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 more. Today it’s opening with Straights and Straight Draws. Stay tune and enjoy the Fantasy-ride!
As explained earlier, we are now covering a crucial subject in OFC: your openings. The way you will chose 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’ll see how to handle opening with Straights.
We are studying optimum openings in order of the highest starting hands by ranking, and we already covered the top poker hands:
Recently, we started reviewing the next category of openings: Opening with Straights and Straight Draws.
Let’s now move to the next possible scenario in this category:
Possibility Number 5: King-high Straights
In this new scenario, you get 2 Fantasyland cards among your made Straight. Since this game is all about accessing Fantasyland, placing your King in the middle and your Queen on top is usually a pretty good start. Scarifying these two major cards for just a Straight is not the prime play.
But what about the remaining cards? Most players will automatically place 9-10-J in the back, because these are connecting cards, and this is a combination that looks good and powerful all together. Almost like holding J-10 in NLH while facing 3 opponents, it is easy to lure yourself here thinking that completing that line will be a laidback task. Indeed, such an initial placement would be wrong, and for several reasons:
- The very best hand you can hope to achieve in the back with this opening is a Straight which is a reward worth only 2 points.
- Your opponents, playing after you, will know for sure that their Flush beats your bottom, inspiring them into pursing such draws with the objective of scooping you.
- Since you need to hit King-Queen almost everywhere to make a perfect hand, your chances of completing all rows with the same cards are very limited.
For all these reasons, it will be best not to play 9-10-J in the back.
How to play this opening the optimal way then? It depends on the suits:
- If all off suits: Play J-10 on the bottom and 9 in the middle with the King.
- If J-10 or J-9 are suited: Play these two on the bottom and the remaining card in the middle with the King.
- If 10-9 are suited: Play these two on the bottom and the Jack on top.
Jack on top? Say Whaaaaat???
Yep, you should play your Jack on top for multiple reasons:
- Because you are usually looking at two pairs 10-high in the back if you can’t close your Flush, the Jack in the middle won’t do two pairs for you and therefore makes no sense.
- You already have a King in place in the middle, so the next best card you can place on top after your Queen is a Jack.
- Jacks on top will get you 6 points Royalty, which is the same bonus as a Full House in the back.
- Anytime your opponents don’t access Fantasyland, you will usually win that row with a pair of Jacks and might scoop the entire board.
- This play leaves more space to make a pair of Aces in the middle if you can’t manage to hit another King.
In the end, the only time when you will place your 9-10-J in the back will be when they are all suited.
Be aware of the reasons why you make every single decision in OFC. That’s how you will become a winning player!
Rendezvous next week for the continuation of these series of tips on Open Face Chinese Poker!
Isabelle “No Mercy” Mercier
OFC “Progressive” World Champion