Chinese poker rules

Chinese poker rules

Find out about the main rules of Chinese poker game and learn a detailed scoring table.

In Chinese poker, from two to four players can play simultaneously but most often the game is between three opponents.

The players must place 13 cards into three rows (boxes) from the strongest at the bottom to the weakest on the top.

The order of combinations in Chinese poker:

  • The bottom row (5 cards) - the strongest possible combination
  • The middle row (5 cards) - medium strength combination
  • The top row (3 cards) - the weakest combination

To start, each player is dealt 5 cards face down, but the players lay them out face up. It is important to remember that you cannot change the position of your cards after the turn is completed.

Chinese poker

The main strategic aspect of the game is making combinations from the strongest to the weakest one, if you break this rule, then your hand will be considered as dead and you will lose to all of your opponents.

Then, each player in priority order is dealt one card in classical Chinese poker and 3 cards in the "Pineapple" version. This lasts until everyone has 13 cards. In the end, combinations are compared and points are counted.

How are combinations compared? In Chinese poker, every participant’s top combination is compared to their rivals’ combination arranged in the top box, the middle hand is compared to their hands placed in the middle box, and the bottom hand to the ones in the bottom box. Whether you will win (or lose) bonus points (units) depends on how your combination measures up.

Chinese poker hands

Hands that are compared represent regular poker combinations. The hands in the bottom and middle boxes are traditional 5-card hands. The top box contains only 3 cards so that the strongest possible combination here would be three-of-a-kind. But, most hands arranged in the top box are high-card combinations.

Just like in Texas Hold’em, a dealer button is used to determine the turn order and it is moved after each hand. The exception is "fantasy". When one of the players collects a fantasy, the button isn’t moved.

Important! The player who sits to the left of the button is first to act on every street.

The peculiarity of Chinese poker lies in the fact that there is no pot to compete for as in traditional games. Each player is interested in collecting the highest number of points as well as bonuses.

The stages of the game in Chinese poker can be divided into three parts:

  • Card dealing
  • Combination layout
  • Showdown and scoring

Chinese poker scoop

In the picture above the hand is considered as dead and a player will not be able to get the fantasy in the next hand.

The player in the picture above has violated the order of combinations:

  • The bottom row - two pairs of sixes and jacks
  • The middle row - 7-high
  • The top row – a pair of aces

A pair of aces is stronger than 7-high, which means that the hand is dead and the player lost to all his opponents.

In an open Chinese poker, a player can get a bonus game called "Fantasy". In order to get the opportunity to form the fantasy, the player must collect the combination from a pair of queens or higher on the top box.

If it succeeded, then the player will get all 13 cards (14-15 in the game varieties) simultaneously in the next hand and will be able to lay them out facedown. The player who collects the fantasy will not show his cards until the other players finish placing their combinations. The player can also remain in the fantasy for the following hand if he can collect something from the listed:

  • Set (trips) in the top row
  • Full house or better in the middle row
  • Quads or better in the bottom row

Open Face Chinese poker

There is a kind of Chinese poker in which the player immediately receives 13 cards and forms the best possible hand from them, this is sometimes called traditional chinese poker. 

But in Open Face Chinese poker, each player receives five cards and then receives one card until there are 13 - a complete made combination.

This is an example of a well-formed hand in Chinese poker: the top row has an ace-high, the middle row has a straight, and the bottom row has a full house. That is, each next row is stronger than the previous one. If you swap the bottom and middle rows, you get a dead hand.

Open face chinese poker

Pineapple is a popular variation of Chinese poker. The main difference between Pineapple and ordinary Chinese poker is the number of dealt cards. Both games begin with the dealing of five cards but in Pineapple players are dealt with three cards on the following rounds.

The players must use two of these three cards to form the combination and the third one must be sent into the muck.

The main difference between Pineapple and classical Chinese poker is that the game goes through five rounds instead of nine and each player sees 17 cards instead of 15. In this way, Pineapple is always played by three players maximum. Bonuses and the rules of fantasy remain constant. Pineapple is a faster version, which rapidly becomes very popular online. 

When it’s time to score points, a level of the box is taken into account first. For example, a flush, full house or four-of-a-kind in the bottom row will be rated higher than in the weakest row. Accordingly, a participant will receive more points.

Also, points in Chinese poker are being accrued depending on the combinations that you’ve managed to collect. 

  • If a player beats his opponent in all three rows, then they get 6 bonus points
  • If a player has "scooped", then they must pay six bonus points to each participant.
  • Points are counted after all players finish laying out their combinations

“Scoop” or a dead hand in Chinese poker is a situation where your combinations are drafted in the wrong order. For example, you’ve collected two pairs in the bottom box and set (trips) in the middle box. Scoop also cancels any bonuses that you’ve got.

Scoring at the bottom row:

Full House+6
Straight Flush+15
Royal Flush+25

Scoring at the middle row:

Full House+12
Straight Flush+30
Royal Flush+50

Scoring at the top row (pairs):

Pair of sixes+1
Pair of sevens+2
Pair of eights+3
Pair of nines+4
Pair of tens
Pair of jacks+6
Pair of queens+7
Pair of kings+8
Pair of aces+9

Scoring at the top row (trips):

Trips of twos/deuce+10
Trips of triples+11
Trips of fours+12
Trips of fives+13
Trips of sixes+14
Trips of sevens+15
Trips of eights+16
Trips of nines+17
Trips of tens+18
Trips of jacks+19
Trips of queens+20
Trips of kings+21
Trips of aces+22

Chinese poker pros and cons

Like any other poker game, Chinese poker has some advantages and disadvantages:

  • If you compare Chinese poker to other types of poker, it’s rather a recreational game.
  • You can see your opponents’ cards as they are dealt face-up, which is a great advantage.
  • The rules are relatively simple, but it may take some time to master the game, as this discipline has many particularities.
  • Not many poker sites provide Chinese poker games.

Final thoughts

Chinese poker is a new but very exciting type of poker. In this game, there are no community cards, rounds of betting, and traditional pot to compete for. However, regular poker combinations have survived.

In addition, the cards you receive must be arranged in special boxes (rows); the winner is determined by calculating the points entered that are entered in a special table.

To become a professional and gain the highest number of points, you must use the advantage that open-type Chinese poker provides, that is the possibility to see your opponents’ cards.

The correct strategy and paying attention to other players’ behavior will clearly come to the rescue and contribute to gaining victory.

Estimate material
- excellent material
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I’ve been working in the Cardmates team since 2018. Started playing poker the same way most people usually do – socially, with friends and fellow students. I adored those exciting poker nights but never thought my life would be connected with this game, even tangentially.
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