriters, and eventually they’ll type out the complete works of Shakespeare? Well, the same thing happened this past weekend, except substitute the monkeys for students, and the complete works of Shakespeare for new ways to gamble.

Last weekend, the UK Student Poker Championships (UKSPC) took place in Coventry, with a £30 Main Event attracting a massive field of 801 entrants, smashing the previous record and creating a prize pool of over £24,000. Coming into the final table, it was Cillian Berragan with the overwhelming chip lead, holding over a million more than his nearest rival.

Not surprisingly, it was Berragan who emerged triumphant. After a monster heads-up battle against Peter Brankin, Berragan's {K-Hearts}{9-Hearts} held against his opponent's {Q-Diamonds}{8-Diamonds} to secure the title and first-place prize money of £6,190.

The festival also had an £110 High Roller, the first day of which had to be pushed back to accommodate higher-than-expected numbers. The tournament staff had to bring in extra dealers in order to meet demand for the event, and Joe Thomas from Southampton won for £4,000.

Throughout the festival, the casino was full of students at side tables playing open-face Chinese poker (OFC), both single-draw and pineapple versions, while waiting for either events to start, players to bust, or other team members to arrive. However, over in one corner there was a new game, which, by the end of the day, was being played at nearly every table not occupied by the Main Event or High Roller.

The game was open-face pineapple Texas hold'em, and the rules were ironed out as follows.

Rules of the Game

Each player is dealt nine cards, and three boards are dealt, with the flops face up, but turn and river face down. There should be one card left over which is turned face up. This is the start of the burn pile.

A player then sets their nine cards into three hole-card piles, one for each board, with their three remaining cards put face down in the burn pile. When each player has finished deciding their hands, you go through each board to see who wins.

A couple of students at the UKSPC expressed their thoughts about the game, which took the event by storm.

Victoria Greaves, from UCLan said, "A lot of the time you are fixated on one card you need, cheer when it comes, then realize someone's hit a better hand. It definitely helps to get more familiar with hand odds and what's good to play in hold'em."

Scoring for Open-Face Pineapple Texas Hold’em

Students Unexpectedly Invent Open-Face Pineapple Texas Hold’em During UKSPC 101
Cillian Berragan – Main Event winner

One point is awarded for winning a hand, with half a point per player if there is a chop (regardless of how many players are in the chop). Extra royalties are awarded for getting quads (5 points), a straight flush (20 points), and a royal flush (50 points). If you win each hand, you sweep the board and get five points from each of the other players, so in a four-player game a sweep is worth 15 points.

When asked about the scoring, Bradley Green, a graduate from UCLan said, "It's a good game, and a good gamble. The royalties in it are spot on, as well as there being a decent incentive for a sweep."


Here are some small tips gleaned during the UKSPC:

  • Set-over-set situations are common, so think of alternatives before laying bottom or middle set.
  • Royalties are important, so laying a bottom or middle set always has the quads draw.
  • If you have the second nuts, it is never impossible for another player to have the nuts, especially in the pineapple variant.
  • Pocket pairs do surprisingly well on draw-heavy boards, especially if multiple opponents are on draws.
  • Two pair is useful for full house draws, but again, beware of sets improving to a better house.
  • You don't necessarily need strong starting hands, just hands that match with the flops. So don't despair if you are dealt rags instead of {A-}{A-}{K-}{K-}{Q-}{Q-}.
  • Flushes can be strong hands, but maybe not on straight flush-drawing boards.
  • The game is popular because of the frequency of strong hands, especially in the pineapple variant.

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