Thursday, September 27, 2007

Chinese Poker

The bad news about WNP last night was that it was four handed. The good news is that it allowed Chinese Poker to sneak its way into the rotation! Such a silly game. Maybe not a lot of skill involved but you want to at least adhere to basic strategy. Who woulda figured? For those that are not familiar, Chinese Poker is where each player is dealt 13 cards and must order them into two different five card poker hands and a three card poker hand. The three card poker hand can only be trips, a pair or high cards, no three card straights or flushes, and obviously no quads or boats, duh. The trick is that each hand needs to be stronger than the one before it. There is a rules guide on Tiger Gaming which comically enough has an example hand of trips up front, quads in the middle, and a straight flush in back (results not typical). I also found some helpful hints on PokerNews.com. Scoring is by points won by having one of your rows beat other players' rows. Payouts are on a pre-determined amount of chips per point.

Didn't realize this until I read more today but there are also some "auto-win" hands which scoop everyone. If there are multiple players with hands in the "clean sweep" group then the higher one wins. The granddaddy of them all is a 13 card straight flush not surprisingly. Stands to reason that anyone with a Royal Flush or Straight Flush in back and a Straight Flush in the middle is likely to win even though their front is going to be "only" AKQ at best. Second is a 13 card straight. 3rd is a 12 card flush. 4th is 3 of a kind with 5 pairs (quads qualify as two pairs for this). 5th is three straights, one for each row. 6th is three flushes. The 7th and last one (actually came up a couple of times but we didn't know the rules) is six pair. Payouts on those vary based on the rank.

There are variations but two that stood out to me are:
* Greg Raymer's twist where everyone gets 17 cards and you make the normal 3-5-5 sets but you also add in a four card Badugi hand!
* A high-low-high version where you try to make your front and back hands the best you can but make the middle hand the worst possible hand you can based on 2-7 lowball rules where straights, flushes, and Aces all are bad to have.

A great way to kill time and swap chips around! Maybe even make some money like when Ivey took $536K off of Hellmuth in one night playing $2000/point. Oh and Chinese Poker is (OK...*was*, 95 and 96) an official WSOP event.

5 comments:

Sushi Cowboy said...

There are two kinds of poker players out there, the ones who love to play Chinese Poker and those who haven't tried it! Tiger Gaming allows you to play Chinese Poker with play money so now you can practice all you want in preparation for next time we're short handed and/or waiting for others to show up.

Also, we were scoring incorrectly. Each hand pays each other player's hand individually. So your three card hand could lose money to a better hand but still come out ahead by beating the other two hands. With no bonus payouts, you could be out 9 points if your hands were worse than everyone else's in each row. That changes things since you know your Ace high flush is not going to lose to a boat but that it will likely be better than two other hands and worth playing in the back.

Sushi Cowboy said...

OK, I've played some online Chinese Poker. After blowing couple hundred of my $1K bankroll on rookie errors (like not setting valid hands) I've worked on my technique and I think at it's highest level it is going to be a combination of following a basic strategy of how to play hands generically (two trips/two pairs, double flushes, razgus, double straights, five pairs, etc.) with some rock, paper, scissors thrown in there also. You'd like to scoop each row but not many hands are that strong so you usually have to come in relatively light on one of them but which one? I think the advanced players will try to psych each other out and switch their game up. Maybe totally abandon hope on the three card hand and pour all resources into the other two. Or maybe lock in a solid back row and front row but know you are going to get smoked in the middle.

I'm finding that Chinese Poker is all about resource management and using *just enough* in each row to beat most hands but not to waste extra cards unnecessarily. If you have quads in back and enough for a boat in the middle, should you essentially guarantee a win in the back two rows with quads and a boat or do you want to go with trips and a pair instead? I was finding myself making decisions based on how I saw the other players building their sets.

Still learning though.

Sushi Cowboy said...

Bad beat online. My buy-in was dwindling and at the time I didn't know how to add on more chips while still at the table. Down to $10 but figured that if I win, I'll build it back up but if I lose then I can reload and go again.

It's a full four handed table and I pick up the following hand:
AhKhQhJhTh7h QsTs9s7s6s4s Qd
Actually, be default they give it to you in ascending rank order but I always click the button to sort by suits to so I can check my flush options. Sweet, I can do double flushes in my back two rows which is strong and I can even lop off the Qs from the second flush to give me Queens up front since any flush in the middle is strong and I doubt that there is going to be a J high flush which would be the only hand that loses to my Q high but beats my T high.

Then as I look more carefully, I don't just have two flushes, I have a freaking Royal in Hearts. I could also do a K high straight flush and hold out the A for my kicker but since I have three Q's, kicker won't be an issue. I forget if I'm at an Eastern scoring table with bonus payouts for high hands like Royals or Western which just score normally. To be safe I use the Royal in back to potentially get extra points and there is no place the Ah is going to do any good. So back row is AhKhQhJhTh.

Time for the second row. I go ahead and forgo the Q high flush for T high, then I notice that I was one card off from a T high straight flush...for my middle!

All of my leftovers add up to a pair of Queens with no possibility of being outkicked. I'm not sure the Queens will hold but I've got the back locked and very high confidence in the middle too.

Time expires and it's time to showdown. One player has an AcKcQcJc9c flush, one card off from tying my Royal. THAT would have sucked. Eights full of Fives loses. And a lowly 6 high straight is dead last.

My middle is up against Threes and Deuces two pair, Aces and Nines two pair, and a pair of Sixes bringing up the rear.

Now the moment of truth, my QQ7 front ends up facing a pair for Fours, high card K(JT), and another high card K(J7).

Booyah! I sweep all three other hands. $5/point, three points from each plus a bonus point, three opponents. $5 * (3+1) * 3 = $60 plus whatever bonus points might be coming my way if I'm at an Eastern scoring table.

The client churns the numbers and I see the grand total of $20. What?!?!?! I hastily get the Grab app open so I can capture the hand history window before it redraws from the next hand. It says that I won $10 from one player. I guess this is like table stakes where you can win only what you have in front of you. I was thinking that I should have at least gotten $10 from each player like in Hold'em but since I couldn't pay everyone $10 then I guess that makes sense too.

An tough way to learn a lesson but now I know. Just like limit there is no drawback (apart from possible bankroll management issues) to buying in heavy so now I make sure to have at least $100 on the table at all times. Ouch.

Bob Loblaw said...

Hmmm, I’m going to have to take you on in the Chinese Poker room at Tiger Gaming, I think.

D’oh! PC only. Why do all these sites hate me so. I can’t be the only Mac-using non-VMware machine out there. Such a lost source of (fake and real) revenue.

Sushi Cowboy said...

Yes, all the "play rake" that they are missing out on from you!