Although it may not seem so and we only see tips and rules for Texas Hold’em or Omaha poker when we resort to manuals or sources of any kind that explain how to play poker, there is life beyond these two modalities. So, how to play Chinese poker correctly? How to win in Chinese poker? Can we win if we’re beginners?

Poker has several modalities and, although not all of them are equally popular, they still have their loyal community of players. This is the case of Chinese poker, to which many professionals coming from the Texan variant have become hooked because of its attractive proposal and because it is, in many occasions, a breath of fresh air for those who are looking for new experiences.

What is Chinese poker?

If you do not know what is Chinese poker, here you have a simple explanation: Chinese poker is a variant of poker that has its origins in the Asian community fond of this game of cards and skill. Its popularity has been increasing since players like Ivey or Dwan started to play it regularly. This boosted Chinese poker at the amateur level, forming a growing and consolidated player base.

The great weight of luck in Chinese poker is what makes it so special and unpredictable, and thanks to these high proportions of chance, Chinese poker began to gain a foothold among amateurs, especially in the Asian market.

What does it mean that chance has so much weight? Well, even though it is a game of skill, the Chinese variant blurs the barrier between novice players and pros. Everyone is at the mercy of luck, which will give a small fish a chance to win against a poker pro.

How to play Chinese poker?

Chinese poker is a game in which 2, 3 or 4 players participate in a series of rounds. The basis of Chinese poker is a point system which, although it may seem strange at first, is important to get used to.

For example, when a hand is lost, three points are deducted. If a foul is committed, one point is subtracted per street affected, and if certain requirements have been met, one can be the beneficiary of a series of royalties, extra points obtained as a reward for specific actions.

These extra points can be obtained in the Back hand, Middle hand and Front hand. In addition, Chinese poker has what is called the “Fantasy Land”, which is unlocked by getting Q Q of any suit, or a top pair. Whoever gets the Fantasy Land receives in the next game 13 cards in a row, which gives a significant advantage over the opponents, who will continue to draw card by card.

Chinese poker rules

Here are the essential Chinese poker rules, so that you know the premises of this variant:

  • It is usually played with 4 people, although it can be played with 2 or 3 players.
  • Each player receives 13 cards from a deck of 52 cards.
  • Each player must divide 13 cards into 3 formations: two with five cards and one with three.
  • The five-card formations are the Middle Hand and the Back Hand.
  • The three-card formation is known as The Front.
  • All players must assemble their cards keeping in mind that the Back Hand is the strongest formation, and the Front Hand is the weakest.
  • With the formations made, they are placed face down on the table.
  • Each player, clockwise, announces whether or not to play the hands.

Chinese poker hands

In the starting Chinese poker hands, it is essential to pay attention first of all to avoid fouling. Since this is the main reason why points are subtracted, it is essential to avoid them, at least in the initial hands.

The way in which the first five cards are placed is fundamental to base well the construction of formations. The objective is always to place the high cards in the Back Hand line, leaving the rest of the cards for the other two formations.

It may happen that in the initial hand we find ourselves with a combination potentially superior to a pair of high cards. If the first five cards open the possibility of forming a straight or similar, take advantage and place it in the Back Hand, even if this means leaving one of the cards in the Middle.

Chinese poker strategy

One of the fundamental strategic bases of Chinese poker is to keep the score. This is also known as “keeping score,” and is especially tricky when playing against four players. The easiest thing to do is for each player to keep track of their scores to note all flops and royalties.

Starting with the dealer when comparing the cards of each hand is basic. Keep in mind that you will get one point for each hand you win, and when you win three hands, you will be awarded an extra 3 points.

Making a balanced and intelligent distribution of the cards in the corresponding hands is fundamental to be able to win in Chinese poker. You will have to deal the cards according to your plan. This makes it difficult to talk about a clear Chinese poker strategy before knowing what your initial five cards are. Besides, everything will depend on what the remaining 8 cards are and, unless you have been able to access Fantasy Land, you will not have the advantage of dealing the cards with the 13 cards from the start.