Knowing how to win at Mahjong is more than just luck. In this rummy-esque game originally from China, strategy, chutzpah and observing your opponents play key roles in whether you win or lose. The object of mahjong is to collect specific sets of tiles, again much like rummy, in order to score more points than your opponent.
- Examine the tiles in your initial hand, counting how many you need to win this hand of Mahjong. If the number is 4 or less, play to win. If 6 or more, play for a draw.
- Discard. Play to win Mahjong by discarding everything not directly necessary to collect the tiles you need to go out.
- Be Cautious. Play not to lose a hand of Mahjong by discarding cautiously for the first four turns. At that point, play to win if you need three or fewer tiles to go out.
- Play for a draw in Mahjong by concealing your hand and hoarding power tiles like dragons and winds.
- Hold 4s, 5s and 6s until turn ten. They are the easiest to attach other tiles to for making a set.
- Discard terminal tiles, those that link with only one tile, unless part of a nearly completed set. A 2 has twice the chances of you drawing a matching tile than a 1 does.
- Discard ordinary wind tiles early. They are of no use to you and usually worthless to your opponents.
- Watch what the other players collect over the course of the game. If you need a seven but an opponent has already collected several, you may need to reevaluate your strategy.
When in doubt, remember how to play rummy. The basic concepts of both rummy and Mahjong are pretty much identical. Though you shouldn’t bet the farm on this, you can play a fair game this way.