A Chinese Poker game always runs according to a fixed pattern. The game play is always more or less the same. As soon as you get the hang of the flow of a standard OFC game there are dozens of other Open Face Chinese variations possible.
How do you start playing?
You start out with an empty playing field. You and your opponent will each in turn receive a certain amount of cards. These cards are only visible to you until you’ve put them on the playing field. You have to place your cards in order to achieve a full playing field. You also need to pass cards out of the way, or muck them.
In a standard hand you start your first turn with 5 cards. All five of these cards need to be placed on the lines. The options for placing these cards is endless. Well, not endless, but you can place your cards anywhere on the playing field you like. When you already have A–K–Q–J–10 of the same suit in your hand, it would be stupid not to place them on the bottom line to create a Royal Flush in your first turn. If the cards you receive are more divided, it may be smarter to distribute your cards over the three different lines. Like this you’ll create more options for creating poker combinations in your next turns.
You and your opponent will take turns. When your opponent is up first he will place his 5 cards first. Subsequently you place your 5 cards. In this way you alternately fill your hand. Whoever is up first will be indicated with a dealer button on his side of the field.
After you and your opponent have both placed 5 cards, you alternately receive 3 cards. Two out of those three cards need to be placed on the field. Once again, it’s entirely up to you where you place those two cards, or which two cards you choose to place. You muck the remaining card. Both of you will receive 3 cards in 4 different turns.
Full playing field
Subsequently to your last turn, your playing field will be full. In total you will have four mucked cards. Your mucked cards are lying face-down so your opponent can’t see them. However, you can always take a look at your own mucked cards. In the Days of Poker app, you can take a look at your muck through the little eye-icon on the middle of the screen.
Next up is comparing your hand with the hand of your opponent. You compare using the poker combination ranking from Lesson 2: Goal of the Game. You’ll learn more about the Scoring system and Royalty points in Lesson 6 and 7.
Below is an example of the different options you have when you receive your five starting cards in the first turn. There’s no right or wrong, any of these two options work. However, one will leave more options open for your next turns, while the other will be the safer option.
You start off with K–Q–J–10–9 in different suits. You need to place these five cards on your empty playing field.
Option 1 – The safe way
In option 1, we go for the safe option. This means that we will close the bottom line immediately in our first turn by placing a Straight with K–Q–J–10–9. When you take a look at all the different poker combinations, you can see that a Straight is not the best poker combination there is. But we make sure that the bottom line is already a valid poker combination, so we only need to take into account the two lines above – and make sure that the mid line is not better than a Straight. It will be easier to keep this hand alive.
Option 2 – More options
Option 2 leaves open way more options. Trying to get two Flushes on the bottom and middle line, or going for a Flush on the bottom and a Straight on the middle line. Whenever you have two (or more) cards of the same suit you can try to go for a Full. By placing the K on top you can try and hope for more K’s so you can make a pair on the top line. Placing your five cards like this won’t get you any certainty, but it leaves open more options for your next turns.