Chinese Poker

The Chinese Poker Rules

A variant of poker that is very popular in Asia and among some Americans, Chinese Poker is a card game played by 2, 3 or 4 players. The goal is, as in classic poker, to make combinations of cards of a higher value than those of your opponents. However, in Chinese Poker, you will have to make several combinations on 3 lines in front of you and beat your opponents’ combinations. It is a very interesting and tactical game that sometimes requires a lot of luck.

What you need

  • A deck of 52 classic cards (1 to AS)
  • A sheet of paper to keep track of the scores (and a pencil)

How to play?

Chinese Poker is played in three stages: dealing the cards, setting up the hands and showing the cards.

Dealing the cards

The dealer shuffles the pack of cards, then makes 4 sets of 13 cards. After that it depends on the number of players. 

  • For a two player game, each player takes one set of 13 cards and places them in their hand. The other two sets are kept for the next round. This avoids having to shuffle the cards too often  
  • For a three-player game, each player takes one set of 13 cards, and the last set of cards is put aside. It will not be used.
  • For a four player game, quick calculation… 4 sets for 4 players…. 1 pack per player!  

Setting up the hands

Each player takes note of the cards in his hand and must form three lines of cards on the table, face down: 

  • a first line, the top line, with 3 cards
  • an intermediate (middle) line with 5 cards
  • a back line with 5 cards.

Obviously, these lines are not formed at random, and must follow some precise rules. Remember that we are in a poker game: it’s all about combinations! Thus: 

  • For the top line, suits and straights do not count. Only high cards and pairs count
  • For the middle line, the suits must ALWAYS be higher than the top line.
  • for the back line, the suit formed must be OVER or EQUAL to the middle line.

If your set-up does not follow this rule, your hand is not valid and you will lose points. 


Once the hands are laid face down, the players turn them over one by one, starting with the top row. You will then have to compare the lines of each player as you go along to see which player wins the line.

For each line duel won, the player gains +1 point.

For each line duel lost, the player loses 1 point (-1).

Keeping score

Like any self-respecting poker game, Chinese Poker also has its own system for keeping score. And although the combinations are the same as in classic Poker (Brelans, pairs, straights, etc.), some particularities must be added, because we play on several lines. 

  • A winning hand earns 1 point
  • If a player wins all 3 hands (lines), he/she gets 3 extra points
  • If a player decides to give up a hand (yes yes), he loses 2 points
  • If a player has a “foul” hand, he loses 6 points for each player who does not have a “foul”.
  • You then simply add up the points, taking into account the winner on each line, and you can establish the points.

If you are playing Chinese Poker with money (bets), you can consider 1 point per euro (or dollar).

 End of the game

The game ends when all but one of the players are out of money, or when one player reaches the point limit you set.