How to Play Open Face Chinese Poker

The first thing to know about Open Face Chinese Poker is that it isn’t technically poker at all, and there are no betting rounds or even gamblers’ chips involved. It earned its poker name because it uses poker hands to determine who wins.

Oh, and it doesn’t come from China either. It was originally developed in Finland and played in Finnish casinos, although some Fins dispute this and say that the game was actually invented in Russia instead.

Either way, not Chinese. The Chinese in its title refers to its presence in the Chinese poker game family only.

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Open Face Chinese Poker Gameplay

Gameplay-wise, if you are in any way familiar with standard Chinese poker, you will have a head start as the mechanics of both games are mostly similar.

Open Face Chinese Poker games require a minimum of two players and a maximum of four players, using a standard 52-card deck and a dealer's button for determining the order and subsequent moves.

This is all true unless a player is in Fantasyland. Fantasyland is an optional bonus round where the dealer button freezes and stops still, staying where it is rather than moving one space to the left. This bonus round occurs when a player makes a qualifying hand with QxQx or better on top.

The aim of the game is to make three poker hands, two with five cards and one with three cards. The names of these hands are the front, middle, and back. 

The back five-card hand must be stronger than the middle five-card hand, which, in turn, must be stronger than the front three-card hand. That is the most important rule in Open Face Chinese Poker.

Players take turns receiving cards from the dealer with the aim of making the best possible hands. Players don't place bets; instead, the players agree to play for points. 

Ranking of each five-card poker hand works the same as in regular poker, so cards rank from lowest to highest as per the table below. Ranking of the three-card hand cannot go higher than three of a kind but can include two pair, pair and high card.

Poker Hands

Royal FlushConsists of Ten, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace, all of the same suit
Straight FlushMade up of 5 consecutive cards of the same suit
Four of a kindFour cards of the same rank
Full HouseA full house is a five-card hand made up of three of a kind plus a pair
FlushFive cards of the same suit
StraightFive consecutive cards are called a straight
Three of a kindA three of a kind is composed of three cards of the same rank
Two pairTwo pair hands are made up of two pairs
PairA pair is composed of two cards of the same rank
High cardIf two players do not have a pair or better, then the the highest card wins

Playing Open Face Chinese Poker

In Chinese Poker, players receive all 13 cards at the same time, but in Open Face Chinese Poker, players are only dealt five to begin with. The dealer deals the cards one at a time from the dealer's left.

Once they have their cards, players must then arrange them face up on the table to begin putting together their front, middle and back hands. When they are ready, the cards are set. Players cannot rearrange or move the cards to boost another row.

After this phase has been completed, the players each receive their remaining eight cards facing down, one by one, one at a time as the dealer deals around the table until all 13 cards have been dealt. In turns, the players begin to complete their three poker hands, one card at a time, and before the next card is received.

As soon as everyone is set, the players begin to make comparisons against one another and pick up their points. The player to the left of the button goes first, and comparisons continue clockwise. If a player beats any of their opponents' corresponding front, middle and back hands, they will score points.

If your hands are not set in proper order, then you have not made a qualifying hand, and the whole hand is a foul. Fouling will forfeit any bonuses you may have otherwise won.

Scoring in this Poker Game

In a $1 Open Face Chinese Poker game, each point is worth $1. There are also many other bonus points that may differ from casino to casino. One bonus that does not alter, however, is the Scoop Bonus, where, for winning all three hands against an opponent, players get their individual win points plus an extra three on top.

Standard Open Face Chinese Poker scoring is as follows:

  1. One point awarded for each hand won against an opponent
  2. Three bonus points awarded if a player wins all three hands against an opponent, plus three individual points for each win
  3. Players that surrender a hand must pay two points to each opponent
  4. Players that foul a hand must pay six points to each player who does not foul

Where To Play Open Face Chinese Poker

Open Face Chinese Poker is becoming an increasingly popular online poker format. This means that it shouldn't be too hard for you to find it and play a few hands. Obviously, if you are new to Open Face Chinese Poker, it is a smart move to play a few free play games first before switching to real money.

It should also go without saying that you should always look to play at a regulated and safe online poker room. You can tell these sites by their license, which should have been issued by an industry regulator.

How To Play Open Face Chinese Poker FAQ

Is Open Face Chinese Poker A Tough Game To Learn?
Not really, no. Once you have played it through a few times, you should have a fairly decent grasp of the game.
Does Open Face Chinese Poker Use Standard Poker Hands?
Yes, the hand strengths in this game work in the same way as they do in Texas Hold 'em or games of Omaha.
I Have To Make Three Separate Hands?
back both have five cards. The back hand should be a higher ranking hand than the middle and the middle higher ranking than the front.
We Don't Play For Chips?
No, you will be playing for points because you need more of them to win. You will win points by beating opponents' hands without not fouling.
Is Open Face Chinese Poker Safe To Play Online?
Yes, there is no need to worry so long as you are playing on a fully regulated site.
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