We all know about the growth of poker all across the world.
People still play the traditional games on poker but more often than not they want an extra buzz in the game.
This is exactly the reason why we see so many variants of the game coming up.
One such variant which has a rather scattered origin is ‘Open face Chinese poker’; the game is similar to the normal version of the Chinese poker game where players get 5 cards to start with.
Later on, as the game progresses, each player has to procure a 13 hand set.
Funnily, the game originated in the country of Finland somewhere around the mid-2000’s and its popularity started to grow bit by bit.
The game hit the US shores in 2012 and has been on a rapid growth ever since them. The first ever World Championship of Open face Chinese poker was held in 2014.
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How to play the game
Just like normal Chinese poker, the game is based around the strength three hands of lowering value.
Each player is dealt 13 cards but must make 3 separate hands.
A five-card hand is required at the back which should be the strongest hand, the middle hand should contain five-cards as well and then the top hand should contain three-cards which must be the weakest hand of the three and should be weaker than the middle hand.
The game can be played between 2-4 people and players are initially dealt cards from the deck.
Each player can place these cards anywhere in the three positions, front, back and middle hands.
Once these cards are placed, they cannot be moved again for the rest of the game.
The player who sits on the left of the dealer gets the next card, and each player is provided one card at a time to complete the three hands.
The main objective of the game is to win as many hands as possible, the front, back and middle hands while trying to achieve ‘royalties’ without ‘fouling’ during game play.
Royalties plays a huge role in the game of Open face Chinese poker, without the use of royalties the game would just consist of people not wanting to ‘foul’, we will come to that later.
Royalties ensures that any player having a royal flush in the back hand will get 20 points. 10 points are awarded to that player who has a straight flush, 8 points for any quads, 6 points, 4 points and 2 points for various other card hands.
The points are doubled if they are made in the middle hand.
There are more points from royalties available for every pair which is above 6 and almost nine points are up for grabs if you have pairs of aces.
This all depends on the rules of the game you are picking up, but this can only be achieved in case a player doesn’t foul.
The number one reason why a player might lose out on a lot of points in this kind of game is fouling.
This is when an illegal hand is made.
Remember the rule of the game is to make hands in increasing strengths.
The front hand must be weaker than the middle hand, which must be weaker than the back hand.
Any player who ends up making a wrong set faces a lot of negative points.
They lose 6 right from the start as soon as a wrong hand is detected, also any royalty points which they might have accumulated is lost out.
This aspect of the game needs to be avoided and unlike other forms of Chinese poker where the penalties are not that high, this game variant features a higher penalty.
This is because cards are dealt once at a time, so making your hands is an integral and crucial strategy which a player must learn.
Fantasyland isn’t something out of a children’s book but is a feature in this kind of poker.
This is achieved when a player makes a hand in the front which features two Q queens but most importantly does not end up fouling while making the other hands in the game.
Once a player reaches ‘Fantasyland’, gets all their cards at one go, while the other players get their cards one at a time.
Also, in fantasyland, the cards are dealt face down to the player in fantasyland.
A player who is in fantasyland can remain in fantasyland but must declare that to his other players.
This requires certain conditions to be met, which feature higher royalties; one of these conditions must be fulfilled to remain in fantasyland.
Strength of hand
Any three of a kind
Full house or higher
Four of a kind or higher
Fortunately, more than one player can be in fantasyland, though it is a little difficult to achieve since they both must have a pair of queens at the top.
Many variants of the game
As with any poker variation, this version also has a couple of games which have stemmed out from it.
Pineapple Open Face Chinese Poker is one version which is played with a maximum of three players.
Instead of a player being dealt just one card at a time, they are dealt 3.
Each player tosses away two cards and keeps one, while trying to make their poker hand of 13.
Open Face Chinese poker isn’t just a game about luck; this is about skill as well.
The onus on not fouling while trying to achieve royalties is the key to the games success.
The game might not be an easy pick up but it surely will take hours from you are you devise the perfect strategy to make the best set of hands.
The game might have hit the US shores fairly recently but it is growing in a large way and is set to take the poker world by storm, sooner or later.