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Open Face Chinese Strategy: Building Your Hand


One of the most important skills in poker is knowing which starting hands to play and which ones to fold.

You can’t do that in Open Face Chinese Poker, but there are a number of options you can choose from. First of all, it’s where you‘re going to put your first five cards. If you want to build a strong and a potentially winning hand you need to know where to put your first five cards.

The First Hand

Open Face Chinese Poker Strategy - The First Hand

Unfortunately, we don‘t have much information about the opponents at this point. Our player is playing their first hand out of position. That is a tough spot to be in as one cannot see any of the other cards which would give them valuable information. That‘s the main reason we should pick a more conservative approach and be more safe trying to build our hand from bottom to top.

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Setting the First Hand

There are a couple of possible moves here. The safest one would be: {Ts},{Td}, {Kh} at the bottom and {6h}, {3c} in the middle. In this way we secure a strong bottom hand, a chance to go for a full house, and the {Kh} is a very strong kicker which could mean that in the event of a tie we could have a stronger full house. On the other hand, it‘s a little sad to put such strong card like {Kh} on the bottom.

A more aggressive play would be {Ts},{Td}, {6h} on the bottom, and {Kh}, {3c} in the middle. By choosing this line you still have a strong bottom hand and the possibility to collect a full house. The negative side to this is the fact that we still don‘t know if all the tens and sixes are alive. The {Kh} in the middle is a very safe choice and with that you could pair it and go for {Qh} {Qs} on top which is +7 points and a Fantasy Land.

When playing out of position we would prefer this play for its safety and to go for stronger hands. The aggressive line would feature {Ts}, {Td} in the bottom, {3c}, {6h} in the middle and {Kh} up top. We choose this mostly for the chance of getting into Fantasy Land with {Kh} {Kd} on top and scoring +8 points. This line would suit much better if the player was the last to act (in position) and could count their live cards.

Open Face Chinese Poker - Setting Your Hand

This is one of the many typical mistakes, when the players are playing too aggressive in order to reach Fantasy Land. Of course Fantasy Land can be profitable, but the primary target in this case should be not to foul, especially when playing out of position.

The Second Hand

In this example our player’s situation is much better – they can already see five open cards. They know that the first player has no Aces, which is crucial information providing the possibility to have a safer middle hand. The safe line would be to go for a flush in the bottom and put {8s} and {2s} in the middle for the chance of another flush.

An aggressive play would be {8s},{5c} at the bottom,{Ac},{2s} in the middle and Kc up top. {8s} and {5c} are two live cards with 6 outs and a straight draw. Ace and Deuce in the middle are two live cards as well with the possibility to hit a straight or Aces which would open the doors for an easy Fantasy should the King come up.

Choosing Between Hand Sets

The difference between the two combinations is very small. One has a backdoor flush draw and the other has backdoor straight draw. What we’re doing here is putting higher cards, so that we would have the chance of making two higher pairs in the middle if we get something like {2s} {2d} {7s} {7d} {Ac}.

All the live Aces, 8s, and 5s allow us to play aggressively. All Queens are live as well which is also good news. The first opponent is aggressive and chooses to play the hand which will likely end up fouling. If we take this into consideration we should take a more conservative approach and try to go for a flush on the bottom with the hope of getting something like two flushes or a flush and a two pair and a high pair on top.

Open Face Chinese Poker - Choosing Between Hands Sets

The Third hand

In this hand the player has the biggest advantage – position. They see 10 cards out of the 52 card deck! What should we take into consideration? First of all, we already have a pair of fives which is a great start for a strong bottom. The worst part is that one of the opponents has {5c} so we’re down to one out of there.

The next thing is to find a good live kicker. We have{6c} and{9c}. The difference between the two is very small. One has a backdoor to the straight and the other to the flush. The 6 is a little too weak and it has only two outs. The 9 is better since it has all the outs and if we end up with something like {5d} {5h} {9c} {9s} x we could go for smaller pairs like {6c} {6s} {7d} {7h} x in the middle.

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Alternative Set

If we put {6c} in the back, the middle option would be {3s} {3d} {4h} {4c} x and lower pairs. The {Qh} is a good card and it has three live outs. The biggest disadvantage of this hand is the weak middle line. We have only one six and two live outs for it. It’s also important that there are only two Kings and three Aces left in the deck. If we get a Queen it would be hard to put it up top without improving the middle hand.

We believe that the best play for this hand would be {5d} {5h} {9c} on the bottom, {6c} in the middle and {Qh} on top. This is the safest and most aggressive line and seems like the best option here.


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