While we were playing during the Super Bowl, we got to talking about Fantasyland. For those who don’t know, Fantasyland is a variant of open face chinese poker in which you get a special bonus for setting a legal hand with QQ or better in the front. The bonus is that you get to look at all 13 cards at once (instead of seeing five cards to start and then one at a time) before you set your next hand, as if you were setting a normal chinese poker hand. The Fantasyland bonus is obviously worth a lot, but it’s unclear to me exactly how much.
So I put the question to you – how much is Fantasyland worth? How many points do you average in a hand when you are in Fantasyland? I look forward to your responses.
I was thinking yesterday – is there any starting hand with four of one suit where you would not play the four suited cards together in the back? The best candidate would be something like:
Ad Ac 8c 7c 6c
Put the aces in the middle? This way of setting it is particularly enticing if you’re playing fantasyland scoring.
Then as I was writing this post, I thought, what about breaking up a starting hand with five suited cards?
As 8s 7s 6s 5s
Play the ace in the middle and go for the straight flush? Depending on what the bonus for a straight flush is in your scoring system, it might be worth it.
What do you guys think?
Happy New Year.
Consider the starting hand AAKKx. The obvious way to play it is to put the two pair in the back and try to make a full house, which you are a small favorite to accomplish (assuming you haven’t seen any other cards). But what about two aces in the back and two kings in the middle? I like this way of setting the hand because two kings are very likely to win the middle and because you can set yourself up to make a royalty pair in the front. Splitting up the pairs gives you a much better chance to scoop, while playing them both in the back gives you a better shot at the royalty. I’m still undecided on the best way to play this. The fifth card in your hand does matter. For example if it’s a queen, I think it’s pretty clear you should split the pairs and play the queen in the front, giving yourself three outs for a 7-point royalty (versus four outs for a 6-pointer with the full house draw) in addition to the greater chance to scoop. With a small card in your hand it’s less clear to me. Also, if an ace or king is dead, I think splitting the pairs is clearly better.
I would be interested to hear any feedback you all have on this hand.
**EDIT** With the recent popularity of fantasyland, I thought I would edit this post to say that if you’re playing by those rules, it’s clear to me you should put the queen in the front.
Sometimes you just have a bad hand. In this one, my opponents held:
Kd 6d 3d 2d
I was staring at:
There were three dead diamonds in addition to the four in the back hand of my second opponent. I picked up the 3 of clubs from the deck. The obvious play seems to be to make a pair of 3s in the front, but doing so makes it pretty unlikely you will end up with a legal hand. In the three cards you have left, you have to hit an 8, 6, or 5 (four outs) AND you have to make your back hand beat whatever pair you made in the middle. I decided the better play was to put the 3 in the back. I’m taking my chances that one of my opponents fouls his hand, which seems more likely than the scenario where I end up with a legal hand after pairing my 3s.
Today I was dealt:
Qs Jc Ts 9s 9d
I was first to act. I think there are three reasonable ways to play this hand:
Qs Ts 9s
I like #1 least. The three-flush is decent, but I don’t think it’s worth breaking up the pair of nines for. Also, if you hit another jack and put it in the middle, you risk fouling your hand by not making better than two jacks in the back.
#2 has some good things going for it. You start yourself off with a strong middle hand and you have nine outs plus running pairs and running straight cards to make your back hand beat a pair of nines. You can also set up your top hand with small/medium cards that are live and feel safe pairing them as the hand progresses.
#3 is also attractive. You have eight outs to make a straight, get the royalty bonus, and set yourself up with a strong back hand.
I set the hand like #3 while playing, but I think #2 might be superior upon further reflection.
What do you think?
Playing three-handed, my opponents showed:
3s 3d 3c 9s
Ad Kd Qd Jd
I was dealt Ac Kc Qs 8h 6h. Normally I would play the ace in the back, but instead I decided on:
My thought process was something like this:
- My opponents have very strong back hands. Given the starting hands, I am very unlikely to win the back against either opponent.
- There are two dead aces, so I am unlikely to pair my ace. Even if I do find the case ace, a pair of aces does me no good in the back.
- Given that I am unlikely to win the back, I need to focus on playing the strongest middle and front that I can while not fouling my hand.
- Playing the ace in the middle doesn’t seem great. An ace high is not very strong in the middle, and if I happen to make a pair of aces I’ll need to make at least two pair in the back, which I’m unlikely to be able to do.
- Ace high is a pretty strong front hand. The risk of playing an ace in the front early in the hand is that you won’t be able to put together a back and middle that both beat ace high (and you’ll foul your hand). This is particularly true when you start with unpaired cards in the back and middle as I did in this hand. However, if I’m already conceding the back to both opponents, and I can’t produce a middle hand that beats ace high, I’m probably going to get scooped by everyone anyway.
What do you think?
Hi. This is a place to talk about strategy for open-face chinese poker. I’ll post some hands and problems that I think are interesting. I hope you enjoy them. Please contribute by commenting or emailing.