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Chinese Poker



What is Chinese Poker?

Chinese Poker is a card game that has been played in the Asian community for quite some time. It has been gaining popularity in the West because it's fun and easy to learn.

There is a large element of luck involved, so novice players have a good chance of winning, and can find quick success. However, there is enough skill involved so that the experienced player can enjoy an "edge" over weaker players.

Throughout the history of Chinese Poker it has primarily been as a social card game (similar to dominos) in which friends get together to have a good time, as opposed to have a hardcore gambling session where people are looking to clean someone out. But, like domino games, it is always more fun when you play for money.

This is a section based on the online Chinese Poker, so these rules might vary from online to your homegames of Chinese Poker.

How do I play Chinese Poker:

Chinese Poker is a game you can play with two, three or four players. Each player is dealt 13 cards out of a standard 52 card deck. These 13 cards are then arranged by each player into 3 poker hands. The hand ranking system is identical to that of 5 card poker.

The first or "front hand" (as it's known), must contain three cards. The player then must make two more hands each consisting of five cards. The stronger of these two hands is referred to as the "back hand" and the weaker one is called the "middle hand".

After each player has arranged their hands, the cards are then laid face down on the table. Once each player has set their cards, they are then turned face up and the hand is scored. The object of the game is to beat the hands held by your opponents. The game is scored using points, these points usually have a dollar value, such as 1 point = 1 dollar.

Basic Rules:

These are basic Chinese Poker rules, this means that in this example there are no bonus hands or Clean Sweeps are in play. To see more advanced forms of scoring the game please read our Bonus Hands and Clean Sweep sections.

Chinese Poker is played with 2-4 players at a table, with each player getting dealt 13 cards out of standard a 52 card deck. Each player then arranges their 13 starting cards into three hands. One hand consisting of 3 cards, and two other hands, each made up of 5 cards. The object of the game is to beat the hands made by other players.

The hands players make are called the "front", "middle" and "back" hands. The front hand is made up of three cards so therefore only three card poker hands are eligible (i.e. trips or 1 pair no straights or flushes). The middle hand consists of five cards and must be able to beat the front hand. The back hand is also made up of 5 cards and must be able to beat both the front and middle hands...

Here is an example.

You have been dealt the following cards:

Your 13 card starting hand

To set up your 13 cards:

Low Hand

Middle Hand

Back Hand

Once players arrange their hands, they are set face down on the table in specific order. First, the front hand is placed face down on the table, this is followed by the middle hand and then finally the back hand are layed face down. Once all players have set their cards they are then turned face up and the hands are scored.

Hand Scoring

When scoring hands, players compare their corresponding card sets with each other (i.e back vs. back and so forth) in a specific order. Players win one point per each winning hand from each opponent. There are many different forms of scoring and it is common to see addional points awarded for winning all 3 hands against your opponent. Here you can see an example of the scoring of a Chinese Poker Hand and learn about all the different forms of scoring.
he following example deals with the most basic manner of scoring which is called "1-3" (because you collect 1 point for winning 2 out of 3 hands and 3 points for winning them all).

Each player receives one point per winning hand. So, you can win a maximum of 3 points from each player, and a total of 9 points overall. Each play compared with the corresponding hand's of the other players (i.e. back vs. back, front vs. front, middle vs. middle).

In the following table the hands are displayed front - middle - back.

Player 1


Player 3

Player 4

Player1 vs. Player2
Player1 wins the front, middle and back hands.
Player wins 3 points from Player2

Player1 vs. Player3
Player1 wins the front and back hands, but ties the middle hand.
Player1 wins 2 points from Player3

Player1 vs. Player4
Player1 wins the front, middle and back hands.
Player1 wins 3 points from Player4

Player1 wins a total of 8 points on the deal.

Other Forms of Scoring:

1-4 Scoring:

In this system of scoring a players collects an extra point for winning all three hands. So, winning two hands nets you 1 point and wining all three nets you 4 points.

2-4 Scoring:

2-4 is a common manner of scoring where a the player who wins more hands collects an extra point. So, you get 2 points for winning two out of three hands, and 4 points for winning all of them.

1-6 Scoring:
In the system of scoring you only get 1 point for winning 2 hands, but 6 points for winning all three hands. This manner of scoring is often called the "Mandarin Way"

Bonus Hands:

Many forms of Chinese Poker involve bonus hands, which means bonus points are awarded to certain hands. This is dependant on where they are located (i.e. 3-of-a-kind as your front hand would be worth 5 points but no points would be awarded if it was your back hand)

Eastern style Chinese Poker awards bonus points to certain hands. The amount of points varies depending on what kind of hand it is and what position it is in. (i.e. A straight-flush as your middle hand is worth 10 points, a straight-flush as your back hand is worth 5). The table below is an example.

Straight Flush

Four of a kind

Full House

3 of a kind

Bonus points:

Low Hand
3 points

Middle Hand
10 points
8 points
2 points

Back Hand
5 points

As mentioned earlier, you get 1 point for each winning hand. Points awarded to bonus hands are not added to this, so this means that if you had a full house in the middle hand you would win a total of 2 points not 3.

A common rule regarding bonus hands is that the points awarded are doubled if your bonus hand outranks your opponents's corresponding bonus hand - beats your opponents .Eastern style Chinese Poker employs Clean Sweep hands, which are hands that automatically beat all the card sets held by your opponents. These clean sweep hands have a special rank and assigned point value. The list below starts with the best hand, which is "Dragon" and descends from there.


One card of every rank wins 13 points.

13 Colors:

You entire 13 card starting hand in one color Red or black - wins 13 points

12 Colors:

Having exactly 12 card of the same color (i.e. Red or Black) - wins 3 points

6 Pairs:

Having a Hand that contains 6 pairs (4-of-a-kind can count as 2 pairs) - wins 3 points

3 Straights:

A hand that contains connecting cards in the front middle and back hands - wins 3 points

3 Flushes:

Suited cards in the front middle and back hands - wins 3 points

Clean Sweep hands win a set amount of points, so if you had a "Dragon", you would win 13 points from each player. If two or more players produce clean sweep hands, the higher ranking hand wins the full value. If two players have the same clean sweep hand - they tie.

If you have a clean sweep, you must declare it, or it will be played as a regular hand. The way you set a clean sweep doesn't matter as long as you declare it. If you declare a clean sweep - but cannot produce one - you will be penalized 3 points to each player.