OFC Tournaments: How They Work

Tournament play is the backbone of poker. It is what attracts the vast majority of the players, from micro stakes to high-stakes. It may take you several hours, but in tournament poker you can win 100x, 1000x or even more of your buy-in, and if that buy-in is for a tournament like the World Series of Poker Main Event, then we’re talking about a life changing amount of money. It is no surprise then that tournament games for Hold’em, Omaha and indeed most other poker variants always attract more players than the cash games, but what about OFC?


For those of you who are not familiar with the game, Open-Face Chinese Poker works on a point based system, where you score points against other opponents. If you are playing with several other people at the table and they are all involved in one hand, then you could score 1 point against one player and 6 against another, even though it is the same hand. This can make OFC tournaments complicated and is why I have had a number of emails asking me how these tournaments operate.


To begin with, there is not much different to a standard poker tournament. All players start with an equal number of chips and the tables are usually fully occupied — that is to say that unless specified, it’s not heads-up play throughout. There are set blind levels and these typically change every eight hands or so. Points are converted into chips, usually at a rate of 1 point per 1.000 chips. So, if I score 6 points against you, then you give me 6.000 chips, and if I score 3 points against another opponent, they give me 3.000 and I have 9.000 in total from that hand. Of course, this complicates matters if one person only has 1.000 chips and needs to both pay several chips and receive several chips, in this instance we follow the pattern of the play from the dealer onwards. So, let’s assume that I have 1.000 chips and need to pay 3.000 and receive 6.000. The person I am receiving has the dealer chip but he only has 2.000 in his stack. He gives me his 2.000 chips and is then eliminated, and as I would then only have 3.000 chips, I would pay them to the person who outscored me and I would also be eliminated.

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OFC Tournaments: How They Work

You can think of it like a game of H/L games. You might be able to win the high pot, but if that is a split pot and you then go on to lose the low pot, you end up a lot worse than when you began the hand.

This pattern follows through to the end of the tournament and although it may seem strange at first, it is very easy and almost natural once you get into the swing of it. My advice to any poker player who has plenty of experience in standard poker tournaments is just to get a brief of the rules and structure and then jump in. There is no better way to learn the game than to play it, and providing you understand the game itself then the rest should be simple.