Poker Flops V
We got to thinking this week about some things in the poker world that failed and decided that it's time for another edition of Poker Flops!
Remember Pineapple? If you've been around the poker world long enough, you probably do. It's the game like Texas Hold'em where you're dealt three cards instead of two. After the flop, players still in the hand must discard one of their three cards and the hand continues like a typical Texas Hold'em hand. There was a period where it seemed this game might gain enough traction in the poker world to become one of the more popular variants. You could even play it online at Ultimate Bet and Paradise Poker.
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So what happened to Pineapple poker? Well, it just disappeared. You can no longer find it anywhere online (at least not on any major online poker room). As for finding it in a brick and mortar cardroom? Psssh... good luck! You'll find mixed games that include every poker variant under the sun but there won't be any Pineapple. So why doesn't anyone want to play Pineapple? Well, probably because it's so similar to Texas Hold'em that it doesn't even need to exist. A good strategy for Pineapple is almost no different than a good Texas Hold'em strategy. Although there's an extra decision involved, that being which of the three cards you'll discard, it's usually an easy and obvious choice. When you have Jack-Eight-Seven and the flop comes Eight-Six-Five, you shouldn't need to use much of your timebank to decide which two cards to keep.
A few years ago, rakeback was wildly popular. Almost all online poker rooms allowed their affiliates to offer players rakeback. The scheme is simple. Sign up for an online poker site through some website and receive a refund for a certain percentage of the rake you generate. Poker players were crazy for this idea. Countless small- to mid-stakes grinders saw their income double thanks to rakeback. For a time, the poker rooms were happy too since players were now motivated to generate more rake. However, rakeback is ultimately quite destructive for poker rooms. The Cryptologic network saw their games deteriorate so badly that they had to merge with Boss Media to regain the player base they once had. Microgaming stopped rakeback altogether after seeing their market share continue to decline. Party Poker never fully embraced the rakeback movement, but lost a lot of money when their sister site, Empire Poker, began offering players rakeback. Party Poker later booted Empire from their network.
The reason rakeback is so destructive for an online poker room is that it makes the games tough overnight. As soon as you offer rakeback, your network suddenly becomes flooded with grinders. When the games are tougher, weak players don't stick around for long. Before you know it, your games are filled with the same regulars passing each others money back and forth. Eventually they too stop generating rake since their edge is all but gone following the weak player exodus. The end result is a poker network that is a skeleton of its former self.
A few years ago, there was a quite a bit of chatter in the poker world that Omaha Hi-Lo would be the "game of the future". We actually made this reference on two instances in 2005 poker news articles. Uhh... oops.
Four years removed from those proclamations, it's pretty clear that Omaha Hi-Lo is not the "next big thing" in poker. And looking back, how anyone thought that a limit-betting split pot game would be the most popular game in poker makes one scratch their head. Split pot games suck. At the end of the day, anyone playing poker likes to gamble. Limiting betting and split pots are to a gambler what closing time is to an alcoholic: hell. Omaha Hi-Lo is as much the future of poker as alcohol-free beer is the future of college fraternity parties.
Online poker rooms might like limit split pot games since everyone just keeps generating rake while barely extracting an edge over the worst players, but they'll never compete with action junkie variants like pot-limit Omaha or no-limit hold'em.