Chinese poker is easy to learn and there is plenty of luck involved – a recipe that emboldens novices to gin up the courage to sit down with top players. There is no betting involved to test one’s nerve, only an appetite for big stakes is required to play. Or low stakes, if the case may be. The stakes are agreed on before the cards are dealt. At this point there is not much reading and game history to bone up on, players need to sit in and play to learn.


Chinese Poker is played with two, three or four players with each competitor receiving 13 cards, delivered face down. The players then builds three hands of five, five and three cards. The hands are laid out on the table on top of each other, with the three-card hand on top.


The bottom hand must be a higher rank than the middle five-card hand and the three-card hand must be the lowest rank. After the hands are set, players announce if they have been dealt any royalties, strong hands that include a straight flush, four of a kind, a full house or better in the middle hand and a three of a kind on top. Straights and flushes do not count on the three-card hand – trips are the best hand on top.


If any player can form three straights, three flushes, six pairs or a Dragon (a 13-card straight) these are “naturals” and automatic winners. Points are awarded accordingly. Once cards have been set and royalties announced, players are given the opportunity to surrender and not play the hand. A surrender costs the player more than losing two of the three hands but not as much as getting scooped, or losing all three hands. Some versions of Chinese Poker do not permit any surrendering and all cards must be played to showdown.


Once the cards are revealed, winning hands are determined and points awarded according to the payable. Chinese Poker games are played for points, much like gin rummy. A royal flush on the middle hand is the highest scorer with 50 points – that can only happen with a royal flush down below as well. Unlike poker, it is possible to finish second best in a hand of Chinese Poker and still win some money.


There are many variants to Chinese Poker, usually regarding scoring. Other twists include a lowball hand in the middle and dealing two 13-card hands that are matched against an opponent’s two hands.


The variation that has caught fire in side games at casino card rooms is a recent innovation and known as Open-face Chinese Poker. It is said to have originated in Finland and was not seen in the United States until 2012. In Open-face, the cards are dealt face-up beginning with a deal of five to each player. From there the hands are built one card at a time. Once a card is set in a hand it can not be moved.


The trick comes in building hands that conform to scoring rules – if the bottom hand turns out not be the strongest and the top three-card hand is not the weakest the player “fouls” and the stakes are forfeited. In a favorite variation known as Fantasyland, the three-card hand is awarded an extra bonus if it is Queens or Better.


Game play is quickened by a deal variation called “Pineapple.” Instead of building hands one card a time, players are dealt four sets of three cards for a total of 17. Four are discarded en route to the final formation of the hands.


The appeal of Open-face Chinese Poker comes in the steady stream of decision making required as the hands are built. Players can see an opponent’s hand and, like blackjack, can make calculations on the cards left in the deck. The lure of big royalty payouts in Fantasyland separates player styles by levels of aggressiveness.


For now, there is no consensus of an optimal strategy to set cards in Open-face Chinese Poker. The poker community is still feeling its way around the Chinese Poker table and that makes for fun game play and big swings at showdown.


Chinese Poker has been gaining quite a bit of traction in the past few years and Todd Brunson drew some media attention when he called the Open-face variation of the game “a cancer” in the poker world. The implication being that there is harm being perpetrated on poker by the game’s mere existence, with the potential of delivering a lethal blow.


From this seat at the table the arrival of Chinese Poker reminds me of the exchange between Peter Lorre and Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, with Lorre assuming the role of “Chinese Poker” and Bogart playing “Hold’Em.”


Lorre: You despise me, don’t you.

Bogart: If I gave you any thought, I probably would.


Brunson points out the obvious in disparaging Open-face Chinese Poker (OFC): there is no betting and no bluffing and it is not even poker. Exactly, so what is the fuss? Brunson objects to the game even being dealt in poker rooms since Gin Rummy is not offered, nor is backgammon. Fair enough, but enough players want to play OFC, especially for high stakes, that card rooms are going to deal it. Who are some of the gamblers enjoying hands of Chinese Poker and what attracts them to the game?


For Phil Hellmuth, “Chinese killed Texas Hold’em for me.” He found himself playing OFC in such long sessions and for such high stakes that he compared its addictive qualities to that of crack cocaine. He considers some huge losses he took in learning the game to be nothing more than tuition.


Brandon Cantu, winner of two World Series of Poker bracelets, is credited with being the Johnny Appleseed of Chinese Poker among American pro players. For him the game provides an antidote for the ills that plague poker, chief among them being slow game play, being out of the action entirely on so many hands and being a lousy spectator experience if you can not see the hole cards.


Cantu encountered the game in the iconic century-old Aviation Club de France in Paris before it was raided and forced into judicial liquidation earlier this year. Cantu had spent several days hopping into Chinese poker games in between hands of Hold’em before running into New Yorker Shaun Deeb and teaching him the game.


Cantu fattened his wallet at Deeb’s expense in long-running early games but those hard lessons created a new convert. Deeb now plays Chinese poker almost exclusively and for stakes as high as he can find. In 2014, he captured top honors at the an open-face Chinese poker tournament at the Poker Stars CaribbeanAdventure in the Bahamas.


The cadre of top poker pros who could be found engaging in side games of OFC grew to about 12 to 15 including, Daniel Negreanu, Robert Mizrachi and Barry Greenstein. All seem to agree that the biggest attraction of the game is its freshness.


At this point in the evolution of Texas Hold’em all the top players, and many of far lesser caliber, know all the optimal strategies and game play at any particular table can quickly become a mechanical exercise in executing standard plays. Not only does the optimal strategy of open-face Chines Poker remain unsolved but the players themselves admit to bafflement at seeing opponents they respect playing hands differently than they would set the hands.


At the same time OFC is easy to learn and offers enough luck and volatility that newcomers will not shy away from tables with name players. They will win enough to keep coming back but the pros can still recognize patterns and read the deck well enough to find the game profitable in the proverbial long run.


For now OFC has pushed its way past being a novelty to earn a place in the upper echelon of card games. It may not be poker but there are big enough stakes to draw gambling’s biggest players to the game. It seems inevitable that a computer program will come out that will outperform humans and everyone will be setting their hands and chasing points the same way. Until that happens, however, you are likely to keep on hearing plenty of buzz around open-face Chinese poker.







I am sure you remember when Gregory “the Mad Greek” Grivas pulled four eights on the final hand to win the Chinese Poker event at the World Series of Poker. The owner of a San Diego electronics company, who plays most of his poker in pot-limit Omaha in California card rooms, gave out an ear-piercing war whoop when the winning cards were revealed at the final table. Everyone remembers that, right? You don’t? Really? Think hard.


It is understandable that not many remember the Mad Greek winning his bracelet in Chinese Poker in the WSOP. It was not last year, nor the year before that. It was back in 1996, after all. That was the second, and last, appearance for Chinese Poker during a brief two-year run on the dance card of poker’s biggest event.


Chinese poker is a four-man game with each player receiving an equal number of cards from a standard 52-card deck and siphoning them off into three separate hands of five cards, five cards and three cards. The play is for points earned by matching each of the hands against their equivalents at the table. Traditional poker hands are used to ferret out the winning hands, although the ranking does not transfer exactly.


In the first decade of the century a variation of Chinese poker emerged where players were only dealt five cards, face up instead of face down. Each player then took turns building the three requisite hands by drawing cards in turn. Open-face Chinese Poker (OFC) has ignited in popularity in poker rooms in recent years, especially in high-limit side games. It even got a seat at the table in the World Series of Poker in 2013 as a non-bracelet event.


So, is Chinese Poker the next big thing in poker, where the future of the game is headed? Well, if you are of the opinion that betting and bluffing are at the essence of poker and those strategies are what make it the world’s best card game – and most players are – then it is impossible to take Chinese Poker too seriously. There is no betting on ones hand in Chinese Poker, either in the building or at the end.


By way of analogy, it would be as if there was a game to challenge the supremacy of American football that used the same name but only allowed the ball to be touched by the feet. The ball could never be picked up and thrown and players could not deliver courage-sapping defensive tackles. Oh, there is a game like that? How is that doing in unseating American football from the throne of sports in the United States?


Aside from the common name and the formation of the hands, Chinese Poker has no relation to poker. The game it most resembles is Gin Rummy, in the building of hands and the quest for points. Traditionally, rummy was the game that was dealt in card rooms by players waiting for a seat at the poker table. In the 21st century, Chinese Poker has assumed the same role as Gin Rummy in the previous century.


That does mean there are not players who prefer Chinese Poker to Hold’Em and that there is not plenty of money changing hands in OFC games. There are devoted OFC players and there is big money being drawn away from poker tournament pools for them to chase. But as for Chinese Poker coming off the sidelines to become the main attraction, that just does not seem to be in the cards.







Poker is a game of skill and patience, but it is also a game that many misunderstand. They think of it as a game of luck only, whereas those who play the game know that is far from the case. I have personal experience of this as I also believed that poker was little more than luck. When I began to play it I realized that that was not the case, and the more I played and the more I learned, the more I understood that it was much more skill than luck.

I fell in love with poker from an early age, but after sometime I decided I needed a break. Too many bad beats had disillusioned me and I decided that I needed to try other games. I began to search for other games commonly written-off as luck-based, seeing if they really were and if I could fall for them like I did with poker. The truth is there are many games out there that require much more skill than luck, games that you can consistently win at with a lot of knowledge, skill and patience. I have discussed these games below and if you are a poker fan and have yet to try them, then you really are missing out.


This is an obvious. As a popular casino game most poker players have probably played it at one time or another. I know I had. There’s so much more to it than what I first thought though, and for many of you that will probably be the same. Blackjack is not about luck and it’s not about simple knowledge. There is a mathematical formula known as Basic Blackjack Strategy which relies on the game being played in an exact way in order to reduce the house edge and increase your chances as a player. If you choose the right variants (fewer decks are better, try to avoid European Blackjack, Pontoon and Spanish 21) and use Basic Blackjack Strategy then you can make a very nice profit from this game. The only downside is that it doesn’t really work online.

Card counting should never be discounted either. As with the conception that blackjack is all about luck, there is also one that card counting is incredibly difficult and involves some Rain Man level of thought. This is far from the case and card counting is actually about adding and subtracting single digits. The math is very basic and it’s more about focus than anything else, as you will need to look normal and keep a running count in your head whilst in a busy environment. Card counting is not illegal, but it is frowned upon by the casinos, so don’t let them catch you doing it.


There is a story that Phil Ivey once won over $10 million playing Baccarat in a single night. He did it in a famous and very exclusive card room in London, and although he allegedly used a trick that allowed him to see which cards he was being dealt, this is a game that can make you a huge profit without such tricks. Baccarat is played against the dealer and there are three different variants of it available. Which one you play is important and this is something you need to watch out for because one of them is strictly a game of chance, and one where skill doesn’t factor in at all.

Baccarat is a little hard to explain in the limitations of this article, but it is one of those games that is very easy to pick up once you begin playing. If you fancy yourself at the Baccarat tables then my advice is that you jump straight in, because there’s no better way to learn the game then by playing it. Just make sure you don’t bet a huge amount to begin with.


As a dice game, this is often written-off as a game of luck, but there is a lot of skill involved. This game is popular in several countries such as Greece, where you will see it played in coffee shops and restaurants. The games are often played for money, and if you fancy yourself as a player then you could win yourself a pretty penny this way. There are also online versions of the game and there is even talk of Backgammon being introduced to certain casino softwares.

Backgammon is actually one of the oldest games known to man, with some suggestions that it could be as old as 5,000 years. As with chess, which we shall discuss next, Backgammon relies on strategy.


Chess is a very old game and one that requires more skill and strategy than anything on this list. Chess is far from a game of luck and no one in their right mind would think it is, but it has been included here because it is a great game to learn for many reasons. Learning chess can help you to learn all of these other games, as it will increase your patience and your focus, due to the fact that large parts of the game are spent waiting for your opponent to make their move. You’re not going to make a huge amount of money playing this game, but if you find another keen player and gambler then this is great game to make prop bets on. Just remember that this game can take decades to master, so even if you fancy your chances after a few weeks, there’s a good chance that you’ll be nowhere near as good as you think you are.

If you can’t get access to any of the major casinos that offer regular Open-Face Chinese Poker games and tournaments, or you want to practice the game in-between these games, then the popular choice is to invest in an app. There are many out there and the market is growing day by day as developers jump on the OFC bandwagon. It doesn’t matter where you have an Android or an Apple device, and whether you want to play on your smartphone or tablet, there are apps for all operating systems and all devices. Many of them are free, but bear in mind that free apps are always supported by ads (the developers need to make money somehow) and these can range from harmless and barely noticeable, to incredibly annoying. So just because an app comes with a price tag, doesn’t mean you should dismiss it out of hand.

In this article we will take a look at the best and worst OFC apps for your Android and Apple devices.

Game Name: ABC Chinese Poker – Open Face


Operation Systems: Apple

Price: Free

Link: Click Here

Developed by PokerPoker, LLC, and claimed by those developers to be a game “for poker players by poker players” ABC Chinese Poker – Open Face is a fairly comprehensive game that works with Apple devices and is available for download in the Apple App store. The game has been out for some time and the developers do a good job of updating it regularly, fixing problems, removing bugs and adding extras where necessary. The latest editions of ABC Chinese Poker – Open Face include a version of Pineapple Poker, which is quickly becoming the most popular way to play this game.

Players can play against their friends through the Apple Game Centre, although this is not widely used and many Apple users haven’t even set up there Game Centre profiles. The game can also be played offline. It is very intuitive, very slick and very well designed. It can be a little simplistic in places, and doesn’t have social media support — which is why we haven’t given it top marks. It has also scored very highly with other users and is one of the most popular Open-Face Chinese Poker apps available in the App store.

Game Name: OFC Pineapple Poker

Score: 10/10

Operation Systems: Android

Price: Free

Link: Click Here

This is easily one of the most complete and interesting Open Face Chinese apps on the Android operating system. The graphics are stunning and the developers have really gone out of their way to make this app stand out without allowing those features to get in the way of the actual game. This game focusses on Pineapple OFC, but it has a standard OFC variant as well.

As well as a great choice for a single player games, this app is also the best one we have found for online play. The online features let you test your skills against your friends, keeping track of all scores in a leaderboard. There are also chat features in the game and there is even a game tutorial for those who are brand new to Open Face Chinese and want to learn how to play.

Developed by Oye Games, OFC Pineapple Poker is one of the most popular Open Face Chinese Poker apps available in the Google Play Store, and once you sit down and play it for a few minutes it’s easy to see why.

Game Name: Open Face Chinese Poker by MWSGames

Score: 6/10

Operation Systems: Android

Price: Free

Link: Click Here

This game advertises itself as the first Open Face Chinese Poker with free online play, which would be great if there was anyone online playing this game. It is a very neat app with a very simplistic design. There are no pointless graphics getting in the way or making things unnecessarily cluttered, and the app itself is very smooth and easy to play, but it is not the most popular app on the market and this means that there are very few opponents playing the game in the online multiplayer mode.

If you have no desire to play Open Face Chinese Poker online and simply want to practice or learn the game then this could be a great app to do so, but if you’re looking to play with your friends or others then you should look elsewhere.

Game Name: Open Face Chinese Poker by Golden Labs

Score: 4/10

Operation Systems: Android

Price: Free

Link: Click Here

This game is great on the face of it. The screenshots look very nice and the game itself seems to be one of the most graphically advanced that there is, but the actual interface is very confusing and the game itself does not live up to the screenshots and the synopsis. There is some very nice social media support and the ability to keep track of your scores against all of your friends, but whilst this is great in theory, in reality it doesn’t actually work. Many users had issues with this aspect of the game and as it is the one thing that truly sets it apart from the other apps on the market, it looks pretty standard and bleak without it.

Game Name: Open Face Chinese Poker Free by Pocket Cowboys

Score: 8/10

Operation Systems: Android & Apple

Price: Free with Ads; $3 without ads.

Link: Android: Click Here

Apple: Click Here

This game is actually one of the lowest rated games of all of the ones on this list, and that was something that took us by surprise when seeing the rating after we had played the game. This is the game that we play the most when looking for a simple offline game of Open Face Chinese Poker. The setup is very smooth and the game itself runs quickly and well. This is the game we would recommend for Android users looking to improve their play. It doesn’t have Pineapple OFC support but that is sure to comer with a later update.

To be fair, and perhaps to side with those who have rated it poorly, this app isn’t the best when it comes to online play, but at the same time the game itself is better than any of the other we have played. So choose this app if you want to play offline, perhaps when you don’t have access to an internet connection or just want some single player games, but opt for others when you want to play with your friends or other OFC players around the world.

Game Name: Open Face Chinese Poker Free by Pocket Cowboys

Score: 3/10

Operation Systems: Apple

Price: Free with many in-app purchases

Link: Click Here

Although lacking on the aesthetics that many other games on this list excel at, this game is promising, but it falls flat in so many areas. It allows for offline and online play and it is available as a free download, which is a plus considering that there are far fewer Apple OFC Poker games than there are Android ones, but this game has a lot of expensive in-app purchases, some of which might be considered essential. The main issues though are the bugs, and the fact that there are so many and that they can render the game unplayable.

These bugs range from not forfeiting offline games (even though it warns players that if they don’t make a move then their hand will be forfeited within 24 hours) to constant crashes more. The app has gone through many updates but many of these bugs have been there since the beginning. This app is not very popular and although that is not always an indication of its true worth, it is in this case.

Game Name: Chinese 13 Card Poker

Score: 6/10

Operation Systems: Apple

Price: $4.99

Link: Click Here

Although not strictly an Open-Face Chinese Poker app, Chinese 13 Card Poker can serve as a great introduction to the world of Chinese Poker. It’s available in the Apple App Store, which has fewer OFC Poker apps than its Android alternative, and is a very well made app that has been expertly designed. Players can play offline by themselves or online with friends, and the offline game is a great way to pass the time or to learn how to play Chinese Poker.

The only downside with this app is the price. At $4.99 it is considerably more than any of the other apps on this list, but if you have an Apple device and if you want to learn more about the game from which Open Face Chinese Poker was developed, then give Chinese 13 Card Poker a go.

Although the original game of Chinese Poker was probably invented in China (or in the very least by Chinese immigrants) the game of Open-Face Chinese Poker was invented in Finland. This comes as a surprise to many as Finland aren’t exactly renowned for their big poker players or gamblers, you’d be hard pressed to find many celebrity Finnish poker players, large gambling sites or even a top sporting league that came out of Finland, but the Finnish are not as obscure as many people think.


Bordered by Norway, Sweden, Estonia and Russia, Finland is a European country located in the continent’s brisk north. Although its population is estimated at just 5.5 million, this population is spread over a wide area and Finland is actually one of the ten biggest countries in the European Union. A fifth of this population live in the capital city of Helsinki and the surrounding areas, which is often voted as one of the cleanest, safest and best places to live in the world.

Visitors to Finland are attracted by the laid-back lifestyle that exists in this winter paradise. It is also a great place for those who are into rock and heavy metal, because although heavy metal is counter culture everywhere else, in Finland it is mainstream. There are more heavy metal bands here per capita than anywhere else in the world and this form of music regularly tops the charts. Finland also drink more coffee per person than any other country in the world, making this an ideal place for lovers of the energising beverage.

Finland is a friendly and very well educated country. It has fantastic healthcare and an unbeatable educational system, both of which are often voted as the best in the world. It is also a country of great natural beauty, and one that is very firmly established in the modern world. But all of that aside, its the gambling and the poker that we’re interested in, so let’s take a look at what makes Finland such a gambler’s paradise.

Gambling in Finland

Although not renowned as a gambling hotspot, the Finnish love to gamble and Finland is home to one of the most unique casinos in the world. Located in the capital, the Grand Casino Helsinki looks just like any casino. It has a few hundred slot machines that create a buzz on the casino floor, table games (including blackjack and craps) to attract the professional players and the high rollers, and a poker room where the locals can play they favourite game, but the difference here is that all of the profits generated by the casino go straight to charity. Once the casino pays its staff and other costs, it gives the rest of the money away. This generosity makes losing all of your money at the tables feel like a charitable act.

Ironically, a lot of the proceeds go towards treating and caring for those with gambling addictions, but they also invest in community care schemes and pensioner care schemes. The Grand Casino Helsinki is the only official casino in Finland, but the organisation that run it and provide licenses for other such venues have given permission for nearly 300 restaurants and other establishments to operate table games. There is also a casino on the Åland Islands, a very small region that comes under the jurisdiction of Finland.

Another unique aspect of the Grand Casino Helsinki is the introduction of Open-Face Chinese Poker in the poker room, which is one of the post popular games at the casino. There are also games of Hold’em and Stud, and there is a Bad beat Jackpot. This is also where the Finnish Poker championships are held, when the best of the best in Finland compete to be crowned champions.

Gambling on the whole in Finland is something that creates a lot of money for local charities, in fact a vast majority of nonprofit funds in the country come from gambling, with everything from the Grand Casino Helsinki to sports books and online operations getting involved. Lotteries and bingo are also popular here and they also contribute to nonprofit organisations.

As for online gambling, there are close to 500 operations that list their base in the country, all of which have been given official permission by RAY, the organisation that run the Grand Casino Helsinki and control gambling in the country. The Finnish people can also use many of the top sports books and online casino that operate throughout Europe, and some of the bigger ones (including Ladbrokes, Unibet and Swedish-owned Bettson) even support the Finnish language.

Poker in Finland

Poker in Finland, like everywhere else in the world, has really exploded in the past two decades, but unlike the US or the UK, you’ll struggle to find anyone who played poker at all just twenty years ago. The boom in popularity very much dragged poker from complete obscurity and placed in in homes and card rooms across the country.

The most famous Finnish poker player today is Patrik Antonius, the first and currently the only celebrity Finnish poker player. Patrik has played with the likes of Tony G, Phil Ivey and Phil Helmuth. He is revered throughout the poker world as a consistent, stone-faced played who makes big moves and takes big risks. He is also known to be one of the most successful players ever when it comes to high-stakes cash games, an area in which he has excelled over the last decade or so.

Patrik has been a member of Team Full Tilt for a number of years, and was with them before the Black Friday incident. As well as his cash games, which he plays offline and online, he has amassed just shy of $5 million in live tournament earnings and has picked up ITM finishes in all of the major tours and series, including the Word Series of Poker, the European Poker Tour and the World Poker Tour.

In the last few years more Finnish poker players have been following Patrik’s lead. These include high stakes cash player Sami Kelopuro; live tournament grinder Juha Helppi; and Pot-Limit Omaha maestro Ilari Sahamies.

Live poker does exist in Finland but it is online where most of the Finnish players ply their trade. Online poker is very popular here and on sites like Pokerstars, Party Poker and Full Tilt poker there is a large population of Finnish poker players. There are also a number of home games, played in small communities among big fans of the game, and it is through these games that Open-Face Chinese Poker was invented.

Whether it’s because of the weather and the dark nights — which makes people want to stay at home for extended periods of time — or because of something cultural, the Finnish poker community has exploded in recent years and the game is now huge. Cash games are also big and the Finnish are some the biggest high rollers in online and offline poker, which is why Open-Face Chinese Poker caught on so quickly. Any game that is conducive to small table cash games was always going to be accepted by the Fins, and when you add in the speed and the thrill that Open-Face Chinese Poker brings, it’s no surprise that it became as big as it did.

After that, the game was quick to move into Russia, who love their poker and their cash games just as much as the Finnish do. And once the rest of the world heard about this new and exciting game they were equally quick to accept it.

The rest, as they say, is history. But that history wouldn’t exist if not for the resilient, poker-loving Finnish who shared their love of high stakes cash games with the world and gave all of us a new revolution in poker.

If you’re looking to do some reading and to brush up on your Open-Face Chinese Poker Strategy, or if you want to learn a little more about the basics, then the following links and books can help.

How to Make Money in Open-Face Chinese Poker: This book does exactly as the title suggests, teaching players the basics of the game of Open-Face Chinese Poker and telling them how they can turn this fun poker variant into a profitable business. OFC Poker is very much like Texas Hold’em in the sense that it is a skill game that can be played for a profit, and therefore there are those that make a lot of money playing it. As it is still fairly small, the number of players is growing all of the time and now is a great time to become part of that crowd.

How to Make Money in Open-Face Chinese Poker was written by Pokrneo and contains nearly 250 pages of information on OFC Poker. It has a number of exercises here that players can follow to increase their skill, their strategy and their tournament play, turning the game of Open-Face Chinese Poker into a highly profitable career.

Ace on the River: Although written about the world of Texas Hold’em, this book was penned by Barry Greenstein who is a big fan of Open-Face Chinese Poker. This is a great book for any poker variant and for any poker fan who wants to learn what it takes to be a poker professional. Barry is a veteran and has been on tables with the best of the best in everything from Hold’em and Omaha to Stud and Draw, he knows his stuff and when you’re looking to learn, what better way than to learn from the best in the business?

Poker Player Magazine: This regular glossy magazine will keep you updated on all things Chinese Poker and Open-Face Chinese Poker. This magazine has had some of the biggest names in poker featured on its cover, including high rolling superstar Gus Hansen and Antonio Esfandiari. The magazine will cost you just a few dollars and it is worth every cent. The latest edition at the time of writing features a spread on why Open-Face Chinese Poker is going to be the next big thing, even more reason to check this magazine out! : If you have yet to play and learn Chinese Poker, from which Open-Face Chinese Poker was created, then check out this website. These simple instructions will teach you the game in just a few minutes, so that you can see OFC Poker in its original form. If you have yet to learn the rules of Open-Face Chinese Poker then this is also a great place to start, as it includes everything from the basic rules to the hand values, most of which apply to both variations of the game.

Two Plus Two: Two Plus Two is the biggest poker community on the internet, and the place where amateurs and professionals converge to discuss the game. There are plenty of posts, blogs and articles to read here and there is also a section dedicated to Open-Face Chinese Poker, which is growing day by day.

OFC Poker is taking over at a rapid pace, and nowhere is that more evident than in the professional poker world, where the big spenders and the cream of the poker crop are devoting countless hours to learning, playing and even teaching others about the game of Open-Face Chinese Poker. In this article we take a look at the biggest names in the OFC Poker world, the stars that made a name in Texas Hold’em but have turned towards OFC Poker in the last couple of years.

Shaun Deeb

Shaun may not be the most well known name on this list, or the one who has won the most prestigious tournaments, but he deceives to be the first name on the list because of his devotion to Open-Face Chinese Poker, a devotion that exceeds many other poker professionals. Shaun Deeb loves poker in all its form, from Hold’em to 7 Card Stud, but it is OFC Poker — and in particular OFC Pineapple — that has won his heart and his dedication the most. This is the game that he talks about non stop on his social media pages, the game for which he has written many tutorials and stared in many Youtube videos, including a popular one with Barry Greenstein.

Shaun Deeb began his poker obsession when he was 16 and would host rebuy tournaments with his friends at high school. In later years he would drop out university to pursue a career in poker, a move that proved to be very shrewd as he went on to become one of the best and most versatile players in the game. Shaun Deeb is prolific online. These days he spends a lot of time playing Pineapple on his mobile and tablet, but he also holds two World Championship of Online Poker titles and has finished “in the money” in 17 World Series of Poker events. Deeb also has ITM finishes in the European Poker Tour and World Poker Tour, and he is a regular on the Spring Championship of Online Poker.

Jason Mercier

Jason Mercier has picked up a big finish at a couple of OFC events, including the Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure and the OFC event on the European Poker Tour, held on the Monaco stop.

Jason Mercier was born and raised in Hollywood, Florida, where he lives to this day. The twenty seven year old has won two World Series of Poker bracelets and regular features in a number of Texas Hold’em televised events. He is often cited as one of the best live poker players in the world, and is certainly one of the richest with 31 ITM finishes in the WSOP and dozens more on other big tours and tournaments. As well as being a keen advocate of Open-Face Chinese Poker, Jason has also picked up big wins in several other variants, including Pot Limit Omaha and 8-Game, in which he won over a quarter of a million dollars at the World Series of Online Poker.

Daniel Negreanu

Known as “Kid Poker”, Daniel has been on the scene for many years. The Canadian earned his nickname for being one of the youngest players on the circuit, which testifies to how long he has been involved in the game considering he is now 40 years old and one of the more experienced heads at any poker table.

Daniel is a confident and talented player and as well as being the face of Pokerstars Team Pro, he has also hosted his own show and is a regular feature on other shows such as Pokerstars Big Game and Late Night Poker. Ever keen to stick with the new trends and the new games, Daniel is a huge fan of Open-Face Chinese Poker and regularly plays the game with a number of other players on this list. He is also known to enjoy a game of Badugi and Omaha every now and again. It is Hold’em where he has earned the big bucks though and he has picked up a massive 78 ITM finishes at the World Series of Poker and 19 on the World Poker Tour.

Daniel is one of the most travelled poker players and is prominent on all of the big tours, tournaments and the big television shows. He is the face of the game, and you will struggle to find a poker player or fan who doesn’t know who he is.

Barry Greenstein

Barry Greenstein is a veteran on the poker scene and as well as three Word Series of Poker bracelets, he also has a number of appearances in popular televised poker events and cash games, such as High Stakes Poker, Poker After Dark and The Big Game. Barry can be seen regularly playing Texas Hold’em, as is often the case with any poker pro, but he plays most variants and none of his World Series of Poker bracelets are for Hold’em, but rather they are for No Limit Deuce to Seven Draw, Pot Limit Omaha and Razz.

Barry himself admitted to drawing up many mathematical strategies and plans for Open-Face Chinese Poker. As a keen mathematician he wanted to figure the game out from a mathematical standpoint, but after trying to for many months and after failing at so many strategies, he lost thousands. Luckily, he now knows how to play the game and features at all the big Open-Face Chinese Poker events in North America. He also teaches others how to play and one of the most popular OFC Poker tutorial videos online stars him and Shaun Deeb.

Barry Greenstein is often referred to as the “Robin Hood of Poker” due to the fact that he gives a lot of his winnings away to charity. The 59 year old lives in California with his wife and children, and he devotes his time to playing poker, learning new variations and writing about the game that he loves so much.

Phil Hellmuth

Known as the “Poker Brat”, for his outspoken antics at the table and the many tantrums that he throws when he loses and takes a bad beat, Phil Hellmuth is one of the most experienced poker players around. He likes to think of himself as the best that there is, and is often heard saying words to that effect, and although it is dismissed as bragging, he is certainly one of the better players out there.

Phil Hellmuth is also one of the few poker superstars to win the World Series of Poker Main Event, although he won this in 1989 before the fields extended into the thousands and the competition was so fierce. He was the youngest person to win the WSOP Main Event at the time, and in the years that followed Hellmuth picked up another 99 ITM finishes, which means he now has 100 cash-ins in the biggest poker series on the planet. His total live tournament earnings are just shy of $20 million and he has played and won at many variants of the game, including an Open-Face Chinese Poker takedown on the London stop of the European Poker Tour.

Phil Hellmuth, like the others on this list, is also a poker celebrity and has probably featured on as many poker shows as Daniel Negreanu, but whilst the latter is added to the lineup for his charm and charisma, Hellmuth tends to be included because of his network pleasing outbursts and his endless rants.

Vanessa Selbst

The only female on this list, Vanessa Slebst is also a big fan of Open-Face Chinese Poker and regularly plays the game on her mobile, whilst joining in on the many live tournaments around the world. She is the only female to have reached the number one spot in the Global Poker Index and is regally considered to be one of the best players in the world. Vanessa has three World Series of Poker bracelets to her name and has had huge cashes in other tournaments as well. She is a very versatile player and has cashed big in everything from Hold’em and Omaha, to 10-game and more.

Vanessa’s total live tournament earnings surpass $10 million and she is prominent on televised tournaments and high roller events.

Jon Turner

Although less of a poker celebrity and high roller than the other names on this list — certainly the ones that precede him — Jon Turner, who goes by the name PearlJammed online, is a very skilled poker player and an advocate of Open-Face Chinese Poker. He is well down on the United States all-time money list, but his recent results include final tabling a big OFC Poker tournament with Jason Mercier and Shaun Deeb.

Paul Volpe

Also on that final table, and claiming the eventual runner-up spot, was Paul Volpe. Paul is considerably higher than Jon Turner on the United States money list and is in the top ten for the richest players in the state of New Jersey, which he calls home. As far as his poker skill goes the Global Poker Index also rates him in the top ten and many see him as one of the rising stars of the game, with his name consistently on the ITM list for all of the big tournaments in all of the poker variants. Volpe makes most of his money online and has earned nearly $5 million to date, but he also plies his trade in live tournaments as well, although not as regularly.

Chris Klodnicki

Chris is another player who has yet to break into poker superstardom but is certainly on his way. He gets involved in many poker tours and tournaments, playing everything from Open-Face Chinese Poker and 10-game, to standard No Limit Hold’em. He has won over $2 million in online earnings over the years, but it in his live tournaments where he makes the big bucks and he has earned over $7 million to date with his live play.

Chris is ranked in the top 50 for richest poker players in the United States and he is 3rd in the state of New Jersey. His best single cash in a live event was for nearly $3 million, which boosted him up the rankings and gave him the recognition that he rightly deserves.

Dan O’Brien

Dan has yet to take home a big Open-Face Chinese Poker win, but he does enjoy the game and is a regular in many OFC tournaments. His biggest cash win away from OFC Poker was close to half a million dollars and his online winnings surpass the $2 million mark.

Ben Yu

Ben is not a huge name on the circuit but he has been cropping up in Open-Face Chinese tournaments with players such as Jason Mercier and Shaun Deeb. His total live earnings are more than half a million dollars and his best live cash was for over $100.000. He plays many variants of the game of poker.

Tony G

Last but far from least, Tony G is more important to the game of Open-Face Chinese Poker than many of the names already mentioned. The Lithuanian-born Aussie is a businessman by trade, and over the years he has used his business earnings to bankroll entries into many tournaments, covering every possible variant of the game of poker. He has a mouth to rival that of Phil Hellmuth, but is often thought of as much more intimidating. Tony G is a big cash game player and has also featured on many televised poker events, but the biggest contribution that this poker superstar has had to the game of Open-Face Chinese Poker is the TonyBet website.

TonyBet is a sports book, casino and, most importantly, a poker room. But it is not just any poker room, it is currently the biggest poker room in the online world that has Open-Face Chinese Poker games. It set the standard, and the popularity of TonyBet’s poker room will open the doors for other poker sites to follow, effectively starting up the bandwagon that they will then jump on. Tony G is also a big fan of OFC himself, and if you head on over to TonyBet you might just run into him on one of the many OFC tournaments.

As many will know, Open-Face Chinese Poker is undergoing a boom at the moment, and although that popularity has yet to extend into the online world, with sites such as Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker yet to open their doors to the game, it is being embraced by the biggest poker tours worldwide. In fact, on all of the major tours, including the World Series of Poker, you can find a table or two of Open-Face Chinese Poker, and the number of players joining these tables are increasing year by year and month by month.

We’re now in the late summer months and have missed the big stops during the beginning of the year, and in the spring and in the summer. These included the GUKPT, which held a £75 (around $120) buy-in for OFC in the middle of August, and events for the Ante up World Championship, the Summer Series and the Aria Classic, all of which catered for Open-Face Chinese Poker and attracted the best players on the OFC circuit.

There are still plenty more on the way in the next couple of months and on into 2015, so if you’re into OFC Poker and want to test your mettle on the big stage then checkout some of these tournaments.

Caribbean Poker Tour

The Caribbean Poker Tour is one of the hottest poker tours on the circuit, literally, as these events are held in beautiful, sun-drenched Caribbean destinations and often in the height of summer. In truth, the last place you’ll probably want to be when you’re in an island paradise is stuffed up inside a casino, but these tournaments kick off during the evening, when the sun goes down and you’re looking for some entertainment.

The next stop on the Caribbean Poker Tour is in the island of St Martin, a country with split sovereignty between the French and the Dutch. There are many tournaments here and although the first one takes place on the 30th of October, the final one doesn’t begin until the 8th of November. The main event is what draws the most attention, and also the television cameras, and that kicks off on the 4th of November, running for several days and finishing on the 7th. A day later, on the final day of the tour, is when the Open-Face Chinese Poker event takes place. This is becoming one of the most popular tournaments on the tour and is certainly eagerly anticipated this time around.

OFC Pineapple is the aim of the game here and as it’s the last tournament on the final day, it closes the curtain on the whole tour. The buy-in is $330, so many might be priced out, but there might be some satellite competitions available if you want to win your entry. You might also be able to get sponsored for the event if you have made some significant ITM finishes in other games and can find someone to spot you.

Poker Caribbean Adventure

For some more fun in the Caribbean sun, albeit with significantly less heat, then hit the PCA event at the beginning of the year. At the time of writing the event schedule has yet to go up, but OFC is sure to be featured here. In fact, at the 2014 event, Open-Face Chinese was one of the biggest tournaments. A $2200 re-buy tournament attracted 40 high-rolling OFC players and a total prize-pool of over $100.000, with Shaun Deeb taking home the grand prize.

European Poker Tour

The EPT is the top choice for European players and for those from further afield. This televised tour stops off at some of the biggest gambling destinations in Europe, including Prague, London and Monte Carlo. Open-Face Chinese has featured here since late 2012, with events taken down by players such as Vanessa Selbst and Jason Mercier. The next event is in London in October, but although OFC featured on this stop last time (and was won by Phil Helmuth) it is not scheduled for it this time. Nevertheless, after that it’s the turn of Prague and then Deauville, so keep an eye on these stops and you’ll be sure to find at least one OFC Poker tournament.

World Poker Tour

The WPT is often considered to be the the North American equivalent of the EPT, but in reality both of these tours are universal and as big as each other. The WPT has featured OFC on many of its stops, including the Las Vegas stop in 2013, when it was held at the Bellagio. Next up for the WPT is Borgata in September. The main stops on the tour have already finished this year, but they will start again next year so be sure to keep a close eye on this tour as wherever you are in the world you’ll be sure to find a stop close to you.

World Series of Poker

The WSOP is the biggest poker tournament in the world, so if you want to play Open-Face Chinese on the big stage then you’ll struggle to find one bigger. The WSOP Main Event final table is just around the corner and the next WSOP tour is a good 8 months away, but with the momentum behind OFC, next year promises to be a very interesting one. In fact, at the WSOP this year, although Open-Face Chinese didn’t dominate the schedule, it was all the big players talked about. When many of them weren’t grinding the big No-Limit Hold’em tournaments they were hitting the Vegas tables to play OFC cash games. There were also many reports of the top players playing OFC on their mobiles as they sat at the tables playing Hold’em. The tournament organisers will have taken note of this and everyone is predicting that next year at the World Series of Poker will be the year of Open-Face Chinese Poker. This also applies to the World Series of Poker Europe, which will surely follow suit. The European version isn’t as big of course, but it still attracts a huge following, with those who can’t make it to the City of Sin choosing the cooler climate of the WSOP Europe instead.

OFC Poker is great, if I didn’t think that was the case then I wouldn’t have this website, and if you didn’t think that was the case then you wouldn’t be visiting this website, but there are many more great poker variants out there. Everyone has heard of Texas Hold’em and it is the most popular and the most well known poker variant that there is, but it also has its dissenters. In fact many people who turned to OFC Poker are frustrated with Hold’em, and many of those frustrations are aimed at the fact that Hold’em attracts a lot of amateurs and the game itself is geared up to give those amateurs a chance, and nothing will turn experienced players off a game quicker than a succession of bad beats to people who don’t know what they’re doing.

OFC Poker requires more skill and is much less accommodating to the risk-taking newbies looking for a quick score and a quicker game, but there are other poker variants out there that also require a great deal of skill, and games were you will find fewer gamblers and more experienced poker players.


Badugi is a favorite for many. This game is very unique and it is also very niche. In fact, very rarely will you find Badugi tournaments on the major sites or in the major casinos, but they are out there. Badugi is reported to have been invented in the 1980s, although exactly where and when no one is quite sure. Pokerstars has these tournaments running throughout the day, and there are also Badugi games on the major tours and in the major tournaments.

Badugi is played with four cards, and the aim of the game is to make “Badugi”, which is made when the player has one card from each suit. The betting system is much like standard games of Draw, with blinds paid out before each hand. Each player gets four cards and there are three rounds of betting after that, with an option to change however many cards the player wants to change as they try their best to make “Badugi”. A strong hand is a low hand, with the strongest possible hand being A, 2, 3, 4 of different suits.

Badugi games are often fixed limit games, and this puts a lot of amateurs off. There are also pot limit games available, but these are less common, and you will very rarely find a no limit game of Badugi

5 Card Draw

This is one of the oldest games of poker. Many people assume that Texas Hold’em was the main game in the wild west, played by Wild Bill and co, but it was actually 5 Card Draw. This was the most common game of poker up until the age of Texas Hold’em, which took the world by storm and created a new generation of players, many of which had never heard of 5 Card Draw, let alone played it.

5 Card Draw is played with 5 cards and often a maximum of 4 or 5 people per table. All five cards are dealt before the first round of betting and the goal is for the players to make the strongest five card poker hand with the hand they are dealt. After the first round of betting they are allowed to change as many of their cards as they want, much like in Badugi, but there is only one change allowed, after which there is one more round of betting.

5 Card Draw is a great tournament game, and one that makes for some very exciting skill-based tournaments. It can be a very frustrating game to play heads-up, and many refuse to play heads-up unless they have to (such as at the end of a tournament) but it’s great when you have a full table. It is also the perfect game to introduce people to poker, as it’s by far the easiest game to learn.

Omaha Hi-Lo

This game has many layers which means it is very rarely appealing to those who don’t understand the rules. It is probably the most popular game on this list, but is nowhere near as popular as standard Omaha, which is often only second to Texas Hold’em in the popularity stakes.

Omaha Hi-Lo is typically a pot limit game and there are two pots in each hand, with a high hand and a low hand. All players are dealt four cards (although there are five card variations as well) and there are also five community cards dealt on the table that all players can use to make their best five card hand. They need to use two cards from their hand and three cards from the community hand in order to make that five card hand.

If there are three or more low cards on the table, which are defined as 7 and below, then the pot is split, with half going to the high hand and half going to the low hand. The best low hand is one from the ace through to the five, and standard poker rules apply to the high hand.

Omaha Hi-Lo is very unique in the sense that prior knowledge of good Omaha or Hold’em hands will do you few favors here as you also need to calculate the best low hand potential.

Mixed Poker

Mixed Poker games take many forms and the beauty of these is that only those with an eclectic range of poker knowledge can run deep in the tournament. Mixed games incorporate two or more poker variants into one tournament, with the game switching for every blind increase. These games are as simple as Omaha/Hold’em splits, which are the most popular, and as complicated as HORSE (Hold’em, Omaha, Razz, Seven-card Stud and Eights or Better). There are also games that mix eight, ten, twelve and even thirteen different poker variants. The competition in these is likely to be fierce, with only the best of the best competing, but this is a great way to test your abilities and with so may variants on the go, and with regular changes between them, you’ll never get bored regardless of how deep the tournament runs.

Some new games that are achieving popularity on Pokerstars and other places include Courchevel, which is a bit like Omaha but with five cards, one of which is face-up; Triple-Draw, which is similar to both Badugi and 5-Card Draw; and Razz.