No Mercy Monday February 1

Part 59 – Opening with One Pair (Part 2)

Welcome to my personal blog on OFC Pineapple (Open Face Chinese Poker). Week after week, we’ll go over the history of the game, basic rules, and recommendations, anecdotes from the players, more advanced strategies, hand analysis, and etc. Stay tuned and enjoy the Fantasy-ride! 

As explained earlier, we are now covering a crucial subject in OFC: your openings. The way you will choose to place your initial 5 cards will be the foundation of your hand and it represents a key decision.

Remember that one of the ultimate goals in Chinese Poker is to reach Fantasyland, so starting with the most effective placement will greatly help you get there! 

We are studying optimum openings in order of the highest starting hands by ranking, and we already covered the top poker hands:  

We are now studying the next category by ranking order of hands: Opening with One pair. 

As we saw last week, when you receive one pair in the opening along with 3 random cards (that are not 3 cards flush), the rule is clear and simple with very few exceptions: 

Any pair from 22 to KK will go in the back, and AA will go in the middle

You can relate to last week blog post to read more on the exceptions that will occur when you get dealt another fantasy card on top of a big pair, such as KK with a single Queen, or QQ along with an Ace and a King. 

This week, we will focus on the placement of the 3 remaining cards along with your dealt pair. 

  • A single fantasy card will always go on top, in which case the 2 remaining cards would go in the middle. 
  • As for 3 small cards, you will want to slightly vary your plays between getting higher chances of making a full-full in the back and in the middle, versus making higher pairs or bonuses such as flushes in the middle, depending on how connected your cards are. 

Remember that if you start with a hand such as KK8 in the back and you complete the hand, 70% of these premium hands will end of as Quads or Kings full, while 30% will end up as Eights full.  

Here are a few examples to illustrate this and to give you an idea of the optimal openings with one pair.


A great play would be K-K-10 bottom with 7-6 middle to give you a shot at full-full or at making a straight in the middle. 


The best play here would be K-K-J bottom with 10-9 middle for the same reason as above. Remember that it is never optimal to play 3 cards straights in the back in the first position. 

Therefore, if you were first to act and tempted to play J-10-9 bottom along with your KK in the middle or on top, you should know that it would not be the correct play in the long run. 


The optimal play here would be to place K-K-3 in the back along with 9-8 in the middle.

This will allow you to have connecting cards in the middle that can develop into a straight or it can allow you to make big pairs in the middle such as 2 pairs 9 high, which will very often beat your opponents’ middle line.

It usually seems more intuitive to place the highest cards in the back, such as K-K-9 in the back along with 8-3 in the middle, but it would not be the best play as your 8-3 are not connecting cards in any way.

So, it does not open any real possibility in the middle for you, aside from the rare full house in the back / full house in the middle case. 

The situation would be completely different with the following:

K – K – 9  8 of diamond  3 of diamond 

Since you have 2 suited cards here, the other variables, such as straight possibilities or higher cards, would not come as an important factor here.

The best starting placement would be K-K-9 in the back along with your 8-3 of diamonds in the middle.  

Be aware of the reasons why you make every single decision in OFC. That’s how you will become a winning player! 

And remember that accessing Fantasyland stays a number 1 goal in this game and you may find yourself with crazy hands such as this one: 

Rendezvous in the next blog posts for the continuation of these series of tips on Open Face Chinese Poker. 

Meet me at the OFC tables on CoinPoker to practice your skills and enjoy the action. Open yourself a  CoinPoker account today. Welcome to Fantasyland! 

Isabelle “No Mercy” Mercier 

OFC “Progressive” World Champion 

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