Read on to learn how to play mahjong using the game’s basic rules and strategies, which are the same across most other variants. There are many highly varied versions of mahjong both in rules and tiles used. "Old Hong Kong mahjong" uses the same basic features and rules as the majority of the different variations of the game. This form of mahjong uses all of the tiles of the most commonly available sets, includes no exotic complex rules, and has a relatively small set of scoring sets/hands with a simple scoring system. For these reasons Hong Kong mahjong is a suitable variation for the introduction of game rules and play and is the focus of this article. Some limit hands by necessity must be completely concealed (not discards used) or semi-concealed (the only discard used is the one needed to win). This includes the 13 orphans, 4 concealed pongs, heavenly hand and earthly hand.

How to play Mahjong

The goal in mahjong is to complete a set with your tiles similar to a poker or rummy hand. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to play mahjong, from the tile types to what makes a winning hand. The game originated in China centuries ago and features beautifully adorned tiles meant to be arranged in specific combinations for a winning hand. The dealer rolls the dice and counts that many tiles from the right edge of their wall, and separates the wall at that point to begin dealing tiles from the left of that spot and going clockwise. Each player receives 13 tiles, with the dealer starting with an extra 14th tile.

Mahjong in the West

Typically, this draw is performed during the initial deal to speed up play. If this does not complete a legal hand, the dealer then discards a piece (throwing it into the middle of the wall with no particular order in mind). Each player now sets aside any flowers or seasons they may have drawn and takes turns to draw replacement tiles from the wall in the anti-clockwise direction from the dealer. If a player gets any flowers or seasons tiles in the replacement draw, the players must wait for the next turn to draw replacement tiles. Using the same total on the dice (or the total of the two throws), the player whose wall is chosen then counts the stacks of tiles from right to left.

Then, the tiles are distributed clockwise, one by one, until each player has 13 tiles. So, everyone begins with the same number of tiles to kick off the adventure. Mahjong Solitaire is the single-player version of a traditional tile game originating in China. In the regular version, four players compete to collect sets of tiles and score points. When a meld (pong, kong, or chow) is declared through a discard, the player must state the type of meld to be declared and expose the meld by placing the three (or four) tiles face up.

Wuhan Mahjong

As discussed earlier, for consecutive runs, any sequence of consecutive numbers can usually be used, but for this one, only these specific numbers are allowed. Each line on the card has a clarifying note in parenthesis next to the hand. When there’s ambiguity in the hand representation, the note explains what is actually permitted and what is not. We will discuss these associations in more detail when we discuss how to read the card. Explore different variations, play with different people, and enjoy the evolving adventure that is Mahjong. Finally, don’t be afraid to adapt your strategies and learn from your experiences. The more complete your hand becomes, the closer you are to declaring Mahjong.

Naturally, different variations of Mahjong have different applied rules, but the basics remain consistent. We will discuss the rules and mechanics of the game so that those new to Mah Jongg can get up and running. Once these have been mastered, please check out our Complete Guide to American Mah Jongg Strategy document for tips on strategic decision-making. You might not win every game, but each game is a learning experience that brings you closer to mastery. The more you play, the better you’ll become at recognizing patterns, understanding the tiles, and making strategic decisions.

Generally, you play with 4 people, though you can play with 3 as well. The goal is to form 4 melds and a pair, creating mahjong. You’ll find there are many variations of mahjong, so these rules aren’t definitive.

Hong Kong mahjong does not award concealed melds/hands as generously as others. The basic game has 136 tiles, including 36 characters, 36 bamboos, and 36 circles, which are the suits. These are, in turn, divided into four sets of numbers 1 to 9 in each suit.

Special Hands

Due to the many scoring variations, players should be careful to agree on scoring rules before a game. While Mahjong and Mahjong Solitaire use the same set of tiles, the two games are very different. However, the key to the game is not to simply match all obvious pairs immediately – it is based on strategy, and it can sometimes be beneficial to save pairs.

After each hand ends, the winner counts all of his or her faan points. A winning hand must consist of four melds (pongs, kongs, or chows) and a pair (eyes) and must also score the agreed table minimum. A rarely occurring and high-scoring feature of Hong Kong mahjong is a move called robbing the kong. A match consists of four rounds, each representing a "prevailing wind", starting with East. Once the first round is completed, a second round begins with South as the prevailing wind, and so on. Wind position is significant in that it affects the scoring of the game.

Strategizing in Mahjong Solitaire

This illustration is the flower used in the I Love Mahj online game. For the purposes of simplicity, we will be focusing on the honor and suit tiles in this blog post and ignoring the bonus tiles, which are not used in every game of mahjong. Try to spot the differences between the suits, the honors, and the bonus tiles. Scoring in mahjong involves points, with a monetary value for points agreed upon by players.

The player must then expose the completed set to the others, allowing them to see what kind of hands they are making. A player can collect a discarded tile to complete one of the following sets. The most likely ancestor to Mahjong was pènghú which was played with 120 or 150 cards.[21] During the late 19th century, pènghú was used interchangeably with máquè in both card and tile form. Points are given for sets and hand composition and winning bonuses, doubled and redoubled for basic patterns. Japanese mahjong has a complex scoring system with several stages of scoring, rules and exceptions, evening out scores and bonus points at the end of a match.

For example, they can keep a tally, exchange chips, or pay one another with money. The faan value of a hand is converted into base points which are then used to calculate the points the losers pay the winner. The table is progressive, doubling the number of base points when reaching a certain faan point target. The following is the Old Hong Kong mystake casino simplified table; for other tables, see Hong Kong mahjong scoring rules. There is only one winner (or if there is a draw the hand is replayed). The winner must have a legal hand that meets the minimum faan points agreed to in advance (not including any bonus points). Only the winner scores, the other players pay the winner various sums.

For example, the ‘5 Character’ tile is from the Characters suit and has a rank of 5. It should be noted that the ‘1 Bamboo’ tile is illustrated as a sparrow. Once all tiles have been picked from the active wall, the next wall (in clockwise order) is pushed out. Each player tells the person opposite them how many tiles they wish to pass (0-3 tiles). Players exchange tiles equal to the lower of the two numbers. There are a few organizations that produce cards, but the most prominent one is the National Mah Jongg League (NMJL).

One hundred players participated, mainly from Japan and China, but also from Europe and the United States. Mai Hatsune, from Japan, became the first world champion. The following year saw the first annual China Mahjong Championship, held in Hainan; the next two annual tournaments were held in Hong Kong and Beijing.