Chinese poker is played between two to four players. The game is played for points, where each point is worth a set amount of money.
Each player gets thirteen cards to arrange into three hands, two five card hands and one three card hand. These hands are called the back, middle and front hand.
The hands will be compared against the corresponding hands of the other players. The objective is to arrange a set of hands that will beat the corresponding hands of the other players. There are often several possible ways to arrange the thirteen cards given to you and the only rules you have to follow are that the back hand must be of a higher value than the middle hand, and the middle hand must be higher than the front hand. The value of each hand is determined by standard poker rules. The front hand, with only three cards, cannot have a flush or straight.
Hand order: Back > Middle > Front.
After arranging all hands the players compare their hands to each other and the winner in each individual game receives a number of points, determined by how much they won.
In each round with four players there are six transactions of points. (See scoring for further information on this.)
The hands are evaluated as poker hands in the following order:
1. Royal Flush
2. Straight flush
3. Four of a kind
4. Full house
7. Three of a kind
8. Two Pair
In Chinese Poker the lowest straight possible is Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5
In the third hand (front hand) straights and flushes do not count.
The scoring may seem complicated, but to summarise:
• If your hands outrank at least two out of the three hands of another player, you win over that player
At PokerRoom.com 2-4 scoring is used which in general means that if you win two out of three hands you get two points and if you win all three hands you get four points.
When the players are done arranging their hands and the cards are put down. Each player compares their hands with each of the other players and are rewarded points according to one of several systems.
The six comparisons that are made are:
• Player1 vs. Player2
• Player1 vs. Player3
• Player1 vs. Player4
• Player2 vs. Player3
• Player2 vs. Player4
• Player3 vs. Player4
This is the most common scoring and can be described in two rules:
1. A player that wins two out of three hands gets two points.
2. A player that wins all three hands gets four points.
These rules are derived from the following set of rules:
Without bonuses a player can potentially win 12 points, 4 points from each of the other players. Examples:
Player1 vs Player2: L-W-L, Result –2p
Playes1 vs Player3: L-W-L, Result –2p
Player1 vs Player4: W-W-L, Result 2p
Player2 vs Player3: W-L-W, Result 2p
Player2 vs Player4: W-W-L, Result 2p
Player3 vs Player4: W-W-L, Result 2p
Player1: -2p, (-2, -2, 2)
Player2: 6p, (2, 2, 2)
Player3: 2p, (2, -2, 2)
Player4: -6p, (-2, -2, -2)
This is the same as 2-4 scoring only there will be no overall point for winning two out of three hands. (Bonuses always count and surrender always applies, 2 points)
This system is sometime called the mandarin way.
In this system winning two out of three is worth one point and winning all three is worth six points. (Bonuses always count and surrender always applies, 3 points) Without bonuses a player can potentially win 18 points, 6 points from each of the other players.
In addition to the basic payoffs described so far, at some tables players pay bonuses for high ranking hands. Typical bonus payments are:
• Straight Flush in back/Middle hand 4 points
• Four of a kind in back/middle hand 3 points
• Three of a kind in front hand 2 points
• Full house in middle hand 1 point
Surrender is a scoring option in which a player agrees to throw his hand away and pay a set amount to each opponent. The amount is 2 points for a 2-4 game, 3 points in a 1-6 game.
If two players surrender they tie.