Open Face Chinese Poker
This page is based on information from Dave Holdsworth.
- Players and Cards
- Arrangement of Cards
- Deal and Play
- Pineapple OFCP
- Websites and Online Games
Despite its name, this variant of Chinese Poker, sometimes known as Open Hand Chinese Poker or just as OFCP, originated in Russia and Finland in the early 21st century. It was introduced to the poker tournament circuit by Russian players in the Aviation Club, Paris in early 2012 and has since become generally popular, and the side-game of choice for professional poker players in the US and Europe.
Players and Cards
The game can be played by 2, 3 or 4 players, each playing for themselves. A standard 52-card deck is used. Deal and play are clockwise. Before playing it is necessary to agree on a stake per point.
Arrangement of Cards
The objective of the game is for each player to develop over the course of a deal their best "back" hand of 5 cards, "middle" hand of 5 cards and "front" hand of 3 cards from a total of 13 cards. Initially the player has 5 cards to distribute among the hands. Then further cards are drawn one at a time, and the player has to decide where to place each card before seeing what will come next. "Open face" in the name of the game refers to the fact that during the game all hands are visible to all players.
For a player's hands to be valid, the back hand must be better than or equal to the middle hand, and the middle hand must be better than the front hand. If these conditions are not met the player's hand is considered 'foul' and does not score. Note that in Open Face Chinese Poker (unlike standard Chinese Poker), a player may easily get into a situation where a foul is unavoidable, if the last few cards are not what the player hoped for.
The standard poker ranking is used - so the hand types from high to low are: royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, full house, flush, straight, three of a kind, two pairs, one pair, high card (see the page on ranking of poker hands). There are no wild cards.
Since the front hand has only 3 cards, only three hand types are possible: three of a kind; one pair; high card. There is no value in having a front hand with three consecutive cards or three cards of the same suit: "straights" or "flushes" in the front hand do not count.
Deal and Play
One player is designated dealer and deals 5 cards to each player, one at a time face down. The player to dealer's left now sets his or her 5 cards, placing them face up on the table, assigning each card to the front, middle or back hand. The other players do the same, in turn, ending with the dealer.
Once all players have set their first 5 cards, play continues clockwise, starting with the player on the dealer's left. Each player in turn draws the top card of the stock, exposes it, and adds it to one of his or her three hands. Once played, cards cannot be moved from one hand to another, and when a hand has its full complement of cards (5 in the back or middle, 3 in the front), no more can be added. When everyone has 13 cards, the hands are compared and scored.
The deal moves to the left after each hand.
Each pair of players compares corresponding hands. So with three players there are three pairs of hands to be compared and scored: A against B, A against C and B against C. With four players there are six pairs: A against B, A against C, A against D, B against C, C against D, C against D.
For each pair of players, scores are calculated as follows.
- For each of the three hands, back, middle and front, the player with the better hand scores one point.
- If the same player wins all three hands, that player scores an extra bonus of 3 points.
- Points are also awarded for royalties: making certain hand values in the different hand positions, which are then added to the score. Unlike standard Chinese Poker, royalties are usually counted for both players being compared.
- The player who has fewer points pays the difference between the scores to the player who has more.
- A player who has a foul hand scores nothing for any hand, but instead pays 6 points for the foul plus points for any royalties the opponent may have. If both players being compared have foul hands then neither scores.
The standard scoring system is as follows:
Points for Winning hands, foul and sweep
- Each hand won: 1 point
- Bonus for winning all three hands (sweep): 3 points
- Opponent's Foul: 6 points
(Note: There are two common methods for scoring normal Chinese Poker
- 1 point per hand plus 3 points for a sweep, called 1-6 scoring because a player wins 1 point (2-1) for winning two out of three hands and 6 points (3+3) for winning all three
- 1 point per hand plus 1 point for winning the majority of hands, called 2-4 scoring. because a player wins 2 points (2-1+1) for winning two out of three hands and 4 points (3+1) for winning all three.
OFCP is normally played with 1-6 scoring as shown above.)
Points for Royalties
- Back Hand:
- Straight = 2 points
- Flush = 4 points
- Full House = 6 points
- Four of A Kind = 10 points
- Straight Flush = 15 points
- Royal Flush = 25 points
- Middle Hand (double the bonus for back hand):
- Straight = 4 points
- Flush = 8 points
- Full House = 12 points
- Four of a Kind = 20 points
- Straight Flush = 30 points
- Royal Flush = 50 points
- Front Hand
- Pair of Sixes (6, 6) = 1 point
- Pair of Sevens (7, 7) = 2 points
- Pair of Eights (8, 8) = 3 points
- Pair of Nines (9, 9) = 4 points
- Pair of Tens (10, 10) = 5 points
- Pair of Jacks (J, J) = 6 points
- Pair of Queens (Q, Q) = 7 points
- Pair of Kings (K, K) = 8 points
- Pair of Aces (A, A) = 9 points
- 3 of a Kind = 20 points
OFCP is evolving and many minor variations in scoring can be seen, even in the casino game.
Some play with different scoring for 3 of a kind in the Front hand:
- 3 of a Kind Twos (2, 2, 2) = 10 points
- 3 of a Kind Threes (3, 3, 3) = 11 points
- 3 of a Kind Fours (4, 4, 4) = 12 points
- 3 of a Kind Fives (5, 5, 5) = 13 points
- 3 of a Kind Sixes (6, 6, 6) = 14 points
- 3 of a Kind Sevens (7, 7, 7) = 15 points
- 3 of a Kind Eights (8, 8, 8) = 16 points
- 3 of a Kind Nines (9, 9, 9) = 17 points
- 3 of a Kind Tens (10, 10, 10) = 18 points
- 3 of a Kind Jacks (J, J, J) = 19 points
- 3 of a Kind Queens (Q, Q, Q) = 20 points
- 3 of a Kind Kings (K, K, K) = 21 points
- 3 of a Kind Aces (A, A, A) = 22 points
Some play that Trips in the Middle = 2 points
Some play that Trips in the Middle = 2 points and Trips in the Back = 1 point
- Back Hand:
- Four of A Kind = 8 points
- Straight Flush = 10 points
- Royal Flush = 20 points
- Middle Hand: double the bonus for back hand.
- Back Hand:
- Straight = 4 points
- Straight Flush = 15 points
- Royal Flush = 25 points
- Middle Hand:
- treble the bonus for back hand, and
- Trips in the Middle = 2 points
Some play that only the winning hand of the pair being compared counts when adding up royalties.
Some play using 2-4 scoring instead of 1-6 scoring
In tournament play and when played in a casino, it may be required to play table stakes, which means that the player is liable only for those chips which he has in front of him.
When playing table stakes the payoff must be conducted in strict sequence. First the hand of player to dealer's left is compared with those of the other players in clockwise order, ending with the dealer, then the next player 's hand is compared with those of the remaining players, and so on. So for example if there are four players West, North, East and South and South has dealt, then the hands are compared in the following order: W vs N, W vs E, W vs S, N vs E, N vs S, E vs S.
Since you cannot lose more than the amount you have on the table, it is reasonable to have a rule that you also cannot win more than this amount. Therefore, if at any point in the payoff a player has won as much as he or she had on the table at the start of that deal, the player's win is capped at this amount. The opponent pays enough so that the player has won in total an amount equal to their stake at the start of that deal, and from that point onward the player's hand is 'complete'. The player cannot win or lose any further chips (even if without the cap he or she would have subsequently lost chips to another player) and the comparison moves on to the other pairs of players.
Fantasyland is a very popular variant which awards a special bonus for setting a Pair of Queens or higher in the Front hand. On the subsequent hand the player is said to be in Fantasyland, and is dealt all 13 cards at the beginning of the deal. The player sets his hand face down before play begins. The hands are scored as normal when the other players finish setting their hands.
The dealer button does not move for the Fantasyland hand. Normal play resumes after the hand.
Some play that if a player in Fantasyland sets at least four of a kind in the back, full house in the middle or trips in front he can stay in Fantasyland for another hand.
Some play that a player must announce if he is staying in Fantasyland when he sets his hand.
Some play that a player in Fantasyland sets his hand face down in the normal course of play rather than before any other players set their hands.
Final Cards Face Down
Some play the final 3 cards face down to speed up the four-handed game.
Pineapple is a relatively recent variant for two or three players, which is played in some Las Vegas casinos, and is also offered online at TonyBet Poker.
Players are dealt 5 cards to start and set them as usual. After that they take 3 cards on each turn, setting two of the cards and discarding one card face down.
In Pineapple OFCP, some play the Fantasyland variant with 14 cards dealt at the start of the hand and 1 discarded. In Progressive Pineapple a player with a hand better than QQ in front is dealt more cards: 15 cards for KK, 16 cards for AA and 17 cards for triplets. The player keeps 13 cards, discarding the remainder before setting the hands. A player in Fantasyland who sets a front hand of QQ or better will be dealt a 14-card Fantasyland hand next time, even if the front hand was better than QQ.
Pineapple 2-7 OFCP
In this variant, also available at TonyBet Poker, the aim is to set strong hands front and back and a low hand in the middle. For the middle hand, 2-7 ranking is used: straights and flushes count and ace is always high, so that the lowest hand is 7-5-4-3-2 in mixed suits. In order not to foul the hand, your back hand must be higher than your front hand and your middle hand cannot be stringer than 10 high. Royalties for the middle hand are:
- 9 high – 1 point,
- 8 high – 2 points,
- 7 high – 4 points,
- 75432 – 8 points.
KK or better in the top row or 75432 in the middle row results in a 14-card Fantasyland. Both KK or better in the top row and 75432 in the middle row at the same time results in a 15-card Fantasyland (15 cards dealt at once and two discarded). A Fantasyland player who makes a set in front or quads or better in the back hand is rewarded with another 14-card Fanstasyland hand.
Websites and Online Games
The well-known player Tony G (Antanas Guoga) has established the TonyBet Poker site where you can play Open Face Chinese Poker online for real money.
Open Face Chinese Poker and Pineapple OFCP can be played online at flopturnriver, either between 2-4 live players or as a 2-player (heads up) game against a bot.