A guide to chinese poker

Også i Norge har det vært bevegelser i reguleringen av pokerspill de senere årene, ved at man nå får arrangere et nasjonalt mesterskap i eget land. I pokermiljøet jobbes det intenst med en ytterligere aksept av poker som ferdighetsspill og en oppmykning av reglene for å spille poker. Foto: Pixabay

Chinese poker, and especially the variant best known as OFC, open faced chinese, have become popular among poker players all over the world. The professionals have played it for a while, and now we see the game spread to local home games as well.

One of the main reasons this game has become so popular is that it does not require a lot of equipment or space. All you need is a deck of cards. And preferrably somewhere to keep score. Pen and paper, or simly just the notes on your phone. Even easier is to play using one of the many apps that offer the game.

OFC is the perfect timekiller, and here is how you play it:

Deal the cards!

Standard chinese poker uses thirteen cards, dealt to each player, all at the same time, no cards exposed. Each player then sets his hand by using those thirteen cards to make three hands, the top, the middle and the bottom. The middle and the bottom hand has five cards each, and is normal poker hands. The top hand only has three card, and no straights or flushes.

In OFC things are done differently. Each player gets only FIVE cards from the first deal. Then each player has to arrange those five cards face up, with the player directly to the left from the dealer acting first.

When both, or all three, players have arranged their five cards they get three more. From these three they need to put two of them in their hand and throw one away. This process is repeated four times, until all players have completed a 13-card chinese hand.

Where you place your cards are entirely up to you. The only important thing is to clearly state where in your hand you put your cards.

Some important rules

The bottom hand must be stronger (beat) the middle hand, and the middle hand must beat the top hand. So if you have a pair of aces with a king kicker in the top hand, you will need two pair or better in the middle, and something that beats two pair in your bottom hand.

Fantasyland / Narnia

If you are able to set a valid hand with queens or better in the top hand, you will enter Fantasyland in the next deal. This takes you back to the original form of chinese poker where you will recieve all your cards at the initial deal. Not only that, you will get an extra card for a total of 14 cards. This is obiously a huge advantage, and therefore getting to Fantasyland, or Narnia as some call it, are very important in this game.

To stay in Narna for another hand you will need to set a valid hand that has either quads or better in the bottom hand or trips in the top hand. No easy feat, but if you can do it you will rake in the points!

Be aware that you will NOT get another round in Narnia just by having QQ+ in the top hand. This only applies to normal rounds.

Show me the money!

Points (or units) are the currency of this game. Most play chinese as a cash game, and that is done by setting a cash value for each point.

The majority of points are won from bonuses, or royalites. You get a bonus every time you make a straight or better in the bottom hand, and for a pair of sixes or better in the top hand. So this will happen almost every hand.

Here are how the points are awarded in chinese poker:

Each of the three hands are worth one point. So if player A looses to player B in the bottom hand, but wins both the middle and the top hand, he wins one point. If he wins all three hands, a scoop, he will get double – six points!

Bonuses for the bottom hand:

Straight: +2 points
Flush: +4 points
Full house: +6 points
Quads: +10 points
Straight flush: +15 points
Royal flush: +25 points

Bonuses for the middle hand are doubled:

Set: +2 points
Straight: +4 points
Flush: +8 points
Full house: +12 points
Quads: +20 points
Straight flush: +30 points
Royal flush: +50 points

Bonuses for the top hand:

66: +1 point
77: +2 points
88: +3 points

99: +4 points
TT: +5 points
JJ: +6 points
QQ: +7 points
KK: +8 points
AA: +9 points
222: +10 points
333: +11 points
444: +12 points
555: +13 points
666: +14 points
777: +15 points
888: +16 points
999: +17 points
TTT: +18 points
JJJ: +19 points
QQQ: +20 points
KKK: +21 points
AAA: +22 points

Bonuses will be paid to all valid hands, regardless if the hand is won or not.

Funfact about chinese poker: The game was originally developed in Finland, and has nothing to do with China. The origin of the name remains unknown.


Kjetil Flåten