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Chinese Poker

In terms of gameplay, Chinese Poker is a unique poker variant that differs significantly from other, more prevalent varieties of poker (such as Hold'em, Omaha, or Stud). However, as long as you're familiar with the typical poker hand rankings, you should be able to handle this intriguing twist of a game just fine!

In a nutshell, players must divide their 13 poker beginning cards (yep, 13!) into three different poker hands: two hands having 5 cards and one hand including 3 cards. For each hand, players try to build the best/highest-ranked holdings (in comparison to how other players have structured their holdings).

Because of the amount of luck involved and the fact that you have complete control over how you choose to arrange your cards into the various hands, this game is highly thrilling and interesting, even for beginner players.

As a result, you may – to some part – choose your fate in this poker variant by determining the best order in which to arrange your cards!

So, in the end, you don't need to be a seasoned pro to succeed in this game but make sure you know your poker hand rankings first!

Chinese Poker Rules

The maximum number of players is 4 because each player will receive 13 cards at the start of each round of gameplay is what you need before you understand how to play poker. This is the most popular number format. However, gaming with two or three individuals is quite fine and permitted.

Players can either "surrender" or "play" their hands after arranging their cards into separate hand groupings. The remaining players then reveal their holdings in a clockwise direction (beginning to the left of the dealer), and scoring begins.

There are a few specific rules and game settings that need to be covered in detail:

  • Winning Outright: It should be emphasized that if any player makes three flushes or straights in their three hands, they automatically win the entire hand, regardless of the other players' holdings, scooping 3 units from any player who hasn't surrendered yet.
  • Surrendering: This is an optional (but commonly used) regulation that should be decided by the players before the game begins. It's when a person agrees to pay a fixed amount (typically between the amount they'd lose if they lost 2-3 hands – for example, 2 to 2.5 "units") rather than play their hand against the other players. Fortunately, they also do not pay royalties (which will be detailed later) if any are due for that round.
  • Mis-Set Hand/Foul: If a player arranges his cards incorrectly (for example, by mixing up the middle and back holdings in terms of hand strength, or by not having their 5-card hands be of higher value than their 3-card hands, etc.), that player must pay each player the same amount as if they had lost all three hands to all other players. It's worth noting that if someone lays their hand incorrectly, they don't have to pay someone who has already resigned. Players should determine ahead of time whether the mis-set player will be obliged to play their hands as usual and score them appropriately, or if their hand will be forfeited and the penalty of 3 units paid to each player will suffice.

Let's have a look at the next part on gaming and how to play a hand of Chinese Poker to better understand the rules.

How to Play Chinese Poker

1. Dealing: After each hand, the "dealer" (who rotates clockwise from one player to the next) deals 13 cards to each player, beginning with the person to his left.

2. Setting: Each player divides their cards into the three poker hands described above: two 5-card hands ("the middle" and "the back") in which they attempt to produce the highest-ranking poker hands, and one 3-card poker hand ("the front") in which straights and flushes are ignored.

NOTE: "The back" has to be the best of the three poker hands.

Even if it's a three-of-a-kind, "the front" must be placed at the front, and the middle and rear hands must have higher values than the three-of-a-kind. Penalties may be imposed if this does not happen.

3. Placing/Exposing Hands: Players then line up their three hands face-down, one in front of the other, on the table in a logical order. The rear hand (strongest-hand, 5 cards) should be closest to them, followed by the center in front of that, and finally, the front (3-card-hand), which should be lined up furthest away from the player.

4. Are You Playing Your Hand? Starting with the person to the left of the dealer, each player announces whether or not they will play their hand.

5. Royalties: Following that, the players announce their royalties in the same sequence.

6. Revealing of Hands: Players expose their front, middle, and backhands to the table by turning their cards face up.

7. Scoring: The winning hands in poker games online are chosen, and units/monies are exchanged, credited, and counted in this section.

8. Next Hand: The dealer button is moved one space to the left after the hand is finished, the cards are shuffled, and the following hand begins.

Chinese Poker Hands

As previously stated, knowing the standard poker hand rankings is essential in order to properly organize your hands from strongest to weakest.

Here's a chart to remind you of the various poker hand rankings, along with examples:

1. Royal Flush: 8-7-6-5-4 (all of the same suit)

2. Straight Flush: 8-7-6-5-4 (all of the same suit)

3. Four-of-a-Kind: A-4-4-4-4

4. Full House (Boat): A-A-A-J-J (three of one, two of the other)

5. Flush: A-J-8-4-2 (all of the same suit)

6. Straight: 8-7-6-5-4 (of various suits)

7. Three-of-a-Kind (Set/Trips): A-K-5-5-5

8. Two Pair: A-A-J-J-2

9. One Pair: A-A-7-4-2

10. High Card: A-Q-9-6-3 (different suits, non-connected, unpaired)

To clarify what was stated in the "Rule" section, it is critical to note that if a player's three hands are all straights or all flushes, that player automatically wins the hand! In addition, the hand options for the 3-card hand should be mentioned in this section. They don't count flushes and straights, and they don't have enough cards to produce very high-ranking hands. As a result, the three-card poker hand can either:

  • Three-of-a-kind
  • One-pair (with a kicker) or
  • A high-card hand.


Units are the stakes in Chinese poker: a set amount of money agreed upon before the game begins. According to basic scoring regulations, a player receives one unit from each opponent whose front, middle, or backhand is beaten by their own. As a result, unlike other poker games, coming in second place at the table is sufficient to win money. In some variations, if a player wins two or three hands, they are paid an additional unit. Players in other variations only gain an extra unit if they win all three hands (known as a scoop). Furthermore, because the comparisons are head-to-head, it is feasible for different players to play for various stakes.

The 2–4 scoring method and the 1–6 scoring method are the two most popular scoring systems in Chinese poker.

The player earns one unit for each of the three hands they win in the 2–4 system, and one unit called the overall unit is handed to the player who wins two or all of the three hands when you play poker online. If one of the hands is tied, no money is exchanged for that hand. If a player wins both of the remaining two hands, they receive three units (1 for each hand, and 1 overall). No units are traded if they each win one hand (each wins 1 unit, and there is no overall).

In the 1–6 method the player receives 1 unit for each of the three hands they win, and 3 bonus units (on top of the three for the hands) if they win all three hands.

Chinese Poker Royalties

You'll notice that royalties are mentioned in the fifth bullet point of the "Gameplay" section. Players that have very good holdings are eligible for these bonuses.

While the exact amount of units for each royalty can be changed and/or should be determined in advance (see the charts below as a guide), there are two sorts of royalties that can be given in Chinese Poker:

1. Royalties are ranked by hand (where royalties of the set, predetermined amounts are awarded based on select hand rankings and where that hand is located - front, middle, or back).

2. Naturals (a form of royalty dependent on all 13 cards falling into a specific "special hand" category - see below) are a unique type of royalty. It's worth noting that naturals are given out before anyone may surrender, and the player will not play their hand. They'll simply be given the appropriate additional points. If desired, the play might continue for the rest of the hand between the surviving players.

  • Hand – 3 units
  • Six Pairs – 3 units
  • Three Straights – 3 units
  • Three Flushes – 3 units
  • No Broadway Cards* – 3 units
  • Dragon (13 different cards), Ace thru King – 13 units


Royalties are sometimes awarded to any player who has a qualifying hand. Royalties are often only granted to the player with the better royalty in that particular hand.

If one player had a straight flush in their backhand and another had a royal flush in their backhand, the royalty would go to the person who had the royal flush.

Chinese Poker Strategy and Tips

1. Be Sure Not to Foul: Fouling (or "mis-setting," as we originally phrased it) is a costly mistake that can cost you a game and build up quickly, especially in the basic form of Chinese Poker. Make sure your cards are in the appropriate positions and that you don't make any mistakes!

2. Note Your Opponents’ Face-Up Cards (In Open-Face): Seeing the other cards on the table can help you figure out which cards are still in the deck and how likely it is that you'll acquire the specific card you need to complete your hand. Pay attention to the cards that have been removed so that you can better assess your outs and odds.

3. Don’t Treat Your Front Hand Like a Discard Pile: In each round, the front hand still accounts for 33% of the total points you'll score (win or lose). As a result, don't focus solely on developing powerful hands in the rear and center hands while neglecting the smallest of the three hands. If you keep focused on how you can arrange your cards the best all-around, especially in your front hand, it can help you turn your losing sessions into winning ones.

4. Play Small Stakes: Play smaller stakes than you might *think* you'd feel comfortable with because of the variance and swings associated with Chinese Poker. Especially when royalties are factored in; consider how much money you could lose if someone binks that royal flush, regardless of how expertly or wonderfully you play or arrange your cards from round to round! Yes, the same may be stated on the other hand, but keep in mind that Chinese Poker is a high-variance game that shouldn't be played with big stakes or money that you can't afford to lose.

5. Consider any notable opponent's tendencies when formulating your overall strategy: Because you can see your opponent's cards and there are numerous rounds of drawing and setting/placing, this advice is more applicable to Open-Face and Pineapple. If you observe any risk-taking opponents, this is an excellent example of what you should consider while setting your hand. If you're a player who's always trying to make that more-often-than-likely-to-make-hand, then you should play it safe. Allow your opponent to burn himself to oblivion by either fouling or never being able to make moderately strong hands because they're continually going for absurdly high-ranked cards.

Chinese Poker FAQs:

1. How many cards do you start with in Chinese poker?

13 cards

In Chinese Poker, each player is dealt 13 cards. Three cards must be placed in front, five in the middle, and five in the back of the hand. In poker ranking, the rear hand must beat or equal the middle five cards, and the middle five cards must beat the front three cards.

2. How do you win in Chinese poker?

Chinese poker strategy tips:

  • Don't make a mess with your poker hand.
  • Don't put too much emphasis on one row over the others.
  • Don't forget about the top row.
  • Remember to take a peek at your opponents' cards as well.
  • Don't be afraid to go to Fantasyland.

3. What are 13 unique same suits in Chinese poker?

You will receive 13 points if you collect 13 different cards. When you acquire 13 identical cards of the same suit, you will receive points, which are the most in the game, and you will win poker.

4. Is Pusoy a Chinese Poker?

In the US, it is commonly referred to as Chinese Poker or Russian Poker; however, some individuals also use the term Chinese Poker to refer to the climbing game Big Two. It's known as Pepito in Hawaii. It is known as Pusoy in the Philippines, not to be confused with Pusoy Dos, which is the Big Two.

5. How do you score OFC? Because OFC is a point-based game, the final hands (after all 13 cards have been dealt) are scored in points. The winner receives one point for each row (top, middle, and bottom). If you have a pair of jacks in the center and your opponent has a king-high, you win one point.

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