Open-face Chinese poker (OFC) has matured from closed-face (“regular”) Chinese poker, but then you don’t really need to know the rules or strategies of regular Chinese poker to try your hand at OFC.
OFC players also take chances drawing cards from a single deck, like in any other poker game, in order to make the best possible hand for themselves, while their competitors do the same. Unlike other poker games, the players don’t place any bets during the rounds of play, instead, everyone agrees to play “per point” and the scoring is made in points, like in any other card games; hearts or gin rummy.
After all the card-placements are completed, every player will have 13 cards arranged into three hands, known as the “top,” the “middle,” and the “bottom.”
Every player’s top hand is compared to the other players’ top hands, the middle hand to the middle, and the bottom hand to the bottom. A player will score or lose points, on the basis of their hand measures.
The three hands are scored and compared on the basis of regular poker hands. The bottom and the middle are regular five-card hands, the same as in Poker. The top hand only has three cards, but still scored the same way, thus the best possible hand to have on Top would be a three-of-a-kind, well, most top hands are high-card hands.
Since every player requires 13 cards from the deck, OFC can only be played with a maximum of four players. Often, the game is played as heads-up between just two players.
The first and foremost objective in OFC is to make a “competent” hand. There is a stringent rule that the bottom hand should be at least as good as the middle hand, and that the middle hand shouldn’t be as good as the top hand. Since a player is laying out his cards one at a time, this isn’t possible usually. If a player has already placed a pair of kings in the middle, and has a straight draw on the bottom hand using cards that are all lower than a king, the player has to complete the straight.
In OFC, if your hand doesn’t qualify or has fouled, then you will get a zero point for the whole frame. There isn’t any fine or penalty, but your top, middle, and bottom hands are all given zeros. As long as your competitor makes a qualifying hand, they will beat your top, middle, and bottom hands.
First & Subsequent Rounds of OFC
Just like hold’em, OFC is also played with a dealer button. The player to the left of the dealer button acts first in every round, the play moves clockwise, and the button is moved after each and every hand.
It starts with, players getting five cards to play in turn, placing each card in the top, middle, or bottom hand. The cards are placed brazen-up on the table, therefore, “open-face” Chinese poker. Once a player places his cards and stipulates that their turn is complete, the next player flips over all of his five cards and initiates his own arrangement.
After the first turn, every player gets cards one at a time, and places them face up, in turn.
Once you place a card in the top, middle, or bottom hand, you cannot move it to a different position later. There is no going back.
If you have come this far, and are acquainted with the general rules of poker hands (like a flush can beat a straight, quads can beat a full house, etc.), then come inside the ring you are ready to play OFC. As long as you trust your competitor, or an impartial judge, to score the hands,just go ahead and get the game started.
The basics of scoring are simple, but there’s a certain number of comprehensive cases to account for. Don’t get overburdened. You can easily start playing the game without knowing all the scoring details immediately and learn as you play..
Since, OFC is played per point, the scoring of the final hands (after all 13 cards are placed) has to be done on a point basis.
Each hand, (top, middle, or bottom), is worth one point to the player. So if you have a pair of Queens in the middle and your opponent has a King high, then you will get one point for the middle hand.
If you are playing OFC three or four-handed, every player scores against each other individually. Therefore, unlike in hold’em, where the best hand that stays until the end gets everything and everyone else will get nothing, there is no folding here. For instance, if Bob beats Ted but loses his hand to Joe, Bob still wins the points he earned from beating Ted.
But wait, it’s not over yet!
In addition to the +1/-1 points each row, there are a multitude of scoring bonuses that can win you a lot more than just one point.
The Scoring Bonuses:
The most frequent OFC scoring bonus is none other than the “scoop bonus.” If you beat a player’s top, middle, and bottom hand you win an additional three points over the points you win from beating your opponent. Sometimes this can be referred to as the “1-6” scoring structure. If you beat your competitor two out of three rows, you only win one point overall. If you beat him at all hands, you get six points overall.
To motivate players to take chances for big hands, OFC rewards you with different point bonuses for good hands in every row. These bonuses are distributed, as long as a player can make a sustainable hand, regardless of winning or losing those hands..
The Bottom-row hands, bonuses can range from 2 points for a straight to 25 points for a royal flush. Middle row bonuses start with 2 points for three-of-a-kind, can go up to 50 points for a royal flush. The top hand bonuses start from 1 point for a pair of sixes and can go up from there. There is a full list for you below.
OFC Bonus Scoring System
Considering the bonuses for big hands, there’s also a special rule added, which initially began to bring more drama to the table, but now it’s become a huge standard part of the OFC strategy.
To continue playing with "Fantasyland” is optional for the players, and should be agreed upon before an OFC game starts. The OFC games that are played online offer the Fantasyland option to the players. Always make sure whether you’re playing with or without the Fantasyland option before you join the game.
This rule is quite easy: If you end up with a qualifying hand with or a better one for the top hand, then your next hand will be processed in “Fantasyland.”
Fantasyland is considered as a bonus round for OFC. It’s usual for the button to not move, and a player is certainly not allowed to abandon or get dealt out of the hand while his opponent’s Fantasyland round is in action.
The players in Fantasyland have a big bonus because they are dealt all 13 cards at the same time, instead of the beginning five and then one card a player can play their hands according to the general OFC rules.t a time. The player then places the cards face down in turn, and then waits for the other
Once all players are finished placing their cards, the Fantasyland hands are revealed and given points to like a regular OFC hand. Hence, a player in Fantasyland, after turns and turns of placing his hand wrongly, solely because he/she doesn’t know what’s coming their way, is able to set their hand flawlessly.
Staying in the Fantasyland
It is too simple to make, KK or better on the top hand while in Fantasyland, where you can see all 13 cards at once, so the standard rules for staying in Fantasyland are a bit more strict.
A player in Fantasyland gets to “stay in Fantasyland” if he/she can make quads or better on the bottom hand, a full house or better in the middle hand, or three-of-a-kind for the top hand. The complete list of hands equipped to stay in Fantasyland are below:
Rules and Ethics
Even though it's okay to leave the game or get dealt out to grab a smoke or to catch a phone call at the starting of an OFC hand, any hand begun must be concluded until scoring.
Since Fantasyland is considered as the succession of a previous hand, and the player who has entered the Fantasyland has a clear noupper hand, players at this table are not allowed to abandon or skip the Fantasyland, if they played the hand that led to it. There’s another common-courtesy rule that asks every player in Fantasyland to declare that they are “staying” in Fantasyland.
Any house rules may vary, but it’s also customary for the Fantasyland players to place the hand face-down, and not switch the cards before the other players start their round.
OFC is still a fresh game, however, the general rules for standard OFC as described above are mostly universal, both online where it’s spread increasingly whenever any poker tournament circuit arrives.
There are some more variants of this game that have caught a bit of limelight in the poker clique. One of the famous ones is the “criss-cross OFC,” which plainly comprises two players playing two hands each, to create a four-handed game. The latest variant of OFC that actually brings some changes to the rules is known as "pineapple OFC."
Like any other “pineapple” variants in poker games such as Texas hold’em and Omaha. In pineapple OFC every player is dealt with three cards instead of one card each round, and that player has to play two cards, while discarding one.
Open Face Chinese Poker is a new and exciting variant of poker. It brings together general rules and the thrill of drawing for big hands, such as Seven Card Stud and Texas Hold’em, with the huge variety of games like blackjack.
The game is easy to understand and highly instinctive to play (don’t be afraid of the table of bonuses), and like any well established poker game, a newbie can also win right away.. The game is played face up, at all times, hence, the player and the viewers have the exact same figures, which makes it easier for us to understand the game better.
So, what are you waiting for, head over to PokerHigh and try all your hands, you know there isn’t just one!