Recent Strategy Articles

We pick out a spot in tournament Stud-8 to talk odds, starting hand strength, and the concept of freerolling in a split-pot game.

First-five setting strategy for the lowball variation must be adjusted, and some early-game tactics that are slam-dunks in Pineapple OFC should be tossed out the window!

It seems like it's hard to mess up Fantasyland. After all, you see all your cards at once. Beyond avoiding an obvious mis-set, are you acheiving highest situational hand strength and max value from your opponent(s)?

Pineapple OFC is rarely a game you can make decisions based on intuition. Here's a spot I went with my first instinct, but only after a quick math fact-check.

July 24, 2014 -- A street-by-street examination of an extended flush draw in Pineapple OFC. Often delayed gratification is worth it!

July 21, 2014 -- When you have the option to pair the middle row or complete your back row flush, when it is right or wrong to flush it out? Pineapple OFC.

Classification of QTTJJ, a Cannibal. Odds given to make full house with JJTT, as well as pairing the Q. Both Standard-OFC and Pineapple-OFC.

3 settings of 4 7 J 3 5. Is setting a gutshot in the back the best way to get value from this lowly-looking starting 5?

Warren Buffet says "risk comes from not knowing what you're doing". And in Pineapple-OFC, that means MATH. We did our homework and crushed this hand with AA on top.

3 settings of A56TA. You know how AA is 80% likely to beat 22 preflop in NLHE? Well, 1 in 5 times it doesn't - and that's exactly what happened with our 3-flush back row draw.

3 settings of Ad 8d 10c 2h 4h in lowball 2-7 Pineapple. With street-by-street analysis and scoring based on royalty equity, scoop equity and Fantasyland EV.

Standard OFC: Overvaluing small pairs in front Part II - scoop equity, royalty equity, & 'gamble E.V.'

Standard OFC: Beginner Strategy - A common mistake is overvaluing small pairs in the front row

Pineapple OFC: Taking an alternate line while in Fantasyland to improve your scoop equity.

Standard OFC

Standard OFC: That back row straight came in - but what was the math behind it?

Poker coach and author Derric Haynie talks about the complexities that make Open Face Chinese Poker a game for the future.

Standard OFC: Think twice before you set that back row monster....are you thinking vertically as well as horizontally? It's about overall hand strength.

Standard OFC: You're dealt a sorry first 5. Can a medium pair in front save the day? With front-row royalty equivalency facts that often escape attention.

Standard OFC: A key decision point on the bubble of an Open Face Chinese tournament, analyzed with pictures and percentages.

Standard OFC: 3 to the straight flush - it's sexy, alluring and fun. Should you go for it?

Standard OFC: An exploration of all scoring possibilities in heads up Open Face, with tips on improving PPH (points per hand) average.

Pineapple OFC Articles

3 settings of 4 7 J 3 5. Is setting a gutshot in the back the best way to get value from this lowly-looking starting 5?

Warren Buffet says "risk comes from not knowing what you're doing". And in Pineapple-OFC, that means MATH. We did our homework and crushed this hand with AA on top.

Pineapple OFC: Taking an alternate line while in Fantasyland to improve your scoop equity.

3 settings of Ad 8d 10c 2h 4h in lowball 2-7 Pineapple. With street-by-street analysis and scoring based on royalty equity, scoop equity and Fantasyland EV.

Pineapple OFC: Awww Yeah! Vegas Open Face takes on Open Face Odds in a heads up Pineapple match. Analyzed by both players.


Pineapple OFC: Before carelessly discarding unwanted cards, consider whether you can create an illusion of good draws for your opponent.

Pineapple OFC: Vegas Open Face guest blogs with a blow-by-blow analysis of a live Pineapple Open Face hand.

OFC Theory

Standard OFC Theory: You are dealt 35667, out of position. How to think about setting your hand, not forgetting there's an elephant in the room -- 8's through J's. Introduction to array sorting.

Standard OFC Theory: Strategy analysis of set 1 of 35667, with array sorting, draw ranges, and 6th street probabilities examined.

OFC Theory: Did you know there are 7,462 unique starting hands in Open Face Chinese poker? Ok, great - now rank them.

OFC Theory: The "Cooperators": hands that can be split into complementary draw ranges within the total array of unknown cards.

OFC Theory: The "Cannibals": Cards that merge draw and value ranges, adding to one row while simultaneously subtracting from another.


Open Face Chinese Poker is a variant of 'regular' Chinese Poker. In regular Chinese Poker, each player is dealt 13 cards 'in the hole'. They then set the cards in three rows of poker hands.




For the hand to be set properly, the back row must be a stronger hand than the middle, and the middle stronger than the front, as illustrated above. A full house in the back, two pair in the middle, and a pair in front is an example of a properly set hand. If these rules are broken, however, the hand is considered fouled or misset (mis-set). Two pair in the back, a flush in the middle and a pair in front is an example of a fouled/misset hand.

In Open Face Chinese Poker, each player is dealt only 5 cards 'in the hole'. They set these 5 cards and then are dealt one card at a time until each player has received 13 total cards. The same row strength and fouling rules apply.





Players' front, middle and back rows are compared, and each row won is worth 1 point. If a player has won 2 of 3 rows, they win a total of 1 point (1+1-1). Additional points are awarded for a 'scoop' and also for sub-hands (rows) that qualify for royalties.

SCOOP - If a player wins all three rows, they have 'scooped' the opponent and receive a three point bonus. In total, scooping is worth 6 points: 1+1+1 for winning all three rows, and 3 for the scoop bonus.

TIES - An example of a common tie: player A wins two of three rows, e.g. the front and middle with a pair of 66 in front, and player B wins the back row with a straight. player A wins 1 point for taking 2 of 3 rows plus the 1 point royalty for 66 in front, for a total of 2 points. Player B, however, is awarded 2 points for the back row straight, and the scores cancel each other.

Another tie possibility happens rarely but will occur when, for example, player A wins one row, player B wins one row, and both players have the same hand in the third row (885 in front, i.e.).

FOULING - The penalty for fouling is -6 points; in other words, an automatic scoop for the opponent if they have a properly set hand. If a player has a QQ7 in front and QQ654 in the middle, this is a fouled hand. QQ7 in front and QQ982, however, is a proper set and is not a foul. If both players foul, the hand is a tie at 0 points.

ROYALTIES - Any sub-hand (row) that qualifies for royalties also gets points in a properly set hand. The royalty chart below shows the point values per poker hand made. Typical royalties can be +4 for a back row flush, or +7 for a front row pair of Queens.

All royalties are paid, so if player A has a flush in the back row (+4 points) and player B has a full house (+6 points), player A pays a net of +2 points to player B.

MULTI-WAY SCORING - When playing 3 or 4-handed, the first player dealt cards (first to act or under the gun) settles with each successive player until all debts are paid. Then, second to act player settles with the others, and so on. If a player fouls their hand, they automatically owe 6 points to each of the other players plus any royalties owed. Again, all royalties in non-fouled hands are paid.

Back Row Royalties

 2       Straight
 4       Flush
 6       Full House
10      Quads (4 of a kind)
15      Straight Flush
25      Royal Flush

Middle Row Royalties

 2       Three of a Kind
 4       Straight
 8       Flush
12      Full House
20      Quads (4 of a kind)
30      Straight Flush
50      Royal Flush

Front Row Royalties (66+)

1       66
2       77
3       88
4       99
5       10 10
6       JJ
7       QQ
8       KK
9       AA

10      222
11      333
12      444
13      555
14      666
15      777
16      888
17      999
18      10 10 10
19      JJJ
20      QQQ
21      KKK
22      AAA

In many home games and some casino games, Fantasyland is an essential 'bonus' component to the game. You qualify to 'go to Fantasyland' if you have QQ or better in the front (without fouling).

When a player goes to Fantasyland, they are dealt all thirteen cards at once, and they set their cards face down. The other players are then dealt and play a normal hand. The button does not move for the Fantasyland hand -- it is considered an extension of the same hand.

STAYING IN FANTASYLAND - Quads or better in the back row, Full House or better in the middle, or Trips in the front allows a player to remain in Fantasyland in the Standard variation. Requirements are different for Pineapple; see below.


Turbo Open Face Chinese begins in the same manner as normal open face, with each player dealt 5 cards. After that, each player is dealt 4 cards at a time. There are only 3 rounds of dealing: 5+4+4. All cards are set and scoring is the same as regular Open Face.

Pineapple is a variant of Open Face Chinese that can be played 2 or 3 handed. Each player is dealt 5 cards face down, like in regular Open Face, but after that they get 3 cards at a time. From the three cards they place 2 and discard 1 face down. This process is repeated three more times, each time the players receiving 3 cards, placing 2, and discarding 1. There is one card left in the deck in the 3-handed game; 51 cards are used (13 per player + 12 discards). Heads up, 34 cards are used (13 per player and 8 discards).

Since there are more cards to choose from, Pineapple is a higher-scoring variant of the game. Bigger hands are caught and Fantasyland entered more often.

PINEAPPLE FANTASYLAND - There are many different rules in the many apps, home games, and online and land-based casinos. Some give QQ Fantasyland with 14 cards, some KK with 15, some AA with 14. We recommend a variable-value Fantasyland requirement: getting to FL with QQ is 13-card FL, getting there with KK is 14-card FL and AA+ is 15-card FL.

Multiple players can get to Fantasyland at the same time. Button does not move during the FL hand(s) as it is considered an extension of the same hand. Requirements to stay in FL are generally quads+ in back or trips in front; some games allow a middle-row boat to re-qualify - our suggestion is quads+ in middle if playing 15-card FL.

The middle row is changed to lowball. 10-high is the 'best' hand that doesn't foul; in other words, any J, Q, K, A, pair or better is a foul. 65432, 76543 or any straights or flushes are also fouls. Examples of good middle rows:

T9732 / 96543 / 85432 / 76432

The middle row must fall into the lowball range, and the back row must beat the front for the hand to be non-fouled.

A good hand:


A fouled hand:


Also fouled:


Middle row royalties are as such:

10 high: 1 point
9 high: 2 points
8 high: 3 points
7 high: 4 points
Perfect lowball 75432: 6-10 points (house choice)

Compensation for losing the possible royalties of the middle row flush (8 points) or full house (12 points) is given with the completion of the perfect lowball.

Qualifications to get to Fantasyland are KK+ in the front row, or a perfect 75432 lowball middle. Fantasyland is dealt 14 or 15 cards, depending on the quality of the FL make: KK gives 14 cards, AA+ and the 75432 give 15. Repeating Fantasyland requires quads+ in back, or trips in front. The lowball-middle requirements must be observed while in Fantasyland.

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