It seems like it's hard to mess up Fantasyland. After all, you see all your cards at once. Beyond avoiding
an obvious mis-set, are you acheiving highest situational hand strength and max value from your opponent(s)?
OFC Theory: The "Cannibals": Cards that merge draw and value ranges, adding to one row while simultaneously
subtracting from another.
OPEN FACE ODDS
HEADS UP STRATEGY
Categories: Beginner Strategy, First Five
August 24, 2013
HU 1st to act
What to do with this collection of ..... well, trash?
It's a very nice thing when you are dealt a monster first five cards in Open Face Chinese Poker. Q/KK/AA, for example,
is a coin flip for Fantasyland, and it's likely you'd wrap up the middle
row with KK, where a single pair or even ace-high is often good. Alternatively, if you set x/Q/KKAA, you still have the same
shot at pairing the Q, and about a 60% chance to make a nut full house in back.
Another good-looking first five cards is 4 to a flush, which has over an 85% shot to get there.
Then, of course, there's your standard luckbox first five - a flush, boat, or quads in the hole - which will
obviously be set in the back row giving you many options for filling out the middle and front.
But like in any other poker game, you are not always dealt the perfect hole cards. So how can you maximize value
and/or control the damage from being way behind at the start of the hand?
The simple answer: front row pair royalties.
For beginning Open Face players, the scoring potential of the
front row is often overlooked.
Because making back row royalties is relatively commonplace and Fantasyland requirements begin at
QQ or better in the front, it's easy to disregard the value of medium-strength pairs
in front. But there is certainly scoring value to be found here.
Front row scoring begins at 66 (+1), and even a banal pair of sevens will yield the same
score (+2) as a back row straight. 99 is equivalent to probably the most common back row royalty - the flush.
[For a full chart of front row scoring, refer to our
Since the above five cards are unlikely to make any major royalty in the back row (and are likely to be behind any back row royalty draws
the opponent may have), we can try to counteract the scoop and royalty points with our own pair royalty up front. We are basically
conceding the back row to the opponent, but are gaining equity elsewhere.
<-- Odds to improve: 67%
Since we are a 67% favorite to
improve the back row with the 226, any 7, 8, or 10 will go in the front to give us
up to 6 outs to catch a pair. We will then be looking to put any J, Q, K or A in the middle row, also adding outs to pair up.
Note that this set is in no immediate danger of fouling. And if we do end up fouling, consider that our opponent may be well
on the way to scooping us with a superior starting hand anyway, which would yield the same scoring result (-6) as our mis-set.
The tactic here is mainly damage control. It's techically possible for us to boat up in back, catch JJ or better in the middle, pair our 9 in front and scoop. Add
opponent fouling to the list of possible run-good gifts. But we won't assume the poker gods our on our side, and instead
focus on the nitty-gritty of the 'weak' hand defense.
Let's say our
opponent flushes the back, but we win the middle (JJ) and front (99). We have avoided the scoop, winning 2 of three rows for
+1 point, and we have completely counterbalanced the flush royalty of +4 with the 99. If our opponent boats the back row and two-pairs
the middle to win 2 of three rows, they would score +7, but since we hit our 99 their total haul will be reduced to
+3. And if we do run good, we could be looking at a +6 to +16 point win depending on making the front row pair, the back row
boat, and possible opponent fouling.
On our ODDS CHARTS page, you can find a larger version of the following table which
outlines some of the royalty equivalencies the front row pair has to offer.
So, before becoming despondent about not getting to FL every time or losing big, consider whether a medium pair in front
can save the day!