While luck plays a major role in the game of Mahjong, strategies contribute no less to your success. In fact a set of well defined strategies could reduce your chances of failure quite substantially. Considerable skill and strategy making is involved in the entire game. As your skill goes on improving and strategies become finer, the input of luck playing dominant role is reduced to a large extent. With the progress of the game you will find it is not only the lucky who wins the race, but intelligence and calculative mind takes the driver’s seat most of the times.
Mahjong Strategies for beginners
As soon as you receive your tiles, or in the alternative form, the cards start an evaluation. Your evaluation will be aimed at assessing how many tiles or cards you are away from the victory. This exactly means that you will have to calculate the exact number of tiles you require to go out through the shortest of the paths. If on evaluation you find that you require 4 or less number of tiles, you should expect win in 9 turns. In that case you should try to win and play accordingly. If the number is 5 then it depends on what your luck provides you. This is the time your luck mostly come into act. If you have good draws you could be ready quite quickly. If not, you have to give up. However, if you require 6 or more tiles or cards, it is always better to give up and play defensively. The best result you can expect in such case is a draw.
Playing to win or prevent loss
When you play the game to win, you have to take your chances. A couple of failures by taking chances should not deter you from taking further chances. You should be bold enough to discard anything that you don’t require. This may include the lucky tiles as well. After 6/7 tiles, you should feel free to say “chow” or “pung”. On the other hand when you are playing not to lose, just make sure that your discard your tiles of cards pretty cautiously. Look at your hand after 4 draws. If you need three or less tiles you may go for it. Else it is better to play for a draw.
Playing for draw
Conversely you can play Mahjong to get draw. Do not discard a dragon or wind as the first to do so. Also do not play with doubles. Discard should always be safe. Do not claim one for the triplet. It is better to keep your hand concealed till the draw is achieved. Don’t either Chow or Pung.
You should make it a point to discard your tiles in a specific order. The order that is preferable should be something that will make you safe and don’t held the opponents.
Discard the ordinary winds. They are useless for you as well as your rivals. They could only use them if they already have some of them. It is better to discard them early before the “pung”. When you are not the dealer, you should start your discarding with the player to the East. Thereafter discard the wind of the player who is on your left side. Next comes the turn of the player opposite you and finally the one to your right.
Suppose your have 1-6-9. Calculate the probabilities. If you get 2-3 you can use the 1. If you get 7-8 you can use 6 or 9. Since 9 carries higher value it should be discarded first so that if you get 7-8 you match them with 6. You should dispose the shortest suit thereafter.
Discard them before your opponent “pung”. You may keep the pairs. But isolated dragons should be discarded immediately after the wind. Otherwise they should not be discarded at all.
Discarding Special Winds
Every player will like to have the prevailing wind. You can discard this early. But keep that is your own till it is discarded twice by the other players. After 9 or 10th turns it may not be prudent to discard since someone might be using them as pairs. On the other hand if you have double winds you should keep them till they are rendered useless.
You should not normally discard the 4, 5, and 6 as they are very valuable. They should be retained as long as possible. It is however better to change the tactics after the tenth turn. Keep track of collection by others. After the tenth turn winds, terminals as well as dragons become very dangerous. No less dangerous are the simples.
Knowing the Rules
Over the passage of time as you go on learning, skill certainly overpowers luck in the game of Mahjong. It is very important for you to be conversant with the rules. One who can instantly recall the rules can take the best possible decisions. This perhaps is the core strategy for winning Mahjong game. For instance, those who can recall the scoring chart instantly can be able to take the timeliest steps. Another important tactics is to closely follow the tiles that are being taken up or discarded by other players. This will allow you to guess what they are after.
On the other hand you should discard in a manner that the opponents cannot guess what hands you are holding. You may also change your original decisions with the progress of the game to suit the trends. A difficult decision always is to decide whether you should go for easy hands or hard hands. Good Mahjong player should have the flexibility to adapt to the situation as per the demands of the game.
Read Books and Articles
Numerous books, periodicals, and articles are available in the market describing the various Mahjong strategies. Moreover the Internet is a repository of information and perhaps the largest library on the planet earth. There are a host of websites providing educative and informative materials on the game of Mahjong and how to play it. You can benefit greatly from them. You can also benefit from the Frequently Asked Questions section of these websites. Some of the sites also give online tips and interaction with experts is possible as well. You can learn step by step process of playing Mahjong there.
One of the well known traditions of the game is that when three players would drop West tile, the fourth and last player will avoid discarding the West in his turn. The reason is based on superstition that discarding west by all four may result in ill luck for all of them. In fact the players in Mahjong often avoid discarding tiles of one wind together. Similarly, the determination of game wind and prevailing wind is also pre-set as the East is always the dealer in the game. He is the dealer or the banker and the prevailing wind is always set to him.
Running Against the Clock
When you find a flower tile you benefit since you can match any flower tile with any other flower tile. Similarly you can match any of the season tiles with any other season tiles. Of course you cannot match flower tiles with season tiles. Each of the tiles has some base values attached to them. Removal of tiles will enhance your scores. When you are able to clear all the 144 tiles, you will also get bonus points. So this will be one of the focal points for your strategy building. The most important part of it is to learn the value of time which is always against you. Your strategy for playing Mahjong should aim at minimizing your time for games.
Practice Makes You Perfect
No training or studies can make you perfect as you can be with regular practice. Whether you play online or in the brick and concrete casinos, make it a point to be regular in your games. Practical experience cannot be substituted with any amount of theories and you should remember practice makes one perfect. This label applies to Mahjong as well.