Chinese Poker is gaining some popularity lately, possibly because of the fact that it's simple to learn, exciting to play and unlike many more strategic variations, Chines poker has a large element of luck involved meaning new players don't always get beat. It made its debut at the WSOP in 1995, was played again in 1996 and then was never played again, however that could all change with this new surge in awareness of the game. Many large casinos in Vegas offer the game including The Venetian, Wynn and The Bellagio.
How to Play Chinese Poker
The game is best played with 4 players, however flows smoothly enough with just the 2 or 3, and one standard deck of 52 cards is required. The rules are simple and a decent knowledge of poker hand rankings will be required. To begin with each player in the game receives 13 cards. Each player then needs to make 3 hands from their cards and this is known as 'setting'. There must be 2 hands of 5 cards, known as the middle and back hands and 1 hand of 3 cards, which is called the front. The back hand must be ranked the highest and the front the lowest. All hands are then placed face down on the table with the back hand closest to the player and the other 2 in front of the back hand. Next, moving left from the dealer the players announce whether they intend to play their hand or not. Wagers on the hands are called units and these are decided upon before the game starts.
Scoring and Winning the Hand
Should a player show 3 flushes or 3 straights they automatically win the hand, regardless of other players cards, however if no-one shows this then the games is scored as follows. Basic scoring means that the players with the best hand, played against the other players corresponding hand (either front, middle or back) will win the units wagered. In some variants players may be paid extra units should they win 2 out of 3 hands or in some games this only occurs when the player wins all 3 and this is known as a scoop. The most commonm way of scoring the hands is called the 2-4 method and this means that the player will receive 1 unit for each hand won another unit (the overall unit) for winning 2 out of 3 hands. Royalties may also be paid to players and these are won by having extra strong hands and again the royalties paid and what makes an extra strong hand can vary. As you can see by the basics here, it is fairly simple to play and has a large element of luck involved. The most important thing to learn are the hand rankings and should you be playing a game where royalties are involved then it's here where you can make extra cash. It is an extremely popular game all around Asia and has made it's way West and over the last 2 years has become extremely popular with some of the larger players in the world of poker.
Where to Play Online
As this variation of poker is fairly new to many it has yet to be embraced by the larger Online Poker rooms, however Gear Poker is one place that you can find this great poker variation. You can also find specific Chinese Poker iPhone, iPad apps in the app store. Many of the PokerStars pros love the game and it's become a favorite of Daniel Negreanu, Jason Mercier and Scott Seiver, so maybe they can influence things a little.