Chinese poker is a beginner-friendly poker game, where players don’t need to bet or bluff, and only play with points. Instead of holding just one hand, however, players hold 3; a bottom and middle hand with a total of 5 cards, and a top hand with a total of 3.
These hands are arranged like a pyramid, and in Open Face Chinese (OFC) Poker, they are also displayed face up. This means all players can view the cards you have in play, and makes the game less about representing a hand and more about making well-calculated choices in arranging the cards dealt to you.
The number of cards you receive in each round depends on the variation you’re playing, and we’ll get into more detail on the rules and variations of OFC below.
For the moment you will be able to find OFC Pineapple, the game’s most popular variation, in the CoinPoker lobby. Depending on community feedback, more versions of this fast-paced poker game will be added in the future.
Classic Open Face Chinese and its Pineapple variation are strikingly similar games with just a few key differences. Below we’ll cover the basics of the classic game, and point out how Pineapple differs and why it makes it a faster-paced and more popular variation.
Classic OFC can be played by 2, 3, or 4 players while its Pineapple counterpart has a maximum number of players set at 3. The reason for this difference is that more cards are dealt in Pineapple, but we’ll get into that a little later.
Every OFC cash game follows the same principles as Hold’Em or PLO in the sense that they have a set buy-in. The difference is that when you sit down at the table with your buy-in there will be no bets or chips. Instead, you will compete for points, and each table has an assigned value to one point. For example, a 500 CHP buy-in game will usually have a 5CHP/point value set.
Each round is referred to as a set, and the number of hands in a set depends on the number of players at the table.
During the game you will sometimes notice that the number of hands increases, this is because of the Fantasyland feature, which will be explained later on.
The game starts with the player left of the dealer, and each player is given 5 cards to start with. Players need to arrange the cards into 3 hands, consisting of 13 slots, which will be visible to everyone at the table.
After the first 5 cards are dealt, players are dealt one card at a time in Classic OFC, or 3 cards at a time in Pineapple. Pineapple is a lot faster paced, and in this variation players get these cards face down, choose 2 to play with and reveal, then discard the third.
OFC is less about bluffing your opponents and more about calculating the odds of making a certain hand. When arranging the cards into each row there are a few important rules to consider in addition to trying to make the best possible hand.
Failing to comply with these rules results in a foul. Fouling gets you -6 points at the end of the hand. That’s the same penalty as losing all three rows, and fouling will cut these points off your score regardless of whether or not your rows are stronger than your opponents’.
Once all 13 cards are placed and you have successfully avoided fouling, it’s time you compare hands with your opponent(s). The system for scoring is the same in both Classic OFC and Pineapple, and can seem a little confusing at first.
In addition to these points, OFC and Pineapple scoring also includes royalties. These are special points awarded for certain hands, and are added to the basic scores. Higher hands on the top row get the highest number of royalty points, followed by the middle and bottom rows.
You can find a handy cheat sheet for all OFC royalties here.
If you manage to get QQ or higher in your top row without fouling then you enter into what is called Fantasyland. Fantasyland gives you the special advantage of receiving 13 cards at once in Classic or 14 in Pineapple (1 you would discard) instead of just the initial 5 on your next hand.
You can then use these cards to make your hands without the uncertainty that comes with drawing 1 or 3 at a time. Players can stay in Fantasyland in the next hand and beyond by satisfying any of the following conditions during the current hand:
Fantasyland adds an extra hand to your existing set, giving you a huge advantage during the hand and an opportunity to grab more points from your opponent(s).