Master the Rules of Chinese Poker Game

Intriguingly Different from Regular Chinese Poker

A Unique Game with No Bets and Points-Based Scoring

Chinese Poker

In open-face Chinese poker (OFC), players arrange 13 cards into three hands – the top, middle, and bottom. The game is different from regular Chinese poker as there are no bets and the scoring is based on points. Each player’s hands are compared to their opponents’ hands, and points are awarded based on the strength of each hand.

The scoring of the three hands follows regular poker rules. The bottom and middle hands consist of five cards, while the top hand contains three cards. The top hand is scored the same way as a regular hand, meaning it can have a three-of-a-kind as the highest possible hand. Most top hands are typically high-card hands.

OFC is typically played with a maximum of four players, with the most common being a heads-up game between two opponents.

Objective

The primary objective of OFC is to make a “qualifying” hand. There is a strict rule that the bottom hand must be at least as good as the middle hand, and the middle hand must be at least as good as the top hand. However, since players arrange their cards one at a time, it is not always possible to meet this rule. If a player has already played a pair of kings in the middle and has a straight draw on the bottom using cards lower than a king, they must complete the straight.

If a player cannot make a qualifying hand, the entire hand is considered “foul” and receives no points.

First Round & Subsequent Rounds

OFC is played with a dealer button, and the action moves clockwise. At the start, players are dealt five cards, which they arrange face-up on the table into their chosen rows (top, middle, or bottom). Once a player completes their arrangement and indicates that their turn is complete, the next player flips over all five cards and begins their own arrangement.

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After the first turn, players receive cards one at a time and play them face-up in turn. Once a card is placed in a row (top, middle, or bottom), it cannot be moved to a different row. There are no takebacks.

Scoring

Scoring in OFC is done on a point basis. Each row (top, middle, and bottom) is worth one point to the winner. For example, if one player has a pair of jacks in the middle hand and their opponent has a king high, the player with the pair of jacks wins one point in the middle.

If playing with three or four players, each player scores against each player independently. Unlike in hold’em, there is no folding, and players can win points from multiple opponents.

In addition to the basic scoring per row, there are various scoring bonuses that can be worth more than one point. The most common bonus is the “scoop bonus,” where a player wins an additional three points if they beat their opponent’s top, middle, and bottom hands. Different hands also have point bonuses, ranging from +2 for a straight to +25 for a royal flush.

Chinese Poker

Fantasyland

Fantasyland is an optional rule in OFC. If a player makes a qualifying hand with at least a pair of queens (QQ) or better on top, their next hand will be in Fantasyland.

In Fantasyland, the player is dealt all 13 cards at once and sets them face-down in turn. The other players then play their hands according to standard OFC rules. The player in Fantasyland has an advantage as they can set their hand perfectly, unlike in regular play where cards are placed one at a time.

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To stay in Fantasyland, a player must make quads or better on the bottom, a full house or better in the middle, or three-of-a-kind on top.

Variants

While the standard OFC game with Fantasyland is the most common, there are a few variants that have gained popularity. One variant is “criss-cross OFC,” where two players play two hands each, creating a four-handed game. Another variant is “pineapple OFC,” which deals each player three cards and requires them to play two cards and discard one.

Open-face Chinese poker provides a fresh and exciting take on traditional poker. Its simple rules, the element of chance, and the opportunity for big hands make it an engaging and enjoyable game. Whether playing in person or online, OFC offers a unique poker experience that can be learned and enjoyed by players at all skill levels.

[OFC rules have been contributed by Nikolai Yakovenko. Known as “Googles,” Yakovenko is originally from Moscow, Russia and is now a poker player and software developer residing in Brooklyn, New York. Yakovenko has made both World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour final tables. Meanwhile after several years at Google New York working on ranking algorithms, he’s been developing independent software projects ever since. He also helped create the ABC Open-Face Chinese Poker iPhone App. You can follow Yakovenko on Twitter at @ivan_bezdomny.]

For more information about OFC and to play the game, visit M88.

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