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Open Face Chinese Poker | How to Play Open Face Chinese Poker

Open Face Chinese poker is a popular game among poker professionals but also a growing sensation at home games and local poker rooms.

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Chinese Poker
Chinese Poker

Since Open Face Chinese Poker doesn’t use any chips or betting it’s technically not “poker,” but its usage of poker hands is what gives the game its name.

传奇sfThe game is played with 2-4 players, a standard 52-card deck and a few different ways to keep score. Read on for the full rundown of the Open Face Chinese Poker and standard Chinese Poker rules.

OPEN FACE CHINESE POKER

传奇sfOpen-Face Chinese poker is one of the fastest growing poker games in the poker world. Originally developed in Finland it began to catch on in the U.S. around 2011/2012, more or less. 

Since then the game has exploded in popularity and is a favorite among pro players in particular, who like to gamble both small and big stakes amongst each other.

The object of OFC is the same as standard Chinese Poker (see below). Each player must make (set) three poker hands. Two of the hands are five-card poker hands and one is a three-card poker hand.

传奇sfThe bottom five-card hand must be higher in value than the middle five-card hand and the middle hand must be higher than the three-card, or top hand.

How to Play OFC/Pineapple (Video)

Get started with our easy-to-follow video tutorial on how to play Open-Face Chinese Poker & Open-Face Chinese Poker Pineapple.

Open Face Chinese Poker - How to Deal

In standard Chinese poker all 13 cards are dealt at the same time and cards are not exposed while hands are being set.

In Open Face Chinese Poker players do not传奇sf receive all 13 cards to start. Rather, they begin with five cards and then must set them face up.

From this point each player receives cards one at a time and must set them in a row before the next card is received. This continues until all 13 cards have been set in player hands.

Open Face Chinese Poker Rules

Most Open Face Chinese poker games consist of 2-4 players with the standard game online consisting of three-handed tables.

Open Face Chinese Poker Rules
OFC is usually played 3-handed

A dealer button is used for the sake of determining order of action and moves after each hand. The exception is a hand where one player is in "Fantasyland."

When a player is in Fantasyland the button freezes until all players are playing standard OFC.

Starting with the player to the left of the button, each player is initially dealt five cards which he or she must set. The player to the left of the button then sets his five cards face up into whichever row(s) he wishes.

This continues until the player on the button has acted. Please note that once you have set your hand and your turn is concluded, you cannot change your hand.

传奇sfAfter the first five cards are dealt another card is then dealt to each player. Starting with the player to the left of the button, that card is placed and action continues to the button player.

传奇sfThis continues until each player has placed all 13 cards. Once the last card is placed players make comparisons and score their hands.

Open Face Chinese Poker Scoring

Scoring in Open Face Chinese poker is done via points, sometimes called units. In a $1 OFC game, each point or unit is worth $1. Standard scoring is as follows:

open face chinese poker
  • Player is paid 1 unit for each hand he wins against opponent
  • If a player scoops all three hands against an opponent he gets three bonus units.
  • If a player surrenders a hand he must pay two units to each opponent.
  • If a player "fouls" a hand he must pay six units to each player who doesn't foul.

传奇sfUnits are awarded at showdown via hand comparisons. In a three-handed game the player to the left of the button would compare first and comparisons would continue clockwise.

Fouling occurs when your hands are not set in proper order. For example you play trip threes in the middle and two pair on bottom. Fouling also forfeits any bonuses you may have received.

Open Face Chinese Royalties

Royalties are bonus units paid to each player for making certain hands. Bonuses are more generous in OFC since hands tend to be weaker than standard Chinese poker.

Royalties for Bottom Hand:

Straight+2 units
Flush+4 units
Full House+6 units
Quads+10 units
Straight Flush+15 units
Royal Flush+25 units

Royalties for Middle Hand:

Set+2 units
Straight+4 units
Flush+8 units
Full House+12 units
Quads+20 units
Straight Flush+30 units
Royal Flush+50 units

Royalties for Top Hand:

Sixes+1 unit
Sevens+2 units
Eights+3 units
Nines+4 units
Tens+5 units
Jacks+6 units
Queens+7 units
Kings+8 units
Aces+9 units
Trip Deuces+10 units
Trip Threes+11 units
Trip Fours+12 units
Trip Fives+13 units
Trip Sixes+14 units
Trip Sevens+15 units
Trip Eights+16 units
Trip Nines+17 units
Trip Tens+18 units
Trip Jacks+19 units
Trip Queens+20 units
Trip Kings+21 units
Trip Aces+22 units

传奇sfBonuses are paid during comparison. As an example, aces on the top in a three-handed game would net the holder nine units from each player.

传奇sfPlease note that bonuses are paid regardless of whether a player wins that row. Also, bonuses negate each other in OFC. For example should two players hit quads on the bottom, no bonus would be paid.

Open Face Chinese and Pineapple Royalties Chart

Open Face Chinese Poker Fantasyland

In some OFC games Fantasyland rules apply. To enter Fantasyland a player must make queens or better in his or her top hand without fouling.

传奇sfIf this happens the next hand they will be dealt all 13 cards at once and can set the hand like a standard Chinese Poker hand. The player that's in Fantasyland will not have their cards exposed until the other players have completed their hands.

A player can remain in Fantasyland if they makes trips in the top hand, a full house or better in the middle hand or quads or better in the bottom hand.

Open Face Chinese Poker Pineapple

OFChands

A popular variation of OFC is Pineapple OFC. The primary difference between Pineapple and standard OFC is the number of cards given to each player after the initial deal.

传奇sfBoth games start with five cards dealt all at once on the initial deal but in Pineapple players are then dealt three cards for every subsequent deal.

From those three cards players must set two of those cards into their hands and then discard the last one.

The main difference between this and regular OFC is that there are just 5 rounds of play instead of 9 and each player goes through more card.

Because of that Pineapple OFC is always played with a maximum of three players. Scoring, bonuses and Fantasyland rules all remain the same.

Pineapple OFC is a faster-paced version of the game that is really catching on and developing a significant following online. Read more about how to play Pineapple Poker on our dedicated page:

Play Open Face Chinese Poker Online

If you want to play Open Face Chinese Poker online you can play for free on your smartphone or mobile device on apps such as the Chinese Open Face Poker app or the Secure Open Face Chinese Poker app.

If you want to access some real-money Open Face Chinese Poker cash games and tournaments, create a new account at TonyBet Poker via our review page for an up to £1,500 bonus!

How to Play Chinese Poker

传奇sfAfter shuffling, the dealer deals out the entire deck into four hands (13 cards per hand). If you're playing with four players each player gets one hand. If you’re playing with three players, the fourth hand is discarded and left unused.

chinese poker hand

In a two-player game each player receives one hand and reserves a second for the next hand (saving the dealer having to re-deal). A player is only allowed to look at his own hand and in a two-player game he can only look at the hand he's are currently playing.

Chinese Poker Scoring

Watch the video below to learn how to deal, set your hand and keep score in Chinese Poker quickly and easily. There's no betting or raising -- instead everyone agrees on a point value, for example $1 per point.

Everyone gets 13 cards and then has to organize their cards into three poker hands. Two of the poker hands have five cards and one has three cards.

The only rule is that the three-card hand has to be the worst hand, the middle five-card hand has to be better than the three-card hand, and the last five-card hand has to be better than both other hands.

When everyone's done setting their hands turn over your hands and compare them to each hand of every other player. Each hand is worth one point against each other player and if you beat someone in all three hands it's called a scoop and it's worth a three-point bonus.

Check out the video to see how it works in action!

Chinese Poker Hand Setting

传奇sfYour hand consists of 13 cards. It's your job to break these 13 cards into three hands: top, middle and bottom.

传奇sfThe bottom hand must be a five-card poker hand and must be the best hand of all three hands you select. The middle hand must be a five-card poker hand and must be worse than the bottom hand but stronger than the top hand.

The top hand must be a three-card hand and must be the worst hand of all three.

Five-Card Hands: 传奇sfThe five-card hands follow the standard poker hand ranking; you can find a description of the poker hand rankings here. (there will also be a link at the bottom of the article).

Three-Card Hands: In Chinese poker the three-card hand can only be high card, pair or triples. There are no flushes or straights allowed for the three-card hand.

Example

The easiest way to understand how to make your three poker hands is to actually do it. Below is an example of one way to sort a 13-card hand, but it's always easier to do and understand when holding actual cards.
The best thing you can do is deal yourself 13 cards from a deck and work on making hands for yourself.

7 hearts 7 10 clubs 10 K diamonds K 6 hearts 6 9 spades 9 3 diamonds 3 5 hearts 5 9 diamonds 9 3 spades 3 J clubs J J spades J A hearts A Q hearts Q

传奇sfAlthough you can separate this hand in many ways, arguably the best way to sort this hand would be:

Bottom: 5 hearts 5 6 hearts 6 7 hearts 7 Q hearts Q A hearts A

Middle: J clubs J J spades J 3 spades 3 3 diamonds 3 10 clubs 10

Top: 9 spades 9 9 diamonds 9 K diamonds K
传奇sfAs you can see, the bottom hand is the best with an ace-high flush. The middle hand is second best with two pairs, jacks and nines. The top is the weakest with a pair of threes.

Chinese Poker Scoring & Showdowns

传奇sfOnce all players have their hand sorted, you immediately score the hands. In scoring you compare each specific hand (top, middle or bottom) to every other player’s hand of the same type. The better hand earns a point off of the player with the weaker hand. For example:

Bottom

Player 1: Full House

Player 2: Flush

Middle

Player 1: Two Pair

传奇sfPlayer 2: Straight

Top

Player 1: Pair (Kings)

传奇sfPlayer 2: Pair (Fours)

In this scenario, Player 1 wins the bottom (1 point), Player 2 wins the middle (1 point), and Player 1 wins the top (1 Point).

For this hand, Player 1 won two points, while Player 2 only won one point. Because Player 2’s point is a wash with one of Player 1’s, it only makes sense to keep track of the profit, thus you would say that Player 1 would net one point.

传奇sfIf you have multiple players, each player evaluates his hand against all other players:

Bottom

Player 1: Full House (10’s full)

Player 2: Flush (9 high)

传奇sfPlayer 3: Straight (Ace high)

传奇sfPlayer 4: Two Pair (Aces and 4’s)

Middle

Player 1: Two Pair (7’s and 8’s)

Player 2: Straight (King High)

传奇sfPlayer 3: Two Pair (Queens and 5’s)

Player 4: Pair (Jacks)

Top

传奇sfPlayer 1: High Card (King)

传奇sfPlayer 2: Pair (2’s)

Player 3: High Card (Ten)

Player 4: Pair (9’s)

A Simple Trick for Keeping Score in Chinese Poker

When you're playing with four people keeping score can get tricky. The easiest way to do it is for each player to keep track of their own scores against every other player.

When you're comparing cards in each hand, start with the dealer and compare his cards to the player to his left. You get a point for winning each hand and if you beat a player in all three hands it's called a scoop and you get a three-point bonus.

Next compare the dealer's hand to Player 3 and then Player 4. Then compare Player 2's hand to Players 3 and 4 and then Player 3's hand to Player 4. At the end of the game each player has to settle up individually with every other player.

As you might have figured out, scoring for four players can be tricky. Thus it’s best for each player to keep track of his own scores versus every other player.

Eg using hands above.

Player 1’s score:

HandPlayer 2Player 3Player 4Total
1-1+1+1+1

Player 2’s score:

HandPlayer 1Player 3Player 4Total
1+1+3*+1+5

Player 3’s score:

HandPlayer 1Player 2Player 4Total
1-1-3*+1-3

Player 4’s score:

HandPlayer 1Player 2Player 3Total
1-1-1-1-3

As you can see, scoring with four players is slightly involved (the fewer players you have the easier it is to score). The totals are really only for the player to keep track of how he's doing, as the payout when the players finish playing will have each player settle up against every other player individually.

Special Chinese Poker Rules

There are also variations in hands and rules in the game:

Scooping: When a player scoops (wins all three hands against one player), typically this player will win a bonus. The standard bonus is double the points, meaning Player 2 would win 6 points off of Player 3 for his scoop in this hand.

Fouled Hand: If a player fouls his hand (either sorting the hand against the rules or having an illegal amount of cards in a specific hand) the opposing players automatically scoop.

Open Face Chinese Poker

Lowball in the Middle:传奇sf Instead of having the middle five-card hand as a standard poker hand, you can play with the middle hand being a 2-7 Lowball hand.

  • While some players award royalties to any player with a royalty worthy hand, it’s common for royalties to only be awarded to the player who wins the comparison for that hand. For example if player 1 had quad sixes, but player 2 had quad sevens, only player 2 would get the royalty
  • Some players make it even more complicated by attaching different point amounts to each specific royalty
  • In Chinese poker the rules for point awarding are never set in stone. You and your opponents can play any system, rules of combination you like - just make sure everyone agrees on all the rules before you start the deal

Chinese Poker Royalties

Most people who play Chinese will play with royalties (or bonuses). Although there are a large number of variations in the royalties you can play, the most commonly played royalties are as follows:

Strong Hands: Typically quads or better in the bottom, a full house or better in the middle and trips in the top will earn you a Royalty.

13-Card Hands: Making one 13-card hand (straight from 2-A). These hands will automatically scoop regardless of the hand versus hand comparison.

Three of the Same:传奇sf Another form of 13-card hand consisting of three flushes or three straights.

No People: Also a 13-card hand. Being dealt 13 cards without a single face card.

More Poker Games:

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Johnny B
2013-08-23 11:50:58

Is it legal to set a hand in which the middle and bottom hands (the five-card hands) are exactly the same? For example, would a hand with two royal flushes (however unlikely) be considered legal, or would it be considered fouled? I my search of articles on CP, I haven’t seen anything that addresses this situation specifically.

Grundy
2013-01-03 22:09:02

Peter is correct. The Jacks should go on top and the middle should be 9’s and 3’s.

Grundy
2013-01-03 17:07:47

传奇sfI play Chinese Poker often and when I introduce the game to new players I try to remember to explain the only royalty hand we recognize, which is the 13-card straight. I have alluded to this rule on more than a few occasions mostly as humor because the odds are so astronomical.

传奇sf“If you are dealt a 13-card straight, you automatically win”. (sweep; scoop; whatever)

The problem is that when people are just learning the game, they have enough concerns already that remembering this obscure rule about a remarkably rare hand is the least of their concerns and is easily forgotten….

Last night I was dealt a 13-card straight (Yes!) and I declared the hand before the others were set.

传奇sfMy declaration was met with disbelief from my opponents and a spectator all of whom I have played against many times. Two guys recalled me saying something but they thought I meant a 13-card straight-flush (can you imagine?).

They did not honor my “natural” hand even after I attempted to impress upon them two things:

传奇sf1) I have told these guys about this before. We just never thought we’d ever see it so it didn’t sink in. I wouldn’t just make this up and they know it.

2) I attempted to impress upon them how rare the hand is. A month ago I was bragging about a huge hand. Trip 6’s on top; Quad 4’s in the middle and a Q-high straight-flush on the bottom.

The odds of being dealt a 13-card straight is a lot harder than the previous hand.

They weren’t buying it so I caved and set up my hand: AKQ + 6-high straight + J-high straight in back. I only won the middle from each of my opponents and lost two out of three hands to each of them instead of a full scoop. Quite a swing.

传奇sf“What’s your point Grundy?”

传奇sfMake sure you discuss all of the rules every time you sit down and play. Everybody plays with a wide variation of the rules so perhaps someone needs to type out your variations in advance.

Tony
2012-12-11 15:57:49

what if you have a 3 bomb do you have to put it down first?

tard police
2012-10-18 11:44:05

wtf, make more errors.

Peter
2012-03-28 17:52:22

传奇sfTalking about the example, I’m new to this, but two pair in the middle is a weak hand, why not have it be 9’s and 3’s and then put the pair of jacks in the top where it improves your chance a little?

传奇sfPhong, where is the calculator you are speaking of?

Frank
2010-12-09 22:32:50

传奇sfphong le (if you have a chinese poker simulator or calculator to share it would be greatly appreciated). I had the orignal one and the book, but misplaced it. I think it was by (Don Smolen), and there were a few others I had.

phong le
2010-02-21 04:22:11

I have a chinese poker calculator to share.

传奇sfPost your questions regarding Open Face Chinese Poker here

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