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How to Play Chinese Poker - Chinese Poker Rules

7 April 2010, By:
Chinese Poker Rules are really easy to grasp. Read through this article and you'll be up gaming in no time at all.
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Chinese Poker is amongst the array of poker games you'll be able to find out there. This particular variant of poker is usually played by three or four persons, but one-on-one games are very popular too.

Chinese Poker - the play of a hand

A hand of China Poker plays out as follows:

  1. Deal
  2. Setting up hands
  3. Showdown


Each player receives 13 cards. As a consequence, no more than four players can play Chinese Poker.

Setting up hands

Now each player uses his 13 cards to build three poker hands:

  • Back hand - 5 cards
  • Middle hand - 5 cards
  • Front hand - 3 cards

You may distribute the cards any way you like as long as you follow this rule:

The Back hand must be stronger than the Middle hand, and the Middle hand must be stronger than the Front hand.

The standard ranking of poker hands is used, while ignoring straights and flushes for the front hand.

For example, if you put a straight in the Back hand, you can't put a flush in the Middle hand.


All players put down their three hands face down in front of them, the Back hand closest to the centre of the table.

Then hands are flipped over and compared group by group - Back hands to Back hands, Middle hands to Middle hands and Front hands to Front hands.

Points are distributed according to a pre-defined system. There are several popular scoring systems.

Standard system

As the default, for each of your opponent's hands that your corresponding hand can beat, you win one point from that opponent.

For example,assume you win the Back and Middle hands but lose the Front hand. You win one point for Back and one point for Middle, but you lose one point for Front and your total score is plus one point.

2-4 Scoring System

With this scoring system, if a player wins two out of three hands against an opponent, he or she receives 2 points (instead of 1). If he wins all three hands, he receives 4 points (instead of 3 in the standard scoring system).

Winning all three hands is called scooping.

With this system, scooping gets relatively less profitable. It's worth twice as much as a normal win instead of three times as much.

1-6 Scoring System

In this scoring system, winning two hands gives you 1 point, as in the standard scoring system above. But winning all three hands is worth 6 points.

Now scooping gets really, really interesting. You should be much more willing to lose single hands while trying to scoop the whole shebang.

Western and Eastern china poker

The Action Poker Network, one of the few online poker networks to offer Chinese Poker, has defined two different scoring systems, Western and Eastern.

In the poker lobby, games are marked with W or E to show which type they are.

The Western system is equal to the 2-4 system described above. You get 2 points for winning two hands and 4 for scooping.

The Eastern system is a standard scoring system with a few special hands added:









Full house








Straight flush




Royal flush




When you have a special hand, you get the bonus only (in that segment).

Clean Sweep groups

Action Poker also allows special hands called clean sweeps. They give the following bonuses:




13 Colors 13 cards same suit


Dragon One of each rank


12 Colors 12 cards same suit


3-of-a-kind + 5 Pairs (4-of-a-Kind can count as 2 pair)


3 Straights Straights in Front, Middle, and Back


3 Flushes Front, Middle, and Back suited


6 Pairs (4-of-a-Kind can count as 2 pair)


Monetary value

Usually each point is given a monetary value before the game starts. Some people may play for 10c per point while some high rollers have been known to play for as much as $1,000 a point.

Of course, you can play without money too.

Optional rules for Chinese Poker

China Poker comes in many shapes, combining a range of special rules. Basically it's up the to players in each game to agree on the rules before the game starts.


Sometimes you're allowed to surrender your hand before the showdown. Surrendering is typically more expensive than losing two of three hands but cheaper than being scooped.

Invalid hands

If a hand is not valid for some reason, that player may have to pay each remaining opponent some predefined amount, for example the amount he would pay if that player had scooped.

Special hands

Sometimes players agree to award special hands with extra points. Such a hand is sometimes called a "royalty".

If a player has a royalty, each opponent has to pay him a predefined number of points for that hand, with no effect on the usual showdown.

Low in the middle

The Middle hand is played low, meaning the lowest ranking poker hand wins. Aces are high, straights and flushes count against the low hand.

As you see, China Poker isn't a hard poker game to learn. Before you start playing at $1,000 a point, though, be advised to read our basic strategy tips for Chinese Poker (in the works).

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