STRATEGY

Open Face Chinese Poker Rules

While Texas Holdem and Seven-Card Stud reign supreme, Open Face Chinese Poker is a promising up and coming version of poker. In this article, we’ll talk you through the Open Face Chines poker rules, and every other essential information you need to know.

The game a variation on regular Chinese Poker, but what’s driving its success is that it requires more skill and can net a lot more winnings if you know what you’re doing.

Before we begin, first note that all variations of Open Face Chinese Poker are played not for chips, but for points. If you are just playing for fun, then you can win based on your point count, but most of the time players will assign dollar values to those points, typically $1 each. Before you begin any rounds of Open Face Chinese Poker, however, you have to make sure that all players agree to point values, as well as any bonuses or royalties. We’ll discuss these, and much more in this article.

How To Play Open Face Chinese Poker

Part of the reason that Open-Face Chinese Poker (OFC)  is becoming so popular is that it requires much more skill to play than regular Hold Em or even Stud games. The reason you have to be careful when playing this game is that it’s very easy to foul your hands. But, before we get into fouling, let’s first discuss the basics.

In all variations of Chinese Poker, the goal for each player is to set three different hands. The top hand is made up of three cards, the middle hand is made of five cards, as is the bottom hand. What’s important to know is that each subsequent hand has to be better than the ones above it. That means that your bottom hand has to be better than your top and middle hands, and your top hand must be the worst of the three.

The top hands are referred to as the Front. The middle hands are the Middle, and the bottom hand is the Back.
Open Face Chinese Poker

Step by Step OFC

First off, this game is played with a single deck, meaning that it can only have up to four players total. Again, you all have to agree on the points and bonus system before you start dealing.

In Open Face Chinese poker, all players are dealt five cards. There will be a dealer button that moves to the left after each hand, just like in Hold Em.

Once all players have their first five cards, they start to set their hands. Because you only get five to start (in regular Chinese Poker you get thirteen), you have to play based on what you think you might get, not what you have already. This is where your skills come into play. We would suggest that you do a few practice hands if possible so everyone can get up to speed before you play for real money.

After each player sets the first five cards, the dealer will give everyone a single card, which will then be played out. This will continue until everyone has gotten thirteen cards and all hands are set.

Once everyone has placed all three hands, then you have to compare your scores to everyone else. To make things easier, go one by one instead of trying to compare all hands at once. To win, you have to beat your opponents in the majority of the hands. For example, if you win two out of the three, you only get one total point (two minus one). If you win all three, that’s called scooping, and you can get a bonus.

Once all hands are compared, and everyone tallies his or her points, then you can settle up the money.

Fouling

To foul your hand, that means that either your middle or top hand are better than the hands below. For example, if you have a pair of aces in your top hand and only a pair of kings in the middle, that’s a foul, and it will cost you six points per player.

Bonuses and Royalties

Typically, when playing any variation of Chinese Poker, there will be bonuses. The most common reward is to get three extra points if you scoop, so instead of winning three points, you get six. Other bonuses usually relate to what kinds of hands you have. Such as having three of a kind in your top hand or quads in your bottom hand.

There are also Royalties in this game. Royalties refer to a particular type of hand that you get. For example, having a straight in the middle hand may get you four extra points. Having a full house in the bottom hand may get you six extra points. Like with the bonuses and point values, all players must agree to the royalty system before playing. For convenience, have a list of all bonuses and royalties written out beforehand.

In most cases, the royalties are as shown in the below table. This is what poker sites, such as TonyBet will run with. However, if you’re playing in a casino or with friends, you may change these.

Headshot Scoring System:

  • Beat: +1 unit
  • Surrender: +2 units
  • Scoop: +6 units
  • Foul: +6 units to each opponent who doesn’t foul

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 (double bottom hand royalties):

  • 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:

  • 66 +1unit
  • 77 +2 units
  • 88 +3 units
  • 99 +4 units
  • TT +5 units
  • JJ +6 units
  • QQ +7 units
  • KK +8 units
  • AA +9 units
  • 222 +10 units
  • 333 +11 units
  • 444 +12 units
  • 555 +13 units
  • 666 +14 units
  • 777 +15 units
  • 888 +16 units
  • 999 +17 units
  • TTT +18 units
  • JJJ +19 units
  • QQQ +20 units
  • KKK +21 units
  • AAA +22 units

Fantasyland

In OFC and Pineapple Chinese Poker, you may have what’s called Fantasyland. This is an optional choice for players, but if you do have it, it can affect the game significantly. First off, if you do go with Fantasyland and a player enters it, then the dealer button doesn’t move until all players are back in regular Open Face Chinese poker. Also, you cannot have Fantasyland in regular Chinese Poker, since you already get all thirteen cards at the beginning.

To enter Fantasyland, a player must have Queens or better on the top hand without fouling. If this happens, that player will enter Fantasyland on the next hand. What this means is that player will get all thirteen cards at once, before anyone is dealt a hand.

The way that Fantasyland works is that that player will wait until all other players have set their hands, then put down his or her cards. Since the Fantasyland player plays last and gets all cards at once, they will not foul and have a huge advantage over everyone else.

Staying in Fantasyland

Once you enter Fantasyland, you have to get a qualifying hand to stay there. Getting inside is easy, but staying there is much harder. To continue in Fantasyland, you have to have either four-of-a-kind in your bottom hand, a full house in your middle hand, or trips in your top hand. Fail to have one of these, and you are out the next hand.

Do’s and Don’ts and Other Tips

Now that you know the basics of the game, here are some tips and tricks to get you started.

First of all, make sure that you and your fellow players come up with a point system, as well as any bonuses and royalties. Write it out if necessary so there is no confusion. There are basic rules to the points and bonus system, but you can set it up how you like, as long as everyone agrees.

Focus your strategy on not fouling your hand, not necessarily making the best hands possible.

Pay attention to other players’ hands, since they may get cards that you are counting on for a bonus hand.

If you’re in Fantasyland, it’s common courtesy to announce if you will stay there so that players can plan accordingly as well as the dealer.

When comparing points, keep score based on each player and go one by one. Ideally, start with player one (to the left of the dealer) and compare his or her hand to all other hands, then go to player two, and so on. By the end, player three will only be comparing his or her hand to player four, and then you’re all done.

To make things much easier and more convenient, settle up each round as soon as it’s finished. Even if all players are going to stay for multiple rounds, it can get rather complicated to pay when adding up points from different rounds.

Tips for Fantasyland

You can get up and leave the game at any time (bathroom break, smoke break, etc.), but if a player is in Fantasyland and you played the hand before, then you cannot leave until they are out.

When playing the game, make sure to keep all your high cards in the middle or the bottom. Since you don’t know what’s coming, you don’t want to risk fouling your hand by having too many high cards at the top. Also, try to make straights and flushes on the bottom hand only. Since you can easily foul by having a straight in your middle hand and something less at the bottom.

Practice Exercise

To help you understand the game better, let’s look at a practice hand. To keep things simple, we’ll just have two players.

Round One

Five cards go to each player.

Player One

K♠8&daims;Q♠ King of Spades, Eight of Diamonds, Queen of Spades, Three of Clubs, Five of Hearts

Player Two

Ace of Spades, Four of Hearts, Five of Diamonds, Six of Diamonds, Jack of Clubs

Player one will set his king and queen on the bottom hand, hoping for a straight or flush. The five and the eight will go into the middle hand, and the three will go on top.

Player two will place his four, five, and six on the bottom, hoping for a straight. The ace will go in the middle and the Jack on top. He can place the jack on his top hand because he already knows that the other two hands are likely to beat it already.

Rounds Two Through Nine

One card dealt on each round. To make things simpler, we’ll just go over which cards each player gets and how they play them, rather than going for eight individual rounds.

Player One

Round 2: Seven of Hearts, places it in the middle hand

Round 3: King of Diamonds, places it in the bottom hand for a pair

Round 4: Ace of Hearts, places it in the middle

Round 5: Six of Spades, places it on top

Round 6: Eight of Spades, places it in middle for a pair

Note: at this point, it is almost impossible for player one to foul his hand

Round 7: Four of Clubs, places it on the bottom

Round 8: Jack of Hearts, places it on top

Round 9: Ten of Diamonds, places it on bottom

Final Hands: Top=Jack high, Middle=Pair of 8s, Bottom=Pair of Kings

Player Two

Round 2: Three of Clubs, places it on the bottom for a straight

Round 3: Ace of Clubs, places it in the middle for a pair of Aces

Round 4: Queen of Diamonds, places it on top

Round 5: Eight of Hearts, places it in the middle

Note: Since his middle already beats the top, Player Two is trying to have all high cards in the top hand to make more points

Round 6: Seven of Clubs, places it on the bottom to finish his straight

Note: at this point, Player two cannot foul his hand, and he already beats player one

Round 7: King of Hearts, places it on top

Round 8: Nine of Clubs, places it in middle

Round 9: Ten of Hearts, places it in middle

Final Hands: Top=King high, Middle=Pair of Aces, Bottom=Straight

Player two scoops player one, and gets six points. Also, since he made a straight on the bottom, he will get four additional bonus points, bringing the total to ten points.

Open Face Chinese Poker Rules Conclusion

If you’re looking for something that’s fun to play and easy to learn, then OFC Poker is a fantastic game that requires strategy, skills, and a sharp eye. Most players who have played regular Chinese Poker and gone to OFC usually don’t go back, because this version is so much more fun. You can find this game on online mobile apps and at some card rooms, although you’d have to ask first if they spread it.


I'm a tech geek who enjoys extreme sports, computing and, of course, an avid poker enthusiast.


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