Top 10 OFCP Tips
Open Face Chinese Poker (OFCP) is a game that has moved out of the high roller's rooms and onto the net in recent years.
OFCP is fast, it's furious, and the stakes involved can be as big or small as you like.
OFCP is played with two to four players who are dealt five cards. They must assign the cards to three poker hands (two 5-card hands and one 3-card hand). The players then take turns to draw cards and fill their three poker hands.
The hands are then ranked in order, with the 5-card 'Back' hand having to be better than the 5-card 'Middle' hand, which in turn must be better than the 3-card 'Front' hand.
There are many nuances to OFCP, and while we go into more detail on Open Face strategy elsewhere on OnlinePoker.com, get your journey started with this handy list of tips.
1 - Set Right, Right From the Start
"Setting" (placing your initial five cards) is perhaps the most important part of OFCP.
TBy placing your five cards smartly, you can achieve big hands and earn quick points. A good rule of thumb is to set your cards in a way that they will become massive hands if a good card comes next. That means playing small pairs in the Back Hand is a good idea as they can often improve to trips or a full house.
Look for straight draws, flushes and two-pair hands to make on the Bottom Hand. Put an ace or king in the Middle Hand and a big king or queen in the 3-card Front Hand.
2 - Learn Your Royalties
Basic points are awarded in OFCP just for beating an opponent's corresponding hand (e.g. your Middle is better than their Middle, etc). However, bonus "royalty" points are awarded depending on certain Back, Middle and Front hands. Print this handy list out; it could help you alter your strategy when playing:
Back Hand Royalties (5 cards)
6pts Full House
10pts Quads (4 of a kind)
15pts Straight Flush
25pts Royal Flush
Middle Hand Royalties (5 cards)
12pts Full House
20pts Quads (4 of a kind)
30pts Straight Flush
50pts Royal Flush
Front Hand Royalties (3 cards)
3 - Play Safe If Your Opponent Looks Like Fouling
Just as games like Razz are as much about betting on what other players are showing as well as your own cards, so OFCP is about making decisions based on what hands your opponent has made.
If your opponent is likely to foul, back off going for risky royalties and Fantasyland and just concentrate on making your three hands and scooping the full six points. (Three points for making three best hands and three bonus points for scooping every hand.)
4 - Recognize When You're Near 'Fantasyland'
Fantasyland is a popular rule played in OFCP where a pair of queens or higher in the Front hand is awarded bonus points. In addition, on the next hand, that player can choose to have their 13 cards dealt to them all at the same time.
By having a pair of queens in the front hand you still need to complete your other hands and not foul, so look for your first five cards being something like Q-Q-A-K-2.
Here, the queens would go in the Front and the A-K into the middle hand. Now you can attempt to make a pair of aces or kings in the middle hand and better that with your back hand.
5 - Avoid Starting With Pairs In Your Front Hand
While a big pair looks good in the Front, and can earn you royalty points (and Fantasyland if you hit Q-Q or better), they have a high chance of fouling if you play them too early.
Instead, aim for straights and flush-type hands 'up top' from the off. As the game goes on, you can better ascertain what kind of pair will help in the Front and not foul.
6 - Don't Go Too Strong on Your Middle
If you're forming straights and flushes, keep them to the Back Hand rather than the Middle. Although Middle Hand royalties are big, they're big for a reason: they still have to be bettered by a strong Back Hand.
Royalties in the Middle are very rare, so don't gun for them too often if you want to avoid fouling.
7 - Gamble If You're Behind
While playing safe when your opponent is going to foul is a solid strategy, so gambling if you're way behind is a smart move too. If an opponent has a flush in the Back Hand, and looks likely to hit trips in the Middle and a solid pair in the Front, you should gamble to try to take one hand. That way, you come away with a point and avoid forfeiting a scoop to your opponent.
8 - Don't Foul....Ever
The last thing you want to do is foul; that is, having your Front, Middle and Back hands rank in the wrong order. Fouling incurs a penalty of -6 points to your opponent, effectively the same as if they scooped every hand against you.
9 - Eye Up Your Bonus Hands Early
While setting is important, it's also a good idea to earmark what Royalties you want to aim for. Don't foul, obviously, but plan ahead and don't keep changing your mind about what a row should look like. Think big and aim for a straight, flush or full house on the bottom to maximize bonuses.
10 - Keep Track of Live Cards
As with Texas Hold'em and Stud games, knowing your 'outs' in OFCP is vitally important. Of course, every player's up-cards are visible, so you can strike those off your outs. Now you have to work out how many cards in the deck can help you complete your Front, Middle and Back hands.
For example, if you need a straight or heart flush in your Back hand to better your Middle hand but notice that most of the hearts are in other players' hands you can start planning for the straight instead.
Getting OFCP Practise In
Unfortunately, in 2023 not too many poker sites online offer OFCP in their lobby. However, as the game is popular as a game (with stakes only decided before the game starts) you can enjoy OFCP for play-money via websites or mobile apps.
More and more, however, live tournaments are starting to include OFCP events, and in 2013 the World Series of Poker (WSOP) added a ,000 Open Face Chinese tournament to its schedule.
Elsewhere in the US, OFCP tournaments are starting to crop up.