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Chinese Poker: Knowing the Basics

Chinese poker is one of the many variations of poker. The origin of this poker variation came from the Chinese game called "pai gow" incorporated with the original poker game. It is actually known by quite a number of different names, depending on which country it is played. Here are some examples:

Chinese poker

  • In Chinese it is known as Luosong Pai Jiu.
  • In Cantonese it is known as Sap Sam Cheung.
  • In the Philippines it is called Pusoy (but not Pusoy Dos which is Big Two).
  • In Vietnam it is called Xap Xam Churong.
  • In America it is sometimes called Russian poker and Good Better Best.
  • and in Hawaii it is known as Pepito.

Chinese poker is not as popular as its other variants like Texas Holdem but it's gaining popularity because of the simplicity of its game mechanics and also because of its online versions. Although Chinese Poker is easier to learn where winning is in part affected by luck, this poker game still needs a considerable human factor which we know as skill. Skill and knowing the ins and outs of the game is the only main difference between a beginner who still has much to learn about this poker game and a pro player who has more know-how than the latter. This way, the beginner still maintains a good chance of winning because of the "luck" factor.

Some people have the tendency to believe that Chinese poker is a complicated game but it is actually just a matter of familiarizing the basic rules and using them strategically. Questions like "What can one do with only thirteen cards?" are usually asked when the rules of Chinese poker are laid out. True enough, one of the basic rules of this poker game is that each player will only get 13 cards to manipulate. Here's a step-by-step list of the most basic rules needed to play Chinese poker:

  • Only two to four players can play.
  • Each player is dealt only thirteen cards.
  • The thirteen cards are then grouped into three poker hands. There will be two poker hands with five cards and one hand with only three which is called the front. The front must have the least strength among the three groups.
  • Each poker hand is matched against the other players' hands to determine the winner. The hierarchy of strength for the poker hands will be used as basis for the winner.
  • The player pays the one whose poker hand strength is higher than his.

Now, most of the time, a game's duration extends during betting. Each time a round of poker hands are shown, the players have to carefully figure out who and how much to pay who and it can take some time to be able to figure this out. Thus, doing away with paying for each win can actually keep one game short.

One of the interesting parts of the Chinese poker game is when the player has to separate the thirteen cards into three poker hands. It is somewhat like solving a puzzle and at the same time strategizing to get the best combination of cards per head to be able to maximize the strength of all three hands.