Explanation of Chinese Poker

Chinese poker is played with 2-4 players, although most recently it has become popular in the heads-up open-face “pineapple” format. 

Unlikely other variants of poker, Chinese poker is not played for chips. Instead, it is played for points, with each point having an agreed on monetary value.

Players must arrange their 13 cards into three rows. 

Top Row: 3 cards
Middle Row: 5 cards
Bottom Row: 5 cards

In order for a hand to be qualifying, the bottom row must be stronger than the middle row, which in turn must be stronger than the top row. In the eventuality that this rule is broken, a hand is considered foul and the opponent “scoops” the entire hand.

Rows are matched up individually against the opponent’s corresponding rows to determine who wins each row. Each row is worth one point, although a “scoop” bonus (three points) is awarded to a player who wins all three rows (or if his opponent’s hand is declared foul).

In the “open face” variant of Chinese poker, 5 cards are dealt up front which are placed into the desired rows by the competitors. From that stage onwards, cards are dealt one at a time (and placed into rows) until each player has been dealt 13 cards. In the “pineapple” variant players are instead dealt three cards at a time, two of which are placed into rows, one of which is discarded.

Chinese poker -> There are lots of soft Chinese Poker games around, so it might be a good poker variant to consider learning.

How to Use Chinese Poker as Part of Your Poker Strategy

Similar to Stud games, there are a number of different variants of open-face Chinese poker. Before sitting down at an open-face Chinese table, it’s a good idea to make sure we are 100% familiar with the rules offered by that particular variant. 

As a general guide it is better to only win one row than to overextend ourselves and run the risk of fouling. Although losing two rows is not a great outcome, our opponent will get a 3 point scoop bonus if we hold out for a super strong hand in the bottom row and end up bricking. 

The open-faced variants are also similar to Stud in the sense that there is a very large amount of available information on the table at any one time. Excellent open-face Chinese players will assimilate as much of this data as possible when making their decisions. They will do this in at least two ways -

1) Good players take into account blocker effects and understand when it is more or less likely that a draw will hit. For example, if we are waiting on a heart to complete a flush, our odds are dramatically decreased if we see that our opponent already has 4 hearts on his board. 

2) Good players understand that a point is a point no matter how strong the holding. In open-face our objective is simply to beat our opponent’s rows. If he has King high on one of his rows, we only need Ace-high in order to win. It’s better to win marginal victories on all three rows as opposed to crushing villain on one row and losing on the other two. 

See Also 

Stud, Hold’em, Draw, Outs, Hand Rankings

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