Open-face Chinese poker has been around since the mid-2000’s but the game exploded in popularity over the last few years.
Whether it's for dimes or hundreds of dollars a point, OFC is played around kitchen tables, with mobile apps and in poker rooms around the world.
The World Series of Poker even hosted a one-time, non-bracelet OFC event in 2013.
But should Open-Face Chinese Poker be available in poker rooms? We spoke to poker pros Todd Brunson, Paul Volpe and Shaun Deeb to find out. Brunson's opinion fell clearly on one side of the argument.
OFC is a Cancer in Poker
“Open-face Chinese is a cancer in poker. It does not fall under the definition of poker,” Brunson said. “They do not let you play Gin in the poker room for the same reason they shouldn't let you play Chinese Poker.
“You look at your hand and you bet your hand,” he continued. “That’s poker.”
But customers continue to look for live OFC games, rake and all, whether it’s a real poker variant or not.
“Just because they want to do it doesn't mean it should be allowed,” Brunson responded. “The poker room is for poker and this is not poker. Gin is not allowed, backgammon is not allowed because it's not poker.”
Volpe: Why Can't Players Play What They Want?
Not everyone agrees with Brunson’s opinion. New Jersey poker pro Paul Volpe was an early proponent of OFC and plays it frequently both live and online. Volpe has played the game everywhere from Europe to Vegas and has no problem with casinos allowing it in the poker room.
Volpe explains how OFC is sucking money out of other high-stakes poker games.
“I’m ok with it, obviously. If it’s a regulated game, with a standard deck and rake, I don’t see why players shouldn’t able to play it if they want,” Volpe said.
They both agree on one thing, OFC is definitely having an effect on the high-stakes cash-game scene.
“Especially outside of Vegas,” Volpe said. “The [OFC] games in Europe and at the PCA were always running. That takes a lot of money out of normally big live games.”
For some players, OFC becomes an obsession.
Deeb: “OFC is Great for Fish”
Online poker legendun Shaun Deeb has been among Open-Face Chinese's biggest supporters over the last few years and he agrees more with Paul Volpe, although he can see Todd Brunson's point.
“I kind of agree,” Deeb said about the argument that OFC isn't really poker.
“It’s closer to blackjack than any other game and I do understand the merit [of that argument]. But there’s the fact there is hand rankings, a lot of action, there’s betting.
Shaun Deeb won the OFC event at this year's PCA.
“They spread regular Chinese poker for years and it was a much smaller game. All the big mix-game guys, every big name always played Chinese poker and open-face is just a different variant of it.
“It's just like saying, 'Everyone plays Hold’em now so you can’t play Pineapple.' Games progress and they become more complicated and more interesting because obviously the games adapt and change what everyone is doing.
“It went from Limit Hold’em to No-Limit Hold’em and now you look at most of the big games are PLO. There’s always going to be a switch from one game to another. And that’s just what happened.
“I really think the game’s here to stay. People just enjoy the game. It’s great for fish. It’s a spectator sport. Like I said from day one, the thing about open-face is that a complete random can walk up, watch the game, and figure out how to play. He can watch every decision people are making."
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