A Comprehensive Guide on How to Play Chinese Poker: Rules and Strategies

Are you looking for a new and exciting card game to try? Look no further than Chinese Poker! This game of skill and strategy is gaining popularity across the globe, and for good reason. With simple rules and exciting gameplay, Chinese Poker is a fantastic choice for both novice and experienced players alike.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the basics of Chinese Poker and give you a step-by-step guide to getting started. Whether you prefer playing in person or online, you’ll find everything you need to know to start playing and winning at Chinese Poker.

So, if you’re ready to discover the excitement of Chinese Poker, read on!

The Basics of Chinese Poker

The Objective

Chinese poker is a game that puts your strategic skills to the test. Each player is dealt 13 cards and the objective is to arrange these cards into three different poker hands with varying values. The top hand, known as the front, consists of three cards, the middle hand consists of five cards, and the bottom hand, also known as the back, consists of five cards. The goal is to make these three hands as strong as possible and win against the other players at the table.

Dealing and Gameplay

Once each player is dealt 13 cards, they must arrange them into the three separate hands. The front hand must be weaker than the middle hand, and the middle hand must be weaker than the back hand. If a player arranges their hands incorrectly, they immediately lose the game. Once the hands are arranged, each player reveals their cards and compares their hands against the other players. Points are awarded based on who has the strongest hand in each position LeoVegas.


In Chinese poker, each hand is worth points depending on its strength. The stronger the hand, the more points awarded. The back hand is worth the most points, followed by the middle hand and then the front hand. If a player wins all three hands against their opponents, they are awarded a bonus point known as a scoop. These points are tallied at the end of the game and the player with the most points wins.


Chinese poker requires both luck and strategy. Players must work to balance the strength in their hands to maximize their point total. It can be tempting to focus on the back hand, but neglecting the front and middle hands can lead to a loss in points. Players must also pay attention to the cards their opponents are playing, as this can give them clues about what hands they are trying to build. With practice and patience, players can develop their strategy and become skilled Chinese poker players.

Learn How to Play Chinese Poker with These Simple Rules

The Deck and Cards Ranking

Chinese Poker is played with a standard deck of 52 cards, without the jokers. The cards are ranked from highest to lowest: ace, king, queen, jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.

There are no suits, so all cards have the same value. This means that a hand consisting of the Ace of spades, Ace of hearts, Ace of diamonds, and Ace of clubs is considered the same as a hand consisting of the Ace of spades, 2 of hearts, 3 of diamonds, and 4 of clubs. However, in some variations of the game, flushes and straights may still count.

It is important to note that in Chinese Poker, the hand ranking system is different from traditional poker. There are no pairs, three-of-a-kind, or four-of-a-kind hands. The highest ranking hand is the royal flush, which consists of a straight flush from ace to ten in any suit. The second highest is a straight flush (five cards in a sequence, all in the same suit), followed by four-of-a-kind, full house, flush, straight, three-of-a-kind, two pairs, and one pair. If two hands are of the same rank, the hand with the highest card wins.

Setting Your Hand


Setting your hand is a crucial part of playing Chinese Poker. In this game, each player is dealt 13 cards and must divide them into three distinct hands - two consisting of five cards and one consisting of three. The goal is to make all three hands as strong as possible and score as many points as you can.

The Process

Setting your hand involves a few steps. First, you need to arrange your cards into the three hands. The five-card hands are called the top and the middle, while the three-card hand is called the bottom. Once you have arranged your cards, you need to compare each of your hands to your opponents’ hands.

The top hand must be the strongest of the three and must beat your opponents’ top hands. The middle hand must be weaker than the top hand, but stronger than the bottom hand. The bottom hand must be the weakest of the three and must not be stronger than your opponents’ bottom hands.


Setting your hand requires both skill and strategy. You need to analyze your opponents’ cards and make educated guesses about the strength of their hands. You also need to pay attention to your own cards and figure out which cards are best suited for each hand.

One important tip is to focus on the bottom hand first. This hand only has three cards, so it’s easier to set and doesn’t require as much thought as the other two hands. Once you have set the bottom hand, move on to the middle and then the top.


Setting your hand is a challenging but important part of playing Chinese Poker. With practice and strategic thinking, you can learn how to set your hand in a way that maximizes your chances of winning. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a master of Chinese Poker.

The Scoring System

The scoring system in Chinese Poker is quite unique. Instead of a traditional point system, the game uses units which represent a certain amount of money or points. The units are agreed upon before the game starts and can range from a few cents to several dollars or more, depending on the skill level and experience of the players.

The scoring system is based on three hands: the top, middle, and bottom hands. Each hand is scored separately and the player with the highest-scoring total out of the three hands wins the game. If a player wins all three hands, they are said to have won "scoop" and receive a bonus payout.

The scoring of each hand is determined based on a combination of factors, including the number of cards in the hand, the ranking of the cards, and any special combinations such as flushes or straights. Points are awarded based on various rules and criteria, which can vary depending on the specific form of Chinese Poker being played.

It is important to note that the scoring system in Chinese Poker can be quite complex and may take some time to fully understand. However, with practice and experience, players can quickly become adept at calculating their scores and maximizing their winnings.

Fouling and Penalty Points


One of the most important aspects of Chinese Poker is avoiding fouls. Fouling occurs when a player sets their hands incorrectly according to the rules of the game.

For example, if a player fails to make their back hand stronger than their middle hand or if they have pairs in their front hand, they have fouled. If a player fouls, they automatically lose the hand and are penalized with six penalty points.

Penalty Points

Penalty points are given to a player who fouls as well as for other specific scenarios within Chinese Poker. In addition to fouling, players receive penalty points for:

  • Surrendering their hand (-2 penalty points)
  • Winning two out of three hands (2 penalty points)
  • Winning all three hands (4 penalty points)
  • Winning all three hands with a scoop (10 penalty points)

Penalty points are added to a player's overall score and can have a significant impact on the final outcome of the game. Therefore, it is important for players to not only understand how to set their hands correctly but also to be aware of the penalty point system.

How to Begin a Game

The game of Chinese Poker begins with each player receiving 13 cards from the dealer. These cards are then arranged into three separate poker hands, commonly known as the front, middle, and back hand. The back hand must consist of five cards and be the strongest hand, while the front and middle hands must consist of three cards each.

Once the players have arranged their cards, they place them face down on the table in front of them. When all players have finished arranging their cards, they simultaneously reveal their hands. The players then compare their hands, and the player with the strongest back hand wins the round. The strength of the front and middle hands is then compared, and points are awarded accordingly.

If any player is unable to form a legal hand, the hand is declared dead, and the player loses automatically. Additionally, if two or more players tie in a particular hand, the points for that hand are not awarded, and the next hand is played.

After each round, the player to the left of the dealer becomes the new dealer, and a new round begins. The game continues until a predetermined number of rounds have been played, or until a player has accumulated a specific number of points.

Now that you understand how to begin each round of Chinese Poker, it's time to learn the rules for creating each hand and scoring the game.

Understanding the Different Hands You Can Make


A flush is a hand in which all five cards have the same suit. For example, five cards of hearts or spades. However, the highest flush possible is with the Ace of the particular suit.


A straight is a hand with five cards in sequential order, regardless of the suit. For example, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 10, J, Q, K, A.

Three of a kind:

Three of a kind is a hand that contains three cards of the same rank, and two unrelated ones. For example, three Jacks and two other cards not of the jack suit or rank.

Full House:

A full house is a hand that contains a Three of a Kind and a pair in the same hand. For example, three kings and two queens.

Fantasy Land:

Fantasy Land in Chinese Poker is a special bonus round where if a player can set the front, middle, or back hand to be at least a Pair of Queens or better, they have access to all 13 cards in the next round.

The Three Hands and Three Legs Structure

Chinese Poker is a unique game that utilizes a three hands and three legs structure. This means that each player is dealt 13 cards, and must create three hands of varying sizes: a five-card hand, a five-card hand, and a three-card hand. These hands are arranged in order of strength, with the five-card hands being the strongest and the three-card hands being the weakest.

In addition to these three hands, players must also form three legs, which are each made up of one of their three hands. The legs are also arranged in order of strength, with the first leg being formed by the player’s strongest five-card hand, the second leg by their second strongest five-card hand, and the final leg by their three-card hand.

This unique structure makes Chinese Poker a game of strategy and skill. Players must carefully consider which cards to place in each hand and leg in order to maximize their chances of winning. Strong five-card hands are crucial in forming strong legs, but players must also balance this with the need to create a solid three-card hand.

Overall, the three hands and three legs structure adds an extra layer of complexity and strategy to this already exciting game. Mastering this structure is key to becoming a successful Chinese Poker player.

Game Variations and Their Rules

Open-Face Chinese Poker

Open-face Chinese poker is a more modern variation of the game. Each player is dealt five cards to begin and must set them in a three-card hand at the top and a two-card hand at the bottom. Players then take turns drawing one card at a time and placing them face up in one of their three hands until they each have 13 cards. Points are awarded for each hand and a player must have a better hand in the top than the bottom.

Pineapple Chinese Poker

Pineapple Chinese poker is similar to regular Chinese poker but players receive three cards at the start instead of five. They must play two of the three cards and discard the third. This adds a strategic element to the game as players must decide which card to discard and which hand to focus on building.


Fantasyland is a bonus rule that can be added to any variation of Chinese poker. If a player makes queens or better on their top hand without fouling, they enter Fantasyland on their next turn where they are dealt all 13 cards at once and can set their hands face down until everyone else has finished.

  • Three-Handed Chinese Poker is a variation for three players where each player receives seven cards and must create a three-card and two four-card hands.
  • Badugi Chinese Poker is another variation where the objective is to create a hand with low or preferably unique cards from multiple suits.
  • Double Hand Chinese Poker allows players to have two separate five-card hands and combines with traditional scoring to determine the winner.

Tips for Winning at Chinese Poker

If you're looking for ways to improve your Chinese poker game, there are a few key strategies that can help you edge out the competition. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Pay attention to your opponents' hands. Unlike traditional poker, Chinese poker involves each player setting three different hands, which means there are a lot more cards visible on the table at any given time. Take advantage of this by keeping track of which cards have already been played and what your opponents might be holding.
  • Don't be too greedy with your hand-setting. It can be tempting to try to go for a high-scoring hand in all three positions, but sometimes it's better to aim for a solid low hand in one position and focus on maximizing your points elsewhere. Remember, you only get points for two out of your three hands.
  • Play conservatively early on. The first few rounds of Chinese poker can be relatively low-scoring, so it's better to focus on not losing too many points early in the game. Don't be afraid to make conservative sets in the beginning in order to avoid risking too many points.
  • Keep track of your opponent's discards. When players set their hands in Chinese poker, they discard a certain number of cards. If you pay attention to what your opponents are discarding, you can get a better idea of what kind of hand they're trying to set.
  • Stay flexible with your hand-setting. Sometimes the cards just won't fall in your favor, and you'll need to adjust your hand-setting strategy on the fly. Be prepared to pivot and switch up your approach mid-round if necessary.

By incorporating these tips into your Chinese poker game, you'll be well on your way to dominating the table and raking in those sweet, sweet points.

The Top Mistakes to Avoid in Chinese Poker

Chinese Poker is a fun and challenging game, but it can also be quite tricky. To become a successful player, it's important to avoid some common mistakes that can cost you the game. Here are some top mistakes to keep in mind:

  • Not paying attention to your opponents' hands: In Chinese Poker, it's crucial to keep an eye on what your opponents are doing. If you're not paying attention to their cards, you could miss out on key information that could help you make better decisions.
  • Playing too many weak hands: It's tempting to play every hand you're dealt, but this can be a big mistake. Weak hands are unlikely to win you any points, and they can quickly drain your bankroll.
  • Not keeping track of your points: In Chinese Poker, it's easy to lose track of how many points you've earned or lost. Make sure you're keeping accurate score, so you can make adjustments and improve your strategy as needed.
  • Forgetting to set your hands correctly: Setting your hands correctly is a critical part of Chinese Poker. If you make a mistake, you could end up with a weaker hand than your opponents, or even lose the entire game.
  • Getting too emotional: Chinese Poker can be a fun and exciting game, but it's important to keep your emotions in check. If you get too emotional, you may make impulsive decisions that can cost you the game.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can become a better Chinese Poker player and increase your chances of success.

How to Practice Your Skills in Chinese Poker

If you want to become good at Chinese Poker, there is only one way to do it: practice, practice, practice. Below are some tips to help you improve your game.

1. Play with others

Playing Chinese Poker with others is the best way to improve your skills. This will help you understand the game better and the different strategies that other players are using. You can also learn from your opponents’ mistakes and improve your own game accordingly.

2. Watch instructional videos

There are plenty of instructional videos online that can help you learn how to play better Chinese Poker. These videos can help you understand the rules and the different strategies involved in the game. Watch as many videos as you can, and try to incorporate the tips and tricks into your own gameplay.

3. Practice online

The beauty of Chinese Poker is that you can practice online without the need for a physical deck of cards. There are plenty of online casinos and gaming sites that offer Chinese Poker games. Practice playing against other players and try out different strategies. This is a great way to develop your skills and get comfortable with the game before playing for real money.

4. Analyze your gameplay

Whether you’re playing against other players or practicing online, it’s important to analyze your gameplay. Look for patterns in your decision-making process and try to identify areas where you can improve. If you’re playing online, some sites even offer hand history reviews, which can help you see where you went wrong in your previous games.

By following these tips, you can improve your skills in Chinese Poker and become a better player. Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep playing and keep learning!

Strategies for Building a Strong Hand

In Chinese Poker, it is critical to build a strong hand in order to win. One of the most common strategies for building a strong hand is to start with a solid foundation.

This means that you should aim to create a set or a pair in your bottom hand, as this will provide you with a good starting point. Once you have a strong foundation, you can then begin to build up your middle and top hands.

Another key strategy in Chinese Poker is to pay attention to your opponents’ cards. By observing what your opponents are playing and discarding, you can gain valuable insights into the types of hands they are working on and adjust your own strategy accordingly.

It is also important to be strategic with the cards that you choose to play in your own hands. You should prioritize playing high-ranking cards in your top hand, as this is where the most points are awarded. In addition, you should avoid playing any cards that could potentially break up a good hand in one of your other hands.

Finally, it is important to be patient and strategic when it comes to arranging your cards. Take your time to think through your options and consider all of the possible combinations before making your move.

  • Start with a strong foundation
  • Observe your opponents’ cards
  • Prioritize high-ranking cards in your top hand
  • Avoid playing cards that could break up a good hand
  • Be patient and strategic when arranging your cards

How to Adjust Your Strategy According to Your Opponents

Observation is key

Observing your opponents is an essential aspect of Chinese Poker that can help you adjust your strategy accordingly. Take note of how your opponents play, their tendencies, and their patterns, as these factors can give you an idea of the type of hands they play and how they play them. Pay attention to their discards, their open hands, and the number of cards they draw.

Adjust your hand selection

Based on your observations of your opponents, adjust your hand selection to fit the situation. If you notice that your opponent is playing tight, then it may be best to play aggressively with strong hands to try and steal the pot. Alternatively, if your opponent is playing loose, then it may be best to play cautiously with only the strongest hands.

Take advantage of your opponent's weaknesses

Pay attention to your opponent's weaknesses, and adjust your strategy accordingly. If your opponent is prone to folding under pressure, then bluffing may be an effective strategy to try and force them to fold. However, if your opponent is more likely to call, then it may be best to play more conservatively and wait for a strong hand to make a move.

Stay flexible

Keep in mind that no one strategy will work against every opponent, and that you should be flexible and willing to adjust your strategy on the fly. Be aware of the current situation, the strengths and weaknesses of each player, and make changes accordingly. Be prepared to adapt your strategy throughout the game to maximize your chances of winning.

Learn to Play Chinese Poker Online

If you're interested in learning how to play Chinese Poker online, there are a few tips you should keep in mind. First, make sure you choose a reputable online casino that offers Chinese Poker as one of its games. Once you've found a casino you like, register an account and make sure you have some funds available.

Chinese Poker is a relatively simple game, but it does have its nuances. The main goal of the game is to make three hands that can beat your opponents' hands. Each hand has a different rank, with the top hand being the most valuable. This rank is determined by a combination of cards, such as straight, flush, or pair.

When playing Chinese Poker online, you'll typically be seated at a virtual table with other players. You'll be dealt 13 cards, which you'll need to divide into three hands: a five-card hand, a five-card hand, and a three-card hand. The highest-ranking hand is the back hand, followed by the middle hand, and then the front hand.

As you play Chinese Poker online, it's important to keep track of your opponents' hands and try to predict what cards they might be holding. You'll also want to pay attention to the cards that are on the board and make sure you don't accidentally break any of the rules.

Overall, Chinese Poker is a fun and exciting game that's easy to learn but challenging to master. With a bit of practice, you'll be able to play confidently and win big at any online casino that offers this popular game.

The Benefits of Learning and Playing Chinese Poker

Chinese Poker is an exciting card game that can provide players with many benefits beyond mere entertainment. Here are some of the most significant benefits:

  • Sharpen Your Mind: Playing Chinese Poker requires players to use strategic thinking and quick decision-making skills. This helps keep the mind sharp and improves cognitive function.
  • Develop Math Skills: Understanding how to calculate odds and perform basic math operations is crucial to playing Chinese Poker successfully. Practicing these skills through gameplay can improve your overall math proficiency.
  • Socialize with Friends: Chinese Poker is a great way to spend time with friends and family members while having fun. It allows for friendly competition and creates a shared experience that players can reminisce about.
  • Travel the World: Chinese Poker is popular in many countries, with variations that reflect the local culture. Learning how to play the game can help you connect with locals while traveling and provides a unique way to learn about different cultures.
  • Win Big: Just like any card game, playing Chinese Poker can result in significant financial gains. With the right skill and strategy, players can win big and increase their bankroll.

Overall, Chinese Poker offers many benefits beyond just being a fun way to pass the time. It sharpens the mind, develops critical thinking skills, promotes social interaction, provides cultural insights, and offers the potential for significant financial rewards. So take the time to learn how to play and start enjoying the benefits today!