Chinese poker

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Chinese Poker
OriginChina
Players2–4
Cards52
DeckFrench deck
PlayClockwise
Card rank (highest first)A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Playing time2 – 5 min. per round
Random chanceHigh
Related games
Pai gow poker
Open-face Chinese poker
Big two
Poker
Chinese poker
Traditional Chinese十三張
Simplified Chinese十三张
Literal meaningthirteen cards

Chinese poker is a card game based on poker hand rankings. It is intended a beginner-friendly game, as only a basic knowledge of poker hand rankings is needed to get started. Additionally, the format allows for frequent unexpected outcomes, so there is a large element of luck involved, therefore a beginner has a good chance of winning in the short term, even against experienced opponents.

Gameplay[edit]

Chinese poker is typically played as a four-person game, though it can also be played with two or three.

Playing a hand[edit]

Chinese Poker.

In Chinese poker, each player receives a 13-card hand from a standard 52-card deck. Each player then has to divide their cards into three poker hands (known as "setting"): two containing five cards each (known as "the middle" and "the back"), and one containing three cards ("the front"); the back must be the highest-ranking hand, and the front, the lowest-ranking hand (note that straights and flushes do not count in the three-card hand). The back hand is placed face down on the table in front of the player, then the middle hand is placed face down in front of the back hand, and the front hand is placed face down in front of the middle hand. After all the players have set their hands, each player will announce in turn (clockwise, starting from the left of the dealer) whether or not they are playing their hand. All players then announce their royalties, before revealing their hands.

If a player makes three flushes or three straights they automatically win the hand, regardless of the other players' hands. As shown in the photo, the middle player has made all three hands flush and is an automatic winner.

Scoring[edit]

The stakes played for in Chinese poker are known as units: an amount of money agreed on before the game starts. Basic scoring rules dictate that a player collects one unit from each opponent whose front, middle or back hand is beaten by their own corresponding hand. Thus, unlike most poker games, being second-best at the table is good enough to win money. In some variants players are also paid an additional unit if they win in two or three of the hands. In other variants players only get an additional unit if they win all three hands (known as a scoop). Also, due to the head-to-head nature of the comparisons, it is possible for different players to play for different stakes. For example, A and B could play for $100 per unit versus each other, while all other player pairings play for $10 per unit.

The two most common scoring systems used in Chinese poker are the 2–4 scoring method, and the 1–6 scoring method.

In the 2–4 method the player receives 1 unit for each of the three hands they win, and 1 unit called the overall unit is awarded to the player who wins two out of the three hands, or all of the three hands. In the event of a tie in one of the hands, no money is exchanged for this particular hand. If one player wins both of the other two hands, they collect 3 units (1 for each hand, and 1 overall). If they each win one hand, no units are exchanged (each win 1 unit, and there is no overall).

In the 1–6 method the player receives 1 unit for each of the three hands they win, and 3 bonus units (on top of the three for the hands) if they win all three hands.

Example[edit]

Amy Bob Winner
Front 6 6 4 A K Q Amy
Middle 10 10 9 Q 8 9 9 5 5 4 Bob
Back 3 3 3 2 2 K J 9 8 7 Amy

In the 2–4 method, Bob would pay Amy two units; Amy receives two points for winning front and back, loses one for losing middle and receives one as the overall unit for winning two out of three hands. In the 1–6 method, Bob would pay Amy one unit; again Amy receives two points for winning front and back and loses one for losing middle, but they do not receive any bonus units.

Royalties[edit]

Royalties, or bonuses as they are sometimes called, are extra units that may be awarded to players with particularly strong hands.

Royalties must be declared prior to the revealing of the hands.

Some hands and combinations of hands that are commonly awarded royalties are:

Naturals

Naturals are special types of royalties where if dealt to a player, the player is rewarded immediately (prior to anyone surrendering), and the player does not set their hand:

Naturals variants

  • No picture cards (Ace counts as a non-picture card)
  • All picture cards (including Ace)
  • Six and above (Ace counts as above)
  • 12 or 13 of one colour

Players with the stronger natural wins and takes the bonus. If two players have six pair the player with the highest six pair wins otherwise it is a tie and no bonus is awarded. With flushes and straights the player with the highest back hand wins if that ties then the middle hand is compared. If that also ties then the front is compared.

In some variants all royalties are worth the same amount (e.g., 1 unit per royalty). In other variants each royalty is given a different payout (e.g., 1 unit for a four of a kind in the back, and 2 units for a straight flush in the back). Normally only the winner may be awarded a royalty (e.g., four sevens in the back beats four sixes in the back; therefore, only the player with sevens is awarded a royalty). Some modified rule sets allow the royalty bonus to cancel out and only the point for the hand/row is added. In some games players are allowed to break up straight flushes or four of a kinds and still receive royalties (e.g., a player is dealt four sevens; they may use three of them for a three of a kind in the front, and one as part of a straight in the middle). Some rules say that players are only allowed to claim one royalty per hand. The standard royalties point structure is listed below.

Point structure for royalties[edit]

While the royalty structure varies from game to game, the most common agreed-upon royalty structure is as follows:

Chinese poker royalties
Front hand Middle hand Back hand
Hand Base points Hand Base points Hand Base points
Three-of-a-kind
(衝三; Chōngsān)
3 Full House
(中墩葫蘆; Zhōngdūnhúlu)
1 Four-of-a-kind
(尾墩鐵支; Wěidūntiězhī)
2
Four-of-a-kind
(中墩鐵支; Zhōngdūntiězhī)
3 Straight-flush
(尾墩同花順; Wěidūntónghuāshùn)
3
Straight-flush
(中墩同花順; Zhōngdūntónghuāshùn)
4
Naturals royalties (in order of ranking)
Hand Criteria
(Example)
Base points
Clean Dragon
(至尊清龙;Zhìzūnqīnglóng)
Same as Dragon, but must be from a same suit; overlaps Three Straight Flushes
Also called Flush (清一色)
108
2 of spades3 of spades4 of spades5 of spades6 of spades7 of spades8 of spades9 of spades10 of spadesJack of spadesQueen of spadesKing of spadesAce of spades
Dragon
(一條龍;Yītiáolóng)
All 13 unique cards consists entirely one card from 2-A, no pairs and no duplicates, but can be from different suits; overlaps Three Straights 36
2 of spades3 of clubs4 of diamonds5 of hearts6 of spades7 of hearts8 of diamonds9 of clubs10 of spadesJack of clubsQueen of diamondsKing of heartsAce of spades
12 Royalties/All Broadways
(十二皇族;Shí'èrhuángzú)^
All 13 cards consists of entirely picture and Ace (J-A) cards; overlaps Four Triples, Three Quads and All Highs
Also called All Alphabets (字一色)
32
Jack of spadesJack of clubsJack of diamondsJack of heartsQueen of clubsQueen of heartsQueen of diamondsKing of clubsKing of diamondsKing of heartsAce of diamondsAce of heartsAce of spades
Three Straight Flushes
(三同花順;Sāntónghuāshùn)^
All three hands consist of three straight flushes; overlaps Three Flushes and Three Straights 24
2 of clubs3 of clubs4 of clubs2 of diamonds3 of diamonds4 of diamonds5 of diamonds6 of diamonds10 of spadesJack of spadesQueen of spadesKing of spadesAce of spades
Three Quads
(三分天下;Sānfēntiānxià)^
Consists of three four-of-a-kinds and one additional card; overlaps Six-and-a-half Pairs
Also called Three Irons (三鐵支)
20
2 of clubs5 of clubs5 of diamonds5 of hearts5 of spades9 of clubs9 of diamonds9 of hearts9 of spadesAce of clubsAce of diamondsAce of heartsAce of spades
All Low/Highs
(全小全大;Quánxiǎoquándà)^
All 13 cards consists of cards either 8 and higher or lower; overlaps Three Straights and Full-colored 12
2 of clubs3 of clubs3 of diamonds3 of hearts5 of spades5 of clubs5 of diamonds6 of hearts6 of spades7 of clubs7 of diamonds7 of hearts8 of spades

8 of clubs9 of clubs9 of diamonds10 of hearts10 of spadesJack of clubsJack of diamondsJack of heartsQueen of spadesQueen of clubsKing of diamondsAce of heartsAce of spades

Full-colored
(湊一色;Còuyīsè)^
Consist of a suit entirely black (spades and clubs) or red (diamonds and hearts); overlaps Three Flushes
Also called Half-flush (混一色)
10
2 of hearts2 of diamonds3 of diamonds4 of hearts7 of hearts8 of hearts9 of hearts10 of diamondsJack of diamondsQueen of heartsKing of heartsKing of diamondsAce of hearts

2 of clubs2 of spades3 of spades4 of clubs7 of clubs8 of clubs9 of clubs10 of spadesJack of clubsQueen of spadesKing of spadesKing of clubsAce of spades

Four Triples
(四套三条;Sìtàosāntiáo)^
Consist of four three-of-a-kind and one additional card (Four-of-a-kind counts as a three-of-a-kind with an additional card) 8
2 of clubs4 of hearts4 of diamonds4 of spades7 of clubs7 of hearts7 of diamonds10 of clubs10 of hearts10 of diamondsAce of heartsAce of diamondsAce of spades

2 of clubs2 of spades2 of hearts2 of diamonds6 of clubs6 of hearts6 of diamonds10 of clubs10 of hearts10 of diamondsAce of heartsAce of diamondsAce of spades

Six-and-a-half Pairs
(六對半;Liùduìbàn)
Consist of six pairs and one additional card (Four-of-a-kind counts as two pairs; three-of-a-kind counts as a pair with an additional card) 6
2 of clubs4 of hearts4 of diamonds6 of clubs6 of spades9 of hearts9 of diamondsJack of clubsJack of spadesQueen of heartsQueen of diamondsAce of clubsAce of spades

2 of clubs2 of hearts2 of diamonds5 of clubs5 of spades8 of hearts8 of diamonds10 of clubs10 of spadesJack of heartsJack of diamondsAce of clubsAce of spades

2 of clubs2 of spades2 of hearts2 of diamonds3 of clubs7 of hearts7 of diamonds9 of clubs9 of spadesQueen of heartsQueen of diamondsAce of clubsAce of spades

Three Straights
(三順子;Sānshùnzi)
All three hands consist of straights (QKA, KA2, and JQKA2 are not considered straights)
Also called Three Snakes (三蛇出洞)
4
2 of clubs3 of hearts4 of diamonds3 of clubs4 of spades5 of hearts6 of diamonds7 of clubs10 of spadesJack of heartsQueen of diamondsKing of clubsAce of spades
Three Flushes
(三同花;Sāntónghuā)
All three hands consist of flushes (hand with eight cards from a same suit counts as two flushes)
Also called Three Flowers (三花聚頂)
3
2 of clubs8 of clubsQueen of clubs4 of diamonds5 of diamonds7 of diamonds10 of diamondsJack of diamonds2 of spades5 of spades9 of spadesJack of spadesAce of spades

2 of hearts3 of hearts4 of hearts5 of hearts9 of hearts10 of heartsJack of heartsKing of hearts2 of spades5 of spades9 of spadesJack of spadesAce of spades

No Broadway Cards* No picture cards (Ace counts as a non-picture card) 3

* Non-standard natural; ^Variant-based natural

Surrendering[edit]

If a player chooses to surrender their hand, they will pay an amount greater than the amount paid when losing at least two hands, but less than the amount paid when getting scooped. When surrendered, a player is not required to pay any royalties to their opponents. In some variations surrendering is not an option.

Scoop/Home-run[edit]

In a Taiwanese variant, When a player loses all three hands to a certain player, it is considered scooped (打槍; Dǎqiāng) and is paid double of the base points. If a player scoops all three players, it is considered home-run (全壘打; Quánlěidǎ) and the payment is further doubled. However, calling a natural hand exempts it from scooping and thus scored separately.

Mis-set hand[edit]

If a player mis-sets their hand (e.g., they put three of a kind in the front, but only two pair in the middle) then they must pay each of their opponents still in the hand (players who have not surrendered) an amount equal to being scooped. In some variations players are still required to play their hands.

Current status[edit]

Chinese Poker was played at the 1995[1] and the 1996 World Series of Poker.[2] In 1995, the $1,500 event was won by John Tsagaris, and the $5,000 event by Steve Zolotow.[3] In 1996 the $1,500 event was won by Gregory Grivas, and the $5,000 event by Jim Feldhouse. There have been no Chinese Poker events at the World Series of Poker since 1996.

Variations[edit]

Open-face Chinese poker[edit]

In this variation the players are dealt five cards in the beginning. These cards are arranged faceup on the table to the back, middle, and front hands. The cards cannot be rearranged later. Then the players receive a single card at a time for the remaining 8 cards. This means it is possible to make an illegal hand. This variation originates from Finland.

Other variations[edit]

  • Low in the middle—In this variation, the middle hand is played as a deuce-to-seven low hand.
  • Criss Cross—This variation is played heads up: each player is dealt two 13 card hands and plays each of their hands against each of their opponents' hands. Players' hands are to be treated as two independent hands; they cannot exchange cards between the two hands.
  • In this variation, The Wheel (A, 2, 3, 4, 5) is the second highest straight. Therefore, it is ranked above a 9, 10, J, Q, K straight, but below a 10, J, Q, K, A straight.
  • Another variation scores the game 1 point per hand, with the winner of the game being the first to 11 points. If a player wins all 3 hands and there are 4 players, the winning player gets a 4th point.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Official Tournament Event Details: Tuesday, April 25, 1995 to Tuesday, May 23, 1995". World Series of Poker. Retrieved 2016-04-01.
  2. ^ "Official Tournament Event Details: Monday, April 22, 1996 to Saturday, May 18, 1996". World Series of Poker. Retrieved 2016-04-01.
  3. ^ Monroe, Billy (2009-08-24). "Where Are They Now – Steve Zolotow". Retrieved 2016-04-01.