25 May

How to Play Open Face Chinese Poker

How to Play Open Face Chinese Poker

Open Face Chinese Poker, or OFC for short, is a poker variant derived from the original game of Chinese Poker. The Open Face arrangement was embraced with such enthusiasm, no one really plays the old way anymore. Following a swift rise in popularity, OFC Poker is now found in all major poker rooms, online and on land.

How to Play Chinese Poker w/ Open Face (OFC Poker)

If you’ve ever played Pai Gow Poker in a casino, you should catch on to the rules of Open Face Chinese Poker pretty quickly. In the below sections, you’ll learn the object of the game, how to set qualifying hands, how to score standard points, bonus points, and win money, and how to enter OFC Fantasyland.

  • Object of OFC: The object of the game is to set three poker hands from the 13 cards provided, and win earn points for winning those hands against other players…
  • Setting Hands: To keep things fair, there are certain rules in place for setting qualifying hands. The bottom hand must beat the middle hand, and the middle must beat the top…
  • Point Scoring: There are no betting rounds in OFC Poker. Wins and losses are accrued by scoring points. Points are earned for winning hands against opponents…
  • Bonus Scoring: Another way to score points is to set high-ranking hands. A straight or better in the bottom or middle hand, or pair of 6s or higher on top, score bonus points…
  • Fantasyland: Fantasyland is a special bonus round offered in most OFC games online and on land. You must have QQ+ in the top hand, and qualify, to enter Fantasyland…
  • Pineapple OFC: Pineapple is a faster variant of OFC for up to 3 players. Following the initial 5 cards, players receive 3 cards at a time, but can only use 2…
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OFC Poker Rules – Object of the Game

OFC is played with a single, standard deck of 52 cards. Necessitating 13 cards per hand, the game can accommodate up to 4 players at most, but is often played with just 2, competing heads-up. The term “open face” refers to the fact that players must set their cards face-up, for all to see, throughout the entire hand.

The object of the game is to set three poker hands – one 3-card hand, played on top, and two 5-card hands, played middle and bottom. Each hand competes unilaterally against each opponent’s hand – top versus top, middle versus middle, and bottom versus bottom.
We’ll talk more about how to win Open Face Chinese Poker in a moment. First, let’s look at how hands are set.

Setting the Hands – Rules of Qualification

Hwo to Set Hands in Open Face Chinese PokerA hand starts with 5 cards being dealt to each player. One at a time, starting with the player left of the dealer, player’s will set their cards face up on the table in designated positions. They can choose to place any cards in the top, middle or bottom hands. However, once a card is set in one hand, it cannot be moved to another hand.

After the first player to act has set his 5 cards, the player to his left will set, then the next, until all are done. The dealer will then pass out one more card to each player. Again, starting left of the dealer, players will set this next card in their hands. This action is repeated time and again until all players have filled all of their hands with 13 cards each. Note that, in a 4 player game, all 52 cards will be depleted from the deck.

Qualifying Hands

In order for a hand to qualify, the bottom hand must rank higher than the middle hand, and the middle higher than the 3-card top hand. Although rare, an exact tie is also acceptable. However, if any of the player’s hands do not qualify, all three hands are deemed foul.

If a player fouls, all of their hands automatically lose. In this case, the player will score -6 points against all other players who did not also foul (see Scooping below).

Scoring – How to Win Money Playing OFC Poker

As mentioned above, Open Face Chinese is not like traditional poker. There are no antes or blinds, betting rounds, no pots to be won. It is not a single player with the highest ranking hands that wins. OFC Poker is played on a point system, where each hand, in each position, is evaluated against each opponent, on an individual basis.

For instance, in a 3-player game, we have Player A, Player B, and Player C. Scoring would take place as follows:

Player A vs. Player B: Player A compares all three of his hands against Player B’s, earning a point for each hand that’s higher (plus bonus score, if applicable, detailed below). They then exchange money accordingly – 1 bet unit per point. Bet units should be determined before the game, of course.

Player A vs. Player C: Player A then compares against Player C, determining points and exchanging money.

Player B vs. Player C: Finally, Player B compares against Player C.

Each hand is completed in this fashion. All players compare against each other, collecting any winnings, and paying any debts. Then the cards are shuffled and a new hand begins.

Scoring Points

+1 Per Hand: Each individual hand that is won against another player is worth +1. For example, if Player A wins the top hand against Player B, he earns +1 points.

Scooping: A player scoops the hand if all three of their hands win against another player. They will receive a total of +6 points for scooping the hand, calculated as +1 for top, +1 for middle, +1 for bottom, and +3 for the scoop (+6 in all).

Bonus Scoring – Where the Big Money Is

In addition to earning points for winning hands and scooping, players can earn a lot more points by setting exceptional hand ranks. A Straight on bottom, for example, is worth +2 points. A straight in the middle is worth +4. Setting trips on the top hand is worth anywhere from +10 for 2-2-2, to +22 for A-A-A.

Striving to set such hands can be extremely profitable, if you succeed. However, it’s also a good way to foul out, resulting in a -6 scoop against everyone at the table. In short, be careful about shooting for the highest ranking hands. The higher the point value, the greater the risk of fouling.

That being said, here’s a complete table of bonus point scoring for bottom, top and middle hands. Note that bonus points are scored in addition to regular points and scoops, and a losing hand will still earn bonus points against the winner. However, bonus score is not counted on foul hands.

Hand Rank Middle Bonus Bottom Bonus
3 of a Kind +2
Straight +4 +2
Flush +8 +4
Full House +12 +6
4 of a Kind +20 +10
Straight Flush +30 +15
Royal Flush +50 +25
Top Hand Rank Bonus Top Hand Rank Bonus
6-6 +1 4-4-4 +12
7-7 +2 5-5-5 +13
8-8 +3 6-6-6 +14
9-9 +4 7-7-7 +15
10-10 +5 8-8-8 +16
J-J +6 9-9-9 +17
Q-Q +7 10-10-10 +18
K-K +8 J-J-J +19
A-A +9 Q-Q-Q +20
2-2-2 +10 K-K-K +21
3-3-3 +11 A-A-A +22

Learn How to Play OFC with Fantasyland Rule

This is a super fun way to play OFC Poker – for the player who makes it there, that is. It gives this player an extreme advantage in the next hand. As such, everyone must agree to play with Fantasyland rules before the game begins. If you’re playing in a live or online poker room, check the rules to see if Fantasyland is in play before you begin.

Here’s how it works. If any player completes a qualifying hand with Q-Q or better on top, they will enter Fantasyland on the next hand. For the Fantasyland hand, the dealer button does not move. This player receives all 13 of their cards at the very beginning, thus making it very easy to set a fantastic array of hands, and likely to score a lot of bonus points. All other players receive cards and set their hands by standard rules.

Due to the extreme advantage given to this player, no other participant may choose to quit or sit out when a Fantasyland hand is about to start. It is the ethical thing to do to remain for the hand and face the unfavorable consequences.

Staying in Fantasyland

Getting into Fantasyland requires Q-Q or better up top. By those rules, it would be relatively easy to stay in Fantasyland. To make it harder, the player must achieve one of the following hands to remain in Fantasyland for another round of play.

  • Any 3 of a Kind in Top Hand
  • Full House or better in Middle Hand
  • Any 4 of a Kind or better in Bottom Hand

Pineapple Open Face Chinese Poker

Another popular variant of OFC Poker is called Pineapple. In this version, only 2 to 3 players can join in. It is essentially a faster version of the same game, with more cards dealt per round.

Like standard OFC, each player is dealt 5 cards to start, and sets them as usual. From here on out, players receive 3 cards at a time, instead of just one, but they may only use 2 of these cards. Player player picks which two cards to set, then discards the third card. All other rules remain the same.


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