East is WestChinese poker is anything but learning a new language.
Chinese poker is a user-friendly poker derivative that has been played mostly in the Asian community but is now gaining popularity in the West. The rules are simple and only a basic knowledge of poker hand rankings is needed to get started. No need to worry about any cultural barriers. And people still getting their bearings at the poker table will especially like this game because there’s an increased element of luck involved compared to the typical hold ‘em games, so a beginner has a good chance of winning, even against experienced players. However, more advanced players can still apply enough strategy to the game to give themselves a significant edge.
Setting the Scene
Chinese poker is typically played as a four-person game, though it can also be played with as little as you and a friend. Each player receives a 13-card hand from a standard 52-card deck and then he or she divides the cards into three poker hands (known as ‘setting’): two containing five cards each (‘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 one. (Note that straights and flushes don’t 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 announces whether or not he or she is in. All players then announce their royalties, or bonuses comprised of extra units awarded to players with particularly strong hands (straight flush, four of a kind, full house, six pairs), before revealing their hands.
Price per Unit
The stakes in Chinese poker are known as units or an amount of money agreed on before the game starts. Basic scoring rules say that a player collects one unit from each opponent whose front, middle or back hand is beaten by his own corresponding hand. So unlike most poker games, being second-best at the table is good enough to win money. Also, due to its head-to-head nature, it’s possible for different players to play for different stakes. For example, A and B could play for £10 per unit, while all other pairs play for £1 per unit.
The two most common scoring systems used in casinos today are the 2-4 scoring method, and the 1-6 scoring method. In 2-4, you receive 1 unit for each of the three hands you win, and 1 unit called the overall unit is awarded to whoever wins two out of the three hands, or all of the three hands. In the event of a tie in one of the hands, then no money is exchanged for this particular hand and one player either wins both the other hands, and collects 3 units (1 for each hand, and 1 overall), or they each win one hand and no units are exchanged (each win 1 unit, and there is no overall).
In the 1-6 method you receive 1 unit for each of the three hands you win, and 3 units if you win all three hands.
If a player chooses to surrender a hand, he or she must pay an amount greater than the amount paid when losing two out of three hands, but less than the amount paid when losing all three hands. When surrendered, a player is not required to pay any royalties to his opponents, but in some variations surrendering isn’t even an option. So make sure you know what kind of game you’re pulling up to.