Chinese Poker

The game Chinese Poker is a card game typically played by four players, and is sometimes known as Russian Poker. It’s a fun and complex take on poker, where each player must carefully arrange their hands in a way reminiscent of pai gow.

How to Play Chinese Poker

Before the game begins, the players agree as to what the stakes of the game will be. In this article, we’ll refer to this as “one bet,” but that can be any amount the players agree upon.

Each player is dealt thirteen cards. As said earlier, the game is typically played by four players, meaning that the entire 52-card deck is used.

Each player must arrange their cards into three hands: a five-card “back” hand, a five-card “middle” hand, and a three card “front” hand. The five-card hands are scored as regular poker hands; the three card hands can only be scored as three of a kind, pairs, or high cards, with no flushes or straights possible. The back hand must have a higher value than the middle hand, which must in turn be stronger than the front hand.

When all players have finished arranging their hands, all hands are revealed. The players compare hands, with back hands being compared to the other back hands, and so on. Usually, the rules will dictate that a player wins one bet for every hand they can beat, and lose one bet for every hand they cannot bet.

For instance, think of a simplified two-player game. If Player A has a stronger back hand, but Player B has a stronger middle and front hands, Player A must pay Player B one bet – two for the hands he lost, but making one bet back for having the stronger back hand. In a full four player game, these individual comparisons are made between all players. Players can pay off bets to each individual player, but it is often easier to simply figure out everyone’s overall wins and losses, and have the losing players pay into the pot, and have the winners take their winnings out.

Chinese Poker Tips

  • In many cases, there are bonuses for winning with strong hands. For instance, you might receive three bets from a player if you beat them using a three of a kind in the front hand, or five bets for a straight flush in the back or middle hand. It is important to understand exactly which bonuses are being used in your Chinese Poker game, since they can change your strategy significantly.
  • Many games also allow players to win the hand automatically with certain special hands, requiring the other players to pay them at a special rate (although they may still win money from each other). One example is a complete straight, in which the player has one card of every rank; this often wins 13 bets from each player. Again, it’s important to know what special hands are allowed in your Chinese Poker game! It is also occasionally better to make three standard hands rather than declare your special hand, so make sure to consider all possibilities before deciding how to play your hand.
  • While Chinese Poker is a wild game that is highly dependent on luck in the short term, there are ways to improve your hand arrangements that can make the difference between winning and losing against your opponents. For starters, make sure to consider all possible hand arrangements; there’s nothing worse than having it pointed out to you after the fact that you missed a much better arrangement that could have won you a lot of bets had you seen it.

Feel free to take a look at our guides to other Chinese poker games Pai Gow Tiles and Big2 Poker where we have provided comprehensive analysis on the ins and outs of playing them.