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open face chinese poker

apparently this game is gaining a bunch of traction. a large part of the greater poker community is giving this a go according to one of my acquaintance poker friends at Harrah's, so i downloaded a free app version of the game to see what it's all about.

Standard chinese poker involves being dealt 13 cards. You have to make three hands - your weakest being a 3-card hand, your middle being a 5-card hand, and your strongest being a 5-card hand. The hands have to be from weakest to strongest. Once you've set your hands, everyone flips their hands over and you pit each of your hands against the corresponding hands of the other players with the goal of trying to win as many of the hands as possible. Chips pass based on how many of the three hands you won against other players.

Open face chinese poker takes this and turns it into something very different. Everyone is dealt an initial 5 cards. The person to the left of the dealer takes his 5 cards and slots them any way he likes in the three slots of 3-card, 5-card weaker, 5-card stronger hands, all face up. After those cards are set, the next person does the same thing and so on. Once everyone has set their cards, each person is dealt a new single card one at a time, face up, to place anywhere in their set of hands. Again, points are given for how many of the three hands you win against the other players. Bonuses can be given for particularly strong hands in each of the sets. If you don't end up with your hands ranked from weakest to highest, you have what's called a "mis-set" which disqualifies you from the hand and chip-earning entirely, and it costs you a bunch of chips you have to pay to the other players.

It's an interesting game - being able to see what's already revealed and therefore the chances of you hitting the card that you need for a full house or a straight, strategizing in a way that won't make you mis-set, seeing how your hand develops versus how other hands develop - all of that is a lot of fun.

But the game is lacking in one of the key aspects of poker that i like - incomplete information and everything that that implies. I have this instinct that the game is completely about the math and nothing else, whereas great hold em/omaha/stud/draw poker players combine the math knowledge with the human element to maximize their expected value - with chinese poker, standard or open, you don't need to get a read on other people, you don't need to put them on a range based on their betting or prior history, you can't be put in a position where you can truly exploit their weaknesses for your own gain over the long term. Sure, if they make a poor play with how they place their cards you gain from that, but you don't have direct control over that situation like you would in a regular poker game.

in a way it almost reminds me of Dominion. With a few small exceptions, a lot of that game is based around individual players racing to win of their own accord and having very little to do with each other. Sure, you do some basic countering-type things like, "if they buy a witch, you buy a moat", but how interaction works in that game is very indirect. Ultimately that makes it a fun distraction, but not a game that commands my attention.

One way that open face could be made more interesting is if there was a betting structure set up similar to the odd poker variant baseball. As cards come out, there's some designated betting round where a player is forced to make a decision whether they want to continue to build their hand or if they want to just fold. That doesn't really resolve the incomplete information deal, meaning that there's probably a way to calculate exactly whether or not a person should bet or call a bet based on the percentages and the size of a pot. The other option would be for one or two cards are set face down to start. That would bring back the capability of bluffing and make the decision to draw more difficult if a player is no longer sure if that draw is true value (they could already be drawing dead).

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shazamaramack
Jun. 30th, 2013 08:12 am (UTC)
My college friend and I made up a variant on chinese poker that we used to play a ton. For 3 players, take out a card (usually 2 of clubs or something), then give each player gets 17 cards. You make 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 card hands and have 2 cards left over. Each hand (except 1) must be better than "high card" (e.g. 2 card hand has to be pair, straight, flush or straight flush). We did the math to work out the winning order of each hand (e.g. the rank in 4 card hand is interesting: 4 of a kind, straight flush, 3 of a kind, straight, 2 pair, flush, 1 pair).

Once the hands are made, starting with left of dealer, you bet, then reveal the 5 card hand. Then bet, then the winner of the 5 card hand starts the revealing of the 4 card hand. Etc.

Pretty fun, especially since there's the added element of all the cards being distributed.
lifeofmendel
Jul. 1st, 2013 04:17 am (UTC)
that's interesting. a bit more anaconda-like. i'd have to play a bunch of rounds of it to get a feel for it, but it's intriguing.
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