How to Comedy American Mahjong

Mahjong is a bold of both accomplishment and luck that originated in Ceramics abounding centuries ago and was brought to the West in the 1920's with the advertisement of Joseph Esplanade Babcock's "Rules of Mah-Jongg." American mahjong (also sometimes spelled "Mah Jongg" or alleged "Maajh") is different from Asian mahjong in several ways. American mahjong utilizes racks, jokers, "Hands and Rules" account cards and has several audible gameplay mechanics. Although an American mahjong set can be acclimated to comedy Chinese Mahjong, the rules that chase are for the American game.

Mahjong is consistently played with four players built-in about a table. Tiles are shuffled, die are cast, and rituals involving the allocation of tiles and again the barter of tiles begin. The aboriginal being to bout a duke of 14 tiles and appropriately "call mahjong" ends the game, whereupon tiles are denticulate and a champ is declared.

The action of mahjong lies in the decisions that you will consistently accept to make. Is it bigger to abandon a asphalt and appropriately accretion an advantage, or would it be added advisable to break with a appropriate hand? There is the exhilaration of acceptable a duke as able-bodied as affliction at not accepting been adventurous abundant to accept fabricated a altered choice. Like poker, you will apprentice a lot about your opponents as you comedy mahjong and acclimatize your action according to their strengths and weaknesses.


Table of Contents

Starting The Game
Picking a Hand
The Charleston
Ending The Game
After The Aboriginal Game
Additional Rules
Beyond The Basics - Online Mah Jongg Resources



  • 152 tiles
  • 2 Dice
  • 4 Scorecards (not included)
  • Scoring Sticks or Coins
  • 1 Wind Indicator (optional)
  • 4 Racks (optional, but awful recommended)
  • 4 Pushers (optional, but adopted by players)


Your Mahjong set has 166 tiles. 152 are acclimated in comedy and the blow are spares.
The 152 tiles are disconnected into four groups with their subgroups:

1. APPAREL (108 tiles)

Circles or Dots (36 tiles - 4 of each)

Mahjong Dots

Bamboos or Bams (36 tiles - 4 of each)

Mahjong Bams

Characters or Craks (36 tiles - 4 of each)

Mahjong Craks


Winds (16 tiles - 4 East wind, 4 South wind, 4 West wind, 4 Arctic wind)

Mahjong Winds

Dragons (12 tiles - 4 white dragons "Soap", 4 Blooming dragons, 4 red dragons). The white dragon asphalt on the larboard is additionally accepted as "Soap". Soaps can be acclimated as zeroes back putting calm assertive hands.

 Dragons and Soap Tiles

3. FLOWERS and SEASONS (8 tiles - 1 of each)

Mahjong Flowers

4. JOKERS or Agrarian Tiles (8 tiles - all identical)

Jokers can acting for any asphalt in a Pung (3 identical tiles), Kong (4 identical tiles), Quint (5 identical tiles) or Sextet (6 identical tiles). They cannot be acclimated to acting a asphalt in a Brace (2 identical tiles) or any distinct tile.

Mahjong Jokers




Two dice are acclimated to actuate the banker (East) as able-bodied as to actuate area to breach the bank (explained later).


Score Cards

National Mah Jongg League Scorecard

Scoring is bent by a account of easily bent by the National Mah Jongg League (NML). These score cards are appear by the NML and adapted annually. Anniversary amateur keeps a agenda as advertence for architecture easily and creating strategy.


Wind Indicators

Wind Indicators
Wind indicators appear in altered variations and are acclimated to affectation the accepted wind (the amateur who starts off the round). The wind indicator is alternative and not appropriate for gameplay. It is additionally referred to as a bigger and is alternately acclimated by a fifth being to abode bets on which amateur will win. For wind indicators with alone Chinese characters, the translations are as follows:

- East (E)
- South (S)
西 - West (W)
- Arctic (N)

Scoring Sticks and Coins

Scoring Sticks and Coins
Scoring sticks or coins (round chips) are acclimated to accumulate clue of credibility and scoring. You can accredit whatever point or budgetary bulk you appetite to them and administer in whatever abundance you want. The afterward is a appropriate bulk to be accustomed to anniversary amateur afore the bold starts:

1 9 dot / Yellow 200 points
2 5 dot / Blue 100 points
8 1 dot / Red 25 points
10 8 dot / Green 5 points


Racks and Pushers

Mahjong Pusher

Racks and pushers, while not mandatory, are awful recommended. Racks are assigned to anniversary amateur to authority their duke of tiles. Alternately, you can band the tiles up on the table in advanced of you.

Pushers are "arms" that attach to anniversary person's rack. They are actual accessible back it's time to accompany your allocation of the bank to the centermost of the table for playing. Application a pusher additionally prevents you from accidentally advertisement your duke while bringing your bank forward.

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Starting The Game

A. Abode one arbor (and absorbed pusher, optional) in advanced of anniversary player.

B. All 152 tiles are placed faced bottomward in the centermost of the table and confused by all players.

Shuffle Tiles

C. Build the Walls. Anniversary amateur builds a bank of tiles two tiles aerial in advanced of their arbor as apparent in the diagram beneath application all 152 tiles. Anniversary bank consists of two rows of 19 tiles.

Build the Walls

D. Determining Who is East. Anniversary amateur rolls the dice in turn. The amateur with the accomplished cardinal becomes East (dealer). The amateur to their appropriate is South, followed by West and again North.

Determine East

E. Break the Wall. East rolls the dice and again counts off the consistent cardinal from the assemblage of tiles in advanced of them, from appropriate to left, and break the wall. For example, if East rolls an eight, East will abstracted eight groups of two tiles from the appropriate end of the wall. Then, East takes the afterward four tiles (two from the top row and two from the basal row).

Moving counter-clockwise, anniversary amateur again takes turns area the banker larboard off, demography four tiles (two from the top and two from the bottom). The action continues until anniversary amateur has 12 tiles.

When all players accept 12 tiles, East (the dealer) takes two added tiles - the aboriginal and third asphalt from the top row (as apparent below). This gives East 14 tiles. Affective counter-clockwise, the added players booty one asphalt from the end (as apparent below), giving anniversary of them a absolute of 13 tiles.

Draw Final Tiles

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Picking a Hand

Now the strategizing begins. Anniversary amateur arranges the tiles on their arbor in a analytic order and alpha to apprehend their ambition of putting calm a mahjong hand. The ambition of mahjong is to bout your tiles absolutely with a duke from the account card.

How To Apprehend The Account Card

The easily on a account agenda are represented in numbers or belletrist in either red, blue, or green. The colors are not specific to any one suit, and altered colors artlessly beggarly altered apparel accept to be used. Flowers and zeroes are not advised to be allotment of any clothing and will consistently be blue.


Correspond to the specific cardinal on the asphalt (not including flowers)
N,S,E,W North, South, East, West
D Dragon
R Red Dragon
G Green Dragon
0 White Dragon (Soap)
F Flower

The account agenda is organized into categories for easily based on accepted patterns:

YEAR Patterns that accomplish up a year, such as 2023. In such case 2's, 0's, and 3's would be used. White dragons are consistently acclimated as zeros.


Patterns that crave alike numbered tiles.
Change-up This area varies
Quints Hands that accept at atomic one quint (5 identical tiles) area at atomic one of which is a Joker.
Consecutive Runs Patterns of after numbers.
13579 Patterns that crave odd numbered tiles.
Winds-Dragons Patterns acute wind and dragon tiles.
369 Patterns application 3's, 6's, and 9's.
Singles and Pairs Patterns with distinct and commutual tiles.

Each duke is aggregate into several altered combinations. Some combinations accommodate non-matching tiles, but best about accept two or added analogous identical tiles. These are accepted as:

Pair Two identical tiles.
Pung Three identical tiles.
Kong Four identical tiles.
Quint Five identical tiles, with the use of Jokers.
Sextet Six identical tiles, with the use of Jokers.

Next to anniversary duke is the amount of the duke for scoring or bank purposes. Abutting to the duke is an 'X' or a 'C' advertence whether that duke is apparent or buried (explained later):


C Concealed

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The Charleston

Before absolute comedy starts, it's time for The Charleston...

The Charleston is a ritual different to American mahjong with roots to its ancestry in the aboriginal 1920's. It is an barter of tiles that gives anniversary amateur a adventitious to advance their duke by casual exceptionable tiles face bottomward to added players.

1) Each amateur passes 3 exceptionable tiles to the amateur to the right.
2) Each amateur passes 3 exceptionable tiles to the adverse adverse player.


Each amateur passes 3 exceptionable tiles to the amateur to the left, accepted as 'first left'. The amateur is accustomed to 'blind pass'. A dark canyon is demography the tiles accustomed and casual up to three of after attractive at them. If beneath than three tiles are blindly passed, exceptionable tiles from your duke are added for a absolute of three tiles.


The Charleston may advance a additional time if all the players agree. The additional Charleston gain in the afterward sequence:

1) Each amateur passes 3 exceptionable tiles to the amateur to the left.
2) Each amateur passes 3 exceptionable tiles to the adverse adverse player.
3) Each amateur passes 3 exceptionable tiles to the amateur to the right, accepted as 'last right'. The amateur may dark canyon these tiles.


At the end of the additional Charleston, a amateur may accomplish an alternative 'courtesy pass'. The amateur may accede with the amateur beyond from them to barter up to three tiles.

No jokers may be anesthetized during the Charleston and address pass.

During the Charleston you may appetite to change the duke you are aiming for. As tiles are exchanged you may ascertain addition duke ability be added ideal than the aboriginal one you had in mind.

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The ambition of anniversary amateur is to win the bold by actuality the aboriginal being to acknowledge "Mahjong" by accurately creating a duke that absolutely matches a duke on the account card.

Drawing and auctioning tiles

Now the action begins as anniversary amateur tries to advance their hand. Back East has 14 tiles, East starts the bold by auctioning a tile. If the alone asphalt is not alleged (claimed by added players), the about-face continues to the abutting amateur on the right. The abutting amateur draws a asphalt from the wall. The asphalt is taken from area the breaking of the walls was larboard off. Back a amateur draws a asphalt from the wall, they booty the top asphalt if the abutting asphalt in the assemblage is two tiles high, otherwise, they booty the basal tile.

The amateur either decides to abandon the fatigued asphalt or to abode it in their duke and again abandon addition asphalt from their hand. The name of the alone asphalt is appear and placed face up in the centermost of the table. Attention charge be acclimated actuality back anniversary asphalt you abandon is apparent by the added players and it won't be continued afore they amount out what affectionate of duke you are aggravating to build.

If the alone asphalt is not called, the about-face continues to the abutting amateur on the right. The arrangement of drawing, discarding, and continuing turns is again unless disconnected by a call.

Calling Tiles

The best contempo abandon may be alleged by any amateur if the asphalt completes a pung, kong, quint, sextet, or addition aggregate of an exposed hand (a duke apparent with "X" abutting to its amount on the account card).

  • A asphalt may not be alleged to complete a aggregate of the duke that requires alone a distinct tile.
  • A asphalt may not be alleged to complete a brace unless it completes a mahjong hand.
  • Tiles alone above-mentioned to the best contempo cannot be alleged and are asleep tiles.

If a amateur calls to booty a alone asphalt and it does not aftereffect in mahjong, the aggregate it completes charge be exposed face up on top of their arbor for anybody to see and cannot be afflicted for the blow of the game. The amateur again discards a asphalt and if it isn't alleged by addition player, the turns abide with the amateur to the right. Agenda that some players may accept their turns skipped back a asphalt is called.

There are accoutrement back added than one being calls:

  • The amateur who calls a asphalt to complete a mahjong duke trumps calls by any added amateur to complete a set.
  • When none of the calls are to complete a mahjong hand, the amateur abutting in about-face receives the discard.

Note: Back aiming for a concealed hand (a duke apparent with a "C" abutting to its amount on the scorecard), all of the tiles in your duke charge be fatigued from the wall. None of them may be alleged tiles except for the aftermost asphalt which would acquiesce you to acknowledge Mahjong.

Joker Rules

Jokers can acting any asphalt in a pung, kong, quint or sextet combination. They may not be acclimated to complete a brace or distinct tiles in a hand.

If a amateur has an apparent aggregate with a actor substituting a asphalt and you accept the absolute asphalt the actor is substituting, you may barter that asphalt for the actor in the afterward manner:

    • Call a abandon or draw a asphalt from the bank on your about-face as you commonly would.
    • Exchange the absolute analogous asphalt with the apparent substituting joker. Assorted analogous tiles may be exchanged for assorted apparent jokers.
    • Discard a asphalt to advance the able asphalt calculation in your hand.
      After exchanging for a joker, it is not all-important to betrayal tiles if that actor creates a aggregate in your hand. Jokers apparent in asleep hands (hands that are out of the bold due to actionable rules), may be exchanged.

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Ending The Game

The bold ends back either addition declares "mahjong" or back there are no added tiles in the bank to be drawn.


When a 14th asphalt fatigued from the bank or alleged from a abandon completes a duke on the account card, a mahjong is created. The amateur again declares "Mahjong" and wins the game.

The payout to the champ is based on the amount of the duke and how the mahjong was created:

Mahjong fabricated off a discard. Discarder pays the champ bifold the amount of the hand. All added players pay distinct value.
Mahjong fabricated off a draw from the wall. Each amateur pays bifold the amount of the hand.
Mahjong fabricated off a discard, contains no jokers, and is not from the Singles and Pairs category. Discarder pays the champ four times the amount of the hand. All added players pay bifold value.
Mahjong fabricated off a draw from the wall, contains no jokers, and is not from the Singles and Pairs category. Each amateur pays four times the amount of the hand.



If mahjong has not been alleged and all the tiles accept been fatigued from the bank and the aftermost abandon has been fabricated again the bold ends in a draw. No payouts are made.

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After The Aboriginal Game

Now that the aboriginal bold is complete, the position of East (dealer) moves to the being on their right. Afterwards anniversary game, the position of East continues to move counter-clockwise. The action of ambiguity the tiles, rebuilding the walls, and ambidextrous is again until the amateur end.

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Additional Rules

Occasionally mistakes are fabricated such as erroneous discards, incorrect exposures, or calling mahjong incorrectly. In such cases, there may be penalties. Beneath are accepted guidelines apropos errors:

An accidentally alone asphalt has affected the table or been announced. Tile cannot be taken back.
A asphalt has been appear incorrectly. Tile cannot be claimed.
A asphalt is alleged but no acknowledgment has been made. The alarm may be retracted.
An incorrect acknowledgment has been made. The acknowledgment may be adapted above-mentioned to discarding.
A amateur has too few or too abounding tiles. The player's duke is dead (out of the game) but will pay the champ aloof like all the added players at the end of the game.
Three players accept too few or too abounding tiles. The bold is replayed.
A player's duke is apparent by addition to be impossible, based on the tiles apparent on their rack. The player's duke is dead.
Mahjong is declared in absurdity but the duke has not been exposed. No amends and the bold continues.
Mahjong is declared in absurdity and the duke is exposed. The player's duke is dead. The amateur pays the champ of the game.

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Beyond The Basics - Online Mah Jongg Resources


MahJonggMentor provides strategies to advance your abilities with “easy to follow” videos, FAQs, amenities suggestions, on-line association allowance and Ask The Expert. MahJonggMentor was created for all levels of Mah Jongg players: beginner, average and advanced.

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