How To Play Open Face Chinese (OFC) Poker

Learn How To Play OFC

Open-Face Chinese is the most popular form of Chinese poker. It’s an unusual one if you’re used to No-Limit Hold’em.

First off, this game is not played for chips, but points instead. The most characteristic element of poker, betting, is also eliminated. Your hand gets scored according to a standardized system. What OFC keeps from the “classic” poker games is the Hold’em hand ranking.

Players have to make three separate poker hands, two consisting of five cards and one of three, which rank from best (the 5-card ‘Back’ hand), to the next best – the 5-card Middle hand – to the worst, the 3-card Front hand.

Ranking of each five-card poker hand works the same as in regular poker, so cards rank from lowest to highest: high card, one pair, two pair, three-of-a-kind, straight, flush, full house, straight flush and Royal Flush. The Front 3-card hand just has three rankings: high card, one pair, or three-of-a-kind (you can’t have straights or flushes in your Front hand).

Players then compare their three hands against one another (making sure that their own hands rank properly) and score points if they beat any of their opponent’s corresponding Front, Middle and Back hand.

In standard Chinese Poker, players are dealt all 13 cards at the same time and must make their hands in one go. However, OFCP works slightly differently.

Dealing The Cards In OFC

Like regular Chinese (high), Open-Face Chinese is structured into three hands of descending value, 1. A five-card hand in the back (the strongest) 2. A five-card hand in the middle and 3. A three-card hand “up top.” If your middle is stronger than your back hand or your top is stronger than your middle, you “foul.” Open-Face Chinese can be played with two to four players and begins with five cards dealt to each player. The player left of the button places the five cards anywhere in the back, middle and top (not to be moved at any other point in the hand). Afterwards, each player is dealt one card at a time, starting from the left of the button, until 13 cards are dealt to each player. The goal is to make the strongest possible hand, accumulate as many royalties as possible without fouling.

Open Face Chinese Poker Points

There are two ways to win points in OFCP. Basic points are awarded just for beating your opponent’s corresponding hand. For example, you win 1 point for beating your opponent’s corresponding hand (e.g. Middle Hand vs. Middle Hand), and a 3-point bonus if you sweep (win all three hands).

There are also bonus “royalty” points for playing certain listed hands in the Front, Middle or Back hands.

For example, you can win 25 points in the Back for a Royal Flush, (although 20 can sometimes be scored in some versions), 15 for a Straight Flush, (likewise, some forms of OFCP award 10 points), 10 for quads (again, 8 pts are awarded sometimes), 6 for a full house, 4 for a flush and 2 for a straight.

If any of those hands are achieved in the middle, the royalties are doubled (remembering not to foul your hand).

“Fouling your hand” is when your three hands end up being out of ascending order, that is the Front Hand is better than your Middle Hand, and your Middle better than the Back Hand, etc.

Therefore, it’s vital before you start scoring points that you don’t foul.

Points can also be won for hitting a pair of sixes or better in your Front Hand. 

Basic Strategy

Position is very important in this game too – if you get to act after your opponent, you know what you have to beat in which hand. Evidently, as the hand develops, you’ll have an idea about what the other player is likely to have by the end of the hand even if you’re out of position.

You need to look out for blockers. See what’s out of the deck so you don’t chase cards that are already dead.

And lastly, it is crucial to avoid fouling. This is especially true if you see that you can beat your opponent’s board. This means try to avoid having better hands in the front hand from the very beginning. Also – this holds true more for regular OFC than Pineapple – usually you’re better off filling up the front row before the last draw, mainly if you don’t have a very strong hand in the middle. That way you avoid having to put the last card up front no matter what it is, having to make a foul that way and hand your points over to the opponent.

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