Open Face Chinese Poker: The Problem With the Flush

Published on Mar 23rd, 2013

Often, I find myself going for a flush down low, as it is one of the most common royalties to make. But, sometimes going for a flush isn't the right play, and there are some significant issues with playing for flushes in Open Face Chinese Poker. The four-point bonus is great, but trying to make it can often leave you with a hand that doesn't build well and is all-or-nothing at the end. You can play OFC using this mobile app.

If you are dealt four to a flush, it is usually a no-brainer to put them on the bottom. If you quickly complete your flush, you have the chance to build a huge hand with very few limitations on your other two lines and have the opportunity to develop huge royalties, especially up top.

But, say you have 10-8-5-4 of spades on the bottom and, six draws in, you haven't completed your flush. Now, you are working with ten-high on the bottom and have been building a hand where your backup plan is to make a pair, but even if you do so, that pair will only be ten-high. At this point, you went from what looks like to a strong starting hand to hoping you make your flush in order to avoid fouling.

With the four-flush to start, the odds are in your favor more than enough to go for it, and the power of completing early and building a big hand adds value too. But, I am more and more finding myself not always going for the flush when I only have three to a suit, depending on what the three are and what my other two cards are.

If the flush cards are relatively large and give me a decent chance to back out early and transition into making pairs and trying to notch my opponent on each line, then I'll put them on the bottom. If the flush cards are low and unconnected, I am more inclined to start with a pair and a live card on the bottom, killing my shot at a flush.

This gives me a shot at backing into a full house or quads, but more often, it just gives me a chance to develop my hand with pairs and bigger cards in the middle and top that can beat my opponent on those lines. In a worst-case scenario, it usually gives me a shot at winning somewhere to avoid a scoop.

Playing for the flush can also cause you to kill your top hand early, which gives your opponent a chance to lock up a win with a weak hand up top and takes away any chance of them getting scooped. When this happens, you are often drawing to a flush to avoid getting scooped and winning the bottom line only for a net of three points even though you made the royalty (lost one point in the hand match-ups plus four for the royalty).

Winning three points is great, but scooping for six is better. When you don't make your flush, you are usually fouling or getting scooped anyway, even if you back into a pair.

To clarify, this is not saying you shouldn't go for flushes. The flush will always be a big part of Open Face Chinese Poker and one of the most common royalties. But, be aware of how it impacts the progression of your hand and that certain flush builds can really handcuff your ability to develop a strong hand, leaving you vulnerable to medium and weak hands your opponent may have.

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Court Harrington has worked on the business side of the poker industry in roles including tournament reporting for PocketFives, radio hosting for PokerRoad Radio, coaching for the WSOP Academy and privately, and a variety of behind-the-scenes responsibilities for poker media businesses. He also plays in cash games and tournaments. Harrington is currently doing consulting work and exploring business opportunities outside of the poker industry. You can contact him at

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