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How to Play Chinese Poker

How to Play Chinese Poker

In Chinese Poker, after shuffling, the dealer deals out the entire deck into four hands (13 cards per hand). If you're playing with four players each player gets one hand. If you’re playing with three players, the fourth hand is discarded and left unused.

chinese poker hand

In a two-player game each player receives one hand and reserves a second for the next hand (saving the dealer having to re-deal). A player is only allowed to look at his own hand and in a two-player game he can only look at the hand he's are currently playing.

Chinese Poker Rules

Chinese poker rules are based in standard poker hand rankings where royal flush is the best hand possible. So, basics are quite simple but learning how to score points and calculate them might take few minutes to master.

Here is a quick Chinese Poker Rules -guide what to keep in mind:

  • Game is played with 2 to 4 players.
  • Before game starts players agree the point value.
  • Game begins by dealing every player 13 cards.
  • Organize cards into three hands - two 5 card hands, one 3 card hand.
  • Three card "top hand" goes to the top row and must be the weakest hand.
  • Middle hand goes to the middle row and it must be better than your top hand.
  • Bottom hand goes to the bottom row and must be better than your middle hand.
  • When done setting your hands, place them face down on the table.
  • Meet in showdown, compare hands, and calculate the points gained or lost.

These are the simplified rules. Keep reading and learn more in-depth what this awesome card game has to offer.

Chinese Poker Scoring

Watch the video below to learn how to deal, set your hand and keep score in Chinese Poker game quickly and easily. There's no betting or raising -- instead everyone agrees on a point value, for example $1 per point.

Everyone gets 13 cards and then has to organize their cards into three poker hands. Two of the poker hands have five cards and one has three cards.

The only rule is that the three-card hand has to be the worst hand, the middle five-card hand has to be better than the three-card hand, and the last five-card hand has to be better than both other hands.

When everyone's done setting their hands turn over your hands and compare them to each hand of every other player. Each hand is worth one point against each other player and if you beat someone in all three hands it's called a scoop and it's worth a three-point bonus. Chinese poker scoring and how to calculate them is simple if you keep the right order when comparing hands.

Check out the video to see how it works in action!

Chinese Poker Hand Setting

Your hand consists of 13 cards. It's your job to break these 13 cards into three chinese poker hands: top, middle and bottom.

The bottom hand must be a five-card poker hand and must be the best hand of all three hands you select. The middle hand must be a five-card poker hand and must be worse than the bottom hand but stronger than the top hand.

The top hand must be a three-card hand and must be the worst hand of all three.

Five-Card Hands: The five-card hands follow the standard poker hand ranking; you can find a description of the poker hand rankings here. (there will also be a link at the bottom of the article).

Three-Card Hands: In Chinese poker the three-card hand can only be high card, pair or triples. There are no flushes or straights allowed for the three-card hand.

Example How Chinese Poker Hands Work

The easiest way to understand how to make your three chinese poker hands is to actually do it. Below is an example of one way to sort a 13-card hand, but it's always easier to do and understand when holding actual cards.
The best thing you can do is deal yourself 13 cards from a deck and work on making hands for yourself.

7 hearts 7 10 clubs 10 K diamonds K 6 hearts 6 9 spades 9 3 diamonds 3 5 hearts 5 9 diamonds 9 3 spades 3 J clubs J J spades J A hearts A Q hearts Q

Although you can separate this hand in many ways, arguably the best way to sort this hand would be:

Bottom: 5 hearts 5 6 hearts 6 7 hearts 7 Q hearts Q A hearts A

Middle: J clubs J J spades J 3 spades 3 3 diamonds 3 10 clubs 10

Top: 9 spades 9 9 diamonds 9 K diamonds K
As you can see, the bottom hand is the best with an ace-high flush. The middle hand is second best with two pairs, jacks and nines. The top is the weakest with a pair of threes.

Chinese Poker Points & Showdowns

Once all players have their hand sorted, you immediately score the hands and calculate the Chinese poker points. In scoring you compare each specific hand (top, middle or bottom) to every other player’s hand of the same type. The better hand earns a point off of the player with the weaker hand. For example:

Bottom

Player 1: Full House

Player 2: Flush

Middle

Player 1: Two Pair

Player 2: Straight

Top

Player 1: Pair (Kings)

Player 2: Pair (Fours)

In this scenario, Player 1 wins the bottom (1 point), Player 2 wins the middle (1 point), and Player 1 wins the top (1 Point).

For this hand, Player 1 won two points, while Player 2 only won one point. Because Player 2’s point is a wash with one of Player 1’s, it only makes sense to keep track of the profit, thus you would say that Player 1 would net one point.

If you have multiple players, each player evaluates his hand against all other players:

Bottom

Player 1: Full House (10’s full)

Player 2: Flush (9 high)

Player 3: Straight (Ace high)

Player 4: Two Pair (Aces and 4’s)

Middle

Player 1: Two Pair (7’s and 8’s)

Player 2: Straight (King High)

Player 3: Two Pair (Queens and 5’s)

Player 4: Pair (Jacks)

Top

Player 1: High Card (King)

Player 2: Pair (2’s)

Player 3: High Card (Ten)

Player 4: Pair (9’s)

A Simple Trick for Keeping Score in Chinese Poker

When you're playing with four people keeping score can get tricky. The easiest way to do it is for each player to keep track of their own Chinese poker points against every other player.

When you're comparing cards in each hand, start with the dealer and compare his cards to the player to his left. You get a point for winning each hand and if you beat a player in all three hands it's called a scoop and you get a three-point bonus.

Next compare the dealer's hand to Player 3 and then Player 4. Then compare Player 2's hand to Players 3 and 4 and then Player 3's hand to Player 4. At the end of the game each player has to settle up individually with every other player.

As you might have figured out, scoring for four players can be tricky. Thus it’s best for each player to keep track of his own scores versus every other player.

Eg using hands above.

Player 1’s score:

HandPlayer 2Player 3Player 4Total
1-1+1+1+1

Player 2’s score:

HandPlayer 1Player 3Player 4Total
1+1+3*+1+5

Player 3’s score:

HandPlayer 1Player 2Player 4Total
1-1-3*+1-3

Player 4’s score:

HandPlayer 1Player 2Player 3Total
1-1-1-1-3

As you can see, scoring with four players is slightly involved (the fewer players you have the easier it is to score). The totals are really only for the player to keep track of how he's doing, as the payout when the players finish playing will have each player settle up against every other player individually.

Special Chinese Poker Rules

There are also variations in Chinese poker hands and rules in the game:

Scooping: When a player scoops (wins all three hands against one player), typically this player will win a bonus. The standard bonus is double the points, meaning Player 2 would win 6 points off of Player 3 for his scoop in this hand.

Fouled Hand: If a player fouls his hand (either sorting the hand against the rules or having an illegal amount of cards in a specific hand) the opposing players automatically scoop.

Open Face Chinese Poker

Lowball in the Middle: Instead of having the middle five-card hand as a standard poker hand, you can play with the middle hand being a 2-7 Lowball hand.

  • While some players award royalties to any player with a royalty worthy hand, it’s common for royalties to only be awarded to the player who wins the comparison for that hand. For example if player 1 had quad sixes, but player 2 had quad sevens, only player 2 would get the royalty
  • Some players make it even more complicated by attaching different point amounts to each specific royalty
  • In Chinese poker the rules for point awarding are never set in stone. You and your opponents can play any system, rules of combination you like - just make sure everyone agrees on all the rules before you start the deal

Chinese Poker Royalties

Most people who play Chinese will play with royalties (or bonuses). Although there are a large number of variations in the royalties you can play, the most commonly played royalties are as follows:

Strong Hands: Typically quads or better in the bottom, a full house or better in the middle and trips in the top will earn you a Royalty.

13-Card Hands: Making one 13-card hand (straight from 2-A). These hands will automatically scoop regardless of the hand versus hand comparison.

Three of the Same: Another form of 13-card hand consisting of three flushes or three straights.

No People: Also a 13-card hand. Being dealt 13 cards without a single face card.

How to Play Chinese Poker Online

Chinese poker online works the same in the virtual setting, actually even better! When you play online, the software calculates the points and keep score automatically, so you don't have to use pen and paper. Online Chinese poker is fun to play and usually there are friends together playing in the same.

Follow these easy steps and start playing Chinese Poker online:

  1. Go to one of best online poker real money sites that offer various Chinese poker online version.
  2. Next, create or log into your existing account and prepare to play
  3. Deposit fund via different payment methods and remember to claim best bonuses.
  4. Hit the Chinese Poker tables and join the fun!
  5. As extra, you can immerse yourself in expert poker strategies and uplift your skill level before entering the arena.

More Poker Games:

Chinese Poker FAQs

  • What are the chinese poker rules?

    Everyone gets 13 cards and then has to organize their cards into three poker hands. Two of the poker hands have five cards and one has three cards. The only rule is that the three-card hand has to be the worst hand, the middle five-card hand has to be better than the three-card hand, and the last five-card hand has to be better than both other hands.
  • How to play Chinese poker?

    Most Chinese poker games consist of 2-4 players and three-handed tables. Everyone gets 13 cards and then has to organize their cards into 3 poker hands. Two of the hands have 5 cards and one has 3 cards. The only rule is that the 3-card hand has to be the worst hand, the middle 5-card hand has to be better than the 3-card hand, and the last five-card hand has to be better than both other hands.

    When everyone's done setting their hands, turn over your hands and compare them to each hand of every other player. Each hand is worth one point against each other player. If you beat someone in all three hands it's called a scoop and it's worth a three-point bonus. Once all players have their hand sorted, you immediately score the hands. In scoring you compare each specific hand (top, middle or bottom) to every other player’s hand of the same type. The better hand earns a point off of the player with the weaker hand.

    Check our full guide, rules and strategy on this page.
  • What is Chinese poker?

    Chinese poker is one of the popular poker variations in the world. Originally developed in ancient Chine from where the game took a modern twist and in play entered the cards and poker hand rankings. In Chinese poker, every player (2-4) is dealt 13 cards face down from where each need to create 3 poker hands in 3 row. The game has different variations.
  • How to win chinese poker?

    The object of Chinese Poker is make (set) 3 poker hands. Two of the hands are five-card poker hands and one is a three-card poker hand. The bottom five-card hand must be higher in value than the middle five-card hand and the middle hand must be higher than the three-card, or top hand.

    The trick is to learn what your opponents might do and look for patterns so you can gain advantage and the most points.
  • Where to play Chinese Poker online?

    For real-money Chinese Poker cash games and tournaments, create a new account at any of our recommended online casinos. You can get an exclusive bonus from PokerListings to start you off.
  • How to deal Chinese poker?

    The dealer deals out the entire deck into four hands (13 cards per hand). If you're playing with four players each player gets one hand. If you’re playing with three players, the fourth hand is discarded and left unused. In a two-player game, each player receives one hand and reserves a second for the next hand. A player can only look at their own hand and in a two-player game they can only look at the hand currently playing.

Johnny B
2013-08-23 11:50:58

Is it legal to set a hand in which the middle and bottom hands (the five-card hands) are exactly the same? For example, would a hand with two royal flushes (however unlikely) be considered legal, or would it be considered fouled? I my search of articles on CP, I haven’t seen anything that addresses this situation specifically.

Grundy
2013-01-03 22:09:02

Peter is correct. The Jacks should go on top and the middle should be 9’s and 3’s.

Grundy
2013-01-03 17:07:47

I play Chinese Poker often and when I introduce the game to new players I try to remember to explain the only royalty hand we recognize, which is the 13-card straight. I have alluded to this rule on more than a few occasions mostly as humor because the odds are so astronomical.

“If you are dealt a 13-card straight, you automatically win”. (sweep; scoop; whatever)

The problem is that when people are just learning the game, they have enough concerns already that remembering this obscure rule about a remarkably rare hand is the least of their concerns and is easily forgotten….

Last night I was dealt a 13-card straight (Yes!) and I declared the hand before the others were set.

My declaration was met with disbelief from my opponents and a spectator all of whom I have played against many times. Two guys recalled me saying something but they thought I meant a 13-card straight-flush (can you imagine?).

They did not honor my “natural” hand even after I attempted to impress upon them two things:

1) I have told these guys about this before. We just never thought we’d ever see it so it didn’t sink in. I wouldn’t just make this up and they know it.

2) I attempted to impress upon them how rare the hand is. A month ago I was bragging about a huge hand. Trip 6’s on top; Quad 4’s in the middle and a Q-high straight-flush on the bottom.

The odds of being dealt a 13-card straight is a lot harder than the previous hand.

They weren’t buying it so I caved and set up my hand: AKQ + 6-high straight + J-high straight in back. I only won the middle from each of my opponents and lost two out of three hands to each of them instead of a full scoop. Quite a swing.

“What’s your point Grundy?”

Make sure you discuss all of the rules every time you sit down and play. Everybody plays with a wide variation of the rules so perhaps someone needs to type out your variations in advance.

Tony
2012-12-11 15:57:49

what if you have a 3 bomb do you have to put it down first?

tard police
2012-10-18 11:44:05

wtf, make more errors.

Peter
2012-03-28 17:52:22

Talking about the example, I’m new to this, but two pair in the middle is a weak hand, why not have it be 9’s and 3’s and then put the pair of jacks in the top where it improves your chance a little?

Phong, where is the calculator you are speaking of?

Frank
2010-12-09 22:32:50

phong le (if you have a chinese poker simulator or calculator to share it would be greatly appreciated). I had the orignal one and the book, but misplaced it. I think it was by (Don Smolen), and there were a few others I had.

phong le
2010-02-21 04:22:11

I have a chinese poker calculator to share.

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