How to Play Chinese Poker

How to Play Chinese Poker

Chinese poker (also known as Pusoy in Russia) uses the normal poker hand ranking system. If you are familiar with common poker games such as Texas Hold’Em Poker then you’re already equipped with the basic knowledge to play Chinese poker.

High card is the worst possible holding in poker whereas a Royal Flush is the best possible hand ranking.

An example Chinese poker hand is shown below:

Eight Diamonds Eight Clubs Eight Spades

Four Spades Four Diamonds two Clubs Two Hearts Ten Hearts

Ace Hearts King Hearts Queen Hearts Jack Hearts Ten Hearts

The Chinese poker hand above represents 8 8 8 (Three of a Kind), 4 4 2 2 10 (Two Pair) and A K Q J 10 (Royal Flush).

Play Chinese Poker

A minimum of 2 players are required to play Chinese poker and a maximum of 4 players is possible. Each player is dealt 13 cards face down from a standard deck – hence 4 players max!

Players must then attempt to make the best possible poker hand combinations given the 13 cards they are dealt.

Front, Middle and Back

Chinese poker players must make two five-handed combinations and one three-handed combination. With the three-handed combination it is not possible to make a flush or straight. The three-handed combination is also known as the “Front” whereas the weaker five-handed combination is known as the “Middle” and the best five-handed Chinese poker hand is known as the “Back”.

Once you have looked at your 13 cards it is time to lay out your Front, Middle and Back. These must be placed from strongest (Back) to weakest (Front) face down on the table.

Once the Front, Middle and Back have been laid out it is time to turn these hands over one at a time from weakest to strongest. Be careful not to mix up your five-handed Chinese poker hand rankings. If you present them in the wrong order this will mean that you forfeit any bets and automatically lose the particular round of betting.

Chinese Poker Units

Before the first hand is dealt the players who want to play Chinese poker must decide if they are to stake any chips or money before the first hand is dealt.

Once the stakes are agreed this will determine how much either player will win or lose during any given hand. Chinese poker pro Phil Ivey famously once beat Phil Hellmuth out of $536,000 playing high stakes Chinese poker so be careful how much you stake.

If your hand ranking beats your opponent(s) then they must each transfer to you the predetermined Unit(s). Likewise, if an opponent has a Chinese poker hand ranking which beats yours then you must pay them the predetermined Unit(s).

Best hand wins

Additionally, in Chinese poker the rules state that the overall best hand wins an additional Unit.

If you can win two out of three Chinese poker hands then you’ll win more Units than your opponents over the long run. A good tip is to evenly distribute your hands so that you can exploit any tendencies that your opponent may have. If your opponent tends to go for the best Back hand then attempt to win the Middle and Front in order to even up the game play.


In Chinese poker a Royalty is often given to the player who manages to lay an above average hand. Royalties in Chinese poker must be decided before play commences.

A typical royalty might be to give your opponent 5 Units if they manage to lay a Full House or upwards in the Middle. Another might be to award a 10 Unit royalty if the opponent lays a Three of a Kind in the Front. You can pick and choose the Unit amounts and Royalty triggers preflop and having them in amongst your Chinese poker game makes for a more entertaining session.

Learn to play Chinese Poker

Let poker pros Shaun Deeb and Barry Greenstein walk you through a game of Open Faced Chinese (OFC) poker.

Learn how not to Foul, understand what a Fantasy Land hand is, how to Scoop and also gain useful insights into their knowledge of Chinese Poker and how they go about profitable decision making.