Introduction to Open Face Chinese Poker – Part 1

6 years ago
Introduction to Open Face Chinese Poker – Part 1
16 Feb

As you are all probably aware by now, TonyBetis one of our newest partner rooms. To celebrate this cooperation, we will be bringing you an Open Face Chinese Poker Freeroll on March 1st. Although there are many resources out there to help you master OFC, I figured it would be nice to have something right here on PokerTube for those completely new to the game.

I am by no means an expert on OFC (and its numerous variations), but do hope that I will be able to at least give you a general idea as to what the game is all about.

Classic Chinese Poker

Chinese Poker is the predecessor of today’s OFC game. The main difference between the two is that the classic variation requires a minimum level of skill (card reading abilities is about all you need).

The game is played with a standard deck of 52 cards and the maximum number of players is four. This is because every player is dealt 13 cards, so it would be impossible to have more players involved at the same time.

Cards are dealt face down.


After receiving all 13 cards, players arrange them in five rows: front, back and middle. Front consists of only three cards, while the middle and the back contain five cards each. The usual rules for determining strength of poker hands are applied, but there are several things to pay attention to.

  • Front can only contain high cards, a pair, or trips; no straights or flushes allowed
  • Middle must always be stronger than the front and weaker than the back
  • The back hand must be the strongest of the three
  • When all players are done arranging their hands, a showdown ensues and the hands are compared


Each hand is compared to that of the remaining three players, row by row.

If player A has a pair of Sevens in his front row, he will beat Player B holding Ace-high and Player C holding a pair of Fives in the front, but lose (naturally) to Player D with a pair of Queens. For every hand a player beats, he or she receives one point – called a unit. So in this example:

  • Player A receives a total of +1 point (+2; -1)
  • Player B receives a total of -3 points
  • Player C receives total of -1 point
  • Player D receives a total of +3 points

This continues using the same pattern for the middle and the back row. Monetary value of the units is determined by the players before starting the game.

Bonus points

Bonus points are awarded for certain types of hands and this can be an important consideration to maximize your profit in a hand.

Winner’s bonuses

These bonuses are triggered only if a player wins in a particular row

  • Win with trips in the front: +3 units (instead of +1)
  • Win with a full house in the middle: +2 units
  • 4 of a kind in the middle: +4 units
  • Straight flush in the back or in the middle: +5 units

Bonuses that always count

These bonuses are triggered regardless of the outcome

  • Six pairs – a hand containing six pairs and one extra card +3 units
  • Three straights – although straights in the front usually do not count, if players have non-fouling straights in the back and in the middle, they can have a short straight in the front for an extra 3 units
  • Three flushes – same situation as with straights +3 units
  • Complete straight (sometimes called the Dragon) – a hand containing all the cards from an Ace to a King +13 units

Although these are the rules for the classic game of Chinese Poker, there are numerous other variations with different point systems and even more special hands.


Although knowing Classic Chinese Poker is not a prerequisite to playing OFC, since OFC is actually a derivative of the classic version, it is good to know what got the ball rolling. Part 2 of this series will be devoted entirely to Open Face Chinese rules and scoring, with special emphasis on the elements of the game that differentiate it from the original version.


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Ivan Potocki is the editor in chief and one of the lead news writers for PokerTube. His natural flair and enthusiasm for journalism combined with a deep poker knowledge make him an exciting contributor for PokerTube.The experience garnered playing poker professionally for several years and the knowl...Read more


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