How to Play Chinese Poker, Rules, and Strategy

Understanding how to play Chinese poker is important before you start to play. It is a unique types of poker that doesn’t much look like the other. However, as long as you are familiar with the similar poker hand rankings that are traditionally used, then you have to be able to do just fine at this existing twist of a game!

In short, after getting their 13 poker starting cards, you need to divide these cards into 3 different poker hands: 2 hands containing 5 cards and one hand containing 3 cards. In addition, you need to make the best hand holdings for every hand. Well, this game is quite fun and exciting. But you need to learn more below to increase your winning. 

Rules in Chinese Poker

Before we explain how to play Chinese poker, it is a good idea to show you the rules in this game. As every player will be getting 13 cards at the beginning of every round of gameplay, the maximum number is 4. This number is known as the most common format. However, the gameplay between 2 or 3 people is completely acceptable and permissible, too. 

After players set their cards into different hand groups, they can either “surrender” or choose to play their hand. So, the remaining players show their holdings clockwise (starting from left of the dealer), and then scoring commences. In addition, there are several important notes on choosing rules and game options that can be addressed:

Winning Outright

On how to play Chinese poker, it should be remembered that if any player makes 3 flushes or straights in their 3 hands. Then, they win the entire hand outright by default, regardless of the holdings of the other players, scooping 3 units from every player who hasn’t yet surrendered. 

Surrendering

This rule on how to play Chinese poker is optional (but often played) that should be considered amongst players before the gameplay starts. It is where a player will pay a predetermined amount and not end up playing their hand against the other opponents. Luckily, even though they also don’t pay royalties, if there are any for that round.

Mis-Set Hand/Foul

On how to play Chinese poker, when a player places his cards in the wrong order, then he must pay every player equal to the amount as if they lost 3 hands to all the other players. Remember that someone who mis-sets their hand doesn’t have to pay someone who has already surrendered. 

In addition, players have to decide beforehand if the mis-sets player will still be required to play their hands as often and score them accordingly, or when their hand will be forfeited and the penalty of paying 3 units to every player will suffice for the mis-set hand. 

How to Play Chinese Poker for Beginner

After you figured out the rules in Chinese poker, now we can learn together how to play it. This will help you to give the best understanding of the rules above. Then, you need to read carefully to increase your winnings while playing with real money later. 

1. Dealing

In this gameplay, the dealer who rotates clockwise from one player to the next after every hand deals 13 cards to every player. It starts with the player to his immediate left. 

2. Setting

On how to play Chinese poker, every player sets their cards into the 3 poker hands outlined above: two 5-card hands (the middle and the back), where they try to make the best ranking poker hands, and one 3-card poker hand (the front), where straights and flushes don’t count against said hand.

*Note:

  • “The back” must be the highest-ranked hand of the 3
  • “The front” hand must be in the front even if it is a three-of-a-kind, and it must make sure that the middle and back hands have values higher than its three-of-a-kind. Otherwise, the penalties can be incurred. 

3. Placing/Exposing Hands

Chinese Poker Diagram
Chinese Poker Diagram

Next step on how to play Chinese poker, player’s place their 3 hands systematically on the table, lined up face-down, one in front of the other. Furthermore, the back hand must be tend hand closest to them, followed by the middle in front of that, and the front lined up furthest away from the player. 

4. Playing Your Hand

The next way on how to play Chinese poker, players announce in turn if they will play their hand, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer. This is a part where you will surrender, if allowed as mentioned above. 

5. Royalties

In addition, players will announce their royalties in the same order. More on this will be in the scoring section. 

6. Revealing of Hands

In this part of how to play Chinese poker, players will turn their cards face-up, exposing their front, middle, and back hands to the table. 

7. Scoring

Unlike how to play Omaha poker, this part is where the winning hands are determined, and units or monies are exchanged, credited, or tallied. 

8. Next Hand

After the hand concludes with all points being rewarded, the dealer button will move one spot to the left, cards are shuffled, and the next hand starts. 

Chinese Poker Hands

As mentioned earlier on how to play Chinese poker, it is important to figure out the standard poker hand rankings, so that you can organize your hands appropriately from the strongest to the weakest. Here is a chart to remind you of the variants hand rankings in poker, with example of each:

  • Royal Flush: 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 (all of the same suit)
  • Straight Flush: 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 (all of the same suit)
  • 4-of-a-Kind: A – 4 – 4 – 4 – 4
  • Full House (Boat): A – A – A – J – J (3 of 1, 2 of the other)
  • Flush: A – J – 8 – 4 – 2 (all of the same suit)
  • Straight: 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 (of various suits)
  • Two Pair: A – A – J – 2
  • One Pair: A – A – 7 – 4 – 2 
  • High Card: A – Q – 9 – 6 – 3 (different suits, non-connected, and unpaired)

To repeat what we were mentioned in the “Rule” on how to play Chinese poker, it is important to keep in mind that if a player’s 3 hands are all straight or all flushes, then that player wins the entire hand by default. 

In addition, it should be remembered in this part what the hand possibilities can be for the 3-card hand. The flushes and straights don’t count, and they don’t have enough cards to make too high-ranking hands. Therefore, the 3-card can either be:

  • Three-of-a-kind
  • One-pair (with a kicker)
  • A high-card hand

Chinese Poker Tips and Strategy

We won’t let you go by understanding how to play Chinese poker only, but we will also explain to you the tips and strategy to increase the winning. So, let’s learn together below. 

Be Sure Not to Foul

In the classic version on how to play Chinese poker, fouling or mis-setting is a bad mistake that can cost you a loss and add up big time. You can put your cards in the right places and be sure not to mess this up!

Remember Your Opponents’ Face-Up Cards

Being able to see the other cards on the table will help you to determine that cards are still left in the deck, and what the likelihood is that you may get that specific card that you need to make your hand. Don’t forget to pay attention to those removed cards so that you can better calculate your outs and odds respectively.

Never Handle Your Front Hand Like a Trash Pile

On how to play Chinese poker, the front hand will still make up 33% of the total points you are going to score every round. Therefore, don’t just try to make the strong hands in the back and middle hands, giving up unnecessarily on the smallest hand of the 3. 

It will still carry great importance and can help shift your losing sessions into the winning one, if you keep focusing on how you can set your cards the best all-around, including your front hand. 

Play with Small Stakes

As the variance and swings are related to Chinese poker, play smaller stakes than you might think that you will feel comfortable with playing. Especially when calculating for the possibilities of royalties. 

Imagine if you binked that royal flush and how much money you can be out, regardless of how well or brilliantly you play or set your own hands from the round. Of course, the same can be true and money that you can’t afford to lose. 

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, learning how to play Chinese poker is fun, especially for those of you who like card games. Being able to collect royalties, bonuses, beat your friends, and have varied stakes in the same game between different players. 

You can still win money in live casino Malaysia sites for having the second-best hand in a round and being able to handle your fate by how you choose to set your hands. Well, this game has a little bit of everything if you enjoy playing poker!


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