We spent a large part of our poker career playing Hold’em, as many poker players did. This is a very simple game though and when you have enough bad beats, enough drop-outs, you get a little tired of the game. After all, playing a game for severe hours straight, sometimes as much as 10 or 15, and getting nothing out of it in the end, can be as little tiring.

That’s where we were so excited when we discovered OFC Poker, as excited as we had been back when we first started played OFC Poker. As much as we love OFC Poker though, we’re always on the lookout for new poker variants, and in the last year or so, we’ve played them all extensively. Because of that, we feel that we’re well placed to tell you the best ones.

So, excluding Chinese Poker and Hold’em, which are the best poker variants out there?

6. Three Card Poker

More commonly found on electronic machines and on the gambling floor, than in poker rooms and on poker software, three card poker has seen a resurgence in recent years. The player plays against the deal, both of whom receive three cards, after the player makes an ante bet. This is a fairly simply game, but the beauty lies in the quick turnover and the fact that a solid strategy and some sound poker knowledge can go a long way.

5. HORSE

If you want the ultimate test of skill, then this is it. This is not so much a poker variant, as a combination of them. The beauty here is that you will play a handful of different poker games in one tournament, which means that balanced players are rewarded. The beauty of these tournaments is that whilst a particular player might be strong in one game, he could fall to pieces in the next. The trick is to be a jack of all trades.

The games involved in HORSE are Hold’em, Omaha High-Low, Razz, Seven-Card Stud and Eights to Better. If you want a true test of skill, you can play eight game mixes, ten game mixes, twelve game mixes and even thirteen game mixes, but excluding the addition of Badugi, which we will discuss shortly, HORSE has all of the variety that you need for a true test of skill.

4. Real Estate

This is a unique and somewhat strange game that we have only played a couple of times and are told is only available in a handful of casinos int he deep south of the US. The player is dealt a single card, with three more laid face down in the middle of the table. Each of these cards is given a value by the dealer, before two more are placed. This is far from an easy game to just pickup and play, but there is a lot of fun to be had here and if you have some time on your hands, we would recommend giving it a go.

3. Omaha Pot Limit

Omaha is the second most popular poker variant currently available. It doesn’t get as much attention as Texas Hold’em, but for every 1,000 players jumping into a Hold’em tournament, you’ll get about 100 in an Omaha tournament. This game is at its most popular as Pot Limit, but it can be played in other forms.

Omaha uses a simile setup to Hold’em, only with four cards instead of two. There are five community cards and the goal is to make the best five card hand, but the difference here is that you have to use two of the cards in your hand and two of the cards on the table in front of you.

2. 5 Card Draw

This is far from a “rare” poker game, as this was the game played by Wild Bill and friends in the Old West. This is also the variant you will find on video poker machines, and the one that was commonly associated with the game of poker for many decades. However, it was never as popular as Texas Hold’em and these days it is almost non existent.

For us, there is no better way to combine skill, knowledge and patience. Hold’em relies a little too much on luck for our liking, and whilst bad beats and big letdowns are possible in 5 Card Draw, we feel that this variant is a little more forgiving in that regard. The only issue we have with 5 Card Draw, and the only reason it isn’y number 1 on this list, is that it’s a very slow and boring game when played heads-up.

Badugi

We had heard of this game a couple of years before we tried it, as it just never seemed that appealing. However, as soon as we sat down to play a tournament, we were hooked. We’re not the only ones either, as there are many Badugi lovers out there in the poker world, including a number of poker professionals such as Daniel Negreanu.

Badugi is a very simple game, but one where skill is greatly rewarded. The goal of the game is to get a “Badugi” with your four cards. This is where you have a card from each suite. There are some important rules though, namely that you can’t have two cards of the same value and that the lower cards will also bat the higher ones. therefore, A, 2, 3, 4 of different suits will beat A, 3, 4, 5 of different suits, whereas the same hand with only three suits will lose to any hand that contains all four suits, regardless of their value. As in Draw games, you are allowed to change your cards in Badugi. You can do this three times, with a round of betting on each.

If you think that this sounds like your sort go thing, then head for Pokerstars, where you will find the best games of Badugi currently available. We have yet to find it elsewhere online, but if you know of a place feel free to get in touch. Badugi can be played Fixed Limit or No Limit, but we prefer the latter.

Whether you’re new to the game of Chinese Poker or are seeking to increase your knowledge of it, this article should help. We have been playing all forms of Chinese Poker for some time now and have pooled our knowledge and experience into this article, where you will find some tips to help you win at Chinese Poker, Open-Face Chinese Poker and other variants. This is a big game and there are a lot of nuances and intricacies to it, but these tips will help to turn you into a winning player.

1. Don’t Get Scooped

A scoop is when you win all three hands, and applies to most forms of Chinese Poker, including OFC Poker. In some forms of Chinese Poker this awards bonus points, but in all of them it gives the scooper a huge boost. Because of this, you should try your best to ensure that your opponent never scoops you. It’s easy to give-up on a hand and in most forms of poker it won’t matter how bad you lose, as losing is equal. However, in Chinese Poker you need to lose by as little as possible, because one game makes a huge difference in the long run. If you think your opponent has you on a couple of hands, then do what you can to secure one hand, regardless of what it is. This way, not only will you win that hand and the points that go with it, but you will also stop your opponent from getting a scoop.

2. Play Pairs Properly

Whilst small pairs won’t do you any good for back hands, they make a very solid middle hand and will almost certainly win a high hand. For the high hand, it’s easy to stick with high cards and spread the pairs and other hands elsewhere, but if you’re strong enough elsewhere and can get a pair into your high hand, then you’re looking good. Never undervalue a pair for the high hand and the middle hand, but at the same time, don’t overvalue them when it comes to a back hand.

3. Play Bonus Hands Where Possible

In Chinese Poker, bonus hands are crucial to your success. You should never chase these hands as it can be dangerous to do so, but there are moments when you can play them without harming your hand and your chances of winning. The key is to always watch out for bonus hands and to be prepared to play them when doing so is safe.

4. Scoop When You Can

We have already mentioned how important it is to avoid being scooped, but at the same time, you should try and scoop your opponent where possible. Take advantage of the times when they have poor cards and — out of frustration — make bad hands. When you sense such an occasion, try and spread your value around so you can get a clean sweep. The points that this brings can give you a huge boost and will go a long way to helping you win the whole thing.

5. Stick to the Rules

Chinese Poker variants are more complicated than Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Draw and other more common forms of poker. It is very easy, therefore, for inexperienced players to stumble over the simplest of rules and to make costly mistakes. This is not one of those games that you can jump straight into and learn as you go. For instance, if you don’t understand the value of each hand and create stronger hands where you are supposed to create weaker hands, then you will forfeit your entire hand and give a huge victory to your opponent. This will not be the end of the game, but one such victory will provide a significant point boost to an opponent who will have an easy run from then on. The rules about hand values are simple, but you would be surprised how many players get them mixed up.

6. Don’t Undervalue Flushes

In Chinese Poker, you will undoubtedly try to make a back hand that is considerably strong than a flush. This is advisable, as a flush is rarely good enough to win the back hand, not when everything from 4-of-a-kind and full-houses can end your hopes of winning. Because of this, many inexperienced players will dismiss flushes instantly, but this can be detrimental, as a flush will work wonders as a middle hand. In fact, if you can get a flush in the middle and get something stronger in the back hand, then you’re on course for a big win. If you can top all of that off with a pair or stronger for your final hand, then you should be looking at a clean sweep.

7. Create a Realistic Bankroll

This applies to all forms of poker, but it can be more important in Chinese Poker as remaining within a budget is a little harder. You need to decide how much you can afford to lose and then put that money to one side. When gambling, many players choose to top-up their accounts weekly or even daily, but if you want to make it as a poker player then you need to learn how to stick with a bankroll that remains as it is when it was created, and is only topped-up when you win. After all, your main goal is to win and to be a profitable player.

An acceptable bankroll amount depends on your expendable income and the amount that you are comfortable losing (you should never assume victory). A typical bankroll for someone earning $50,000 a year, with $2,000 of expandable income left over every month (after bills are paid) would be between $300 and $1,500, with the latter amount accounting for dedicated players who are going to spend a lot of time learning and playing Chinese Poker and therefore want an amount that will justify that time.

We have expressed our adoration of TonyBet many times on this site. In fact, as a site devoted to Open-Face Chinese Poker, TonyBet, which is currently the only place to play this game, has received more attention than any other site, game, app or player. It’s both a choice and a necessity for us, and as avid players, when we recommend this site it is not done blindly. We have played here extensively, we grew as players here and we hope to still be a part of TonyBet when it grows into the site we know it can be.

No site is perfect though, everything has its flaws. With that in mind, just what are the good points and the bad regarding TonyBet?

Pros

Unique: We’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth mentioning again as we can not stress it enough: TonyBet is the only online poker room for Open-Face Chinese Poker. There are apps, but not trustworthy or regulated ones, and as far as an official poker software goes, TonyBet is it.

Speed: The software itself is very smooth and faultless. In fact, many players have expressed their desire to see other poker variants on the TonyBet software, as it runs and looks so much better than many of the online poker rooms out there.

Guaranteed Tournaments: Whilst TonyBet is far from jam-packed with eager players, the big tournaments still attract large numbers. These also have big pots, as TonyBet fill them with cash from their own kitty. These tournaments run every day and there are special ones run on a weekly and monthly basis as well.

Prizes: As well as bundles of cash, mentioned above, TonyBet also offers an abundance of prizes, from tickets to big live tournaments, to luxury goods and more.

Cons

Signup: The one thing that frustrates many new players, and something that also annoyed us a little, is the signup process. TonyBet is based in Lithuania, where it is also regulated. The gaming laws are a little different in that country and they are also very strict. To signup to any gambling site you need to prove your identity by way of photocopied (or emailed) photo ID, as well as a copy of a utility bill for proof of address. This is frustrating work, but when you consider the end goal, it is worth it. As TonyBet realize this is the reason many players are turning their backs on the site during signup, they may also do their upmost to change it.

Size: Open-Face Chinese Poker is still growing. This game is in its infancy, having been introduced to the US in 2012, and as far as the online variant goes, it’s barely out of the womb. This, combined with the signup issues mentioned above, means that even during peak hours, there are not huge numbers of players on the TonyBet site. We don’t mind, as the big tournaments still attract decent numbers, but it might cause issues for grinders who want to play from morning to night, as they will struggle to find quick games at all hours.

This is the second part of an article looking at the best and worst poker sites out there, as we prepare for the day when all of these offer OFC Poker, and therefore open their doors to many of our readers.

OnGame Network — 8.5/10

The OnGame network is used by many poker sites. It used to be used by BetFair, until they changed to the iPoker network, and it has also worked its way onto many other top gambling brands. The graphics on this network are good and it never suffers from a shortage of games on the Hold’em and Omaha variants. The Sit and Go’s are what we like best about this network as it has some really good ones, but there are also some interesting multi-table tournaments, free-rolls and steps. There is also a loyalty bonus on OnGame that has helped it to stand out from its rivals for a number of years, despite the fact that it has never achieved the heights of many of these rivals.

The OnGame network is also compatible with both Windows and Mac, and whilst that is the case with most poker rooms and indeed most online gambling sites, it doesn’t apply to all of them.

iPoker Network — 4/10

We tried to get on this network for some time, but had issues from day one. The main one was that it was only available for Windows, and we have a Mac. That was frustrating to say the least, especially in this day and age, but it is not the only issue with iPoker. When we eventually got on the network we found a distinct lack of decent Sit and Go’s, along with a limited number of variants, cash games and tournaments. The strange thing is that iPoker is often preferred by clients and by players. This was the network that BetFair switched to from OnGame, but in our eyes it is far inferior.

888 Poker — 7/10

The 888 brand is widespread. There is a sports book, bingo room, casino, poker room and more. The poker room used to be riddled with flaws and we once watched it crash, only for it to not let us back in and then fold us out of a last-table position. That was frustrating to say the least, and what was even worse was that we received no offer of compensation from 888. However, things have changed in the last year or so.

We were in touch with their customer support for other reasons and found them to be nothing but helpful, and when we returned to their poker site, we also saw big improvements. There are a lot of players here and the tournaments fill up fast.

Party Poker — 6/10

This used to be the most popular poker room in the world, but that changed. First it stopped allowing US players, then its affiliates used it a lot to spam and tarnished its name in the process. None of this was their fault, but they were the ones who suffered. Party Poker is still going strong to this day, but it leaves a lot to be desired and seems to be leagues behind its more popular rivals.

The word through the grapevine is that the biggest poker sites and software developers are working on getting games of Chinese Poker, and OFC Poker in particular, included on their software. We have already explained how this game has taken off in the last few years and we have no doubt that it will be one of the most popular poker variants in just a few years. We’re not the only ones who think that either, as the poker sites are also onboard.

TonyBet is the only site offering this game right now, but that will soon change. With that in mind, just which are the biggest poker sites that deserve your time and attention when they eventually do offer games of OFC Poker?

In this two-part article we aim to review them all.

Pokerstars — 9/10

There is no doubt that this is the biggest and best poker site out there. It is also the site that has the most variants, which means that it could be one of the first to open its doors to OFC Poker.

Pokerstars might not have the biggest bonus, but it has a very good VIP scheme and their Frequent Player Points can also benefit all level of players. There are huge tournaments here, bigger than any other site and there is also a nice mixture of tight and loose and good and bad players. Pokerstars has its detractors, but the same can be said for everything and the truth is that away from TonyBet, you will struggle to find a better poker site and one that offers more to both the seasoned and amateur player.

Full Tilt — 6/10

These days this site is owned by the same people who own Pokerstars, but they used to be rivals. There are many members here, but it doesn’t feel like it used to and Full Tilt has lost a lot of its appeal since Black Friday, after which it went under and then resurfaced. There are some benefits to this site, including the Matrix poker tournaments and the fact that players can buy up to 4 entries into a single tournament, but the benefits end there and Full Tilt has a lot of work to do if it is going to return to its glory days.

PKR — 7.5/10

This is a 3D poker site, and one that is perfect for some players, and terrible for others. If you’re an amateur player, or one that prefers live poker and the slow pace that goes with it, then this could be just what you need. If you like to play the fast poker games and you like to multi-table, then this is not ideal. There is a lot of customization involved here. You can create your own avatar and buy him clothes, traits and even drinks. However, a lot of this is pointless.

The poker itself is good though and there are some nice tournaments. PKR does suffer from limited player numbers, so tournaments don’t fill as quickly as they should and you’ll only really find action on Hold’em games. However, the competition is very loose and very poor, so if you have the patience for it and you also have the skills, then you can clean up playing PKR.

The best way to learn a game is to listen to the experts, to learn how thy play it from them and to follow their lead. After all, the goal for any novice is to become as good as the professionals, to play the game with the same amount of ease and to win just as much money as they do.

Luckily, there are many pros playing the game of Open-Face Chinese Poker and many of them have created tutorials on how to play the game and on how to win at the game. In this article we’ll look at the best three of them.

Shaun Deeb and Barry Greenstein — Open-Face Chinese (OFC) Poker Lesson

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TtyyM8K-aE

Shaun Deeb is one of the biggest Open-Face Chinese Poker proponents on the professional scene, and Barry Greenstein is also in love with the game these days. Both of these are very respected players and in this video they do a very good job of explaining the game. It can feel a little drawn-out at times, but only because Barry discusses his own introduction to the game, but this does go someway to helping new players to better understand OFC and to learn how to play it themselves, so every minute of this video is good.

Gus Hansen — How to Play Open-Face Chinese Poker

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWonhBsXQ-o

Sponsored by Full Tilt Poker, who are currently the second biggest poker site in the world behind PokerStars, Gus Hansen is renowned for his cash play and for being a grinder. He used to be a very common face on poker TV shows, but he hasn’t been involved with many of these lately. Judging by this video and by the enthusiasm that he shows for Open-Face Chinese Poker, maybe it’s because he has found a new love and no longer spends his time playing Hold’em?

At just over 22 minutes, this is a fairly short video, but it contains everything you need to know about the game.

Shaun Deeb — PCA 2013: Open-Face Chinese Poker Tutorial

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_ieHbTVbPs

We mentioned Deeb above, as he is one of the pros that has taken to this game the most. In the previously mentioned video a lot of the focus was on Barry Greenstein, as he and Deeb discussed the game for close to 30 minutes and helped new players to pick up the basics. This video is quicker and more to the point, and it involves only Shaun Deeb, who is assisted by a presenter. This video runs for less than 8 minutes, and if you’re looking for a simple introduction to the game of Open-Face Chinese Poker, then this could be just what you need. You could even watch this video first and then check-out the others to get a better understanding, but they will work in any order.

As our name would suggest, we focus a lot on Chinese Open-Face Poker on this website. It is a game that is steadily taking over the poker world, but it is one that is currently only available on TonyBet. There are many poker sites out there and most of them have significantly more members than TonyBet, but few to none of them have this game available. If you want to play it you are limited to live play (it has found its way onto several major and minor poker tours) and to the many apps that cater for it. Many professional poker players also set up home games with other pros, with many of them playing Pineapple OFC.

Despite the lack of availability for Open-Face Chinese Poker in the online sphere, there are plenty of other online variants available. In this article we will take a look at the best sites to play these variants.

SkyPoker

SkyPoker is very limited, but it is one of the fastest growing gambling websites in the world right now. With the BSKYB brand behind it, this is no surprise. Currently, SkyBet is only available to customers living in the United Kingdom, but when you consider that it is already one of the biggest online bookmakers in the UK (despite having no brick-and-mortar locations) and the fact that BSKYB are a billion dollar company, then you begin to understand the potential that it has for development. There is also the fact that Sky Poker have their own team of poker pros and they also sponsor their own poker tour. Basically this is a big company, with a small site and huge ambitions.

Right now, there are only Hold’em and Omaha events, but this is a great place to play Omaha, one of the most popular variants. We also look forward to what is sure to be an exciting future at SkyBet, and one that might reward those who were there at the beginning. There aren’t a great number of Multi-Table Tournaments, but a few big guaranteed ones pop up, and the Omaha Sit and Goes on Sky Poker are some of the best around at this moment in time.

PKR

PKR Poker always thought they could revolutionize the poker world, attracting those who weren’t playing poker regularly — thanks to its sense of community and its 3D graphics — and those who did, but it failed. In reality, it only attracted those who saw poker as a gimmick and a quick and fun way to gamble, but whilst there is not a huge number of professionals on here, there should be. The competition is so weak that making money is a breeze.

The competition is especially weak when it comes to Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo. In fact, when it comes to the latter you get the impression that half of the entrants have either accidentally clicked in from Hold’em games, or think they are playing straight-up Omaha.

iPoker

The iPoker network is ranked as the third biggest poker network at the time of writing, which means that there is no shortage of players when it comes to both MTT and SNG tournaments. There is not a huge selection here, but it is a great place to play Fixed-Limit games. These games attract a lot of loose players, players who try to rush the game and have no patience. Poker is all about patience, and that applies to Fixed-Limit more than No-Limit and Pot-Limit. If you have patience in abundance, then this is where you need to be. The Hold’em Fixed-Limit games attract the loosest players, but you will also find plenty in the Omaha Fixed-Limit games.

Party Poker

Party Poker is somewhat of an acquired taste. It used to hold the title of the biggest poker network, but it lost its way. In 2006 it was forced to stop US players from using its software and it dropped, overtaken by Pokerstars and others. These days it is still one of the biggest poker sites around, but the days when it was abused by affiliates, and therefore synonymous as an annoying pop-up across the web, have damaged its good name.

This is still a great poker room though, by all accounts. It is also one of the best places to play 7 Card Stud, with no shortage of players making up the numbers. The competition is far from weak, but good players can still grind their way to a healthy profit here. There is also a 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo variant, although the instances of MTTs and SNG that fill are somewhat lower than the standard 7 Card Stud ones. Party Poker also has Pot-limit Hold’em, whose numbers are only eclipsed by No-Limit Hold’em, and there are also games of Omaha available.

Full Tilt

This poker room is not as good or as big as it used to be. It lost its was following Black Friday and it was inactive for sometime. It’s up again now though and it is owned by Pokerstars, who certainly know what they are doing when it comes to poker.

Full Tilt has a wide selection of poker variants available, and although they don’t have the members they once had, they are growing all of the time as players switch between them and the sister site Pokerstars. The variants include Razz, Stud Hi, 5 Card Stud and more. There are also plenty of Mixed Games. The competition is not loose here and when it comes to Draw and Stud games, there are plenty of players as well. What we love about Full-Tilt is the unique games that it offers, including Matrix Poker, which adds a new spin to SNG games, and Multi-Entry Tournaments, which allows you to decrease variance across the board.

Pokerstars

This is the grand daddy of poker sites, and it doesn’t disappoint when it comes to variants either. The beauty of Pokerstars is not just that it offers all of the variants you could think of (except OFC) but that each of them has their fair share of entrants. From Badugi to Stud and Draw, you will always find a full SNG or MTT tournament to play, and there are also cash games for Five Card Draw, Omaha and more.

The only downside is that the competition is fiercer. These players are not there by accident, they know how to play and they know how to beat you. Yes, there are a few that are clueless and in some cases this can be as high as 20% of the entrants, but many of them know what they’re doing.