Chinese poker: how to play and essential rules

Although Texas Hold'em is the most played poker variant in the world, there are many ways to enjoy poker and there is something for everyone. Among these alternative variants, Chinese poker is one of the most prominent.

It differs in many ways from the Hold'em and Omaha variants, so let's take a brief look at the basic rules of Chinese poker so you can learn how to play this exciting form of poker.

Chinese poker: origins and basics

Chinese poker is one of the most popular card games and one of the fastest growing poker variants in recent times. Like all other forms of modern poker, Chinese poker has its origins in centuries-old games.

Despite the lack of data in this regard, Chinese poker is believed to have originated from dominoes, and was called "open poker" because the cards during the game are visible to all players. This meaning is still used today.

The first thing to know about Chinese poker is that there is no betting in this game. At first glance, this may seem shocking because many people cannot conceive of poker without betting, but the truth is that betting is neither here nor is it expected.

Chinese poker, on the other hand, is based on a point system. Therefore, the chips used to play are not converted into money, but into a certain number of points.

How is Chinese poker played? A classic deck of 52 cards is used, and each player is dealt 13 cards. There is a maximum of four players per table and per game.

The premise is simple: when the cards are dealt, each player must place his 13 cards on three streets. The 5 cards on the bottom street are known as the Back Hand; the 5 cards on the middle street are known as the Middle Hand, and the three cards on the top street are known as the Front Hand.

The cards placed in the Back Hand must be the best cards. The back hand in Chinese poker must be the best. The second best must be the one in the middle, and the three cards on the top street must be the worst. Failure to comply with this rule will be considered a foul and will result in the automatic loss of all three hands.

How does the Chinese poker point system work?

If you don't know how to play Chinese poker, you will probably find the scoring system a little complex at first. It's the most complicated aspect of this form of poker, but it's nothing that doesn't take some practice.

When a player beats an opponent on all three streets, he is said to have made a scoop, and the winner scores three points. To calculate the score, what you have to do is to compare lane by lane. For each street won, one point is added, and for each street lost, one point is subtracted.

Losing the hand means subtracting three points, and if a foul has been committed, one point is subtracted for each affected fairway.

This system of rules is not too difficult to assimilate. What does complicate the scoring system in Chinese poker is the royalty system. Royalties are extra points that are given out under certain circumstances to a player. In addition, royalties are only added to streets that have been won. If you lose the street, they are discarded.

Chinese poker royalties: rules and bonus points per street

Next, let's take a look at what bonus points are awarded for each street depending on the hand you get:

Back Hand Royalties

The bonus points on the bottom street are calculated on the basis of the straight, and are as follows:

  • Straight: 2 bonus points.
  • Flush: 4 bonus points.
  • Full House: 6 bonus points.
  • Poker: 10 bonus points.
  • Straight Flush: 15 bonus points.
  • Royal Flush: 25 bonus points.

Royalties on Middle Hand

On middle street the royalties are counted from the three of a kind, not from the straight. Therefore, the scoring system is as follows:

  • Three of a kind: 2 bonus points.
  • Straight: 4 extra points.
  • Flush: 8 bonus points.
  • Full House: 12 bonus points.
  • Poker: 20 bonus points.
  • Straight Flush: 30 bonus points.
  • Royal Flush: 50 bonus points.

Front Hand Royalties

Although in Chinese poker the rules are quite clear, the mess in the allocation of royalties comes from the top street, which starts adding these extra points from the pair of 66 onwards.

The bonus point system on Front Hand is therefore as follows:

  • 66: 1 extra point.
  • 77: 2 extra points.
  • 88: 3 bonus points.
  • 99: 4 bonus points.
  • TT: 5 bonus points.
  • JJ: 6 bonus points.
  • QQ: 7 bonus points.
  • KK: 8 bonus points.
  • AA: 9 bonus points.
  • 222: 10 bonus points.
  • 333: 11 bonus points.
  • 444: 12 bonus points.
  • 555: 13 bonus points.
  • 666: 14 bonus points.
  • 777: 15 bonus points.
  • 888: 16 bonus points.
  • 999: 17 bonus points.
  • TTT: 18 bonus points.
  • JJJ: 19 bonus points.
  • QQQ: 20 bonus points.
  • KKK: 21 bonus points.
  • AAA: 22 bonus points.

What is Fantasy Land?

Normally, when explaining how to play Chinese poker, the three streets that are used to play the game are mentioned and how the points are distributed are explained. But there is an element that is often not explained because it is extremely difficult to achieve, but it exists and you should know about it.

This is the Fantasy Land, which is obtained when the player has a pair of draughts or higher in the Front Hand. What is the advantage of obtaining a Fantasy Land? Well, the player who gets it, in the next game receives all 13 cards at once and can make the hand directly, while the opponents continue to draw card by card.

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