Open-Face Chinese Poker

Dragon_Lantern_Festival_crop Open-Face Chinese Poker (OFCP) is a variant of Chinese Poker where, instead of the players getting all their cards at once, they receive them one at a time and choose which hand to put them in. Additionally, all the cards are played face up, so players can change their strategy based on what their opponents are doing! That means the game has a lot more action, because there’s more strategic play and more players fouling, increasing the amount of money being shuffled around. Because each player receives thirteen cards, it is limited to two to four players, unlike most poker games.

Open-Face Chinese Poker originated in Finland, spreading to Russia shortly thereafter. High-stakes Russian poker players introduced it to the mainstream poker community in 2012, and since then it has spread around the globe, quickly becoming an extremely popular side game for many poker elites.

Object of Open-Face Chinese Poker

The object of Open-Face Chinese Poker is to split the thirteen cards dealt to a player over the course of the game into three hands in such a way that, ideally, each of the hands is stronger than their opponents’ hands.

Setup

Like almost all poker games, Open-Face Chinese Poker is played with the standard 52-card deck. We naturally endorse the use of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards in your game. You’ll also need something to bet with, preferably poker chips.

As in Chinese Poker, hands are compared from player to player, not against all other players at once. Before play begins, the players should establish the value of one unit. All transactions will be conducted in multiples of this unit. Two players may mutually decide that one unit will be a different value for transactions between those two players in particular, while transactions with other opponents will be conducted at the usual rate.

Shuffle and deal five cards, face down, to each player. Place the remaining cards face down in the center of the table, forming the stock.

Game play

Over the course of a hand of Open-Face Chinese Poker, the player will be forming three hands: a three-card hand, called the front hand, a five-card hand stronger than the front hand, called the middle hand, and a five-card hand stronger than the middle and front hands, called the back hand. This act is called setting the hands. Straights and flushes are not counted as such in the three-card front hand. If the hands are not set with the strongest hand as the back hand and the weakest as the front hand (according to the standard rank of poker hands), this is considered a foul and none of the player’s three hands are eligible to win.

The player to the left of the dealer plays first. They turn their five cards face up and split them any way they wish between the three hands. They may place all five cards in either the back or the middle hands, place three in the front hand and one each in the other two hands, or so on. To distinguish which card goes with which hand, they place cards meant for the back hand in a row closest to them, cards for the middle hand above those, and cards for the front hand above those, furthest away from them. After the player has set their first five cards, the turn passes to the left, with that player setting their cards the same way, and so on.

After all players have set their initial five cards, the player to the dealer’s left draws one card from the stock, turns it face up, and adds it to any one of their three hands. They cannot cause any hand to exceed the maximum number of cards in that hand (five cards for the middle and back hands and three for the front hand). The player to their left does the same thing, continuing in turn around the table until each player has a total of thirteen cards, with three complete hands.

After all players have formed their complete hands, the hands are scored. Each player begins by calculating the score of all royalties in their hands, according to the table below:

Hand Front hand Middle hand Back hand
Royal flush 50 25
Straight flush 30 15
Four of a kind 20 10
Full house 12 6
Flush 8 4
Straight 4 2
3 of a kind 20
A-A-x 9
K-K-x 8
Q-Q-x 7
J-J-x 6
10-10-x 5
9-9-x 4
8-8-x 3
7-7-x 2
6-6-x 1

The players then compare hands, one at a time, with each opponent. The players each add one point to their royalty score for each hand that they beat (comparing front to front hand, middle to middle, and back to back) belonging to that opponent. If a player wins all three hands, this is considered a sweep and they score an additional three-point bonus. After the players calculate their scores, the player scoring lower pays one unit per point for the difference between their scores.

If a player fouled, they pay to each opponent a flat penalty of six units, plus one unit per point for all royalties that the opponent held.

After all payouts have been made, the deal passes to the left and the next hand is played.

Fantasyland

If a player sets their hand with a pair of queens or better in the front hand without fouling, they are entitled to play the next hand in fantasyland. More than one player may be in fantasyland at once. The deal does not rotate on a fantasyland hand, instead being dealt by the same dealer as the last normal hand. After the initial five cards are dealt, eight more cards are dealt to each player in fantasyland, giving them all thirteen cards, which they immediately set, face-down. The other players play out the hand the normal way, with the fantasyland player turning their hands face up only when everyone else has set their hands.

If a player in fantasyland sets their hand with four of a kind or better in the back, or a full house or better in the middle, or three of a kind in the front, they may remain in fantasyland for another hand, and continue doing so as long as they continue to hold these hands.

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Chinese Poker

A Chinese dragonChinese Poker, also known as Pusoy, is a form of poker where players receive thirteen cards, which they must split into three poker hands. This mechanic is similar to that found in Pai Gow Poker, although in Chinese Poker, the players are playing against each other, rather than the house. Unlike most forms of poker, Chinese Poker and its variants are limited to four players because of the comparatively large number of cards each player gets. It’s also unusual because wagers are settled player-to-player, rather than with a traditional poker betting structure.

Despite its somewhat unconventional play, Chinese Poker has been embraced by the serious poker community. Chinese Poker was played at the World Series of Poker in 1995 and 1996. It is spread at a number of casinos in the United States. Open-Face Chinese Poker, a variant where five of the player’s thirteen cards are exposed to their opponents, was introduced in the United States in 2012, and has become increasingly popular as a side game in poker tournaments in the last several years.

Object of Chinese Poker

The object of Chinese Poker is to split the thirteen-card hand given to a player into three hands in such a way that, ideally, each of the hands is stronger than their opponents’ hands.

Setup

Like most forms of poker, Chinese Poker is played with a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards are perfect for any game. You will also need something to bet with, such as poker chips.

Players should agree as to the value of one unit. All transactions will be conducted in multiples of this unit. Unlike other poker games, hands are compared from player to player, not against all other players at once, so two players may mutually decide that one unit will be a different value for transactions between those two players in particular.

Shuffle and deal thirteen cards to each player. Any unused cards are set aside and have no further bearing on game play.

Game play

Each player looks at their cards and separates them into three hands: a three-card hand, called the front hand, a five-card hand stronger than the front hand, called the middle hand, and a five-card hand stronger than the middle and front hands, called the back hand. This act is called setting the hands. Straights and flushes are not counted as such in the three-card front hand. If the hands are not set with the strongest hand as the back hand and the weakest as the front hand (according to the standard rank of poker hands), this is considered a foul and none of the player’s three hands are eligible to win. Once a player has decided how to set their hands, they place them face-down on the table, with the back hand closest to them and the front hand closest to the center of the table.

A few particular thirteen-card combinations are considered to be naturals. A player must declare and reveal the natural prior to the other hands being exposed if they wish to score it as a natural, although the player has the option to set the hands and score them as usual if they feel they will score better that way. Any natural will always beat a regular hand, but if two natural hands are compared against each other, the higher-ranked one wins. A winning natural hand is paid three units, except for the dragon, which is paid thirteen units. Payments are made by each opponent immediately upon declaration. The naturals, from highest to lowest, are:

1. Dragon
A thirteen-card straight, from 2 up to ace. Suits are irrelevant. If there are two dragons, they tie. (This hand is not set into front, middle, and back hands.)
2. Three flushes
A flush in the middle and back hands and a three-card flush in the front hand (the only time a flush in the front hand is usable as a hand). If there are two players that hold this, the tie is broken by comparing the strength of the back hand, then that of the middle hand, then that of the front hand.
3. Three straights
A straight in the middle and back hands and a three-card straight in the front hand (the only time a straight in the front hand is usable as a hand). If there are two players that hold this, the tie is broken by comparing the strength of the back hand, then that of the middle hand, then that of the front hand.
4. Six pair
Six pairs and one unpaired card. If two players hold this, compare the highest pair, then the next-highest, and so on until the tie is broken. (This hand is not set into front, middle, and back hands.)

Prior to the hands being revealed, but after any naturals have been paid, a player who does not feel confident about their hand may choose to surrender (fold). A surrendering player makes a flat two-unit payment to each opponent, regardless of what the opponent holds.

All remaining players (other than those who held naturals and who surrendered) then reveal their hands. Each player compares their three hands against each of their opponents’ hands, one at a time. By default, a player pays their opponent one unit for each hand that they lost. If a player loses all three hands, they are said to be scooped and must pay three extra units (for a total of six units).

If a player holds a three of a kind in the front hand, a full house or better in the middle hand, and/or four of a kind or better in the back hand, they are paid out at higher rates if the hand wins:

  • Front hand, three of a kind: 3 units.
  • Middle hand, full house: 2 units.
  • Middle or back hands:
    • Four of a kind: 4 units.
    • Straight flush or royal flush: 5 units.
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