How To Play Chinese Mahjong

There are a lot of people who would like to know how to play Chinese MahJong. After all, this ancient game is popular again today. Fortunately, Chinese MahJong isn’t difficult to play.  It is based more upon a combination of luck and skill than anything else. The only thing that you will need in order to learn the rules for Chinese MahJong is a Chinese MahJong set.


  1. Get ready to play Chinese MahJong by putting your set together. There are 144 tiles, 3 dice and 4 racks. You will also need 4 people to play Chinese MahJong.
  2. Become familiar with the different suits that are used in Chinese MahJong. There are 108 suits each numbered 1 to 9. There are also line and dot tiles with these symbols also representing the number. 
  3. Identify the 28 honor tiles. There are 3 types of dragons and 4 of each for a total of 12 tiles. Then there are the 4 directional winds: North, South, East and West.  Finally, there are 8 tiles with intricate flowers numbered 1 through 8.
  4. Each player will draw one of the four wind tiles. Whoever draws the East will start to play Chinese MahJong with the play progressing counterclockwise.
  5. Place all the Chinese MahJong tiles face down. Move them around randomly to mix them up. 
  6. Draw 34 tiles. These should remain face down in front of you. 
  7. Push the remaining tiles together to form 4 walls. There should be a “bare” area in the middle that forms a square.
  8. Begin demolishing the Chinese MahJong wall. East begins play by rolling the 3 dice and discarding that number of face-up tiles from the center of the table.  The next player will then draw a tile from the wall or from the discard pile.  They also need to discard a tile.
  9. Move counterclockwise around the table. Deal each player 4 Chinese MahJong tiles. Continue around the table until each player has had 3 turns and holds 12 tiles.
  10. Finish dealing with the East player drawing 2 more tiles. They should now have 14 tiles. They will then deal 1 tile to each player. Each player should now have 13 tiles.
  11. Place all drawn tiles on your Chinese MahJong rack so that only you can see them. Reveal bonus tiles to the other players. Draw replacement tiles for your bonus tiles.  
  12. Start assembling your tiles into pairs of identical tiles. These are known as “pungs” (3 identical tiles), “chows” (3 tiles in a sequence) or “kongs” (4 identical tiles). If you draw from the discard pile in order to assemble a kong, you have to turn it face-up. This cannot be broken into pungs if you draw more of the same tiles later. You also cannot draw from the discard pile in order to assemble a pair unless doing so will make you he winner.  In order to win you must have 1 pair and 4 melds of pungs, chows or kongs.
  13. Put completed chows face up on the table to your right. Once you have completed a chow you must discard a tile.
  14. Watch the discards throughout the game of Chinese MahJong for those tiles that will complete a pung or kong. If you see a tile that will complete either of these you need to call out pung or kong so that you can take the tile, complete the set and place it face up to your right. You must then discard a tile and play will continue counterclockwise.
  15. Expose your flower or season tiles and draw one from the wall to replace it. 
  16. Keep an eye out for a winning set. In order to win you will need 3 combinations and 1 pair. You can keep these concealed until you are ready to announce that you have won the game of Chinese MahJong.
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