Chinese Poker Online

Have you ever wondered what all of the poker pros are doing on their iPads while playing in major poker tournaments? Chances are that they are playing online Chinese Poker! Chinese Poker is one of the favorite pastimes for on-duty and off-duty poker players as it combines their two favorite things, poker and just outright gambling.

In addition to seeing it played on iPads, you may have seen Tweets and Facebook updates by players like Phil Hellmuth about $100 to $1,000 a point Chinese Poker games –several casinos do spread the game, but usually only at very high limits. But now the game is becoming available at online poker sites, and at much more reasonable stakes!

In this article I’ll be going over all of the ins and outs of Chinese Poker, from the basics of the game, to strategy, to the best places to play online Chinese Poker. So if you want to learn the game that most of the top poker players play, continue reading this article.

What is Chinese Poker?

Chinese Poker has a lot of variants, but the most common form of the game is played between two and four players with each player receiving 13 cards. Each player then uses those 13 cards to make three separate poker hands (called “setting”) one with three cards and two with five cards.

  • 3-Card Hand (known as the front): Must be the lowest ranking hand; straights and flushes do not apply
  • 5-Card Hand (known as the middle): Must be stronger than the Front and weaker than the Back
  • 5-Card Hand (known as the back): Must be the highest ranking hand of the three

If you “mis-set” your hand you lose all three automatically, giving y6our opponent a “scoop”. Mis-set hands must pay every opponent as if they had been “scooped”.

Believe it or not, Chinese Poker was actually played at the World Series of Poker in 1995 and 1996. Both years the WSOP hosted two separate Chinese Poker tournaments, one with a $1,500 buy-in the other a $5,000 buy-in.

Obviously Chinese Poker is a game of skill, and unskilled players are at the mercy of skilled players who understand the importance of setting their hand properly. One beginner mistake is to place a super-strong hand in the back to guarantee a single win, but by doing so they diminish the strength of their middle and front hands. Keep reading for even more Chinese Poker strategy.

Basic Chinese Poker strategy

The goal of Chinese Poker is to win two out of three hands, but winning all three hands (known as “scooping”) is where the real profits come from.

Bets are not placed during a Chinese Poker hand, instead the stakes are agreed upon beforehand and are assessed based on the number of points you win during a hand; depending on which player(s) your hand beats and loses to.

So, if you are playing Chinese Poker with three other players, and your Back hand beats two players, but loses to the third, you will be given two units from the players you beat, and lose one unit to the player whose hand is better than you own.

There are also some other standard Chinese Poker rules:

Surrendering: Once your hands are developed, in most Chinese Poker games, you may choose to play on, or Surrender. A Surrender costs 2 units per player, but is better than being Scooped (losing 3 units to every player).

Royalties: Chinese Poker also awards Royalties; units collected from each player for having an exceptionally good poker hand. Hands that pay Royalties in Chinese Poker are:

  • Straight flush
  • Four of a kind
  • Full house or better (in the middle)
  • Three of a kind (in the front)

Another rule variant in Chinese Poker is known as “Naturals” any player dealt one of the following hands does not need to set their hand and are awarded royalties. Here is a look at some of the hands considered “Naturals”:

  • Three straights
  • Three flushes
  • Six pairs (counting all three hands)
  • 13 unique cards (i.e. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A)

Places to play Chinese Poker online

So where can a player find an online Chinese Poker game? Right now there are only a few places where a player can find a real-money Chinese Poker game. One of those places is on the rather small Action Poker Network: Action Poker and Tiger Gaming. However, there is also a new site offering up Chinese Poker to online poker players, The site just launched in 2012 and brings the excitement of the Macau casino scene to the online world.

There are also quite a few play-money online poker sites to choose from, ranging from java-style games to free-money online poker sites. Just make sure that wherever you play, especially for real-money, that the site is licensed and regulated, and using a legitimate random number generator (RNG).

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