How to Play Open Faced Chinese Poker

This poker game is quite a paradox as it is both simple in concept yet extremely complex in the way hands can be laid out. As long as you understand basic poker it will take you less than 15 minutes to understand the rules of this game so you can get started playing. A great place to find all the information needed to learn is

Open Faced Chinese Poker Odds Matrix


Once you start playing you will find the strategy anything but simple. Poker Professionals from all over will tell you this is the toughest game they have come across to run the numbers on. The new challenge along with the fact that all you need is another player and a pad of paper to track units won, is what has so many people hooked on this game.

To get started you simply need to decide on the bet value per unit and start dealing the cards, first five down to each player. Once the player receives their cards they have to choose to set them in either the Back, Middle or Front hand, five, five and three cards respectively. The photo on the right shows both player’s hands after setting first five cards.

Depending on the type of rules you are playing, and there are many variations, you may go for Queens in front. Keep in mind when setting your cards the middle hand must be stronger than the front hand and the back hand must be stronger than the middle hand or you foul. Fouling not only forces you to pay three units to each of the other players but causes you to lose any Royalty Points you may have.

OFCP Card Set



Because my opponent has a Queen up and my odds of catching another Queen with only 2 outs is 35% or less I have decided not to play Queens in the front row. The chances of catching my flush however based on having 8 outs and 8 cards left to draw are 85%, so I have set up my cards to play for the flush in my back hand.

Playing in position, playing last, is a good benefit in Open Face Chinese Poker because it allows you to see how your opponents have set their hands and allows you to know exactly the number of outs you have at any given time. I have included an outs chart above. The only time it is not possible to know the exact number of outs is if one of your opponents is in Fantasyland, which means they get all their cards face down when they get a pair of Queens of better in the Front Hand without fouling.


Now all players have set their opening cards and we start dealing cards out one at a time to each player, as each card is received the player must set it to one of their three hands. Once a card is set to a hand it is locked in position for the balance of the deal. During the placing of these cards it is important to watch your different hands to be sure you do not foul. It is also important to watch your opponent’s cards to beat the hands they receive on each corresponding level.

The dealing is continued until each player receives 13 cards and fills in all three hands. I have included another diagram from showing the finished hand and the scoring. On the finished board you will see my opponent fouled. My second last card was the King of Diamonds and based on 25% odds I decided to place it in my middle hand and play for my flush in the back hand. The result… I fouled also.

Better luck next time and stay tuned for more Open FACE Chinese Poker News and Views.


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