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Before the hand is dealt, the players agree on what stakes are in effect. This is always quoted in dollars per point. Then, after the hands are played, each player compares his three hands against those of each of the other players, one player at a time. In a four-handed game, therefore, each player will make three separate comparisons - once against each of the other three players. The results of the comparisons depends on which of several scoring systems is in use. We'll look at 2 variations.

2-4 scoring

2-4 scoring is used in Chinese Poker tournaments and is popular with the Poker tournament crowd. In most cases these simple rules apply:

  • A player who wins 2 out of 3 hands wins 2 points.
  • A player who wins all 3 hands wins 4 points (a sweep).
These scoring rules are shortcuts derived from the general method of scoring:
  • The player with the higher Back hand gets one point.
  • The player with the higher Middle hand gets one point.
  • The player with the higher Front hand gets one point.
  • Bonus points, if any, are added to each player’s total.
  • The player with the higher total gets an additional point called the overall point.
  • The player with the higher total collects the difference between the two scores.
Here's an example: four players named A, B, C, and D have set their hands as shown. We examine each of the six comparisons that take place and calculate the results. (We will use the letter T to stand for a Ten.)

Player APlayer BPlayer CPlayer D
full house
two pair
full house
two pair
two pair
high card
high card

A vs B: Player B wins the Back and Middle hands for two points. Player A wins the Front hand for one point. B wins the overall point, making the final score 3-1, so B collects 2 chips from A. SHORTCUT - the player who wins two of the three hands wins 2 chips.

A vs C: Player A wins all three hands (a sweep). She scores 1 point for each hand plus the overall point, so she collects 4 chips from C. SHORTCUT - a sweep wins 4 chips.

A vs D: Player A wins the Middle and Front hands, while D wins the Back. A collects 2 chips from D.

B vs C: Player B wins the Back and Middle; C wins the Front. B gets 2 chips from C.

B vs D: Player B wins the Middle; D wins the Back; the Front is a tie. B and D break even.

C vs D: Player C wins the Middle and Front; D wins the Back. C gets 2 chips from D.

Final results: A wins 4, B wins 4, C loses 4, and D loses 4.

Notice that in each player's hand, the Back hand is the highest ranking, the Middle hand is next highest, and the Front hand is the lowest ranking. This is required by the rules of the game, as explained above.

1-6 scoring

1-6 scoring is common in the card rooms of southern California. In this system, winning 2 out of 3 is worth 1 point and winning all 3 pays 6. In the example above, A would win 6, B would win 2, C would lose 6, and D would lose 2.


In addition to the basic payoffs described so far, players may agree to pay bonuses for high ranking hands. Typical bonus payments are:
Straight Flush in Back/Middle Hand:4 points
Four-of-a-kind in Back/Middle Hand:3 points
Full House in Middle Hand:1 point
Three-of-a-kind in Front Hand:2 points


Many variations of the basic scoring rules are possible. For example, certain hands may be considered automatic winners or naturals. In southern California games, naturals pay 3 points and include 3 "straights", 3 "flushes", or 6 pairs. Other rare hands pay more.

Surrender is a scoring option in which a player agrees to throw his hand away and pay a set amount to each opponent.

Copyright 2000-2020 Don Smolen    This material is sponsored in part by PokerStars.