Play Chinese Poker Online – Best Sites, Rules & Strategy

Joe Halliday profile picture
Sports Editor Fact Checked by Vlad Grindu

Chinese poker and open-face Chinese poker online are nail-biting games of luck, ideal for beginners and pros alike. Players are issued thirteen cards with the goal being to collect points by forming three separate poker hands. With Chinese poker, you don’t need to bluff, bet, bust, or break the bank.

The game is packed with fast action, unexpected outcomes and a variety of exciting rewards and bonuses. Collect points as you go and get paid out in full when your winning cards hit the table. Stick around as we unpack the best of Chinese poker, including top hand rankings, reward structures, winning strategies, variants, and more. 

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The Best Chinese Poker Sites to Play for Real Money

Let’s get into our pick for the best Chinese poker platforms in 2023. Keep in mind that Chinese poker is considered a niche game in the United States, and for this reason will not always be available on the leading poker sites. That said, feel free to browse through each platform and find the poker variant that’s right for your own unique playing style. 

  1. BetOnline – A strong poker welcome package for new players
  2. Bovada A leading poker platform for US players with great traffic
  3. Everygame – Lower bonus wagering requirements and high rakeback
  4. Ignition – Dedicated poker suite with top titles and tournaments 
  5. – Regular reload bonuses, promos, and freerolls

Comparison of the Best Chinese Poker Sites

Chinese Poker table

We’ll now dive into a comparison of the best sites to play Chinese poker online in 2023. Chinese poker is primarily a friendly, home-based game played between 2 to 4 people. The game is hard to find online and will only occasionally pop up in online casinos.

As of 2023, the only platform to occasionally offer Chinese poker variants is BetOnline. However, most platforms do offer Pai Gow poker, which has similar origins to Chinese poker. Browse the below poker suites for top player incentives, including welcome offers, leading poker titles, anonymous tables, freerolls, and more.


Chinese Poker 

Pai Gow

Texas Hold’em

Bet Limit

Welcome Bonus



$0.05/$0.10 – $5/$10 100% up to $1,000


$0.02/$0.05 – $10/$20 100% up to $500


$0.01/$0.02 – $10/$20 200% up to $1,000


$0.02/$0.05 – $10/$20 150% up to $1,500

$0.05/$0.10 – $5/$10 100% up to $1,000

How to Play Chinese Poker Online

We’ll briefly cover the steps needed to play Chinese poker online for money, including the traditional method and the Open-face method. We’ll run through the steps needed for both, including the different rules, hand rankings, betting structures, and royalties. 

1. Introduction to Chinese Poker Rules

Chinese poker is one of the easier variants and a popular pastime for both beginners and experienced players. Frequently unexpected outcomes reveal big wins, meaning you don’t need the same element of strategy to win a game of Chinese poker as you would with Texas Hold’em or Pot-Limit Omaha. 

The game requires a basic understanding of traditional poker hand rankings, but differs in that it doesn’t require bluffing, betting, or direct staking to win the pot. Instead of placing bets, the game runs on a points system, where you’ll collect and pay points (units) to the other players when revealing and comparing your hands.

2. Dealing

Chinese poker is played with 2 to 4 people. Before the game starts, all players will need to mutually agree on the stakes, i.e the value of a particular bet. The stakes in Chinese poker are known as units, and depending on the result of a hand, players will either win or pay units to other players. Depending on the game, agreed units can run from $10 up to $1,000. 

At the start of the game, each player will be dealt thirteen cards, face-down, from a standard 52-card deck. Hands will carry the same value as traditional poker, where a straight flush trumps four-of-a-kind, etc. The major difference is that players need to build three separate hands (as opposed to one), which will be ranked by value in ascending order. 

3. Hand Creation & Arranging

Once each player has received their thirteen face-down cards, they’ll need to create three separate hands and rank these hands in ascending value, i.e the first hand revealed will be the weakest and the last hand, the strongest. Be careful to arrange your hands according to the game’s governing order, so as not to incur penalties and lose points. 

Both the bottom hand (or backhand) and middle hand consist of five cards, while the top hand (or front hand) consists of three cards. The top hand is beaten by the middle hand, and the middle hand is beaten by the bottom hand. 

Since each hand must be sorted according to standard poker rankings, the top hand (3 cards) will only ever make up a three of a kind, a pair, or a high card. Straight and higher will not count. The two five-card hands can consist of any number of poker combinations to maximum effect. 

4. The Showdown & Reveal

It’s time to reveal the cards and tally up the points. Once every player has arranged their three hands according to the above criteria, they’ll need to reveal them in order of play. The bottom hand is placed face down on the table, followed by the middle hand, and then the top hand. 

Each player will announce their royalties (which we’ll unpack in a moment) and reveal their cards in order, running clockwise from the left of the dealer. Players can also choose to forfeit their hand, which equates to an automatic loss. Any player able to construct 3 flushes, or straights (the highest-ranking formation) will automatically win. 

5. Standard Scoring

As mentioned, Chinese poker doesn’t use a traditional poker betting system. Instead, points are tallied and accumulated based on pre-agreed criteria (or royalties). These points (units) will have their own unique monetary value, which will be divided up and paid out to the winner, according to their hand rankings and card combinations. 

Players will receive 1 point for every other player whose top, middle, and bottom hands are weaker than their own corresponding hands. Depending on the game, additional Chinese poker points can be added to the fray based on certain criteria. For example, a player may receive an additional point if they win all three hands (known as a scoop). 

6. Additional Scoring & Royalties

When playing Chinese poker, or Open-face Chinese poker, there are always points to be collected and money to be won. Depending on the game, different players may also challenge one another to different stakes. Players 1 and 2 may agree to wager $50 per unit while the rest of the table play for $10. This will need to be agreed upon beforehand. 

Chinese poker has a few specific royalties (or bonuses) that can be played per game. Remember that these royalties must be declared and agreed upon before the start of the game. Some of the most common royalties (bonus point scores) awarded include a straight flush, four of a kind, a full house, and a three of a kind. 

Some other common royalties include combinations like quads or better, a full house or better in the middle, and trips at the top. Additionally, being dealt one thirteen-card hand (running from 2 to A), or getting thirteen cards without a single face card will get you additional royalties. 

Open-Face Chinese Poker Rules

Open-face Chinese poker online (OFC poker online) is very similar to traditional Chinese poker, but with a few key differences.

The dealing structure changes the gameplay and brings in an interesting prediction element, where you’ll need to anticipate which card combinations you’re likely to get as the game progresses. Below are the steps needed to play Open-face Chinese poker online for money.

1. Hands

Whereas traditional Chinese poker gives you all thirteen cards at once, Open-face Chinese poker releases cards in stages. To start, you’ll receive five face-up cards, with one card at a time being added to your hand (across 8 separate rounds) until you reach thirteen. Dealing moves from left to right, with points awarded for the strongest hand. 

2. Key Similarities

Open-face and traditional Chinese poker have similar gameplay, point structures, and betting protocols. Both formats require players to create three unique hands, with the 5-card bottom hand being the strongest, followed by the middle hand (also 5 cards), and the top hand (3 cards). Open-face Chinese poker scoring is calculated in much the same way. 

3. Open-Face Chinese Poker Bonuses

Two bonuses unique to Open-face Chinese poker are Fantasy Land and Shooting the Moon. 

Fantasy Land is awarded to a front hand with a pair of Queens (or stronger). Get a Fantasy Land combo and in the next round, you’ll have all thirteen cards dealt to you in one go, while everyone else will play open-face rules (i.e five with 8 more cards after that). 

Although rare, the Shoot for the Moon bonus gives a player 20 units from all other players if they manage to secure a J-high in their backhand without fouling.

Play Free Chinese Poker Online

BetOnline poker suite homepage - games

If you’re new to poker and still learning the ropes, then free play is the way to go. All the biggest online casinos offer free play on a variety of different titles. Simply head over on-site, select your chosen game from the dropdown and see if there is an option to play in free or demo mode. 

While more common with video poker and slots, demo mode is sometimes offered for Chinese poker and other leading tables. With demo mode, you’ll be able to perfect your strategy, analyze different hands, and school up on certain poker variants without having to wager for real. 

When it comes time to put your newfound knowledge to the test, you can head over to the cashier’s page and transfer funds to get started. Some online casinos that offer regular demo mode options include Ignition and Bovada.

Moreover, freeroll tournaments are common and an added incentive for online poker players. With freeroll tournaments, players can enter freely and share in a community pot when placing freeroll hands. Some of the best freeroll tournaments take place at BetOnline and Bovada. 

Chinese Poker Hand Ranking

BetOnline homepage - Chinese poker hand rankings

The aim of Chinese poker is to collect and redeem as many points as possible using the strongest three-hand card combinations. The game runs according to standard poker hand rankings but differs in its overriding betting structure. Below are the different Chinese poker hands, running from best to worst.

Player’s Hand  Definition
Royal Flush  A straight/flush combo of the same suit, running from 10 to Ace. I.e, 10-J-Q-K-A of hearts.
Straight Flush  A step down from a royal flush. Suited hands in sequence. I.e, 2-3-4-5-6 of spades.
Four-of-a-Kind  Four cards of the same value. I.e, 6-6-6-6.
Full House  Three of a kind along with an additional pair. I.e, Q-Q-Q-3-3.
Flush  Five cards of the same suit that don’t make a complete straight. I.e, 2-6-8-J-K or clubs.
Straight  Five cards, running in a sequence that doesn’t make a flush. I.e, 5-6-7-8-9. 
Three-of-a-Kind  Three cards of the exact same value. I.e, 8-8-8.
Two Pairs  Two pairs of cards with the same value. I.e, 10-10-K-K.
Pair Two cards of the exact same value. I.e, J-J.
High Card  The total value of your highest card. I.e, Q, K, or A.

What are the Chinese Poker Odds?

If you’re looking to play Chinese poker or Open-face Chinese poker online for money, having a decent understanding of hand distribution percentages and the overriding odds at play can make all the difference between gaining or losing points (units). 

Most of the time, you can summarize your odds of winning into a few key takeaways. A vast majority of the time, your front hand will comprise a high-ranking pair, your middle hand will consist of a pair or two pairs, and your bottom hand will be reserved for high-value combinations, such as full houses and flushes. 

Having the right information at hand, together with leading software that can help you analyze and measure different card combinations may just give you the upper hand that you need to succeed in Chinese poker. You’ll know which cards carry higher success rates (like an A-K-high flush vs. a 10-high flush) and you’ll be able to use this to your advantage.

Hand Ranking:  Front: Middle:  Back:
High Card  54.57% 6.12% 0.01%
Pair  47.10% 34.01% 2.25%
Two-Pairs  0.02% 28.67% 10% 
Three-of-a-Kind 0.45% 10.06% 0.29% 
Straight  0.01% 18.22% 17.64$
Flush  0.01% 7.35% 32.46%
Full House 0.01% 0.58% 34.17%
Four-of-a-Kind 0% 0.02% 2.87%
Straight Flush  0% 0.02% 0.99%
Royal Flush  0% 0% 0.32%

Keep in mind that a Chinese poker game can vary slightly depending on the scoring systems agreed on. The 2–4 scoring method dictates that a player will get back one unit for each of the three hands they’re able to win outright. One unit is also awarded to players who win two out of three, or all three hands. 

The Best Chinese Poker Strategy

Traditional and Open-face Chinese poker strategies share key components and steps. But regardless of the format, once you know your standard poker hand rankings, bonuses, and point structures, you’ll be able to claim the table and hone your skills in the process. Here are a few key need-to-knows for playing Chinese poker. 

1. Know the Points Structure and Try Not to Foul

Spend time learning the different points structures and royalties. Know which hands stand to reward the most points and how you can use this information to your advantage. Remember that points are taken away when a hand is placed down in the wrong order (fouling). So, always make sure your hands are revealed in the right sequence. 

2. Pay Equal Attention to All Three Hands

Tap into the right Chinese poker combos by utilizing all three hands. Although smaller, your front hand still makes up a significant portion of your overall hand. Try to build medium to strong hands for the front, middle, and back. The added value that comes from having three decent hands to declare may rack up additional points and help you secure higher payouts. 

3. Play Smaller Stakes

Chinese poker is a high-variance card game, and losing hands can become costly. It’s advisable to play smaller hands when you’re first starting out. Get a good feel for the table, see which card combinations you are able to muster up, and accumulate small to medium wins in stages. Once you’ve perfected your strategy, you can look into higher bets. 

4. Take Advantage of Multiple Pairs

Occasionally you’ll be dealt a hand with 4 pairs. This is automatically a powerful combination and the best recourse would be to place the bottom two pairs in the top hand, the 2nd best pair in the top hand, and the best pair in the middle. The goal is to get a scoop on all three, and splitting the four pairs in this way will give you the best possible outcome.

5. Prevent Players Scooping You

If your opponent beats your top, middle, and bottom hand, they will be awarded an additional scoop bonus. Wherever possible, try to avoid this by cementing your bottom hand as the strongest possible combination. And by the same account, if you’re dealt three standalone strong hands, you’ll be able to scoop your opponent with the best combination.

Top 5 Tips on How to Win at Chinese Poker

1. Play for Free First

One of the best ways to get to grips with the game is to play Chinese poker free online. Most of the top poker sites offer the option to play a multitude of different poker titles (including, at times, Chinese poker) in demo mode without having to wager a cent. 

Not only is this a great way to explore the poker suite or casino platform to the fullest, but you’re also able to take your time, work on your strategy and get to grips with different point structures, pay tables, and in-game bonuses.

2. Consistent Chinese Poker Strategy

Once you start putting the Chinese poker online strategies into practice, you’ll become more confident in your ability to hold your position at the table. However, consistency is key. Once you’ve found a particular method that works, you should be regularly implementing it across multiple hands and multiple games. 

The more confident you become in your ability to read the table, the more likely you are to predict certain outcomes while analyzing your opponents and their coinciding hands. A consistent strategy can be used to full effect in friendly games or bigger events, like a real money Open-face Chinese poker tournament. 

3. Know When to Surrender

Some Chinese poker variants will give you the option to surrender your hand, but in doing so you’ll stand to lose points to the opposition. You should only really surrender your hand when you have a high probability of being scooped by other opponents at the table.

By surrendering, you’ll likely lessen the damage of being scooped and you won’t be obligated to pay any additional royalties out to your opponents. 

4. Use the Welcome Bonus

All the best online poker suites will offer a warm welcome bonus for new players making their first deposit. You can use this offer to your advantage when signing up on site. Use the relevant promo code and meet the wagering criteria in order to unlock additional funds on site. 

You can also use your welcome bonus in collaboration with other onsite incentives, like reloads, freerolls, top-ups, and similar. Choose your preferred game, perfect your strategy, and unlock top bonuses along the way for the highest possible returns. 

5. Always Know the Rules of the Game

As mentioned earlier on, Chinese poker has two main variants. In standard Chinese poker, you’re looking to create 3 top hands with 13 cards dealt straight out. In the Open-face version, you’re looking to create the same top 3 hands, but with staggered cards, dealt out in increments after each bet (to a total of thirteen).  

With the above said, always familiarize yourself with the rules of the game. Take in any aspects of play that will help you gain the upper hand, including different starting positions, betting rounds, buy-ins, hand rankings, and point structures. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to rival the competition and win the pot. 

Playing Chinese Poker on Mobile  

As mobile gaming continues to soar in popularity, the best online suites and platforms are tailoring their offering with mobile poker apps. And while you won’t find a dedicated Chinese poker app, you will be able to play a variety of top poker titles directly from your mobile device. 

The poker software itself is fully compatible with both Android and iOS devices. You can opt to play on the mobile-optimized desktop site, or download the dedicated poker app from one or more platforms, including BetOnline and Bovada, either on the site itself or on the App Store. 

While, for the most part, platform poker software tends to run seamlessly on mobile, with simple navigation and intuitive UI, you may still find yourself struggling to set or change bet limits when wagering on a smaller screen.

More on poker…

Once you’ve learnt the ropes of Chinese poker, you may want to test the waters and gravitate to some new and exciting poker variants and styles. Browse through the best poker platforms and find your favorite tables, including pot-limit, fixed-limit, and no-limit games. Below are a few top poker resources to set you on your way. 

Best Chinese Poker Site in the US

Chinese poker is still rather niche across US poker sites and is not readily available. There is however a range of other top poker titles, varieties, and formats to side with. That said, our pick for the best all-around poker platform goes to BetOnline. Their range of leading promotions and tournaments, top-tier titles, lower house rakes, and freeroll incentives make BetOnline a go-to poker platform in 2023.

Additionally, the site offers an enticing 100% up to $1,000 poker welcome offer for new players. You will also find poker promotions from time to time to help you improve your profits even further. Start playing the best Chinese poker or Open-face Chinese poker online at  BetOnline. 


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Joe has been writing full-time about online poker and other forms of gambling since 2016. He has written hundreds of reviews, How-To guides, strategy tips and more, about sports betting, casino gaming, and poker. In his own time Joe is a keen sports bettor, with a particular focus on football, the NBA, and the NFL. He also enjoys playing poker, with Texas Hold'em being his variant of choice.