Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pineapple OFC

First off, sorry for taking such a long time between posts.  I have had a lot going on and havent been involved in the Chinese Open Face App after I sold my portion.  I do plan to continue posting about the game however, and the big shift over to Pineapple OFC has changed the strategy in the game dramatically.

The best advise I can give for playing Pineapple is BE AGGRESSIVE!  You have to set your hands to play for Fantasy Land any chance you get.  I am still working on figuring out the odds (this is much more complicated that regular OFC) but your chances of covering an early run at Fantasy Land are much better than you would think if you have been playing regular OFC.  For example, you are dealt 772KK.  In standard OFC, you would easily set your hand with KK77 in the back and the 2 in the middle or up top.  In Pineapple, you must set your hand 772 in the back and KK in the middle to try and get a chance at Fantasy Land.

Similarly, if you have Q up top, K45 in the middle, and JJ8 in the back, and then draw QXX, you should place the Q on top and go for fantasy land.  You are drawing to 2 pair or trips in the back, and then either KK or two pair with 4s and 5s in the middle.  Picking 2/3 for two more draws, you get to look at 6 more cards to improve your hand.  Think of it as implied odds as you do in holdem.  If you hit Fantasy Land, you have a chance to really win big!

Finally, if you havent heard yet, there is a great place to play regular holdem online legally and with bitcoins.  The link is below.  Check it out.
Bitcoin Poker at Seals

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Open Face Odds Calculator

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for downloading the calculator.  There have been some questions on how some of the calculations are made, so I had the math guys put together an explanation for everyone. So here it is along with a screen shot from a user who posed the original question.  Thanks Chris!

When computing the odds of making "One Pair", we compute the odds of the player making a pair at all and subtract out the odds that they will be *forced* to make a higher hand (full house, trips, two pair), given that they have made the one pair. This is important when trying to figure out the probability that you will not foul your hand. With a pair of aces in the back and a pair of deuces up top, you care about your odds of making *exactly* a one pair hand in the middle (i.e., not "at least" one pair). With other hands to dump into, you can dump off your higher hands if necessary and retain just the one pair. 

In the screenshot, the player has already made one pair. Therefore, the probability of making *at least* one pair is 100%. However, there is a small, but non-zero, probability that they will be forced to make a higher hand. In this case it would require hitting 4 of the 8 remaining tens, jacks, and queens (in the 43 card deck). As you can imagine, drawing perfect-perfect-perfect-perfect with only 8 counterfeit outs is a rare occurrence (in fact, it's about 0.06%) -- hence the 99.94% chance of making one pair. The Two Pair only requires hitting at least one of the 6 remaining tens or queens in four draws and the trips requires hitting at least one of the jacks. 

The cases where this user has seen the odds be cumulative are probably instances where the other rows were fully populated. In this scenario, there is nowhere to "dump", so whatever you're going to make is what you're going to make.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Aggressive play catching on

I have just returned from the WSOP and have found that fantasy land has increased the agressive play on the top and middle hands in Open Face Chinese Poker.  I tried to pay close attention to the different styles of play from people from all over the world, and it was very clear that the majority of players are much more aggressive.  Also, it seemed that this strategy really paid off more than it hurt when a player would foul his hand.

After digging a little deeper, (and making some calculations on the Open Face Chinese Odds Calculator) it makes perfect sense.  Being able to calculate odds in all parts of the hand really opens your eyes to how much higher the percentages are to hit cards needed to cover aggressive plays in th middle and top hands.

For example.
The player with the bottom right hand just drew a 7C.  The low risk play would be to put it in top hand as to not risk a miss set, especially with the player in the bottom left highly likely to miss set his hand (he has less than a 9% chance to make two pair in the middle, but has a 44% chance to make trips in the back).  However, the bottom right needs to improve his hand vs the top two hands, so pairing the 7 in the middle is the better play. (44% chance to hit two pair or 25% chance to hit trips to cover the 77 in the middle).  The pair in the middle is now ahead against all hands and frees up any high cards to go on top.

Here is how the hand turned out.
The Bottom Right hand ended up losing 10 points due to top left hitting QQ up top (and now making fantasy land), however, he was able to win the top and middle vs the top right, thus saving 5 points had he gone the conservative route.

Thanks for reading my blog today.  Please take a minute to download the calculator on your iPhone or iPad.  There is a free version, but the paid version gives you access to all the percentages.

I will post another hand in a few days.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Calculating Odds

I know that people have been waiting for someone to come out with a good way to calculate odds for Open Face Chinese, so finally, I have come out with an app that does it for you.  This post is a little self promoting, but I have been working on this for months and am really happy with the outcome.  It is awaiting approval in the apple store, but should be available in the next 24 to 48 hours.  Below is a screen shot of a hand I recently played and will talk about the reasoning for the placement of the first draw.

The app is free to try, but I would appreciate supporting my efforts by purchasing the full version.  It is a little expensive as far as apps go, but is cheap considering the benefit to your open face play. (It was also expensive to make).  Anyway, thanks for the support and enjoy the app.

So the card I drew first was a 2d.  Ordinarily, I would not pair the top because there is no bonus for 22 and I am at risk for miss setting, however, I have a 67% chance to pair the middle and a 74% chance to pair the back.  My opponent has a bad hand to start as well, so I have a decent chance of scooping him if I hit my pairs.  

Now that I have this calculator, I will be posting more often and work through the plays vs the odds in open face.  Would love to hear some feedback.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Top Hand Royalties

I have been having mixed feelings on going for top hand royalties lately.  I started to think that they might be fairly easy to get, so I began to set my hands so I had a starting top hand royalty card on top covered by a higher card in the middle.  For example, starting with three cards to the flush on bottom, Q in the middle, and a 9 on top.  I was hoping for any card above a 9 to go in the middle and cards below a 9 on the top, while placing any card matching my suit in the back hand there.  Obviously, your ideal situation is to pair the Q early, followed by the 9 and then hit your flush, bigger pair than QQ or two pair.

I have had very mixed results with this strategy, and am leaning toward not going for that royalty pair on top. The reality is it doesnt hit nearly often enough, and if the 9 comes early, you cant risk putting it on top at that point.  All you have done is weaken your middle hand and eliminated the payoff of risking the 9 on top.  By placing the Q9 in the middle and leaving the top empty, you have given yourself two shots at decent pairs in the middle hand.  If either hits, you can go for a strong high card top or small pair.  Long term, I think this is a much stronger approach as you are positioning yourself to win the top and middle, while giving yourself a shot at a decent royalty on bottom.

This can also apply to other starting hands such as trips with two mid to high cards, high pair with a small card in back and two middle cards, etc.  I think the best card to start auto placing on top is 4 or lower.  Feel free to post comments on this one.  Would be interested in others' feedback.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Splitting pairs

One of the questions I am asked the most is when to split pairs to go for a flush or straight when setting your hand.  Although this answer gets complicated when you have three to the flush or a gut shot straight draw, it is very easy with four to the flush or open ended straight draw.

If you are open ended (8 outs to hit) or four to the flush (9 outs. Pic below), you must split your pair and go for the straight or flush.  You have a potential royalty and a high percentage chance to hit your hand.

Where this decision gets complicated is when you have three cards to a flush.  Assuming you don't know your opponents' cards, you have to assume you have eight chances to pull two of the remaining ten cards left of your suit.  If the pair is small, you are better off going for the flush, knowing you can also pair up altered if the suit doesn't come.  If the pair is bigger, you need to decide how risky you are willing to play.  If the pair is AA, KK, QQ, or JJ, I am almost always going to play the pair in the back. The starting strength of a big pair in back can make your opponents miss play their hands, especially if you are able to pair up your middle hand , and/or improve your back hand early.

The biggest question is what to do with those middle pairs.  77, 88, 99, TT are hard to commit to in the back when you have a potential flush draw for several reasons.
1) middle pairs usually won't beat anyone in the back if you do not improve
2) it is harder to pair up your hand in the middle because you are limited to lower pairs unless you improve early
3) other players will not have to adjust the play of their hand much unless you improve your back hand early

So when dealing with a three card flush vs middle pair option, I would play the flush unless you have JJ or better.

Pairs vs open ended three card straights are another story.  Always play the pair in this scenario.  The royalty bonus for straights is only 2 pts, and the risk of miss setting is much higher.  You have a much better chance in the hand if you ignore the three card straight draw when you already have a pair, no matter how big.  You may, however, choose to play the pair in the middle if you have a low pair and two or three over cards to start.  For example, you have 6,6,7,8,Q.  You could put 6,6,7 in the middle and 8,Q in the back and any other big cards to try and pair over the 66 later in the hand.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

When to abandon a draw

One of the biggest decisions in this game is when to abandon a draw to a royalty hand in the back and concentrate on no miss setting your hand.  There are so many things that can factor into this decision, so it is difficult to pinpoint when to make that decision, if at all. You need to consider the following:

1) the number of outs you have to make the royalty
2) the number of outs you have to make a hand in the back that may not make a royalty, but will still not foul your hand
3) the number of opponents
4) the strength of your opponent(s) hand
5) the potential points win or loss (risk vs reward)

With all of these factors to consider, this decision is a very complicated one.  Lets analyze the following hand according to each of these factors.

Assume you are Tom.

1) there are already 9 spades out, so there are 4 spades left in the deck to hit a flush
2) if you pass on this K, there are no more left in the deck. There is also only 1 more 7 in the deck, so you cannot make trip 7s. Your only non spade outs are the 3 remaining Qs
3) this is a four handed game so any risk/reward decision you make will be magnified compared to a three or two handed game.
4) Mike has a strong middle hand and is going for a royalty on top, however, he is currently in danger of miss setting his hand.  He will need to hit the last 7, one of two 5s, or two of another card.  In making this decision, you should consider it likely that mike will miss set.
John is in bad shape against your hand right now.  He needs two of the last seven diamonds, the last 10, or one of the three remaining As in order not to miss set his hand.
Mark doesn't have much of a hand right now. You are ahead against him in all but the top hand, and you have a great chance of beating him with four cards to come.
5) risk vs reward:  by giving up the flush, you won't get any royalty points, but you are likely to scoop at least two players and a good chance at all three.  That is a total of 18 points by not playing the flush.  If you risk the flush and hit, you are likely to get another 12 points, but have a chance of miss setting and losing. Assuming one player miss sets his hand, you would lose 12 points.  So the risk is -12 vs 12 more than you would get if you abandon the flush.  The ultimate result is being +18 vs -12.  In this case, it doesn't make sense to take the risk.

Play the K in the back and make your pair.

Here is how the hand played out.

John got lucky and hit his flush. Your flush would have come in and you would have won a big hand.  However, long term the better play is to abandon the flush there.

Welcome your comments.