Open-face Chinese poker (OFC) is a variant of Chinese poker, which is much more popular than the closed-face version of the game. Like a lot of poker-style card games, it has roots in ancient China, even though Finland is credited with popularizing OFC poker. It created a lot of buzz in the Russian poker community before it gained worldwide popularity.

If you don’t know much about this poker game, don’t worry. We’re going to explain the rules and basic strategy, then list sites offering OFC games.

It might look complicated, but the rules for OFC are simple

Instead of having a maximum of 9 players like Texas hold ‘em, open-face Chinese poker is played with two, three, or four at the most.

Players are dealt cards, starting with five at the beginning and then one card at a time until everyone has received 13 in total. The aim is to place your cards down on the table in an arrangement of strong hand combinations.

Before we go step-by-step through the gameplay, here are a few main points to remember:

  • The dealer button always moves clockwise around the table.
  • Cards are dealt face-up (open-face), so there are no hole cards.
  • Once you place a card on the table, it cannot be rearranged or moved.

Unlike other poker formats, there isn’t a normal bet system in open-face Chinese poker. Players compete for points that are based on the strength of their cards. We’re going to talk more about the OFC point system after we cover the basic gameplay.

Какой вид покера предпочитаешь?

Instead of having just one hand like in Texas hold ‘em or Omaha, you’ve got three separate hands in open-face Chinese poker. These are called the top, middle, and bottom hands. Each hand will be compared to your opponent’s hands.

The hands have the same hand hierarchy as in other forms of poker. Straights beat three-of-a-kind, full houses beat flushes, and so on.

Since the top hand has only three cards in it, the best combination we hand make is three-of-a-kind.

There are simple qualifying rules for each hand in OFC:

  • The bottom hand must be equal to or better than the middle hand.
  • The middle hand must be equal to or better than the top hand.

If a player fails to make a qualifying hand, they cannot win. If their opponent also can’t make a qualifying hand, it’s a draw.

Action always begins to the left of the dealer button, just like in other types of poker.

5 cards are dealt first, which you must place in your rows
  1. Each player gets 5 cards. They must place these cards face-up in the top, middle, or bottom sections.
  2. Once the first player has placed their 5 cards, the next player can place their cards down.
  3. After each player has placed 5 cards down, everyone is dealt 1 more card and the same process continues.
  4. This process repeats until each player has received 13 cards, enough to fill each spot on the table.
  5. With top, middle, and bottom hands complete, it’s time to compare each player’s combinations and decide the winner.

Instead of betting on each round like Texas hold ‘em, OFC uses a points system to reward players for winning. Calculating the points will be easy after playing a few rounds of open-face Chinese poker.

One major difference to keep in mind is that every player compares cards independently. It’s not like in hold ‘em where one winner gets all of the chips.

For example, in an OFC game with three players, Player 1 will compare their hand to Player 2 and Player 3, scoring points for each player. So even if Player 1 loses points to Player 2, they might still win points against Player 3.

  • A winning row is worth 1 point.
  • Winning top, middle, and bottom hands is called a “scoop” and is worth 6 points. (1 for each row and 3 bonus scoop points).
  • Fouling means the player must pay 6 points to each player who didn’t foul.

Making strong hands in the bottom and middle row gets players a bonus (also known as royalty). There are different bonuses for different hand combinations in each row, check out the table below to see more.

Bottom HandBonus Points Middle HandBonus Points
-- Three-of-a-Kind+2
Straight+2 Straight+4
Flush+4 Flush+8
Full House+6 Full House+12
Quads+10 Quads+20
Straight Flush+15 Straight Flush+30
Royal Flush+25 Royal Flush+50

Top row bonuses work a little bit differently, but there are still points for making pairs.

6 6 x7 7 x8 8 x9 9 x10 10 xJ J xQ Q xK K xA A x

There are also bonuses for making three of a kind in the top row. They increase by one point, starting from +10 points for three deuces, all the way to +22 points for three aces.

The most important rule is to avoid fouling at all costs. Your strongest hands must be placed from the bottom row to the middle, and then the top. A foul happens when your middle hand is stronger than your bottom hand, or your top hand is stronger than your middle hand.

Fouling is the quickest way to lose, so avoid it at all costs.

This is open-face poker, so use the information at the table. Compare your hand to your opponent’s hands and think about which combinations you need to win.

PokerBros has a well-built application

PokerBros was an early adopter of online OFC poker and their mobile app is still one of the top places to play. Even with so many cards on the screen, the display is very usable. You can join clubs that focus on open-face Chinese poker, or dabble in no-limit hold ‘em, pot-limit Omaha, short deck, and many others.

Aside from PokerBros, there are a few places you can play OFC online, but it’s still taking time to be brought to major poker sites like PokerStars, 888poker, or partypoker.

PPPoker also has other popular poker formats

PPPoker is another poker club with open-face Chinese poker. You can play up to three hands at once on the mobile app and join clubs from all over the world (over 100 countries so far). They have no-limit hold ‘em, pot-limit Omaha, and they’re one of the only places to play real-money OFC poker.

Even with 13 cards to place, it’s easy on the Suprema app

Suprema Poker has OFC poker, with stakes per point starting at just $0.04 and maxing out at $10 per point. Search for clubs using a Club ID or start your own group and choose between a bunch of different formats, like hold ‘em, Omaha (4, 5, and 6 card versions), short deck, and open-face Chinese poker. They have mobile apps and a PC client.