Mahjong is a Chinese game with an unclear time of creation, probably invented in the late 1800s by Chinese officers. It quickly became a traditional Chinese household and gambling game that achieved worldwide popularity.
After a short period where the game was not available in 1920, it began spreading across Europe, America, and Japan. Joseph P. Babcock from a Standard Oil Company introduced the game in the US while Abercrombie and Fitch made first playsets.
As for the rules, the US version of the game followed rules that Joseph wrote in his “Red Book” until the National Mah Jong League was formed. Their improved rules are still in use nowadays. Continue reading to find out all about the game and its rules and benefits.
Basically, Mahjong is played with a set of domino-style tiles. The tiles feature several different age-old Chinese symbols which players divide into three categories called suits, honor tiles, bonus tiles, and sometimes dragon tiles. In that light, there are four players and two dice.
a. The suits are the largest numerical tiles within the three categories. Within the tiles, there are three different suits available as characters – 36, circles – 36, and bamboos – 36). Each suite in this category has nine tiles with each one numbered 1 to 9.
b. The honor tiles feature two symbols known as winds – 16 and dragons – 12 equalling 28 tiles. Also, the wind tiles involve the north, east, south, and west.
c. The dragon tiles feature red, green, and white dragons. There are 12 tiles featuring 4 white dragons “soap” (playable as zeroes), 4 green dragons, 4 red dragons.
d. The bonus tiles are in order from 1 to 4 and they feature seasonal tiles and floral tiles. There are eight bonus tiles in total.
e. Optional Joker Tiles*: Jokers involve 8 tiles that are identical. Jokers can be used as a substitute for any tile except when there are 2 identical tiles or a single tile.
Overall, a total of 144 tiles are in play in traditional Mahjong. Joker tiles can be used to replace some tiles while they are also applicable for whole another game – Ghoulash.
Each player is able to declare one Chow per round. There are several hands eligible for play in European and American version of the game:
- All Pair Honors require 7 pairs of ones, nines, winds, and dragons and result in half limit.
- Knitting and Triple Knitting are also quite effective and result in half limit as well. Also, these hands require seven pairs of tiles in any two out of three tiles or four sets of three tiles and a pair, respectively.
- Fourfold plenty requires four Kongs and a pair and results in the limit.
- There are more limited hands in play such as The Gates of Heaven, Imperial Jade, Twofold Fortune, and All Winds and Dragons.
The game is over when a player calls Mahjong with a winning Hand of 14-tiles of four sets, a pair, and when players add the score up. If any of the players don't call Mahjong by the time all the tiles from the have run out, it is considered a draw, and Mahjong will be replayed or redealt.
Among many online casino games available, Mahjong fits in the group of those that require strategic thinking and in-game involvement.
One of the easiest Mahjong strategies is to thoroughly follow the game, especially the move of a player that plays before you.
Arranging tiles as the game proceeds are also one of the smart things to do while playing Mahjong.
It is also recommended to play with the tiles that are discarded by other players or free. Matches can be made with the tiles placed at the top of the rack.
Another great Mahjong strategy is to follow the discarded tiles and calculate. The player can mislead others by picking up the unnecessary tiles while collecting those that will bring victory.
Discarding cards is an art on its own, while the most important thing is to not allow other players taking look into your tiles.
How to play Casino Mahjong
Each player draws 36 tiles at random then stacks a row of tiles(18) which are two-tiles high and right in front of each player from a square. Players need to collect different combinations of tiles. The combinations are called Chows, Pungs, and Kongs.
- A Chow is a sequential set of three tiles forming the same suit.
- A Pung is three identical tiles of forming the same suit.
- A Kong is four identical tiles forming the same suit.
Each of the four players represents the four directional winds, North, South, East, and West round. The Wind Round means that if you collect three or four Pung or Kong tiles, then you have collected Winds that represent a score that is higher than the other players.
Each player throws two dice and whoever gets the highest score is the “East Wind,” which means that the player starts Mahjong. Also, each player's “Hand” consists of a total of thirteen tiles. When it's a player's turn, they are dealt with a tile, giving them a total of 14 tiles. Then, the player can choose to keep the tile which was just dealt or the player can discard the tile.
Looking at their Hand, if a player has two or three tiles that are the same as the tile that is not available, then that player can call “pung” or “kong” and pick up this tile. Also if a tile is discarded by the player on their left and the player makes a run of three tiles, they should call out “chow” and then quickly pick up the discarded tile that has been placed in the middle of the table.
Just as long as no other player wants to use the same discarded tile to make a better combination, a player can use the tile to make a winning combination and to display it to raise the stake you made. The fun part is when a rowdy casino Mahjong game is played when all the players scramble to pick up the discarded tile. But in fun civil games, all the players generously remember to allow other players a chance to claim the discarded tile. Mahjong continues with each player picking up a tile and then discarding a tile, just like in cards.
Playing With Jokers
Jokers are available in Pungs, Kongs, and Quints, but they are not suitable as singles and pairs. Also, the Joker must come in a player's tile set.
If a player accidentally discards a Joker, then the rules state that it can't be picked up.
When playing Mahjong online, players are playing Mahjong Solitaire where the rules are actually a lot simpler. Also, playing Mahjong online is limited to match pairs of identical tiles to remove them from the game board. In online plays, only free tiles are suitable for sliding left and right in order to make pairs.