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Players in online gambling are dealt five cards at the start of each game, clockwise from the dealer button. Players arrange their initial cards by placing them face up in one of three rows set out before them.
The front row will eventually contain three cards, and is called the front hand. The middle row behind it will contain five. It's called the middle hand. Finally, the back hand is behind the middle, and will contain five cards. The back hand is nearest the player.
Play continues from the left of the dealer button. Players receive a single card at a time, which they must immediately add to their three-hand arrangement. The goal is to create the three strongest hands along the way. Once placed, cards cannot be relocated.
However, by the time all three hands are established, the middle hand must be at least as strong as the front, and the back at least as strong as the middle. If not, the overall hand "fouls", automatically losing to players whose hands doesn't foul. Fouled hands are not eligible for bonus points.
After all the cards are dealt, hands that don't foul are compared between players. Each of the three hands competes against other player hands in the same row position. A winning row hand earns one point.
If all three hands win, the winner is awarded an additional "scoop" of three points. That means they win six points total, one for each hand plus three for the scoop. Note that any points awarded to a winner are subtracted from a loser, keeping the overall cumulative point totals a zero sum game.
Open face Chinese poker supports two to four players, although three is generally considered the best game. When there are more than two, it's possible to beat one player but lose to another. That's because each player is competing against all other players individually each game.
Open-face Chinese poker uses the same hand ranks as regular poker in online gambling. But each player receives 13 cards, which they arrange into three hands.
Two hands have five cards, and the third has three. After all cards have been dealt, the three hands must wind up ordered by strength or a player's overall hand "fouls" and automatically loses.
There are no betting rounds. Instead, players accumulate points (or units) based on how their hands stack up against opponent hands. Qualifying hands are awarded bonus royalty points for attaining specific card combinations.
When playing for real money, players agree how much a point is worth in advance.
Bonus Royalty Points
But that's just the beginning. Row hands can score additional bonus (or royalty) points depending on the cards they contain. The potential bonuses vary from row to row. Note the possibilities at the end of this article.
For example, the front hand of three cards can score an extra point for a pair of sixes, all the way up to 22 points for three aces. The middle hand can received an extra 2 points for a three of a kind, up to 50 for a royal flush. The back hand can achieve anywhere from 2 points for a straight to 25 for a royal flush.
As you can see, you can completely change the complexion of relative point totals by constructing more valuable row hands. Just be careful not to inadvertently foul your hand in the process!
Row hands receive bonus points even if an opponent's respective row hand beats theirs, although of course the opponent wins the hand point. For example, a middle hand flush beats a middle hand straight for one point. But the straight's 4 bonus points still count, mitigating the value of the flush's 8 bonus points, for a differential of 4. The winner collects 4 points while the loser surrenders 4.
Bonus points are unavailable only when a hand fouls out. For example, bonus points for a middle hand straight are nullified by a mere pair in the back hand.
Fantasy Land is a special play context initially triggered in online gambling by a front hand with a pair of queens or better in a hand that doesn't foul. When that happens, the owner of that hand plays the next game in Fantasy Land.
A player in Fantasy Land is dealt all 13 cards up front. They place their cards face down so non Fantasy Land players can't see them. Then they wait until hands not in Fantasy Land are played as usual, one card at a time.
Once normal play is complete, players in Fantasy Land arrange their cards into the usual three rows of hands. Being able to see other player row hands is obviously a huge advantage.
More than one player can be in Fantasy Land per game. When there's more than one, their hands are played clockwise from the dealer button.
Also, the dealer button doesn't move when entering a Fantasy Land game, making it essentially an extension of the previous game.
Open-face Chinese poker is a relatively new evolution of its closed-face ancestor.
It originated in Finland in the mid 2000s. Alex Kravchenko is cited as having brought it to Russia, where it quickly took root, especially in high stakes circles.
American players got their first taste of it in 2012, and were immediately hooked. It's currently an important side game in poker tournaments, with play from $500 to $1000 per point not unheard of.
Double Fantasy and Beyond
A player can remain in Fantasy Land, although the trigger requirements are more stringent than the first time in.
To stay in Fantasy Land, a player must have three of a kind up front, at least a full house in the middle, or at least quads on the back.
Although clearly more difficult to attain, having been in Fantasy Land the previous game increases the chances of qualifying again.
Try It, You'll Crave It
Open face Chinese is a scintillating online gambling poker game with lots of strategy and opportunities for huge momentum swings due to royalty bonuses and Fantasy Land play. It's a fascinating excursion from the usual betting on streets.
The possibility of fouling a hand adds considerable drama to merely assembling great hands. A pair of queens in the middle does you no good if you wind up with a pair of kings up front.
While strategy discussions rage online, pretty much everyone agrees on a few fundamental tips:
- Don't foul! A fouled hand is an immediate six-point loss per opponent hands that don't foul.
- It's reasonable to risk a foul in the hunt for a good royalty bonus.
- Favor higher cards in the back and lower cards in the front so that any subsequent pairs remain out of the foul zone.
- Gauge your chances of completing hands based on all the cards you can see.
- Don't overvalue a back hand straight, which implies risking a 6 point foul on a mere 2 point bonus.
Find out what millions of others are discovering about open face Chinese, including some of the world's top poker players!
Possible Royalty Bonuses
Front hand bonus royalty points per cards:
- 66 - 1 point
- 77 - 2 points
- 88 - 3 points
- 99 - 4 points
- TT - 5 points
- JJ - 6 points
- QQ - 7 points
- KK - 8 points
- AA - 9 points
- 222 - 10 points
- 333 - 11 points
- 444 - 12 points
- 555 - 13 points
- 666 - 14 points
- 777 - 15 points
- 888 - 16 points
- 999 - 17 points
- TTT - 18 points
- JJJ - 19 points
- QQQ - 20 points
- KKK - 21 points
- AAA - 22 points
Middle hand bonus royalty points per cards:
- Three of a kind - 2 points
- Straight - 4 points
- Flush - 8 points
- Full house - 12 points
- Four of a kind - 20 points
- Straight flush - 30 points
- Royal flush - 50 points
Back hand bonus royalty points per cards:
- Straight - 2 points
- Flush - 4 points
- Full house - 6 points
- Four of a kind - 10 points
- Straight flush - 15 points
- Royal flush - 25 points
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the game popular?
Yes, millions of players around the world enjoy the challenge of playing open face Chinese poker on a regular basis. More and more online poker sites now list open face Chinese poker, sometimes known as OFCP for short, in their main poker variants section.
How does it compare to regular poker?
OFCP is wildly different to the standard Texas hold'em version and that's why it's so much fun to play.
You have to create 3 different hands out of the 13 cards you're dealt, one made up of 3 cards and the other two made up of 5 cards. The only aspect of OFCP that's the same as standard poker is that the hands are ranked in the same order.
Where can I play?
Many popular online poker sites have added OFCP to their game range in the last few years. If you're looking for a trustworthy place to play OFCP online, your best bet is to check our most recommended OFCP sites section. Every site we've picked has regular OFCP tournaments and top quality software.
What are the odds like?
The odds in OFCP are complicated but there are many online tools you can use to calculate the exact odds of any hand you're holding.
Even the best players of OFCP say that winning in this game can't just be reduced down to odds and that you have to take big risks occasionally in order to land huge wins.
How much is it possible to win?
There's the chance of winning tens of thousands of dollars in a single game and even more in an OFCP tournament.
Can I use a strategy?
Yes you can. There are great tools and calculators available to download that can help you to work out the chances of winning and also what cards your opponents might be holding.
Is there a tournament option?
Yes, there are heaps of online poker sites that have dedicated OFCP tournament schedules where you'll have to battle it out in different rounds to make it to the final.
Are poker sites rigged?
No, legal online poker rooms are monitored constantly for fairness by gambling regulatory bodies and by the gambling commissions in the countries they are operating out of.