Open Face Chinese Poker (OFC)
A variation of Chinese Poker called Open Face Chinese Poker (OFC) has been spreading wildly across the world. In OFC the basic gameplay is as follows:
- Each player is dealt five cards initially.
- These cards are set in either the front, middle, or backhands in any way the player sees fit.
- Play continues in rounds with each player being dealt one card at a time and placing that card in any available hand.
- Play rotates clockwise with the ‘under the gun‘ player always revealing his cards first. This process is repeated until all players have been dealt 13 total cards.
- The hands and royalties are scored and each player settles with the other players. Rules for fouling a hand are the same as traditional Chinese Poker.
- A 52-card deck is used (2 to Ace, excluding Jokers). The card suits are equivalent.
- The maximum 3 number of players at a table
- 17 pocket cards.
13 of 17 cards must be laid out into 3 boxes.
The remaining 4 cards must be discarded.
- No community cards.
- No betting rounds (no blinds, ante, etc.)
Every player at a table takes one seat with 3 boxes to lay 13 cards out into (5 cards into the middle and back (the lowest) boxes, 3 cards into the front box (the highest). At the end of a hand, the back box hand must be stronger than or equal to the middlebox hand, and the middlebox hand must be stronger than or equal to the front box hand.
- The game is played for points. The goal of the game is to achieve more points than your opponents by winning more hands and/or by collecting royalties on premium hands.
A point score is the cost of one point (for example, 1 cent for 1 point). The calculation is made at the end of a match.
- Cap – the maximum limit of loss in one match. Thus, over a match, a player can lose the maximum amount of money equaling to that specified in Cap.
Hand Structure in Open Face Chinese
In both traditional Chinese Poker and Open Face, players will look at their cards and begin setting up three different poker hands,
- A three-card hand, known as the Front
- A five-card hand, known as the Middle
- Another five-card hand is known as the Back
For a hand to be valid, the back hand must be the strongest of the three hands by traditional poker hand rankings. The middle hand must be of a lower rank than the backhand, but higher than the front hand. The front hand must be the lowest strength. A valid hand would look like this:
- Front – 2 2 7 (Pair of Twos)
- Middle – A A 4 4 J (Two pairs: Aces & Fours)
- Back – 8 9 T J Q (Straight)
If the order of strength does not go front to back, weakest to strongest, it is called a fouled hand.
- Front – 2 2 7 (Pair of Twos)
- Middle – K K 3 3 9 (Two Pairs: Kings & Threes)
- Back – Q Q 8 8 J (Two Pair: Queens & Eights)
Once all three hands have been set, players will compare the front, middle and back hands. Each hand is worth one point. If one player has won two of the three hands they will score 1 point (winning two points and losing one for a net of +1 points). More points can be earned if the player wins all three hands, known as scooping. Players can also earn points by making high-ranking hands known as royalties.
A player scoops the hand by winning all three showdowns with their front, middle, and back holdings. The player is awarded one point for each showdown won, and three bonus points for scooping for a total of six points.
When a player has fouled their hand, it counts as an automatic scoop and is worth six points. If both players have fouled their hand, the game is considered a tie.
Front, middle and back rows may earn points for making certain hands as long as the hand does not foul. The type of royalties and how much they are worth varies from game to game. Below is one common scoring chart:
In a game with more than two players, scores are settled by position. The player under the gun will settle with each player in clockwise order. The player to the left of the under-the-gun player will then settle their debts. This continues until are players have paid.
If a player fouls in a multi-player game, that player will pay 6 units to each player plus any royalties on hands that have not fouled.
Fantasyland is a type of ‘bonus round’ in Chinese Poker. A player may enter Fantasyland when they have made a pair of Queens or better in the front hand without fouling.
Entering Fantasyland means that on the next hand, they receive all 13 cards at once. They make all three hands at once, a huge advantage as they’ll be able to see if they hit any straights or flushes in advance, and lay cards perfectly without any risk of fouling.
Other players play as normal, with just one card dealt at a time. The button does not move during Fantasyland – this is considered a continuation of the previous hand.
A player may stay in Fantasyland (and receive the same advantage next hand) if they make any of the following hands:
- Three of a kind in the front
- Full House or better in the middle
- Four of a Kind or better in the back