NoMercy OFC Crash Course: Opening with a Pair of Aces

Hello everyone! Welcome to my personal blog on OFC Pineapple (Open Face Chinese Poker). Week after week, I’ll go over the history of the game, some basic rules and recommendations, anecdotes from the players, and finally, some more advanced strategies.  Stay tune and enjoy the Fantasy Ride!

Over the last weeks, we saw how important it was to keep a pair on the same line when you receive it. The example we saw were cases where you had a choice between going for a flush in the back with 3 cards, while splitting your pair, or keeping the pair on the bottom line and forgetting about trying to make a flush. In most cases, not splitting your pair will be the correct play.

Be aware that every situation is different and that is what makes this game so beautiful and stimulating! Do not assume that the situation will be the same when you receive 4 cards to a flush in opening, or when your pair involves cards such as AA, KK or QQ. Your opening can also be very much influenced by the cards seen on your opponent boards! Therefore, even with 5 identical cards, the best opening can vary from a hand to another.

Let’s go over an analysis of a hand that presented itself to me recently while playing on CoinPoker. I received these five cards to start my board:

With these 5 cards, I regularly see players choosing to open in 3 different ways:

Try to guess what the best opening would be here, and do not forget to look at our opponent’s board before to do so. Indeed, we cannot see what A6pakaga6pa holds since he is in Fantasyland, but we certainly can’t ignore the fact that Pires has a pair of Aces on his board, which means that it will be impossible for us to catch another Ace over the course of this hand.

Therefore, the first scenario here with A-9 in the middle would make no sense at all, since this Ace in the middle is completely dead. The second scenario would already be a better choice, because it would at least allow us to possibly win the top line with Ace high.

However, as explained over the last two tips, separating a pair in order to try to make a flush is rarely the best play. This is even more true in this particular case, with no Ace remaining in the deck.

Moreover, we do hold a Fantasyland card in our hand! That King is a super important card. The best play here would be to place the Aces in the middle and the King on top, hoping to catch another King to access Fantasyland.

Of course, for this to happen, we will need to cover our Aces with a stronger hand in the back, and that explains why we will place our 9-6 in the back, since these are two lives cards, with a possibility of making a straight.

Let’s see the next draws on this hand to observe how things evolve and to see if we do end up with a valid hand. The next cards that I received were the following:

In this context, the 9 will go on the back for sure, since this drastically improves our hand. As for the other card, and because Pires is already showing a 10 on his board, we will prefer to use the deuce.

However, it is still too early in the hand to kill our chances of making a full house in the back by placing the deuce on that line, especially considering that all the other nines and sixes are still live.

Therefore, we will place the deuce in the middle, hoping to catch at least a nine in the back to allow us to make two pairs in the middle with this live deuce:

On the next draw, I received the following cards:

Placing the Queen on top is an automatic move here, considering that there are two more live Queens in the deck, and that we have it covered in the middle with our two Aces. As for the 7 or the 3, we see in Pires’ hand that one 7 is already dead, so surely we will choose to use the 3. But, shall we place it in the middle, or in the back as a live card to make two pairs?

This is a tricky one, and the answer will often vary from a situation to another, especially when evaluating your live cards and your opponents’ boards. For example, if both of your opponents have made a flush in the back, and that your cards on that line are still 100% live, it will be best to continue chasing a full house, in order to beat their flushes in the back.

In this particular case, I chose to place the 3 in the middle, thinking that if I did not catch my 6 or my 9 on the next draw, I will still be able to place another card on the back line to make my two pairs:

For the quick conclusion, I did receive these cards on the next draw:

As you can see, this is… BINGO!

My board is now valid, and I am ready to go in Fantasyland!

A special thanks to A6pakaga6pa and Pires for this great low stakes’ OFC cash games session in CoinPoker. Rendez-vous next week for more examples of real-life openings and hand analysis!

Meet me at the OFC tables on CoinPoker to practice your skills and enjoy the action. Welcome to Fantasyland!

Isabelle “No Mercy” Mercier

OFC “Progressive” World Champion

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