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  Mahjong Strategy Guide

Basic Beginners Strategy

We've put together a brief and basic beginners strategy to get you playing better quickly. This strategy guide is intended to get beginners to think more about the choices on offer during the game and to improve their chances of success.

Beginners often fall into the trap of making as many sets as possible. It’s not always wise to grab all the discards that make your sets. Melding chows, pungs and kongs may seem like a good idea initially but it can lead to problems later on.

Melding as much as possible will allow the other players more insight into your hand than you may be best letting them know. They will learn more about your hand from the melds coupled with your discards than from the discards alone.

Also, it narrows the opportunities that may unfold. Having made one Chow, it is best to make the rest of your hand all chows and or all of the same suit. Remember chow hands aren’t the best. If you can build pung hands, you can also use the winds and dragons and you aren’t limited to the site.

In general, don’t take a discarded tile unless you have a clear plan of attack for your hand and the tile is of some use in getting there.

Having patience pays off in the end. Remember that at the beginning of a game, there are many tiles in the wall. By not melding your tiles, you have a better chance to complete a concealed hand.

Try to be flexible and don’t allow yourself to become blinkered. If your starting strategy to build your hand doesn’t materialise then rethink your strategy and look for other winning possibilities.

It's more difficult to make a pair if you have only one tile than it is to make a pung if you already have a pair. In other words, don’t be too quick catching a matching tile to make your Pung, see what transpires, you may pick up another pair.

As the end of the game approaches, watch the discards that are being made and the number of remaining tiles in the wall. At this stage it’s more important to be aware of what tiles you discard. As a very general rule, try to discard only tiles that have already been discarded by the players.

Lastly, watch you aren’t supplying a high-scoring hand with better tiles. You may pay the price for this if a pure or clean hand is built. Watch out for players making a third meld in the same suit.

Complete beginners would be well advised to read this article in conjunction with our Mahjong Rules pages.

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