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Who's in charge of tinkering and quibbles and other civil wars?

23 September 2005

Dear Mark,
In a poker room, is a player ever allowed to make decisions regarding rules of the game? I have actually seen it happen where a dealer let a bossy player settle a dispute. I am curious as to who is in charge settling disagreements. John P.

You didn't mention, John, the particular cardroom or casino where you witnessed this occurrence, but I can tell you with reasonable certainty, that the inmates don't get to run the asylum.

In gamblese, this type of overbearing meathead is called a "Table Captain," a tongue-in-cheek term denoting the player who takes it upon him-or-herself to mediate all disputes and officiate in all other matters requiring interpretation of the rules and the wise crafting of decisions.

Those of us who enjoy a private game around our kitchen table all know, and quite possibly dislike, such an officious player. Fortunately in a cardroom, games are dealt by house dealers, whose handicraft is not only to pitch cards, but also to settle squabbles. If his or her decisions are challenged, a floor supervisor is always there to arbitrate any quibbles players may have.

Dear Mark,
At our Thursday night "friendly" poker game, we play just about every form of poker imaginable. A newcomer to our game introduced a new version when it was his deal and he called it Tahoe Pineapple. The dealer stated you play it the same way you play Pineapple (which I've never played) and only the name Tahoe is added. Being that you once lived at Lake Tahoe, have you ever heard of such a game, and is it exactly the same as Pineapple? Dusty R.

Ah, Tahoe! "Every day a picnic, every night a party," — a quote, by the way, I coined years ago, perhaps eventually to appear on my tombstone, and the only quotation I would ever want attributed to my name. Damn, do I miss the Lake. Back in the day, it was like living in a beer commercial.

Anyhow, yep, Dusty, there is such a game, also aptly called, for those of us ski bums who live/lived there, Lazy Pineapple. And yes, there is a difference, so it's best I first describe the rules of Pineapple, then sketch in the slight distinction of the variant.

Pineapple is a form of Hold'em in which each player begins with three down cards, followed by a round of betting. After the first round of wagering has occurred, each player discards one of the down cards, and then the first three community cards are flopped. At this point, the game resumes like run-of-the mill Hold'em.

The variant of Pineapple called Tahoe Pineapple has the exact same rules with but one exception. Players do not discard any of their three downcards. At the showdown, players can use none, one, or two of their downcards, but not all three to form, in combination with the five community cards, their best five-card hand.

Tahoe High-Low is Tahoe Pineapple played high-low split. When played this way, a different set of cards can be used for each direction, but no more than two for either direction.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "There are card players and racetrack betters who are genuine professionals, but no one makes a profession out of shooting craps." Peter L. Bernstein, Against The Odds

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Best of Mark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.