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Solving Open-Face Chinese Poker Introduction

Solving Open-Face Chinese Poker Introduction

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Published by Derric Haynie
Take a quick preview to the book that will revolutionize the OFC world.
Take a quick preview to the book that will revolutionize the OFC world.

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Categories:Book Excerpts
Published by: Derric Haynie on Oct 17, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Open-face Chinese poker has gone from a game that had rarely been played or heard of, to having events at many major tournaments across the world including the PCA1 and the WSOP2, as well having tables frequently running at all the major card rooms. The game is fascinating because while you only have three choices (or less) each time it is your turn, you have a lot of information you need to gather in order to make the best decision. Also, like in other games such as Chess or Backgammon, each situation is very likely to be unique. In fact, the numbers of unique combinations of ways a hand can play out far outnumber the number of stars in the observable universe or the number of grains of sand on the planet. So in order to play your best, it will help to have some simplification, probability, and pattern-recognition tools at your disposal, and the goal of this book is to help you build those tools. The ultimate goal when trying to find your best decision is to figure out the EV – expected value – of each of your decision options (usually: top, middle, or bottom). To properly estimate your best decision option you need to intuitively understand the probability of and relationship between:  Each of your hand’s winning/losing vs. your opponent‘s/opponents’ hands  Winning/losing royalty points  Each person fouling  You scooping  You getting scooped Once you take in all of this information, you will commonly find yourself in a unique spot (much like other forms of poker) that demands a blend of on-the-fly math and intuition in order to come to a quick decision (within what is usually a rather limited amount of time). This creates a plethora of complex puzzles to solve, which I think is what fascinates people with this game and drives them to play it (that and the generic reasons why people like to gamble). But at the same time, the game is not as complex as other forms of poker. You only get three choices. You don’t get to choose to bet, check, raise, or fold each street; you simply just play the card in the best spot each time. Once you memorize some outs-probability charts, become familiar with conditional probability, can calculate pot odds or risk/reward scenarios, learn patternrecognition techniques, and understand basic abstractions and simplifications,
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you will find that this game is much simpler than pretty much all other forms of poker (and Chess and Backgammon), despite being much more complicated than the original Chinese poker. Unlike most poker games, OFCP can be played vs. yourself (which I highly recommend) and still be very challenging. This is because each decision is entirely based on a board configuration and not a “range” or opponent strategy like in NLHE – No Limit Hold ‘Em – and other forms of poker. Another important difference of this game is the near negligible effect your opponent’s strategy makes on your decision. In most situations there is just one clearly best play3, and this play is congruent with playing to your opponent’s weaknesses because it is playing to the current board configuration. They can’t hide their hand strength, have an unbalanced range, be trapping, etc., etc. You just see their board, and your board, and make the best decision. You don’t need to study the player(‘s), or understand the complexities of their strategy/strategies or psyche(‘s) nearly as much as you would need to in a game like NLHE. And this is because you can see their “hand” – or board in this case. Now, there are specific opponents that gamble, or foul, too much that would generally encourage you to play in a safer way pretty much all the time, but even versus the worst of opponents you will usually just want to study their current board and make your best decision from there, rather than assume they will go “All-in”4 on the next card. The purpose of this book is to get you to being able to play perfectly regardless of opponent (the GTO – game theoretically optimal – approach), and then it will be on you to make any adjustments you see fit based on the tendencies of your opponent(s). But, I would like to warn you that overadjusting and constantly “playing it safe” will likely cost you money as it can lead to you actually missing many +EV opportunities of your own.


In all situations there is a best play, or two-three plays of exactly equal value, but the best play isn’t always the clearly best play. 4 “All-in” in the case of OFC will mean to set your hand in a very risky way in which you will need to improve to a strong hand in order to avoid fouling. Oftentimes it will be associated with going to Fantasyland (setting QQ+ up top), or a gamble of similar nature. If you “miss” your hand you will foul, but when you “hit,” hopefully you will be rewarded.

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