When you start playing Open Face Chinese Poker (OFC), the game can be confusing and nothing abnormal here. This poker format is indeed very different from other ones since you play with almost all cards open (all players see the 13 cards of other players). To help you get started, here are 5 useful tips for OFC beginners.
1) Look at your board but non only…
When you are a beginner, you tend to focus almost exclusively on your board. It’s normal, you try to place your cards not to bust, and it can take a lot of time and attention. However, in OFC, it is also very important to watch what your opponents are doing. The choices you make will depend on the cards that are visible, so you can calculate how many outs you have if you try to put a flush on the bottom line, for example.
If you don’t know how many heart are already out (let’s suppose it’s the suit you’re trying to make), you’ll bust more frequently. If you look closely at the cards out, you’ll be able to change your strategy and give up your flush in favor of a straight or two pairs for example. There is no 100% pre-defined strategy at OFC.
Of course there are basic placements for the first five cards you are dealt (see our openings section to learn more about that), but apart from that, all your options will be determined by your opponents’ choices. So the key to have an edge is to observe a lot!
2) Learn to count the points and the bonuses!
Whether you play online on a platform like CoinPoker or live, it is essential to learn how to count points and bonuses. Sure, when you play online the computer will count the points and bonuses for you, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to know the points by heart! It is very important to know the points because it can make you radically change your strategy depending on the points you can make.
One of the main qualities of an OFC player is his ability to adapt. If you know how to keep score and how many points you can make depending on the bonus you’ll get, you will make more money in the long run. Sometimes it’s better to “sacrifice” the bottom line and not make a bonus and to go for a big pair on the top line that will take you to Fantasyland (if it’s a pair of queens or better). And if you’re playing live, it’s a necessity to know how to count because it’s not the dealers’ job to keep score, so start practicing now!
3) Don’t hesitate to take (reasonable) risks!
The risk-reward concept at OFC is very different from the one at No Limit Holdem Poker. Why? Because you can’t GO ALL IN in an OFC game. You can BE ALL IN, but that only means you’ve lost all your chips. You don’t choose to go ALL IN, your opponents put you ALL IN! Big difference since it removes the pressure of an aggro opponent. In an OFC game it won’t happen since everyone sees almost all the cards that have been dealt. That said, keep in mind you can nevertheless take risks in an OFC game, but you will do it differently.
Example: if you choose to put three of a kind on the top line when you’re dealt you first 5 cards, you’re taking a lot of risk! Less risky option: put that three of a kind on the bottom line in an attempt to make a foul house. With a three of a kind on the top line, you can potentially make a lot of points (10 points for 2-2-2 and 22 points for A-A-A), but this scenario will happen so rarely that it’s not a reasonable risk. It’s all about experience. It is also tempting when you receive two queens on the first deal to put them on top, but often it’s better to put them on the bottom line.
4) Adapt your game to your position
As in Hold’em Poker, depending on the position you are in (Button, Button+1 or Button+2), you will not adopt the same strategy. If you’re at the button, you have a huge advantage over your opponents because you’ll see many more cards than they do on your turn to act. This will help you to take more or less risk depending on the cards that are visible.
If you see that your opponents have been dealt 7 spades – out of the 13 in the deck -, it is not a good idea to try to make a spade flush even if you are dealt three spades because there are only three left in the entire deck. If you are the first to receive your cards, things are different because you don’t have as much information and in this case, trying to make a flush with three spades is much more legitimate.
Depending on your position, you will see more or less cards before you make your decision, so take advantage of this!
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