The History of Chinese Poker, and the Birth of OFC

We have already discussed the history of Open Face Chinese Poker and how this game began just a few years ago before making it to the United States in 2012, but what about the game from which it derives, a game without which there would be no OFC Poker?


The history of Chinese Poker is not as clear as the history of many other games, but one thing that we do know is that Chinese Poker has a lot in common with Pai Gow, a game that has been around for nearly a thousand years. It is highly likely that Chinese Poker was created around the same time as Pai Gaw, and it remained in China, the country of its birth, for hundreds of years. Some have argued that during the nineteenth century, when many Chinese labourers made their way to the United States, they took Pai Gow with them and this game merged with standard games of poker (such as Draw and Stud) with which Chinese Poker emerged. Some argue that it was created several hundred years previous, offering high-stakes gamblers much more opportunity than Pai Gow did, but the truth is that no one knows for certain.


The game made it to the West in 1995, when it appeared in the World Series of Poker. The WSOP wasn’t as big back then as it is now, but it still attracted a lot of attention, with poker players all over the world signing up for the many events. In hindsight, Chinese Poker seems like an odd inclusion as it was yet to take off in the West, and perhaps this is why it was removed from the schedule just 2 years later. It had developed a small following by that time though and one of the many stories coming out of that time is of poker professional Barry Greenstein losing $1.5 million playing the game against Ted Forrest.

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The History of Chinese Poker, and the Birth of OFC

It was also reported to be popular with Phil Helmuth and other professionals such as Phil Ivey and Doyle Brunson. These are the players who had played in the big casinos and on the big tours in the East and so perhaps were more accustomed to the game because of that. The game was also played sporadically throughout Las Vegas at the time, hailed as a patient game that required a great deal of skill and strategy whilst offering the potential for big wins at the same time.

Chinese Poker has never really taken the world by storm, but it has proved to be very popular with high rollers who want some extra excitement. For many years it was popular in Finland and in Russia, and it was here where OFC was first developed, tweaking the rules and the layout of the game. OFC moved at a pace that Chinese Poker could only have dreamed of, and in just a few years it had enveloped much of the poker world.

It is clear that OFC is now way more popular than standard Chinese Poker, and that’s because it appeals to people from different walks of life, to people who are accustomed to Pai Gow, Draw, Stud and more. Whereas Chinese Poker offered gamblers something extra than Pai Gow, OFC poker gives even more, and you could also argue that Pineapple OFC is the next evolution of this game, although the differences between that and standard OFC are very minimal. It is worth remembering that without Chinese Poker then OFC wouldn’t have seen the light of day, so this game deserves as much respect as we give OFC, and if you have yet to play it, then our advice is to at least try it.