Open-Face Chinese Poker

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Open-Face Chinese Poker (OFC) is a brand new variant of the much older game of Chinese Poker, which has been popular in Asian communities for many years. OFC made its tournament debut at the Poker Stars Caribbean Adventure, where it quickly caught on with the poker pros. The World Series of Poker also hosted an OFC medallion event and the Tweets among the faithful are calling this game a winner.

How to Play Open Face Chinese Poker

OFC is simple and not much strategy is required. You will first have to know poker hand rankings. The objective is to have a better poker ranking hand(s) than the other player(s) at the table. OFC is designed for two to four players. Each player will receive a total of thirteen cards to make 3 poker hands. Points (units) are awarded for the various winning hands. A monetary value per point is established before play begins.

Each player initially receives five cards face down from a standard 52 card deck. A dealer button is used to identify the dealer. The button rotates to the left after each hand is played. This is important because the player with the button is the last to act. This is known as having position on other players. Starting with the first player to the left of the button, players must flip their cards face up and start setting them into what is known as a Chinese poker 3-5-5 format. These are three separate poker hands: a 3 card hand at the top, a 5 card hand in the middle, and a 5 card hand at the bottom. Each hand must be progressively stronger starting with the 3 card hand at the top. The middle hand must outrank the top hand and the bottom (back) hand must outrank the middle. If you’re lucky and your initial five cards are very strong, such as a full house or a flush, you can use all five cards for the bottom, and build the middle and top during the draws. Once you initially set the three hands they are cast in stone. You cannot switch cards between the three hands.

Each player is then dealt one card at a time to complete the remaining hands into the proper 3-5-5 format. If a hand is miss-set the player automatically receives a foul, and loses the hand. For example, having two pair on the bottom hand while setting three of a kind in the middle would be a foul, in that three of a kind outranks two pair, and the bottom is supposed to be the strongest.

Playing Strategy

It is very important to pay attention to the dealt cards to determine which ones are alive or dead. (Dead cards are already dealt). If you’re hoping for another queen to complete a full house and three of them belong to other players, you’re out of luck.

A player is awarded one unit for winning two of three hands and six units for winning all three, known as scooping. In addition, royalty points are awarded for achieving certain hands, such as a bottom hand would win two for a straight up to twenty for a royal flush. The middle hand would be awarded four for a straight up to forty for the royal. And the top hand is one point for a pair of sixes (lowest qualifying hand) up to twenty two for trip aces. Straights and flushes do not count in the three card hand.

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