Chinese poker game strategy

Chinese poker

​Chinese poker is a version of usual poker; in order to play it you don’t need play chips and even a table, a card deck is the only thing you need. 

Combinations in Chinese poker are exactly like in usual Texas Hold'em. According to the rules, from 2 to 4 players (as in open faced chinese poker strategy, but 3 players in the "Pineapple" version) can participate in the game.

Every player has three boxes in front of him:

  • The bottom box, 5 cards. It must consist of the strongest combination.
  • The middle box, 5 cards. It must consist of a medium combination.
  • The top box, 3 cards. It consists of the weakest combination.

Right at the beginning, each player gets 5 cards and lays them out face up in any of the three boxes as he likes.

Then, depending on the type of Chinese poker, the turns occur as follows:

  • In traditional Chinese poker

Each player gets one card face up and puts it in any of his boxes. The turns take place until the players fill all their boxes (8 circles).

  • In "Pineapple"

All players get 3 cards facedown. A player must lay out two cards in his boxes and the third one has to be sent into the muck and it remains closed for opponents (4 circles).

There are no rounds of trading and betting in Chinese poker. The game is played on units (bonus points). In a live game, the value of one unit is agreed by players before the game starts and on the Internet, there are limits that are similar to the limits of the usual cash-game. The calculation between the players occurs after the game ends.

Average distribution of hands in Chinese poker

Straight flush0%0%0.99%
Four of a kind0%0.01%2.62%
Full house0%0.59%34.16%
Two pair0%26.67%9.61%
High card52.46%4.12%0%

Features of Chinese poker strategy

  • Don’t break the order of combinations

If a combination in any of the boxes has turned out to be stronger than in the previous one (the middle box is higher than the bottom one, the top box is higher than the middle one), then your hand will be considered "dead." In this case, you will lose to all your opponents and will not get bonus points (units).

Therefore, sometimes it will be more profitable for you not to improve your hand on the middle box if you don’t have a formed combination on the bottom one.

  • Watch your opponents' face-up cards carefully

In Chinese poker, the main strategic accent is focused on your cards but the open cards of your opponents can also give you a lot of information.

Example: you collect a flush of hearts in the bottom box and your opponents have already opened a lot of hearts. In this case, it will be more profitable for you to refuse the idea of collecting a flush and try collecting another combination.

  • Try to collect "fantasy"

Fantasy is an additional game option that becomes available to the player when he collects a combination from a pair of queens and higher in the youngest (top) box. He will play the next hand as a fantasy.

How to play Fantasy:

  • In usual Chinese poker, a player gets 13 cards facedown;
  • In "Pineapple" - 14 cards.

The player places all his cards facedown simultaneously at the beginning of the hand and doesn’t open his cards until the other players complete playing a hand. After the rest players finish the actions, a player with a fantasy-hand opens the cards, and scores are counted.

You can get a fantasy again if you are able to collect a combination from the quads and higher in the bottom box, from the full-house and higher in the middle box or the set on the top one.

Professional opinionTom SchneiderWorld Series of Poker bracelet winner

«The great thing about Chinese poker is that it seems like an easy game, and until you play it, you never know how many mistakes you can really make»​

Open Face Chinese poker strategy tips

The most important advice for open face Chinese poker strategy is very simple and clear to any beginner: don't make dead hands. 

That is, do not break the order of the combinations. However, it is this rule that is most often violated.

Open face chinese poker tips

​Mindfulness is also useful in this game. Here, during the opponents' moves, one should not be distracted from, since each card matters.

And one more important tip: try to collect the winning hand in the top row, as many players ignore this row, trying to win in the middle and bottom.

Crazy Pineapple poker strategy

The Crazy Pineapple strategy (where you get three cards face down and then must muck one of them on the flop) is very similar to the Texas Hold'em strategy (where you get two cards face down) and Omaha (where you get four cards, but you can only use two of them on the showdown). Not surprisingly, the strategies for Crazy Pineapple and these two other formats are very similar. Concepts like pot odds, bluffs, draws, value betting, and other continue to apply. We will discuss the main strategic differences that must be considered in order to play Crazy Pineapple Poker successfully.

1. Strategy for choosing starting hands

The strategy for choosing starting hands in Crazy Pineapple is different from the strategy used in Texas Hold'em. For example, three aces in your hands will be much weaker than you might think since one of these aces should be folded on the flop. Thus, the probability of collecting a set is very small, because there is only one ace left in the deck.

The best starting hands are those that give you several options to collect a strong hand (trips, straight, flush) from the flop, for example:

  • As Ah Js: you can flop a trips, straight, flush or even full house
  • Tc Th 9c: again, you have a chance to collect all of the above combinations. If you don’t hit the flop, then you won’t lose a lot of money, as you can easily fold your pair of tens
  • Ad 7d 6d: such pocket cards are also a good starting hand. You can flop two pairs, a flush or a straight.

Weak starting hands are the following: all three cards of different suits (rainbow), all three cards are not connectors, there are no broadways among the cards. For example, for Crazy Pineapple, a bad starting hand would be Th 6d 2s.

Crazy Pineapple's good strategy for beginners is to keep the following considerations in mind: would you play any combination of two cards from three pocket cards if it were regular Texas Hold'em? If not, you can easily fold your hand in Crazy Pineapple. 

Example: If you were handed out Ah, Td, 5s (the combinations are AhTd, Ah5s, Td5s), you can safely fold them. The same applies to the hands of Qc, 9d, 5d (combinations Qc9d, Qc5d, Qd5d).

You should also avoid the mistakes of newcomers to Texas Hold'em: many recreational players like to see flops with the words “Any two cards can win”. This strategy will be even more risky in Crazy Pineapple, because if a player somehow gets into the flop, then he often will not be able to fold his hand. Therefore, “tight style is right”, especially for beginners at Crazy Pineapple Poker.

2. One pair is a weak hand

In Texas Hold'em, TPTK (top pair, top kicker), depending on the number of opponents, is a pretty strong hand. In Crazy Pineapple, this hand will often cost you a lot of money, because one pair will often only be the second-best hand on the showdown. This will happen all the time since Crazy Pineapple Poker is much more likely to have two pairs, trips, straights, full houses and stronger combinations. Accordingly, if you have a TPTK, you have to make a big bet on the flop in order to immediately win the pot.

If opponents do not fold, then try to use pot control further. If you encounter resistance, folding is often the best strategy – it is very likely that your top pair will be defeated by one of your remaining opponents.

3. Beware of flushes

A flush can be seen in Crazy Pineapple much more often than in Texas Hold'em, because here you are dealt three, not two, cards. If all three cards on the flop have the same suit, you can be almost sure that your opponent already has a flush. If the flop has two cards of the same suit, and you already have a made hand, you should bet about three quarters of the pot to make the flush draw too expensive for your opponent (if measured by the pot odds).

Many players at Crazy Pineapple are trying to make a flush. If you have a flush, you should keep this in mind and play carefully if your flush is not a nut flush.

Where to play Chinese poker online?

Chinese poker has become pretty popular among both professionals and regular players. There is no need for you to be an experienced poker pro to do well in these games, but just make sure that you know poker hand rankings before you start playing them.

Currently, just a limited number of rooms offer Chinese poker games since it is difficult to get a license for them. You can try playing Chines poker ar PokerMatch and PokerDom.

Chinese poker rules
Chinese poker rules
Learn the basic rules of Chinese poker and also find out about the varieties and features of this game.