How To Play Mahjong?
Before we start, it’s necessary to note that there are multiple ways to play this game – it depends on the country where you’re living. While some people like to follow the traditional Mahjong rules, it’s also possible to find American, Japanese, and even British variations of the game. While a great part of the gameplay remains the same, each version has a distinctive set of rules.
For instance, the Chinese game doesn’t have too many “special hands,” while the British version only allows a single chow per hand. Some people prefer playing the British version because it’s more interesting. On the other hand, the American version requires a bit more “strategy” than other Mahjong casino games, while the Japanese style requires you to be speedier than the rest of the players.
Most casinos have diverse versions of Mahjong available. This time, we’ll focus on the American version, although we’ll focus on the “basic” aspects of the game.
Here’s what you need to know about how to play Mahjong:
Firstly, you must be familiar with the components. Mahjong is composed of the following elements:
- 136 tiles
- 36 characters
- 36 bamboos
- 36 circles (“suits”)
- 16 wind tiles
- 12 dragon tiles
While these are the basic components, it’s not rare to find Mahjong sets (or games in real money online casinos) that contain extra tiles, which are often four flowers and four seasons. Either way, these tiles are not necessary, and the gameplay can still continue without them.
Besides the tiles, the game also uses a pair of dice to establish the “deal.” The game may have up to four racks, but that’s optional and depends on you.
Players must obtain a “mahjong” through the gameplay to win. You get Mahjong when you combine your 14 tiles in four sets, along with one pair, which is composed of two identical tiles.
You can find two types of sets:
- A “pung” is when you combine three identical tiles.
- A “Chong” is when you run three consecutive numbers (i.e., 1, 2, 3) within the same suit.
You can’t use the same tile in two different sets. Each tile must be part of a different set if you want to obtain Mahjong.
- Setting up the table
In modern Mahjong, players usually roll the dice to determine who’ll be the dealer. However, in the traditional Chinese game, the four wind tiles are shuffled, and each player receives one. Then, they sit according to their positions (north, west, south, and east), and the player who gets the “east” becomes the dealer for the first round.
Following up, all the tiles are shuffled and then set up in the following manner:
- 34 face-down tiles in front of the players
- 17 miles long, two tiles high
Hence, the table ends up having a square wall made of tiles in the center. Then, the dealer rolls the dice. The result defines how many tiles the dealer must count from the right edge of their side of the wall, and at that point, the wall must be separated, and they must begin dealing tiles from the left of that particular spot in clockwise order.
Each player will get 13 tiles, while the dealer starts with 14 tiles.
Like it happens in card games, players cannot see other players’ tiles. It isn’t a problem in online casinos, although in-land casinos often use “racks” to separate one player from the next and avoid cheating.
The game begins when the dealer discards one tile. Then, the next player from the dealer’s left makes the first movement.
Now, it is your turn to play. In real life, you must wait a few moments so that the rest of the players can get the tile that they’ve recently discarded. This process is automatic in an online casino, and you might begin to play right away.
You’ll be given priority if you can complete Mahjong after claiming the discarded tile. Then, you’ll be required to reveal your winning hand with all fourteen tiles.
If that’s not possible, then you can complete a “pung” with the discarded tile by revealing the other two tiles that match it. If that’s the case, you’re required to reveal the pung (with all three identical tiles) and discard another tile. Then, the next player’s turn begins.
The other players may claim the discarded tile. If they don’t, you can do so in your next turn to complete a “chow,” if possible. As with a pung, you’re required to reveal three consecutive numbers. Then, you must discard another tile, and the next player’s turn begins.
Sometimes, you may not be able to complete a set with the discard. If that’s the case, you’ll be allowed to draw one tile from the wall (starting from the left). Following up, you discard a tile if it doesn’t make you have Mahjong.
You can only claim the tile that was discarded in the previous turn.
The hand ends whenever someone reveals their “mahjong,” a hand with four sets and one pair. If the wall runs out of tiles and no one completes a mahjong, then it’s considered a draw. Players can choose to continue the game or quit.
Are You Ready To Play Mahjong In Online Casinos?
Mahjong can be a bit of a complex game, but it’s actually pretty fun. Most casinos offer a solo-play option where you play against AI, or you can also choose a live game with other players. The game barely changes, and you must follow the same rules, though.
Typically, a mahjong game lasts for about 16 rounds. Some casinos have a specific number of points, too – every online casino is different. However, the basic rules of the game remain the same, and you’ll be able to play without worries.
Make sure to choose a reliable casino and to play for free (if possible) before you bet real money. This way, you can become better at the game and might be able to increase your chances of winning in the long run. Some casinos may offer first-time no deposit bonuses or welcome bonuses to players (in fact, these promotions tend to be an ongoing thing all the time), allowing you to play without betting your money at first.
Again, remember to choose the Mahjong version that’s most comfortable for you. We’ve explained the American version, which is the easiest one to follow and the standard option that most casinos have.