Open Face Chinese Poker (OFC) is unusual in a sense, being a new variant of poker that has become widespread and popular. Its earliest sightings were a mere ten years ago in Finland, although most accept the game to have roots in other Chinese poker games. In fact, China can be found at the root of all poker, as games bearing a resemblance to chinese poker were being played with patterned tiles 1,000 years ago.
These games, which include 'Pai Gow,' were the ancestors of chinese poker, and were being played long before similar games spread to Europe. While Finland are credited with early sightings of OFC, Alex Kravhenko is widely regarded as the player who brought this game to the Russian poker community. 2012 saw the game break onto the US poker scene and quickly gather a following.
In terms of live OFC, the 2013 EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo saw the addition of an OFC side event, with a 2,150 Euro buy in and an option for re-entry. 52 players participated, generating a 135,800 Euro prize pool. The 2013 WSOP then followed, offering a USD$5,000 OFC event which attracted 48 runners, all competing for a piece of the $225,600 prize money.
An OFC hand
OFC growth in Asia
The name of OFC, coupled with the knowledge that it has its roots in games which began in China, has perhaps helped to fuel interest in Asia. In september 2014, APT introduced for the first time the OFC Pineapple in a major Asian poker event. Jae Kyung Sim aka Simba will be remembered as the first winner of an OFC trophy in Asia.
The game is certainly becoming more popular, with private games being common, and most APT festivals now including an OFC side event. The recent APT Cambodia continued this trend, and there is two Open Face Chinese Pineapple Shootout scheduled for the APT Finale. The International Poker Open 3 in Manila will also feature a $550 Open Face Chinese Pineapple event.
Simba the first winner of an OFC event in Asia
The main issue with OFC online growth is that the particular mechanics of the game would mean a complicated overhaul of software in order for it to be available to players. For this reason, the biggest online operators have not been tempted to offer the game, but Tonybet have decided to take the online lead in this market, and have also hosted the biggest ever online OFC tournament. Not content with cornering the online OFC market, they also hosted the Tonybet 10,000 Euro live World Championship at King's Casino, Prague, this week. The event attracted 23 hopefuls, and built a prize pool of just over 213,000 Euros. Chess grandmaster from Philadelphia, Jennifer Shahade, took 1st place, and claimed 100,000 Euros in prize money for her victory. Isabelle Mercier recently became a sponsored pro for Tonybet, and will be acting as their OFC ambassador.
Isabelle Mercier, the new face of Tonybet for OFC (Photo TonyBet)
Article by Craig B.
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