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Chinese poker

Open Face Chineses Poker

Open Face Chinese Poker guide: rules, scoring and strategy

  • Each player gets 13 cards. The player must put his cards into 3 different poker hands.
  • Back hand is a poker combination placed nearest to the player, it consists of 5 cards and must be the strongest of all three hands.
  • Middle hand is also a 5-card poker hand and must be lower than Back hand.
  • The furthermost hand from the player – Front hand is a 3-card poker hand and must be the weakest of the three hands.

Open Face Chinese Poker Rules

Game combinations for 5-card hands are the same as in regular poker – High card, Pair, 2 Pair, 3 of a kind, Straight, Flush, Full House, Straight Flush, Royal Flush.

Game combinations for a 3-card hand are the High Card, Pair, 3 of a kind. In the 3-card hand it is not possible to play the game combinations such as Straight or Flush, because they are very easy to make. The best hand is then AAA.

A vital part of Chinese Poker is the correct alignment of all 3 hands in descending order based on their strength (from low to high). For instance if you make 3 of a kind your Front hand and only 2 pair your Middle hand, then all your 3 hands will be considered dead. The overall hand is then dead – see following examples:

The game is for 2, 3 or 4 players. A system of points is used for scoring. The dealer button is needed in this game.

Cards are to be dealt from the first player after button. At first each player is given 5 cards (face down, one card per player).

Players take their 5 cards and start to put them face up on the table in such a manner, to make clear which cards are the Back, Middle or Front hand.

Once the cards are placed, their position cannot be changed until the end of the game. At this moment each player has 2 or 3 started but not finished hands. A very exceptional situation would be, when a player would have the Back or Middle hand made out of the first 5 cards and the following two hands not.

Now the players get the other 8 cards – one card at a time, face down. The player must always decide on where (into which hand) to put the actual card. Once the card is placed, it cannot be moved into another hand! The player should be clear on what to expect from each hand, especially due to the fact that he sees more and more open cards on the table.

The real fun starts during showing of the last few cards.

The scoring is based on a victory of one or more hands out of the three possible ones and on the Royalty system of good hands. A player will be awarded 1 point if he beats the opponent’s hand (Back hand versus Back hand) and 3 bonus points for victory in all 3 hands (so called scoop). So if a player wins 2 hands and loses 1, overall he scores 1 point. But if a player wins all 3 (or loses all 3) hands, his overall score (or overall loss) is then 6 points.

Some players may be used to another scoring system. Which is why it should be made clear before a game.

Following points are awarded for Royalties in Back hand:

  • 25 for Royal
  • 15 for Straight Flush
  • 10 for 4 of a Kind
  • 6 for Full House
  • 4 for Flush
  • 2 for Straight

Points for Middle hand:

  • 30 for Straight Flush
  • 20 for 4 of a Kind
  • 12 for Full House
  • 8 for Flush
  • 4 for Straight

Points for Front hand:

  • Three of a Kind: 20
  • Pair of Aces: 9
  • Pair of Kings: 8
  • Pair of Queens: 7
  • Pair of Jacks: 6
  • Pair of Tens: 5
  • Pair of Nines: 4
  • Pair of Eights: 3
  • Pair of Sevens: 2
  • Pair of Sixes: 1

Fouled hand – a player won’t be awarded any points, but he must “pay out” all relevant winning hands as well as Royalties.

At the beginning of a game the point value should be set out (1 point = 100 CZK). Payments are conducted at the end of a game (when players are leaving). Players should remember or write down their current score at all times. Players can also determine the maximum amount they are willing to lose. If this amount is met and paid out, the game ends regardless of the overall points total.

A good strategy for avoiding a dead game is to spread out the cards in such a way, that higher cards are in the Back hand, lower in the Middle hand and the lowest in the Front hand. When making pairs in each hand their strength is in the right (descending) order. This procedure can also be used in this way: you miss one card in your first cards (first 5 from the dealer) to have a straight or flush, use it as Back hand. You have 8 more cards to set up a straight or a flush.

If you are willing to risk a little, you can focus on obtaining the Royalty bonus points, even if there are only few cards left to the end of the game. By this you are more at risk of the Foul hand. The reward for success is high, so oftentimes this approach to the game is balancing on the edge – how big a reward you expect and how often you will mind losing at least 6 points, if the game ends up a Foul.

Always watch all cards on the table (don’t focus only on yours). This way you will get a hint about possible following cards. It is actually easy to find out, if you are able to calculate it. This is the charm of OF Chinese Poker.

An easy example:

There are only few heart cards on the board and you are trying to make a heart Flush. Therefore you are very likely to manage to make the Flush. The same goes for Straight – on the board there not exactly the cards you need to make a straight …

Fantasy Land begins when you manage to make a pair of Queens in your Front hand without Foul. It is not that simple – you need a pair of Kings (or more) in your Middle hand and a pair of Aces (or more) in your Back hand. If you manage to make a hand with a pair of Queens in the Front hand, in the next game you will be given all 13 cards face down at the beginning of the game at the same time!

This will obviously give you a great advantage. You can immediately use all 13 cards for setting up the optimal 3 hands.

There are only 4 queens in the pack and the odds you get them in the right moment are not very favourable. Which is why many times you have to decide at the very beginning or during the game, whether to pair up Queens in the Front hand or not.

Don’t forget the Middle and Back hands must be stronger! It is a risk, but the reward is worth it!

The player, who gets all 13 cards, must turn them all when his turn comes. Their sequence then cannot be changed! The player who at this time plays Fantasy Land cannot get in this manner to another Fantasy Land (2x Queen in the Front hand).

Open Face Chinese Poker – tournament rules

The game is for 4 players.

The final table will be played by 5 players with that the button position won’t be played.

Players will received covered (face down) cards from the sixth (6th) to the thirteenth (13th) card one at a time. Only after one player makes a statement, another player is given a card.

A player, who turns his card before his actual turn, will be punished by losing (1) point in favour of all active players participating in the given game.

A player, who misses his turn, will be punished by losing (3) points in favour of all active players participating in the given game. This player though won’t have to pay for any royalties that could occur in this very game.

A player, who misses his turn, is not eligible for obtaining any chips from the players, who themselves were punished.

If time has been called on the player, the player must make a decision in 30 seconds on how to proceed in the game. If the player fails to make a decision in 30 seconds, his cards will be pronounced dead and he will have to pay a full fine together with any potential royalties.

Verbal statements are not binding. An action is considered completed, when a player puts a card on a selected place and then puts his hands off (just like in a chess game).

A player can only leave his place, when his game doesn’t require any concrete decision (e.g. Flush on bottom hand, Straight on middle hand) and the last three (3) cards can only be placed on the Top hand or when the game is already a foul and cannot be saved by any means.

A player won’t be allowed to leave his place, if the game requires his concrete and active decision making. If he fails to do so, his game will be pronounced a foul and he will have to pay the full fine together with any potential royalties.

All points and royalties will be paid out one by one based on the position of the respective players at the table, with that the the player No. 1 is the first to get paid. Any transaction of a concrete player must be completed before any other following transaction. A player will be put out of game, when he is not able to pay another player the points he is eligible for. A player, whose points value will decrease to zero (0) during individual transactions, will be put out of the game.


Player (A) is in the first position and has 10 points. Player (A) owes player (B) 12 points, but he obtains 20 points from both players (C) and (D). Player (A) doesn’t have enough points to complete transaction with player (B), which is why he is put out of the game, even if players (C) and (D) owe him points.

Players can only win or lose the chips they had at the beginning of the actual game.

For example: player (A) has 12 points and he can this way win 12 points from player (B) or lose 12 points with him. If he wins 8 points from player (B) and this way completes the transaction, he now only has 4 points left (out of the original 12) to settle new transaction with player (C). If he wins or loses these 4 points, his transactions won’t be completed. Therefore the transaction with player (D) won’t be conducted.

  • Beat: 1
  • Scoop: 6
  • Foul: 6 for each player