How Mahjong Works

Mahjong Tips

The common phrase "playing the hand you've been dealt" can apply to mahjong as much as it does to card games. Chance is a large element of mahjong. However, you can make the most of the tiles you've been dealt. As you become more skilled at the game, you'll learn not only how to increase your odds of winning but also how to possibly deter the other players from winning. Following these tips can help enhance your chances of success:

  • Don't separate your tiles. You may be tempted to group your tiles in a way that allows you to see if you're getting closer to a complete hand. If you do this, it may reveal to the other players how close you are to winning.
  • Keep count of your tiles. Make sure you maintain the correct number of tiles, because another player can challenge you on having too many or too few.
  • Hang on to flower tiles. Try not to pass flowers during the Charleston. Many hands will require flower tiles.

The best way to increase your skill at mahjong is to play it. The more you get used to the game -- the rules, the tiles, the rhythm - the better you'll get at making the right selections and anticipating the moves of other players. You can also brush up on the official hands and rules that are published each year by the National Mah Jongg League.


While this mostly covers the American version of mahjong, there are many more variations to explore on the next page.