Chinese Poker

Some people love eating Chinese, and some people hate it. We aren’t judging people’s cuisine preferences. Just here to tell you that everyone can play Chinese Poker. It’s a fun game for beginners and skilled players alike!

Every player gets thirteen cards. Their objective is to make three poker hands with their cards. You don’t have to be a poker pro player to excel in this game. All you need is a solid understanding of the poker hand rankings! You can check out the poker hand rankings here.

Let’s now quickly find out how to play Chinese Poker.

How to Play Chinese Poker

  1. Chinese Poker is a game for 2 to 4 players.
  2. Select a dealer among yourselves. 
  3. The dealer distributes 13 cards to each player, in a clockwise direction.
  4. Players make three hands with the 13 cards – top, middle, and bottom.
  5. Your top hand should have 3 cards and must be the weakest.
  6. Your middle hand should have 5 cards and must be mediocre.
  7. Your bottom hand should have 5 cards and must be the strongest.
  8. After building your poker hands, place your cards on the table. (face down)
  9. Next, there is a showdown. 
  10. Decide if you want to surrender (opt-out) or play your hand.
  11. If you choose to play, compare each hand with your opponent’s hand.
  12. Players who choose to play will reveal their hands in a clockwise direction.
  13. You get one point for every hand you win against your opponents. 

Let us understand how to play Chinese poker with the help of an example.

  1. Assume you are playing Chinese poker online game against four players. You get dealt the following cards:
  2. Your goal is to build the best bottom hand with five cards, followed by the middle hand, and the worst front hand. 
  3. Here's how you can organize your cards. One pair in the front hand, two pairs in the middle hand, and a stronger two pairs in the bottom hand.
  4. We arranged the above cards with the goal that your front, middle, and bottom hand is better than your opponent upon comparison.
  5. AA is the strongest one pair you could make. There are two pairs in the middle and bottom hand, where the bottom hand has KK and the middle hand has JJ. This makes the bottom hand stronger than the middle hand.
  6. Next, your hands are compared with your opponents. 
  7. Players get one point for winning a hand and lose one point for losing a hand. Remember, in the Chinese Poker game, there are no blinds or antes. There is no betting. Instead, players agree upon a pre-decided amount known as “units” at the start of the game. 
  8. Let's see the top, middle, and bottom hand of your opponents and see how many points you have scored in your Chinese poker online game.

This is your top, middle, bottom hand. 

Here's what your opponents had in this Chinese Poker online game.

Let’s understand the Chinese Poker scoring below.

Chinese Poker Scoring

  • There are units instead of stakes in the Chinese Poker game. 
  • A unit is an amount agreed upon at the beginning of the game. 
  • The players collect one unit (1 point) from every opponent for beating their hand and give one unit (1 point) to opponents for losing a hand. 
  • There is no need for players to pay out during every hand comparison, as points (units) are allocated/deducted, and settlement can be done at the end of the session.

You can maintain Chinese Poker scoring using just a pen and a piece of paper for every player.

Let us understand scoring better with the example given below.

There are two scoring methods, the 2-4 and 1-6 method. You can choose any scoring method you like before beginning the game and keep a tab on your scores.

  • 2-4 Scoring Method:- In the 2-4 method, Simon pays Richard two units. Richard gets two units for winning the top and middle hand and loses one unit for losing the bottom hand. One overall unit is awarded for winning two out of three hands.
  • 1-6 scoring method:- In the 1-6 method, Simon pays Richard one unit for losing one hand, and Richard gets two units for winning the top and middle hand. Simon loses one point for losing the bottom hand. A player gets 3 units for winning all 3 hands but in this case, Richard wins only two hands, so no bonus units are given.

Let’s understand important Chinese Poker terms below.

Chinese Poker Terms

  • Scoop:- Every hand has a worth of one point against every player in the game. So, if you win a hand (top, middle, or bottom) against all the 3 players, you stand to gain a maximum of 3 points. If you can beat the other players for each of the three hands, then, it is known as 'scoop'
  • Foul:- There needs to be a check done on the hands played by every player to find out if any foul (or mis-set of hand) has been done by any player. 

What Does this Mean? 

Well, if any player misses placing their five-card hand stronger than the three-card hand, then, such a player is said to commit a ‘foul’. Similarly, if any player missed placing their bottom hand to be stronger than their middle hand, then, such a player is also said to commit a ‘mis-set’ or ‘foul’.

A player who mis-sets his / her hand has to give away 3 points/units to every player involved in the game (except for the ones who have surrendered).

  • Surrender:- The player who is seated immediately left to the dealer will inform everyone whether he/she will surrender or play. Similarly, every next player to the left in that direction will announce the same.

Let us now understand Chinese Poker Royalty.

Royalties in Chinese Poker

Royalties are bonus units. They are offered for holding special hands. The precise number of units for every royalty needs to be decided before the game. Royalties can be given if your hand qualifies for the same. At the same time, if there are two or more players in a specific hand that qualify for royalties, then, the player with better royalty can be awarded.

Generally, the following hands are awarded royalties:

  • Four of a Kind.
  • Straight Flush.
  • Full House as middle hand.
  • Three of a Kind as the front hand.

Let's understand the Chinese Poker scoring for top, middle, and bottom hand royalties.

Front Hand Base Points Front Hand Base Points Front Hand Base Points
Three of a Kind 3 Full House 1 Four of a Kind 2
    Four of a Kind 3 Straight Flush 2
    Straight Flush 4    


Naturals are Chinese Poker royalties where players are awarded bonus units if the initial 13 cards fall into a special hand category. You get awarded this royalty before any of the players surrender. Once you get this royalty, you cannot play your hand and other players continue to play.

  • There are no picture cards. Ace counts as non-picture cards.
  • There are all picture cards. Ace counts as a picture card.
  • The cards are Six and above. Ace counts as above.
  • There are 12 or 13 cards in one color, that is, red or black.

Point Structure for Chinese Poker Royalties

Hand Meaning Example Base Points
Clean Dragon 13 consecutive cards of the same suit 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K A 108
Dragon 13 consecutive cards but of a different suit 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K A 36
12 Royalties/All Broadways All picture cards (three quads or four triples) J J J J Q Q Q Q K K K K 32
Three Straight flushes   2 3 4 A 2 3 4 5 7 8 9 10 J 24
Three Quads   4 4 4 4 J J J J K K K K A 20
All Low2/Highs1 8 and higher or 8 and lower 2 3 3 4 4 4 5 5 6 7 7 7 12
8 9 9 10 10 J J J Q Q K K A
Full-colored All red or all-black cards 2 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K A 10
2 2 3 4 7 8 9 9 10 J Q K A
Four Triples There are four three of a kind 2 2 2 5 5 5 8 8 8 10 10 10 K 8
Six-and-a-half Pairs Four of a kind is considered two pairs. There are 6 pairs and one additional card 8 9 9 10 10 J J Q Q K K A A 6
Three Straights   A 2 3 10 J Q K A 10 J Q K A 4
Three flushes   5 8 J 2 3 7 9 J 2 4 5 J 3
No Broadway Cards* There are no picture cards. Ace is a non-picture card 2 2 3 4 5 5 6 6 7 7 8 8 3

Let’s now have a look at two of the most popular Chinese Poker variants below.

Open Face Chinese Poker (OFC Poker) 

Open Face Chinese Poker is a variant of Chinese Poker. Let’s find out how to play Open Face Chinese poker.

  • Initially, every player is dealt 5 out of 13 cards.
  • Each player organizes these cards (face up) on the table.
  • You aim to form a poker hand. 
  • The rule of OFC poker is the same as traditional Chinese Poker. The bottom hand (built with 5 cards) is strongest, the middle hand (built with 5 cards) is mediocre, and the top (built with 3 cards) is weakest. 
  • You can’t move a card after setting it on a table. 
  • After the five cards are organized, the players will pick up / draw one card at a time. 
  • One by one, pick and place your cards face-up on the table and continue forming three different hands. 
  • This process continues till every player draws a total of 13 cards and places all of them on the table to form their three hands.
  • You don’t see all cards from the beginning. Therefore, the chances of you committing a ‘fault’ or ‘mis-set’ in Ofc Poker is much higher as compared to normal Chinese Poker. 

What’s the challenge of OFC Poker? While trying to form hands with one card at a time, you may accidentally end up creating a bottom hand (five-card hand) that is not the strongest or a top hand (three-card hand) that is stronger than the middle hand (five-card hand). 

Pineapple Open Face Chinese Poker (POFC Poker) 

The rules of Pineapple Open Face Chinese Poker or POFC Poker are quite similar to OFC Poker. There is a little variation. Find out below.

  • Pineapple Open Face Chinese Poker has a maximum of three players.
  • Players are dealt five cards to begin the game.
  • Next, each player gets three cards.
  • Your goal is to make three hands – top, middle, and bottom hand with your cards.
  • Out of the three cards received, place two cards on the table and discard one card.
  • You can be smart and discard a card that you think any other player is looking for to form their hand.
  • As compared to Ofc Poker, this variant takes less time to complete as the cards are dealt in a total of 5 turns (instead of the 9 turns required for Open Face Chinese Poker).
  • The rest of the rules remain similar to Open Face Chinese Poker. 

Play Free Chinese Poker Online

Chinese Poker may not be as popular as Texas Hold’em or Omaha Poker, but, is surely a very fascinating poker game that gives you a chance to play poker differently. You can start playing poker games, such as Chinese Poker at Spartan Poker online and try out your luck. Because this game involves more luck as compared to some other poker varieties, even beginners can start winning games more consistently here. Try something different and Play Free Chinese Poker Online now!

Open Face Chinese Poker FAQs

What does OFC poker stand for?

The full form of OFC Poker is Open Face Chinese Poker.

What is the highest card in Chinese poker?

Ace is the highest card in Chinese Poker.

What is a Chinese game like poker?

Players get 13 cards to play Chinese Poker and arrange them in the top, middle, and bottom hands. The top hand (3 cards) is the weakest, the middle hand (5 cards) is mediocre, and the bottom hand (5 cards) is the strongest.