Chinese Poker is a game played for points rather than bets. Each player is dealt 13 cards face-down. Players then arrange these cards to form 3 different poker hands, which are revealed and compared.
Chinese Poker can be played by as many as 4 players. Each player is dealt 13 hole cards.
Players arrange their hole cards on the layout in rows to make 3 poker hands, arranged in order of ascending rank. These hands are called the top, middle, and bottom:
- Top hand: A 3-card poker hand, which may only rank as a high card, a pair, or three of a kind. Straights and flushes do not count for this 3-card hand. It must rank lowest of the 3 hands.
- Middle hand: A standard 5-card poker hand. It must rank higher than the top hand.
- Bottom hand: A standard 5-card poker hand. It must rank the highest of the 3 hands.
A Chinese hand that breaks these rules (by having a top hand stronger than the middle hand, or a middle hand stronger than the bottom hand) is a fouled hand and automatically loses. Players confirm their card arrangements, and hands are revealed, compared, and scored.
At showdown, players hands are compared and points are exchanged based on hand strength.
Two players’ individual hands are first compared to each other for scoring, row to row (top against top, middle against middle, and bottom against bottom), with the better hand winning each comparison.
- 1 point is awarded to the winner of each of the three hands.
- 1 overall point is also awarded if either player wins at least two of the three hands.
- Hands that tie exchange no points.
Additional bonus points called royalties are then awarded for certain strong hands:
- Straight Flush (bottom or middle): 5 points
- Four of a Kind (bottom or middle): 4 points
- Three of a Kind (top): 3 points
- Full House (middle): 2 points
If both players qualify for royalties that are in different rows (for example, a Full House middle against a Four of a Kind bottom), the royalties are awarded to both players and offset the total points owed.
If both players qualify for a royalty in the same row (for example, a Full House middle against a Four of a Kind middle), the royalties do not offset and only the stronger hand is awarded the royalty points.
The awarded points and royalties for both players are then recorded. If more than 2 players are playing, each remaining exchange is scored until all players have exchanged points with all other players in the hand.
After a round of hands completes, players settle the final total of points won or lost, by exchanging chips with the other players in turn. Players are not allowed to sit out or leave the table during a round of hands, and must wait until the round is complete.