How to Play and Win at Mahjong

It would be a big mistake to tell you interesting facts about mahjong, its history and various useful properties of the game, but not how to play and win at Mahjong.
That is why we decided to create a small but comprehensive guide with the rules of mahjong.

So, let’s get started:

Mahjong is a popular tile-based game that originated in China and is now played all over the world. Due to its strategic gameplay and intricate rules, Mahjong can be challenging to master, but it is also incredibly rewarding. In this guide, we will take a deep dive into the world of mahjong and learn how to play the game, as well as give you some tips and tricks to help you win.

Mahjong is played with a set of chips that are divided into different suits and honor chips. The goal of the game is to create sets of tiles that match a certain pattern or sequence. Before you start playing, you need to understand the basic rules of the game.

What tiles are there in Mahjong?

This is what mahjong tiles look like
This is what mahjong tiles look like

A standard mahjong set consists of 144 tiles, each of which has a unique design. The chips are divided into three main categories: suits, honors, and flowers.

Suits consist of bamboo, hieroglyphics, and dots. Each suit has tiles from 1 to 9, for a total of 36 tiles.

The honor tiles include winds (east, south, west, and north) and dragons (red, green, and white). There are four tiles for each wind, and three for each dragon, for a total of 28 tiles.

Flowers are optional and are used for special scoring opportunities. There are eight cards with flowers in the set.

You can read a detailed explanation of the meaning of tiles here

It is important to understand that not everyone uses flower tiles to get extra points in their games. This is just an additional feature. Therefore, your game may not have 144 tiles, but 136

To get used to the tiles faster, we recommend playing quick mahjong games on our website:

How to start a game correctly?

To start a game of Mahjong, the tiles are shuffled and arranged in a specific order called a “wall”. The wall is then broken into two parts, and the tiles are placed in a square in the middle of the table. This square is called the castle.

Each player takes 13 chips, and the game begins.
To choose who goes first, a die is rolled and the movement is from right to left.

What are the basic rules of mahjong?

starting a game of mahjong, mixing tiles and building walls
Starting a game of mahjong: mixing tiles and building walls

The goal of each player in each hand is to collect mahjong – any four sets and a pair of identical tiles.

The game consists of 4 rounds: East, South, West, and North, each of which contains 4 hands (konos). In total, the game consists of 16 hands. If a hand ends in a draw, it can be played again.

Sets can be of three types: chow, pong, and cong:

  • Chow is a sequence of three dice of the same suit. Chow can only be on numbers, not on winds or dragons.
  • Pang is three identical dice. Pang consists of only three dice and can be made on any suit.
  • Kong is four identical dice. Kong consists of only four dice and can be made on any suit.

Mahjong consists of 14 dice (4 sets of 3 dice and a pair). If your mahjong has congas (4 identical dice), the total number of dice in mahjong will be higher.
The game consists of 16 hands, and the goal of each player is to make a mahjong in each hand as quickly as possible. To speed up the game, you can play 8 hands (2 in each round).

It is important to understand how each player moves and how they collect combinations. As mentioned, all players take turns. In your turn to collect a combination, you need to take one tile from the “wall” and drop one of your own.

Tiles are discarded on the table center with the face value up.
If you see that another player has discarded the tile you need, you can take it only if you already have a pair and this tile is not enough for a three (or a three and you are not enough for a four). But if you only need one tile for a winning combination, you can take it from the tiles discarded by other players

Important to know: you can only take a discarded tile if it is discarded now. A player who lacks one dice to complete mahjong must declare a begging hand. A player who does not declare a begging hand is not allowed to collect the mahjong (declare a win).

In this case, your three is revealed and other players can see it.

Advanced Mahjong strategies

If you’ve mastered the basic mahjong strategies and want to take your game to the next level, here are some advanced strategies to try:

  • Keep an eye on the discard pile

During the game, the discard pile can become an invaluable resource. Pay attention to what tiles your opponents discard and try to use this information to your advantage. If you see that a player discards a lot of tiles of a certain suit, it may mean that he is not building a hand in that suit.

  • Use the dead wall

A dead wall is a part of the wall that is not used in the initial hand. When the wall runs out, the dead wall is used to replenish it. Dead wall tiles are usually less predictable than live wall tiles, so it’s important to keep an eye on them and try to use them to your advantage.

  • Play on the defense

Mahjong is not always about building your own hand. Sometimes it’s more important to play defense and not let your opponents win. Keep an eye on the tiles that are reset and try to block your opponents’ moves.

  • Keep track of the score

Mahjong is a game of strategy, but it is also a game of points. Keep an eye on the score and make sure you don’t sacrifice long-term gains for short-term wins.

  • Watch out for patterns

The more you play mahjong, the more you will start to notice patterns. Pay attention to the patterns used by your opponents and try to predict their moves. This can give you a significant advantage in the game.



Mahjong is a fascinating and challenging game that has been enjoyed by people around the world for centuries. With its intricate rules and strategic gameplay, Mahjong offers endless opportunities for players to learn and improve their skills. By following the tips and strategies outlined in this guide, you can increase your chances of winning at Mahjong and become a master of the game.

If you enjoyed this guide, be sure to share it with your friends and family who love Mahjong. And remember, the key to success in Mahjong is to stay flexible, pay attention to your opponents, and always be on the lookout for new strategies.

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